REBELS BASKETBALL:

UNLV hoops notebook: Asthma doesn’t bother Bellfield

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UNLV guard Oscar Bellfield flies over North Carolina A&T guard Nic Simpson for two points during the first half of their game Saturday.

UNLV vs. North Carolina A&T

UNLV forward Joe Darger and guard Mareceo Rutledge grab for a defensive rebound during the second half of their game against North Carolina A&T Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center. Darger finished with 18 points and four rebounds while Rutledge finished with five points and five boards. Launch slideshow »

Next game

  • Opponent: UTEP
  • Where: El Paso, Texas
  • When: Monday, Nov. 24, 6 p.m.

UNLV freshman point guard Oscar Bellfield isn’t bothered by his asthma, but those who try to invade his personal space do bother him.

“Everybody’s always in my business, but it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s not a big deal.”

Senior guard Wink Adams caught Bellfield trying to conceal an inhaler the other day and playfully teased his teammate.

“But he’ll be a great player,” Adams said. “He looks to me and Tre (sophomore guard Tre’Von Willis), and everyone else, and takes information in and transfers it to the games.

“He’ll get better and better.”

Fifth-year coach Lon Kruger said after the game that he didn’t know Bellfield had asthma.

Kruger started Willis at the point for the first time Saturday night against North Carolina A&T, and he had eight points, four assists, three turnovers and two steals in 26 minutes.

Bellfield, off the bench, had four points, two assists, three steals and two turnovers in 23 minutes.

Senior forward Joe Darger has not noticed any side effects, or slowing down, of Bellfield.

“He’s fine,” Darger said. “He’s played well this season. Tonight, coach started ‘Tre.’ He’s a little stronger and could give their little guard more trouble. Different nights there will be different lineups.”

Back to basics

UNLV’s trio of centers – Darris Santee, Brice Massamba and Beas Hamga – combined to score nine points and grab three rebounds against the Aggies.

Thomas Coleman was having his way down low, so Kruger put Darger in at center for the stretch run, when A&T had taken the lead.

Darger played a key role in taking Coleman outside, freeing up the interior for other Rebels.

“Reminds me of the good ol’ days,” said senior forward Rene Rougeau. “I tell you, coach has faith in Joe at the ‘five’ spot. In crunch time, he goes with the bread-and-butter guys, more experienced guys.

“Beas, Brice and Darris, they’ll improve and get more experience down the road.”

At 6-feet-7, Darger played center all of last season.

“It’s something I’m used to,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll be at ‘five,’ ‘four,’ even ‘three’ when we have a bigger lineup.”

Hardly free

The Rebels haven’t fared well at the line so far this season.

They have shot better than 70 percent only once, and barely (17-of-24, .708), against Texas-Pan American.

Against San Diego it was 68 percent (17-of-25), Northern Arizona was 61.5 percent (16-of-26) and North Carolina A&T was 69.2 percent (18-of-26).

Teams can get away with that at home, as UNLV has done. On the road? That’s a different story. The Rebels will find out Monday, at Texas-El Paso, if they can change that or if it will haunt them.

The winner is …

For the first time in four home games, the walk-ons, transfers and injured players who dress in street clothes came to play Saturday night.

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Matt Shaw (left), Steve "Chopper" Jones (center) and Rob Ketchum during a break in the action last season.

For the first time, more than just Chace Stanback and Steve “Chopper” Jones spiffed up for the occasion, turning that highly unofficial contest into an actual competition.

Stanback, to Chopper’s chagrin, won the first three battles. Chopper argued that he came out strong for the exhibition. Alas, it was just an exhibition. Didn’t count.

Stanback won the opener and scored two more victories. Chopper tied him in Games 2 and 3, but to be the champ you have to decisively beat the champ.

Saturday night, Rob Ketchum (blue dress shirt and polka-dot tie) and Matt Shaw (cream slacks, white dress shirt and cream tie) got into the fray for the first time.

Stanback wore a blue-striped dress shirt, with white collar and cuffs, those silver cuff links and a blue tie. Jones was decked in dark slacks, white dress shirt and pink tie.

“Pretty in pink,” he said as he walked to the bench before the game. He even polished up those shoes, he said.

Bad movie title, though, Chopper. So we have to go with Shaw, a newcomer to the wardrobe showdown whose subtle taste won the day.

It’s Stanback 3, Shaw 1, with 13 regular-season games left.

Rougeau said he expects Shaw and Ketchum, all roommates in an Anthem house, to continue to press Stanback.

You’re close, Chop. Real close.

The gate

Through UNLV’s first four home games last season, a bit more than 45,000 fans went to the Thomas & Mack Center. That included games against UNR and Louisville.

Against a less-attractive schedule this season, through four games, UNLV has announced a total draw of about 49,000.

Free throws

North Carolina A&T might have been in the game longer had it not shot so horribly (7-of-16, .438) at the free-throw line. It entered the game shooting 65.2 percent from the stripe … that UNLV bench production, of 70 points in the previous two games, dipped Saturday to 17 points … Mo Rutledge led the way for the reserves with five points, but he also had five rebounds and four steals in an active 19 minutes. Over his past 33 games as a Rebel, he has played more than that only once, when he logged 21 minutes at home against San Diego State last season … he said his injured right wrist is still swollen, but he called it a minor injury … Adams has a sore right hip, from a fall earlier in the week, but he said it’s nothing serious … UNLV’s first four foes have shot .377, .364, .426 and .426 from the field ... that was a second-round game of the oddly constructed Global Sports Classic. A third rounder takes place Friday, when UNLV plays host to California. The final round is Saturday, with the Rebels playing either Cincinnati or Florida State ... former UNLV center Gaston Essengue has signed a contract with the West-Brabant Giants, who play in the Eredivisie and are based in Bergen, in The Netherlends. His visa papers should be completed within the next week ... ex-Rebels guard Curtis Terry led the Los Angeles D-Fenders with 13 points off the bench in their 90-85 defeat at Anaheim on Saturday night.

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  1. It's not my job to gauge if certain people care or don't care about someone's affliction. The fact is, asthma could hinder an athlete. You know that Lenny. That it hasn't slowed down many, as you say, and Oscar and his teammates don't believe it slows Oscar down, that's all that needs to be known.
    But don't tell me that it is a minor issue and always is a minor issue. A close friend died from asthma complications. So don't tell me it isn't something that should be taken seriously.
    Who cares? That's pretty flippant.

  2. Right on, Rob.

  3. Thanks, phurn. That was the heart there. You never forget the first time you're a pallbearer.

  4. Who cares he has asthma? I do. I'm a huge Rebel fan and I also have asthma and didn't know this about Oscar.

    Lenny, It's more serious than you realize.

    One of the things that come to mind is the pregame fireworks show generates a large amount of smoke. The smoke has had me reaching for my inhaler on several occasions. I wonder if it effects Oscar?

    Thank you for the insightful story Rob.

  5. Thanks, cause. I'll see what Oscar says about that. Have fun watching the game tonight.

  6. Obviously, it doesn't affect his athletic ability. That was the point. That he has it and it is not an issue. Don't misread what the point of the piece was.