UNLV BASKETBALL:

UNLV’s Oscar Bellfield hopes to be a closer against UNR

His near-highlight jam in opener surprised fellow Rebels

Image

Justin M. Bowen

Oscar Bellfield goes up for the dunk during UNLVs season opener against Pittsburg State at the Thomas & Mack. on Nov. 14, 2009. The Rebels blew it open in the second half with a 91-52 victory.

The Rebel Room

Sanford out, and what's on deck for Kruger's club

  • You need to upgrade your Flash Player

Ryan Greene and Rob Miech dive into the issue of Mike Sanford's firing from UNLV, plus what went down at his Monday press conference. Also, a look at a big week ahead for the Rebels hoops squad, as it hosts UNR and Southern Illinois.

UNLV vs. UNR

  • UNR Wolf Pack (1-0) at UNLV Rebels (1-0)

  • Where: Thomas and Mack Center

  • When: 7:30 p.m.

  • Coaches: Lon Kruger is 113-53 in six seasons at UNLV and 431-286 in 24 overall seasons; David Carter is 1-0 in his first season at UNR and overall.

  • Series: UNLV leads, 51-19

  • Line: Rebels by 5.5

  • Last time: The Rebels won, 64-57, in Reno on Dec. 6, 2008

  • TV/Radio: The Mtn/ESPN Radio 1100-AM

  • THE WOLF PACK

  • G Brandon Fields (6-4, 185) 14 ppg

  • G Armon Johnson (6-3, 195) 16 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg

  • F Luke Babbitt (6-9, 225) 26 ppg

  • F Dario Hunt (6-8, 230) 2 ppg, 7 rpg, 5 apg

  • C Joey Shaw (6-6, 210) 5 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg

  • Bench: G Ray Kraemer (6-4, 200) 10 ppg; Marko Cukic (6-9, 240) 2 ppg

  • What to watch: Attrition plagued the Pack when Mark Fox departed for Georgia, but the heart and soul of the team remained in the local product Babbitt. Johnson also hails from Reno, and they must be a dynamic duo for UNR to shine. It’s 3-6 in its last nine in Las Vegas.

  • THE REBELS

  • G Tre’Von Willis (6-4, 195) 17 ppg, 4 apg, 3 rpg

  • G Oscar Bellfield (6-2, 180) 1 ppg, 5 apg

  • G Derrick Jasper (6-6, 215) 6 ppg, 4 rpg

  • F Chace Stanback (6-8, 210) 6 ppg, 9 rpg

  • C Brice Massamba (6-10, 240) 9 ppg

  • Bench: G Kendall Wallace (6-4, 190) 16 ppg; F Darris Santee (6-8, 225) 9 ppg, 6 rpg; G Justin Hawkins (6-3, 190) 11 ppg; G Anthony Marshall (6-3, 200) 6 ppg, 3 apg; F Matt Shaw (6-8, 240) 2 ppg, 4 rpg; G Steve Jones (6-1, 220) 8 ppg, 3 rpg

  • What to watch: UNLV’s depth figures to give UNR some major problems this evening. Various players will get called on to defend Babbitt, but plenty of others will chip in to try to frustrate the star forward. If the Massamba-Santee connection produces another 18, the Rebels should win handily.

Oscar Bellfield saw the sliver of an opening on the right side and his eyes widened. Like he did with that game-winning shot at Louisville on New Year’s Eve, he kicked into a high gear.

This time, he soared higher. The UNLV sophomore guard launched himself at the rim Saturday night against Pittsburg State at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Even teammates widened their eyes when they saw Bellfield take off for a dunk.

He missed.

“I have no idea,” a bashful Bellfield said Tuesday afternoon after practice. “I’m surprised it came out. I thought it was in there. Things happen. You bounce back from it.”

Junior guard Tre'Von Willis was on the court when Bellfield tried his high-wire act.

“The thing that got us was how fast he did it,” Willis said. “The lane opened up and he kind of exploded through it. He got up there. I think he surprised himself, that’s why he missed it.”

Misses have been common for a while with the Rebels.

