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October 20, 2014

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First week at UNLV nothing like Iowa State for Norman

Tyler Norman sliced through the left lane Wednesday afternoon inside the Impact Academy and pulled the hidden-ball trick.

He eked by two UNLV post players, and he produced the ball from somewhere behind his left hip at the last second to slip it in the hoop off the glass.

“I used to do it in the gym all the time,” said Norman, a Faith Lutheran High product whose stint playing ball at Iowa State was forgettable. “I don’t know, it just happened naturally. I didn’t think about it. I just hide the ball and put it where he can’t get it. I bring it back out and shoot it.

“When I start making those little plays, knowing it just happened naturally, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting that flow back, finally. Hopefully, it keeps coming. Every once in a while, it’s nice to have one of those.”

Just about a full week into practice as a Rebel, Norman feels like he belongs.

He hesitated walking on at UNLV, after his sour episode in Ames, Iowa. The time put into the team equals his devotion and passion for the game, and that’s what he questioned.

A week into it, he has answered that question.

“I’m excited,” Norman said. “It’s hard. It’s still really hard to do all this stuff. But I’m having a lot of fun doing this, even though I end up getting dead tired. It’s a challenge to push through it and help these guys.

“I give them breaks when they need it and I see if I can stay on the court for an extra drill. I’m starting to learn the system. I’m enjoying it.”

Five practices into his UNLV career, Norman has regularly come up with crisp passes and solid shots, and he won’t hesitate to drive on a more-established Rebel on the baseline.

Resurrecting his career has already paid dividends, and he thanks his teammates and coach Lon Kruger and his staff.

Absolutely, Norman said, when asked if this experience is night and day from what he went through at Iowa State.

“I get encouragement from the coaches and the guys,” he said. “I’m getting in on plays. At Iowa State, a lot of days I just sat on the sideline the whole time.

“Not getting those reps eventually takes your heart. You lose that motivation and the confidence out there, so when they do put you in you don’t do well. Here, I get reps continuously. If you get a bad one, you get a chance to make up for it. It’s been good.”

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

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