RunRebs is profiling every significant player on the UNLV roster in a series we call "Meet the Rebels." Today's focus: junior forward Mike Moser.
Last year, Mike Moser was unquestionably the focus of the UNLV offense. Everything the Rebels did revolved around the 6-foot-8 forward in some way, and his statistics reflected that.
Moser's low-post game and mid-range scoring ability gave the Rebels a trump card in the frontcourt, and few opponents could match up. On a team that wasn't overflowing with shot creators, Moser's breakout season was a blessing. He averaged a team-high 14.0 points per game, with five 20-plus efforts. In the team's signature win, a 90-80 victory over North Carolina, he posted 16 points, 18 rebounds and six assists.
The composition of this year's UNLV team is different than last year's, however, and roles have changed. More playmakers have been added, and as a result, Moser's responsibilities have shifted. The ball isn't in his hands as much, and through the first two games of the season (including the exhibition against Dixie State), Moser's presence as a scorer has been noticibly diminished.
The Rebels scored 92 points in a season opening win over Northern Arizona, and only two came from Moser. He went 1-for-6 from the floor, and four of his attempts came from 3-point range. Last year, he sported a usage rate of 19.4 percent (meaning that almost
20 percent of the Rebels' possessions ended with a Moser taking a shot
or generating an assist or turnover). Including the Dixie State exhibition, his usage rate is just 12.5 percent this season, a steep drop-off.
Is this a case of small sample size, or a trend that will continue throughout the season?
As stated earlier, the increased talent level has taken a lot of the pressure off Moser, and he says he's comfortable sacrificing his scoring in order to improve the team offense.
"That's something I plan on doing a lot this year," Moser said. "We've got so much talent around us. Everybody can score. We're trying to make sure we use everybody and just keep everybody involved."
The two players with the highest usage rate so far are freshmen Katin Reinhardt (16.7 percent) and Anthony Bennett (14.6). And with Bennett getting most of the touches down low (nearly 30 percent of UNLV's post plays have run through Bennett), it's natural to expect Moser to shift toward a more perimeter-based game. He's attempted just one shot from the low post this season and put up 13 3-pointers.
Despite the slow start, Moser expects his scoring numbers to pick up within the flow of the offense.
"I know I'm still a major option in this offense," Moser said. "Coach has plenty of sets where I catch the ball on the perimeter and iso, or catch it in the post, and we can play out of the pick and roll."
It would be easy for Moser to complain about losing touches to Bennett. Moser put off the NBA draft to come back to UNLV this year, and some publications selected him as a preseason All-American. And he's moving off his spot for a freshman??
But to Moser's credit, he's taking the team view, noting how Bennett's presence makes the offense that much more dangerous.
"Anthony creates a lot of shots for me," Moser said. "I'm always going to have a ton of options for shots, but the main thing is getting everybody else going first, becuase I know I'm going to get my offense."
After the Northern Arizona game, coach Dave Rice praised Moser for impacting the game in other ways. And at some point this season, the Rebels are going to need Moser to step up and drop 25 on somebody. But for now, he's content to play team ball and let the offense flow.
"I just kind of do what I need to do to make sure my team wins," Moser said. "Whether that's scoring at the time or rebounding, or maybe we need somebody stopped. Whatever the job is, I'm going to do that."
Previous "Meet the Rebels" entries:
Khem Birch (Oct. 23)
Savon Goodman (Oct. 24)
Justin Hawkins (Oct. 26)
Katin Reinhardt (Oct. 29)
Anthony Marshall (Oct. 31)
Bryce Dejean-Jones (Nov. 5)
Anthony Bennett (Nov. 9)
Follow Mike Grimala (@MikeGrimala) on Twitter for 24/7 Rebels updates.