They shot 41.4 percent against the Gorillas, continuing a sour string through last season. Including the Washburn exhibition, the Rebels had made less than 40 percent of their attempts in their previous six games.

“Really, we’re getting good looks,” Bellfield said. “It’s all about knocking them down and having confidence, not thinking about the miss and letting it go.”

UNLV (1-0) can’t afford to miss any dunks tonight, or against most D-I opponents, when its real season begins against UNR (1-0) at the Mack.

In the opener against Division-II Pitt State, the Rebels could afford such a miscue. The visitors hung tough for 10 minutes, when they held a 14-10 advantage.

However, the D-I dam broke against Pitt State when Bellfield tried dunking the ball with eight minutes left until halftime.

The Gorillas led, 19-17. Fortunately for Bellfield, Steve “Chopper” Jones grabbed the ball after it caromed off the rim, and Darris Santee hit a jumper to tie it.

“We weren’t too harsh on him,” Willis said of Bellfield. “Maybe if we didn’t get the rebound back, we’d have gotten on him. But we got a second chance. We weren’t too tough on him.”

When Rebels junior guard Kendall Wallace sank a 3-pointer with 6:39 left in the game, it capped a nearly 24-minute stretch in which UNLV outscored its foes 63-20 for an 80-39 advantage.

“They didn’t think I’d do that,” Bellfield said of his teammates’ reaction to his highlight attempt. “They thought I’d lay it up. But the whole momentum changed after that. It’s cool.”

D-I teams don’t figure to break down like that, especially one with Luke Babbitt. The super 6-foot-9 sophomore and Reno native means everything to the Wolf Pack.

He scored 26 points in UNR’s opener, and last season he was named to the Western Athletic Conference’s first team and earned the league’s freshman-of-the-year honors.

“He looks real good on tape,” Bellfield said. “He’s hitting his shots, being aggressive. He’s a great player. We have to be prepared and contain him. Of course, he did real well last year.”

In Reno on Dec. 6, 2008, Babbitt had 15 points on 5-for-14 shooting in UNR’s 64-57 defeat to UNLV. Fellow Reno native Armon Johnson tallied 21 points, and nine of those came at the free-throw line.

“Babbitt and Johnson are two terrific players,” said UNLV coach Lon Kruger. “They have several good players around them, so you can’t cheat so much on Babbitt and Johnson. Other guys can step up and kill you, too.”

The chief complement is Brandon Fields, a senior guard from Texas who went for 14 points, hitting half of his 12 attempts from the field, in UNR’s 14-point victory over Montana State in its opener.

UNLV sophomore Chace Stanback might start out on Babbitt, but look for other Rebels to chip in to hound Babbitt.

Even Derrick Jasper, the Kentucky transfer who stood to the side of most of Tuesday’s practice, will try to challenge Babbitt.

Right after practice, Jasper left to get treatment on his surgically repaired left knee. Kruger said Jasper has some soreness, but it’s nothing they didn’t expect and Jasper, who said he feels fine, will start tonight.

As for finishing, Bellfield might take a cue from Willis. Anthony Marshall denied a pass and Willis picked it up at halfcourt, then he zipped in for a breakaway jam against Pitt for a 67-34 edge.

“We keep defending like we did against Pitt State, we can get easy buckets,” Willis said. “It’ll get the building energized and get the team going. It makes the game easier for us … gets us in a groove.”

Since practice started, Bellfield has been wowed by the athleticism on his squad.

“People can do a lot more things,” he said. “I think that’ll show, in steals and dunks.”

And about him converting his next electric sky-high drive to the rim?

“Yeah, of course,” Bellfield said. “And if I don’t, I’ll do it again … and keep doing it.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 62 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy.

  1. He will be one of the Five-Six rebels to average over 8 points a game. A true team player.

  2. Yea did you see that job you lost? Kruger has done seven or 8 things that haven't been done by a coach since tark!! Get over the fact he fired you and see that he is returning this team to the top.

