UNLV BASKETBALL:

Quintrell Thomas adds inside muscle in return to practice floor

Kansas transfer takes part in full-contact drills after recovering from shoulder surgery

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AP PHOTO

Kansas’ Quintrell Thomas (11) gets past UMKC’s James Humphrey (1) and Latreze Mushatt (4) to put up a shot during the first half on Nov. 16, 2008, in Lawrence, Kan. Thomas announced his intent to transfer to UNLV on May 22, 2009.

UNLV vs #25 BYU

Turnovers late ultimately doomed UNLV, as the Rebels fell to 25th ranked BYU on Wednesday night in Provo, 77-73.

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UNLV guard Oscar Bellfield shoots a runner against BYU on Wednesday at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. Launch slideshow »

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The Rebel Room

BYU POSTGAME: Cougars clean glass, oust Rebels

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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer take a look back on what went down in Provo on Wednesday, as UNLV stumbled against BYU, losing 77-73 in its Mountain West Conference opener. The guys look at what must change for the Rebels before they take on No. 15 New Mexico on Saturday in Albuquerque.

The 19 offensive rebounds BYU pulled down against UNLV in Wednesday night's 77-73 loss in Provo made for a hot postgame topic.

Those repeated second chances helped the Cougars stick around long enough to pounce as the Rebels fumbled away a late six-point lead.

Naturally, in the wake of said letdown, UNLV's interior play was active and feisty during a Thursday afternoon practice at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Adding significantly to that mix was a new presence — forward Quintrell Thomas.

The Kansas transfer, who will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning next season, took part in full-contact, half-court drills for the first time as a Rebel.

"It feels good being here playing, not just sitting on the side the whole time," the New Jersey native said. "I was borderline depressed at times because of how much I've been sitting on the sidelines just watching, but the closer you get, the better you feel."

The 6-foot-8, 245-pound sophomore, who is built for combat in the low post, underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in late July.

After averaging 1.5 points and two rebounds per game a year ago for the Jayhawks, he was lost in the shuffle of Bill Self's deep rotation. He landed in Las Vegas, as Lon Kruger and his staff already had established a relationship with the Saint Patrick High grad as a prep before he committed to Kansas.

His arrival on the UNLV scout team on Thursday couldn't have come at a better time.

"One thing I've noticed since I've been practicing today is everybody's going to the boards a little harder, so that's good that I can actually get in there and put fire in them to do things we're lacking in right now," he said. "There's no reason we shouldn't be a better rebounding team."

Through 15 games, UNLV ranks eighth among nine Mountain West programs in rebounds allowed per game, averaging 36.3. The 36 boards the Rebels are taking down per outing rank sixth in the league. And UNLV's rebounding margin of -0.3 is eighth.

BYU's 19 offensive boards and the 44 the Cougars took down overall Wednesday stung UNLV a bit more than normal, given that rebounding was one of just a few facets of the game the Rebels didn't control.

Outside of that, defensively UNLV forced BYU to play a half-court game, which the Cougars clearly were uncomfortable with. However, the 15 second-chance points that BYU accumulated gave the home team enough of a boost to stick around and make the decisive late-game push.

"I think it hurts a little deeper when, maybe, one of the reasons we didn't win the game was the 19 offensive rebounds," Kruger said. "It certainly drives the point home a little bit."

Thomas said it was tough to watch the loss to BYU, but he speaks like a perfectionist, saying that every game can be tough to watch — win or lose. As if it's not hard enough not suiting up or traveling with his teammates, Thomas constantly envisions how he could contribute if the calendar were fast-forwarded a year.

"To tell you the truth, it's frustrating for me to watch every game, because I sort of see things going wrong and I know that if I was there I could help with certain things, but everybody makes mistakes," he said. "So you just have to watch and hope that they counter mistakes with good plays."

Instead, Thomas is working himself back into shape. His strength is good right now, and he's close to having his complete stamina back. Even though he was winded at times Thursday, Thomas contested hard for rebounds, knocked teammates around inside and even disrupted a handful of shots underneath.

When UNLV suits up again on Saturday to face No. 15 New Mexico in Albuquerque, of course, Thomas will be back in Las Vegas with the rest of the walk-ons and redshirts. Still, he's looking forward to helping the Rebels find their form during the second half of the season on the practice floor.

Whatever gets him away from having to watch practice from the sidelines, Thomas is all for it.

"The longest I've been away from basketball since I started playing was about a month," he said. "Being away from actual competitive basketball for six months is hard."

