REBELS BASKETBALL:

Willis to return for UNLV next Saturday against Wisconsin, Mashour to play Wednesday

Senior guard will sit out Southeastern Louisiana game, Israeli freshman decides against redshirting

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Sam Morris

UNLV forward Tre’Von Willis sits on the bench during the team’s FirstLook scrimmage on Friday, October 15, 2010.

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UNLV freshman wing Karam Mashour sits on the bench next to head coach Lon Kruger during the Rebels' season opener against UC Riverside Friday, November 12, 2010 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Mashour has decided not to redshirt his freshman season.

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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer break down what was a more lopsided than normal opener for UNLV, as the Rebels' offseason improvements were all on display in an 85-41 thrashing of lowly UC Riverside. The guys give you numbers and analysis, plus a look at how Tre'Von Willis fits back into the rotation next week and what's going on with freshman Karam Mashour.

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A day after a resounding 85-41 thumping of UC Riverside in its 2010-11 season opener, UNLV coach Lon Kruger put an end to two lingering roster issues.

Senior guard Tre'Von Willis, who was a first team All-Mountain West performer and the Rebels' leading scorer last season, will not play on Wednesday night against Southeastern Louisiana. Instead, his first game back from a suspension stemming from off-season legal issues will be next Saturday, when UNLV hosts Wisconsin at the Thomas & Mack Center.

"Tre'Von has done well during his suspension, but has left a few details undone — nothing major," Kruger said in a statement. "He will sit out the Southeastern Louisiana game on Wednesday. We have closure in sight and are anxious to move on. He will play against Wisconsin."

Willis has just in the last week gotten back to full-speed in practice after finally healing up from arthroscopic knee surgery performed in August.

Last season, he averaged 17.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a junior, leading the Rebels to a 25-9 record and their third NCAA tournament appearance in four years.

Meanwhile, while Kruger now has to figure out how to work Willis back into a loaded perimeter group, he'll also be doing the same with freshman wing Karam Mashour.

The 6-foot-6 Israeli forward, who projects as a potential successor to senior Derrick Jasper starting next season, will not redshirt the 2010-11 season.

Mashour did not play in Friday's opener. On Thursday, he and his uncle, Jason Awad, met with Kruger to discuss options for the upcoming season. Kruger urged Mashour to take a redshirt this season, while Mashour said he'd prefer to play.

Kruger said following the victory over the Highlanders that, if Mashour were his son, he'd redshirt him, saying "because I just don't see where the minutes are with the depth that we have on the perimeter."

The seventh-year coach followed that, though, by saying that he would not force Mashour to redshirt if he really did not want to.

"We have had additional discussions with Karam about the possibility of redshirting, but he wants to play and we certainly appreciate that," the statement read. "We are totally supportive of the decision and are anxious to get him out on the floor Wednesday night in our next game."

Part of Mashour's decision may have been attributed to the fact that he turned 19 years old before the season started, and would have thus been 20 as a redshirt freshman next fall.

Mashour, who turned 19 in August, has experience playing for Israel's 18-and-under national team and a high basketball IQ. But he's still learning the American game, especially on the defensive end.

On the other hand, he will be able to contribute when needed on the offensive end and in the rebounding department. To boot, he is quickly getting past the language barrier he faced when first coming to the country last spring.

In his two exhibition appearances, Mashour was 3-of-8 from the floor, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

UNLV (1-0) will tip off on Wednesday against Southeastern Louisiana at 7 p.m. at the Mack.

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  1. hmm, I would have liked him to red shirt as well. It is an interesting point that there is so much depth on the perimeter this year. It is going to be interesting to see how that is managed not only with Mashour, but with the Bellfield, Jasper, Marshall, Willis, Hawkings combo. Just imagine what it would have been like if Kendal Wallace was available too. Interesting...

  2. Let the kid play!

  3. I was just thinking last night at the game that Willis' original suspension should have been the 2 exhibition games and 2 regular season games. Just enough time to feel like a punishment, especially watching your team play so well without you.

  4. I wonder if there was some discussion that if Karam was forced to redshirt this year that he would consider leaving and going back home to play pro ball, which he probably could do in Israel. I know similar things have happened with other international recruits at other schools. While I'd have loved to see him redshirt, he'll get some experience this year and be ready to contribute big-time next season. With his potential, it is probably a good move to keep him happy.

