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August 30, 2014

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Ten things we’ve learned from UNLV hoops practice

After four practices and a public scrimmage, it’s a day of rest for the UNLV basketball team.

But not for us.

Here are 10 thoughts, or things we’ve noticed, about the Rebels as the 2009-10 season isn’t even a week old.

10. Senior center Darris Santee, The Quiet One, might not have such a quiet season. At least, that’s what UNLV fans must be hoping after he led everyone with 13 points in Friday night’s scrimmage.

9. The 19 points by walk-ons Mychal Martinez, Tyler Norman, Steve “Chopper” Jones and Todd Hanni showed how serviceable that group will continue to be for sixth-year coach Lon Kruger.

8. This is Kruger’s sixth season!? Yes, kids, it flies. Have fun every day.

7. Martinez had a layup and a put-back off a missed 3-pointer by Matt Shaw, but look closer. Martinez took a charge, from freshman guard Justin Hawkins, in the second half. THAT is what will earn him points with Kruger.

6. Tre’Von Willis might have some critics. Who doesn’t in D-I basketball? But he is a fantastic teammate. That is evident in many ways in every practice.

5. Carlos Lopez, the freshman center from Findlay Prep, has a ways to go to get his strength back after losing 30 pounds from catching that virus in France this summer. He has much to learn, but his moves and shot-blocking ability will keep him in the thick of the low-post battles.

4. Sophomore center Brice Massamba’s off-season work, and some choice words from his hoopster brothers in Sweden, have paid great dividends. We take a closer look at Massamba on Wednesday.

3. Point guard Derrick Jasper, the Kentucky transfer who hasn’t played a game at full speed since high school, looks so smooth and fast at times it almost appears as if he’s skating on ice.

2. The venue switch for practice to Impact Academy, Monday and Wednesday, highlights how the squad needs its own practice facility. That has been talked about for a few years, and Kruger acknowledged that they are ongoing, even in this tough economic climate.

1. We are STILL waiting to see Jasper and Chace Stanback (left ankle sprain) on the court at the same time in a competitive situation. Probably won’t happen until next week. Foes probably hope it wouldn’t happen until next season.

Follow Rob Miech on Twitter at twitter.com/RobMiech.

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