    Kruger is one of only 4 coaches to lead 3 different programs to a sweet 16 along with rick pitino,tubby smith, and bill self

  3. Yea did you see that job you lost? Kruger has done seven or 8 things that haven't been done by a coach since tark!! Get over the fact he fired you and see that he is returning this team to the top.

    Kruger is one of only 4 coaches to lead 3 different programs to a sweet 16 along with rick pitino,tubby smith, and bill self

    oh yea the program is doing so bad... They draw 14,000+ (more than last season averaged) against a d2 team. Cant wait to see the crowd in 17 hours! Its a great time to be a runnin rebel fan. Don't let the idiot who poSted before me ruin that!

  4. No one does. Sufferin is just out to get people mad. Most likely a 12 year old kid(or at least the mind set of one) with nothing better to do.

  5. He was fired by kruger and now he wants him fired! He never answers that question and stops posting when we start talking about how he got fired

  6. T-minus 12 hours Rebels!

  7. Oscar is a guy who definitely needs to step up. He came out the gates fast last year playing very well then hit the wall around conference time and was very mediocre. His first two games this year have also been lackluster. He needs to be more of a penetrator and set up guy. His outside shot is streaky at best but he has the athleticism to blow by. He needs to stop settling for pull up threes and get to the rack. Good things will happen if he can do this. This is probably good advice for most of the Rebs(excluding Kendall). Get to the rack early, collapse the defense, then look to stick threes. Runnin' Rebels!

  8. Good to hear that it didn't hurt O's confidence!

  9. ksiffermann and sufferin are the same guy. Just read their posts, it is a dead give away. Sufferin is trying to sound like a less intelligent guy as ksiffermann but is still saying the same old thing.
    (rebelsfan11 do you see the similarities between the two?)

  10. If Sufferin was actually a coached under Kruger it would explain all of the constant negativity. It would also, at the same time, give him credibility and take it away. If he coached college basketball he would obviously know what he is talking about, but in talking about the man who supposedly fired him it just comes across as a constant attach and sour grapes.

  11. Oops, constant attack. Don't want anyone to latch on to that typo!

  12. Whoa there bball fan: sufferin wasn't a coach he was just some kind of job that was behind the scenes in the athletic dept. And betonblack, totally see the resemblance. On mwcboard.com there is even a thread made about how much of an ass he is and how he had like 7 screennames haha. And on unlv.rivals.net he has several screen names. This guy is unemployed and has no life. His goal in life is to piss of all rebels fans

  13. Regarding the big men , we havent had a muscle man since the days of
    Kaspers Kambala. There is no doubt Kruger will have to focus on the 5
    position in the next few years. We have plenty of guards and wing men

  14. Indeed, stuka. The 18 points that Santee and Massamba combined for vs Pitt State was a good start. If that becomes routine, it will be huge for UNLV. thx

  15. very good points. how about you ban Sufferin's IP address?

  16. why dont you go down to the mack and help fill that place up? thats what the team needs is some fans to be loud and support em!

  17. btw i havent seen a Miech Again for awhile..i thought they would be up every day....its all good if youre busy but just askin

  18. Sufferin is mostly a clown with no life but every once in a while he has interesting points, like the one he made here. It's an embarrassment that we have a story that revolves arouns someone missing a dunk. I know that wasn't the point of the story, but still. He does have a point about the team not being athletic enough and we have no power downlow. None. We don't really have a guy who intimidates anyone in the paint... I think that's more a reflection of the entire conference than just UNLV though. When you look at elite programs, they are stacked with guys who are extremely athletic and very powerful. Our conference doesn't have that.

  19. letsgo, The Intimidator is on the sideline right now, Quintrell Thomas. Rehabbing after shoulder surgery. Should be practicing full tilt late Dec or early Jan. In from Kansas and will be ready to go next season. Still, from Jan on, he'll be toughening em up in practice for the stretch run.