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  1. Just wait for next year, baby! With Thomas and Lopez joining the team and probably one (possibly two) of the following committing to UNLV -- Polee, Gordon, or Joseph -- the Rebels are going to be unstoppable. They may not make the NCAA this year, but anything less than sweet 16 next year will be a letdown.

  2. Gordon already committed to New Mexico. I think we land Polee, and hopefully the Buckley kid turns out decent as well. Lopez and Thomas will be huge for us in the years to come. Go Rebs

  3. yea I am a HUGE fan of Lopez and Buckley. search up tape on either ones game and it is just what this team needs. QT is a big who is ultra-athletic and can knock down the J while Los is a finesse (Pau Gasol) type of player

  4. Same problem with USC was shown again against BYU. Even though BYU was not as big as USC, they still out-rebounded us, can't be dealing with this problem come tourney time. Free throws were also another issue with the team. You make free throws you win games. Other than those two things UNLV looked great, they were aggressive and shot the ball from the outside. Racking up all the blocked shots in the beginning was nice too. Same effort Saturday with some minor adjustments = a rebel win.

  5. Everyone keeps saying they cant wait for next year...these are the same people that were saying the same thing last year "wait til Jasper and Stanbeck get on the court" BIG GAME AGAINST BYU AND BOTH OF THEM DON'T WANT TO TAKE THE BIG SHOT!!!

  6. I'm with lanea1 on this one. I'm so tired of hearing "next year will be better, etc, etc, we will have so and so."

    I'm ready THIS year. No time like the present.

  7. I'm all for the Rebels getting a lesson on how to scrap for board from QT during practice. Now, let's have it translate to games!

  8. i 3rd that motion.. have said it before... "wait till next year" is played out and tired. sound like 11. jasper and stanback need to quit with the drama and jump on board. if stanback wants to run the point then they need to figure it out.. and quick.

  9. While UNLV looks good, I have yet to see a "leader" on the court. Who is this years Wink Adams or Kevin Kruger? The Rebels have great team chemistry, but someone needs to step up, get in teammates faces, motivate on the court and not be afraid to take over a game!

  10. here is a team that is 12-3 and yet you guys complain.....

    you "fans" are a joke to me. if you dont like the team then stop following them and everyone else will enjoy their success

  11. unlvrunrebs is trying to bag on me while saying stanbAck should run the point? I think you have him and Jasper confused. If one of the 2 needs to be PG, it is Mr Jasper.. :)

  12. I don't buy the lack of leadership. Tre' is clearly the leader of this team and wants (and gets) the ball in his hands at the end of the game. Jasper makes a big difference and OB runs the offense well. Just because we play a lot of guys and someone isn't in there demanding 60% shots DOES NOT mean that there isn't a leader on this team.
    There's nothing wrong with anticipating next year when you return your staring five, add 2 (hopefully) quality bigs as well as potentially an impact freshmen. However, it is too early to give up on this year. It IS time for the newcomers to start doing what they were brought here to do. Chemistry and the system should not be much of an issue now and it's time to beat some quality teams.

  13. Personally, i hope we don't sign Cory joseph. He didn't look that great when Findlay lost to that team from Ohio. Plus we already have enough guards as it is. I wouldn't want to temp Kruger with a 5 guard lineup next year trying to get them all playing time.

  14. 1 game into conference play, a loss on the road to BYU by 4 after a 2 week layoff and the idiots are out again. At least wait until a few games into the conference before you start showing your ignorance. What do you people want? You should be looking for a brain you cockroaches crawling out of the darkness after any loss.

  15. 30% average chance to win a game at a MWC school arena. True story. It's not easy to win at any of the MWC teams on the road.

  16. 11... you got me.. i stand corrected.. i meant derrick or oscar need to figure out whos going to be the point guard, leader, and identity of this team. like the old saying.. if you have 2 starting quarterbacks you really have zero. i feel the same way about 2 starting point guards.

  17. Oscar is and needs to stay the starting point guard and has probably been our most consistent player all around this season. Jasper and Stanback definitely need to contribute more on both ends, but offense specifically. And soccer fantic please go find a soccer article to read. Beas Hamga didn't go to Kansas and play last year like QT did. QT will do well.
    Let's go Rebs.

  18. Oscar is the PG. He will be until he leaves. He has had atleast 3 (I think) games with over 7 assists. That is very good for college BB.

    Losing at BYU & UNM is no big deal. Why? Because we usually do lose at both those schools. But, the Pit isn't THAT hard of a place to play.. we are 14-16 there btw..

    With the 2 hardest games first, UNLV is primed to get on a roll in the middle of the first time thru the games...

  19. thank you blueandgold, not to may people on here irk me. Just vestini and the BYUhomerfan