Anthony Bennett returned to practice on Tuesday, and coach Dave Rice said the freshman big man is good to go for Wednesday’s game against UC-Irvine.
Bennett, the team’s leading scorer at 19.5 points per game, had been forced to sit out Monday’s practice with a back issue, but he was a full participant in Tuesday’s session. He appeared to move normally as he ran the floor, made hard cuts and threw down several forceful dunks. Bennett was unavailable to speak after practice as he had to receive treatment, but the 6-foot-8 center looks good to go for the Irvine game.
“I think he’ll be fine,” said Rice. “He’s tough. As far as we know, he’ll play [Wednesday].”
Bennett has a history of back troubles dating back to his last two years at Findlay Prep, but Rice wasn’t ready to draw any connections between those injuries and Bennett’s current status. Rice also said there were no plans to limit Bennett in any way, such as managing his minutes.
“One thing about medical issues is I defer to [athletic trainer] Dave Tomchek,” said Rice, “and at this point Anthony is full-go and we’ll play him accordingly.”
Marshall sits out
Just as one starter returned to action, the Rebels were without another at Tuesday’s practice, as point guard Anthony Marshall sat out with a swollen knee. Marshall did some light shooting, and Rice said he “absolutely” expects him to play on Wednesday as well.
Marshall has been a backcourt stalwart this season. He’s the team’s leader in minutes (31.8 per game) and assists (5.3), and he’s second in scoring (12.0).
The Rebels spent a significant portion of Tuesday’s practice running their offense against a zone defense. Oregon had success in using a zone to slow down the UNLV attack, and Iowa State played a good amount of zone as well.
The scout team provided the defense, and the Rebels’ first team ran through several sets where they had to pass the ball a certain number of times before a shot could go up.
Rice said the focus on breaking a zone wasn’t a reaction to anything specific he saw from Oregon or Iowa State, but something for which he wanted his team to be prepared.
“I’ve thought from Day 1 that we probably will get zoned some this year,” said Rice. “Teams will try to do some things to slow us down in transition, and I’m very confident with our ability to pass the ball and shoot the ball. So we’ll continue to work on zone offense every day just like we work on man offense every day.”
Freshman guard Katin Reinhardt, one of the Rebels’ best zone busters because of his outside shooting, believes UNLV is going to see a lot of different defenses this season.
“A lot of teams are going to do that just because matching up with all of us is hard,” said Reinhardt. “With all the players we have, they’re going show us a lot of zone and we’re going to have to show that we can be patient and knock down shots.”
Cook may see action
Freshman Daquan Cook will dress for Wednesday’s game, but it’s unknown yet if he’ll play. Cook is currently redshirting, and if he gets into a game this season it would burn his redshirt year.
The move looks like insurance in case Marshall’s knee turns into something serious, but for now Rice says they’ll be determining Cook’s status on a “game-by-game” basis.
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