Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009 | 2:44 a.m.
UNLV might have picked the right time to shoot so poorly from beyond the 3-point arc and at the line.
The Rebels might not be able to get away with such horrid figures against a top-20 team like Louisville come Saturday.
Wednesday night, in an 80-59 victory over Holy Cross at the Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV went 4-for-20 from long distance. That 20-percent touch will shoot it out of many games.
Worse, the Rebels only sank 12 of their 24 free-throw attempts. Fifty percent? Guess what they will be working on in practice today and Friday for the Cardinals?
UNLV made up for those woes by pressing, trapping and confounding the Crusaders into poor passes and sloppy dribbling, turning 24 turnovers by Holy Cross into 32 points.
“Right now, things are clicking,” Rebels junior guard Tre'Von Willis said of pestering opponents into turning it over and getting easy baskets from those errors. “That’s our style, our identity. We’re taking the fight to them and making them react, instead of us reacting to them.”
Southern Illinois had the edge Saturday night, but the Rebels shot a torrid 77 percent in the second half to douse the Salukis.
Jeff Hanni, father of UNLV sophomore walk-on guard Todd Hanni, visited this week from Indiana. He watched practice Monday and Tuesday, and caught the Holy Cross game.
A former high school coach in the Midwest, Jeff Hanni went to Illinois games when Lon Kruger coached the Illini and even worked camps for Kruger.
When Todd Hanni didn’t want to return to Vincennes University, a junior college, for his sophomore year, Jeff rang Kruger for a favor. Could Todd walk-on at UNLV? Kruger didn’t hesitate. We’d love to have him.
Todd Hanni is in his second season as a Rebel, and Jeff got to see him play in the final 91 seconds against Holy Cross. Todd missed a shot and grabbed an offensive rebound.
Jeff Hanni’s ties to several top collegiate coaches is rich, and he had a poignant story to tell about Todd’s road trip back to UNLV in August with his grandfather Larry – Jeff’s father.
Jeff made sure they went through Lawrence, Kan. When Larry called Jeff to say he and Todd were inside Phog Allen Fieldhouse, which was being renovated, Jeff went into action.
He rang Jayhawks coach Bill Self, an old friend, and Self had Larry and Todd come by his office. They talked for 10 or 15 minutes, and Self offered Todd a Gatorade. Todd declined.
Upon leaving, Self had some final words for Todd: Keep your (bleep) out of trouble out there, said Self, who told Jeff his boy is a fine-looking basketballer.
With three double-digit scoring efforts in UNLV’s first four games, maybe Willis will be the team’s offensive rudder that many had predicted. He had 17 against Pitt State, 25 vs. the Salukis and 14 on Wednesday. But Willis didn’t get to the line, where he has canned all 18 of his free-throw attempts this season, against Holy Cross. When practice opened that was one of the areas Willis spent an abundance of time on to improve … Willis entered the game shooting 60 percent from the field and he enhanced that a tad by making seven of his 11 attempts against the Crusaders … A great line for a coach to see; 19, 19, 20 and 19. That’s UNLV’s assists in each of its first four games … Former Findlay Prep guard D.J. Richardson was in the building for some of Wednesday’s game. Earlier, he had run through a practice with his Illinois team in the Cox Pavilion auxiliary gym. The Illini is playing a couple of games at the Orleans Arena this weekend in the Las Vegas Invitational.