  20. well i'd say we have athletic guys, but the big men are a problem. but kruger i fixing it! next year we will be solid with QT, Buckley, and Lopez manning the paint with Massamba and Shaw. Dont be surprised if some of those walkons get pushed back to just a practice player b/c there arent enough spots on the bench lol

    we are athletic and that missed dunk was a fluke..did u see how high he went up? that has nothing to do with athleticism. if you watched it, you saw that he jumped from like 1 foot in front of the freethrow line and soared thru the air just couldnt put it down.

    the guys that we have that are as athletic as ANYONE IN THE MWC ARE:
    Oscar
    Tre
    Jasper
    Chace
    Marshall
    Massamba (COMPLETELY KIDDING :D)
    Hawkins

    those guys are very quick and athletic. i may even be forgetting a guy or two. and QT next yr will be on the list.

  21. Thomas is a beast, I agree. He's about 6'7 240 lbs. That's what we need. Totally agree with you Miech. But he can't help us this yr... We can hope and pray that Massamba and Santee get it done, but deep down I think we all know they are not very good. Our team has been hurt tremendously these last few years by this same situation. Hamga was supposed to be that guy and he ended up being a total bust, which I think set us back. It is extremely difficult, actually it's impossible, to compete at a national level with no rebounding, no intimidation, or athleticism in the front court. I'm not trying to be negative, these are facts.

  22. rebelsfan11, I'm talking about competing at a national level. We all know we can compete in the MWC. We've made the NCAA tourney 2 out of the last 3 yrs. No doubt we can compete. I'm talking at a national level. The guys who are on teams playing deep into the tourney are A LOT more athletic, a lot stronger, taller, etc. than most of our guys. Anyone who watches elite programs knows what I'm talking about... The dunks, the drive and kicks, the and 1's.. That's all I'm saying. Our team relies on fundamental basketball, shooting 3's and defense. That gets it done at our conference level. You can't do that against elite teams because we'll get crushed on the boards and many other factors. Our team is pretty weak from a physical standpoint. Just look at some of these guys and you'll see what I'm talking about. I wish we had Thomas this yr, he would help us tremendously.

  23. rebelsfan11, LMAO at Massamba.. I saw someone on unlv.rivals.net say that he couldn't jump over a tortilla. That had me LMAO.. Sadly, it was probably Sufferin who said it.

  24. i think for the level of team we are (20 in nation and up) we are an athletic and very young team. you have to remember how young these guys are and cut em some slack sometimes. santee should be cut NO slack b/c he is a senior, he was supposed to be THE senior.

    but, as i was saying before..when comparing us to the teams that are 20 in the nation and up we are athletic and will only improve over these next few years. of course we arent as athletic as kansas. it takes time.

    read the newest article posted on this site. that would be the biggest step Kruger has made to make us a preseason top 25 every single season. we also are on the top 3 list for a player in the 2011 class that is like the number 2 PG in america..crazy stuff.. who woulda imagined this 3-4 years ago

  25. letsgo, but QT is going to help the team this season, in practice. Little by little, he's taking part in just a few drills in practice. Yesterday, while the squad ran through some sets on one end of the Mack court, QT shot at the other end. He was dunking... layups, mid-rangers. He will help them in practice. That's not minor. Those are facts, letsgo (your last couple sentences.) Very true. That must improve to make a dent in March.
    Massamba does have lift, and coaches hope to see that in games. Yesterday, he probably executed his most ferocious dunk as a Rebel. Yeah, hust practice, but he skied, threw down with both hands and yanked on the rim with both hands. Seeing that, say, tonight vs UNR would probably send fans into a frenzy ... we'll see ... thx
    Not unexpected news on Cory Joseph that I just filed on the site ... still, big in its own way for Lon Kruger and staff. Fans will want to circle Dec. 12 on their calendars...

  26. Miech, agree with you. QT should help in practice. From what I saw last yr, Massamba has no mental toughness. He was getting dominated ALL the time at both ends of the court both physically and mentally. If you say he has lift, I believe you. But if he doesn't show that in games, then he still has no mental toughness. The only reason guys perform in practice and don't during games is mental toughness. They are intimidated/scared of other guys. I hope that has changed.

  27. the Cory Joseph visit (if we get him or not) is a turning point for the recruiting. we are now going to be getting guys in top 100 year in and year out..

    i dont know if i have shared this with you guys so i will; here is the list of all the players (including transfers) that were ranked in HS and what they were:
    Jasper- #6 PG in nation. #39 sr overall.WOW
    Stanback-#69 sr in nation
    Marshall-#17 SG in nation #64 sr in nation
    Lopez-#45 C in US..#105 Sr in nation

  28. You forgot to mention Thomas, another 4 star recruit. Only problem is that out of those 5 guys, 3 of them came in as transfers.

  29. and QT + tre were barely out of the top 100 in their years..i like this teamm...hahah but yes guys we should and will get more athletic over these next few seasons..im not sure you guys are sure how athletic Anthony Marshall is..his Jr yr in HS he averaged something like 20 ppg 8 rpg 8apg 5 spg and 2 bpg..i might be wrong on the pts it may be 18 and i may have the steals and blocks mixed up but that was it..he is an athlete that isnt to be argued

  30. who cares what they came in as, the fact is that they are athletes!

  31. come on Robert, why would you post that on here. we can all tell by how you are posting and occasionally referencing to stupid sufferin that it is in fact you. dont post crap like that on this rebels site. go post it on some other site, maybe the team youre a fan of.

  32. Look, if the tandem of Santee and Massamba can average close to a double double every game (10pts/10rbs), the backcourt can more than make up for the rest. Unfortunately, at this point, that's a pretty big if.

    See you guys at The Mack tonight. Let's hope the basketball team throws it down on UNR, to make up for our football team's showing in Reno this year. Go, Rebs!

  33. Go Rebels. Tonight we will see just how good this new team is. I am really keeping my fingers crossed.

  34. I'm not sufferin. Look at all the comments I've made in the past. I probably shouldn't have put that link there but I was trying to make a point of what athleticism is. That's athleticism and until we have it, we can't compete nationally. Nobody on our team can do anything like that. Anyways, it was probably the wrong way to get a point across.

  35. how bout this..like a system each point scored, each rebound, each block all counts as one point towards the centers total. so i think 25 points between them per game is what is needed.

    i mean it like this..
    say they get 12 points 6 rebounds and 2 blocks..
    its 12+6+2=20 so it isnt good enough!

    how does that sounds guys?

  36. Not bad 11, but I think Kruger would be quite happy with 18 points and 10 boards combined at the center position. That would make a difference. Massamba has clearly made strides since last season, but it is imperative to see that translate into production in a game like tonight's...

  37. oh, id love 18 pts and 10 boards. between them too. thats more than QT will probably produce. But QT wont get pushed around like they do. And his presence will open it up for them shoooooters! i cannnootttt wait till tonight im kinda goin crazyyy

  38. LMAO, he's like Smith from Matrix 2...he's found a way to copy himself!

    Oscar attempting a dunk is PROGRESS -- thanks for bringing that to light, Rob. Good for you, O. Keep going hard and your teammates will follow..

  39. remember this is the kid who threw it down on someone in his first college game..who else can say they did that???

    grayback, u talkin bout Robert right? haha he keep makin new names its ridiculous! unless its an original i assume its Robert pretty much at this point. He has ruined every single message board rebel basketball related...Sun,rivals,mwcboard and im sure more! atleast the Sun is still doing well!

  40. right Gray, he saw the opening and chose not to take it in lightly. That is key. They are all trying to adopt a more aggressive style, courtesy of Tre Willis's influence and the coaches' constant direction. You hit the nail ... even O did when he said, yeah, I missed, but look what happened afterward ... the Rebels went on a big, bad run to put away Pitt State. The power move made UNLV flex. And next time he'll hammer it down. thx

  41. id love to see Massamba dunk for once..just sayin..i dont think hes ever dunked in a game..and he gets so many shots right under the hoop and just lays em in..no big fella, you dont do that..you bring energy into the building by throwin it dowwwwnn dowwwnn

  42. It's actually sad that it got to the point where anyone making a negative comment or anything criticizing anything related to UNLV is now assumed to be that clown. Hope to see the team do well tonight.

  43. well you even sound like him in your sentences and stuff so ya i think it is you

  44. No, it's not 11. And yes, I was referring to him. I chose to take the Bill Parcells approach.

  45. I'm not though. I've gotten in serious arguments with that guy in the past too. I think I'm just being realistic about what this team is, that's all. I've said before this team has potential to be a top 25 team at some point in the yr and win the MWC. From what I remember, I think he projected NIT or CBI. I think Kruger is doing a good job. All I have a problem with is the big guys (lack of rebounding, shot blocking, intimidation factor) and the fact that we don't have the athleticism/strength to compete at a national level. That might change next season, maybe even this season. I don't know and neither does anyone else because we haven't seen this group play together. Just because I don't have false aspirations for this team doesn't mean I'm the same guy who claims he is best friends with Bob Huggins and that getting a new practice facility is a "horrible" idea. I'm not him bro.

  46. So anyone who says anything bad is him??? Really? What did I say that was so crazy? That we have no rebounding? Athleticism to compete with elite programs? I even said QT would change a lot of that and that I think we'll probably be a good team. That's what everyone says. Even Miech agreed on that, how can you not? Listen to the radio, talk to your friends or anyone who watches games and they will tell you those are the factors that are holding us back. Actually, even Lon Kruger agrees with that. He talks about getting dominated in the paint all the time. Read my comments as a whole, not just one comment that made you mad.

  47. all i have to say is the Rebs NEED to bring it tonight against UNRA (a little jab for armon johnson)

  48. Good banter gents, let's just try to keep these chats civil and on-point. Those are valid topics and watching this team develop will be intriguing. And, hopefully, we'll have more concrete news on that practice facility very soon ... thx guys

  49. Hi guys!
    New to the board, but I am a big Rebel Fan.
    Think this is quite a test for UNLV tonight lets hope they pull through!
    I feel like the Wolf Pack's experience will come up huge in this game, and they cought the Rebs at a good time (b4 they have had the chance to develope chemestry).
    If it were late in the season I would say UNLV easy, but because of the timing I think this game belongs to who wants it more.

  50. caught, develop, chemistry

    sorry had my head up my !@#

  51. While watching the game last year I never really feared we were going to lose and I think this is a much better team than last year's squad. If you take away the "home court" advantage this really shouldn't be an issue.

    By "home court" in mean the whole "strength of the Pack is in the wolves and the strength of the wolf is in the pack". If you haven't seen this, it is worth a trip to Reno for the laugh!

  52. Ak, welcome! I'm not so sure about the "experience" of UNR. They have Babbitt and Johnson, with a little help from Fields. Not much else. Many new faces. Very little help against Montana State. I'm thinking Babbitt might get his 30, but UNLV wins by 15.

  53. Pretty bold statement Rob. Spread is 6 at most places. I can see a blowout... or I can see a tough game come down to the last couple mins. I really don't know what to expect because this team has basically never played a meaningful game together.

  54. we need to play high pressure full court D from the tipoff. they have no depth AT ALL. we need to be subbin guys in n out to have fresh legs in there. pretty soon they will just be too tired to run with the Runnin Rebels!

  55. We should play full court D probably every game because we have so many guards. We have like 8 guys who play guard/small forward. They should press and run against this team all game long.

  56. That post was meant as a joke, Reno sucks!

  57. absolutely letsgo ... that should be a staple and I think it will, if not all game long then the majority ... my pick was just a feeling off the top of my head. I think UNLV is really going to get after it on defense. enjoy gents

  58. Somebody's got to put that "strength of the Pack" gibberish on YouTube. It would be good for a laugh, kind of like Reno.

  59. yea we are gonna get a good laugh out of reno tonight. wait for some of the chants the student section has ready for em. rest of the crowd should join in!

  60. Sergio, if UNLV plays up-tempo they can beat anyone...... anyone in the MWC.

  61. letsgorebs,
    dont be so negative. it should be rephrased to 'if they...they can PLAY with anyonre." im sure they could upset Kansas if they played 40 minutes of perfect basketball BUT i wouldnt expect it. they are improving, not much more to ask.