  5. I pesonally am glad Mashour is not redshirting. Even if he does not play much this year he still has three years of eligibility remaining. I would like to see him at least get some solid minutes against some of the cupcakes on the schedule. Also, while hopefully it doesn't happen, Jasper does not have a great track record in terms of his health so of course he would be pretty important at that point.

  6. Given our recent history with injuries, maybe having a little depth at the 2/3 will be good. I love our depth this year and hopefully we will gel into a strong defensive and smooth offensive unit.

    I do wish we would schedule some tougher pre-season games though. I think the rules regarding the type of exhibition teams you can play have changed, but I miss the good old days when some of the foreign national teams came here to play.

  7. Kruger's decision to sit Willis until Wisconsin is pretty smart. He's done things like this in the past. Willis will likely come off the bench in the game against Wisconsin, which will give them fits since Wisconsin would not have an opportunity to scout this year's Willis. They'll have to find tape on last year's Willis instead.

  8. Im glad to hear mashour will not be redshirting. This kid is a competitor and wants to play now. This will only push himself and others to greater levels vying for game time play Playing should be based on merit and if mashour earns it he will get time on the floor. I believe he will grow more knowing he has a chance to play everyweek then sitting out for the season.

  9. Ryan is there any word on the health of Willis? I thought he was coming back from surgery and had some other type of injury that was keeping him out of practice in the beginning of the season? Would you say he's at 100% and if not is this a possible reason for extending the "suspension"?

    As for Mashour.. I think he's honestly wasting a year of his eligibility.. If he does work harder and improve more because he thinks he's vying for playing time then MAYBE it will be beneficial but all accounts say he's the kind of kid that would work hard no matter what.. I just can't see him breaking into the rotation to get any valuable minutes at this point.

  10. Mashour is a solid freshman and playing people like that is never a waste. Get over it. In the exibishtions he was one of the biggest rebounders. That being said I wanted him to redshirt because of the chance he might complain and fight over not getting enough minutes when he feels like he had the best practice that week, or something like that. That's how team chemisty gets ruined and you start the slippery slope. Ask Willis and wink. Willis ruined that for us that year when he helped ruin the team chemistry.

  11. @ homer:

    Were you at the apartment complex that night? Did you witness what happened? If not, your opinion on the matter is as useful as tits on a bull.

    And your apparent lack of knowledge on our legal system only fortifies my opinion of you. There was insufficient evidence and testimony to bring a felony charge. Its called due process. And there is a big difference between jail (County or City, where Willis would have done time if he had been charged and convicted of the crimes) versus Prison (State or Federal, where real criminals go).

    Your statement should have read:
    "He belongs on the team only after he successfully completes the terms of his probation, and he is a young adult who unfortunately made a series of bad decisions that summer night. Those mistakes, while deserving of punishment, should not incarcerate him or ruin the rest of his life by marking him as a felon. "

  12. Eric. You should really know that the fall will hurt from that high horse you are on. In our legal system it is common for those to get the charges dropped to a lower crime on their first offense. And a reduced charge doesn't mean that he didn't choke her which is a felony and if it is true then he chose to make himself a felon not homer. Luckly for him, he either didn't choke her or he got away with it.

  13. My point is that I do not know what happened that night, and neither does anyone on here. So to call out a young man saying that he belongs in prison for "a number of years" without any credible proof is ridiculous.

    And are you speaking from experience on that fall you mentioned?

  14. I like that karam is playing now. I think he is itching to go make money in the NBA. Use him while we can. And I think he will help with the rebounding, I still questioning how much better the rebounding is in this last game. Will we have the same advantage against the likes of SDSU?

  15. Mistake not to redshirt Karam, IMO. But we'll see how it goes.

  16. I like the statement Kruger had about Karam, that he said "I want to play, and if I need to work harder I will." We need that kind of player pushing the starters, knowing they have someone who's hungry to get more minutes. I also think it's good he's not redshirting because looking back at last year and the weak bench left coach having to play Chop way too much. Nothing wrong with having a great second or third team.... I'm lovin' it.

  17. Mashour will come off the bench and make some killer plays this year even with limited minutes. Who wouldn't want to be part of this years team. This is going to be a special year for Kruger and the boys I can feel it.

  18. Sorry but I'm not buying Kruger's argument that Mashour should redshirt because there will be no minutes, he is versatile enough to play guard, forward, even center against smaller competition. Mashour also seems to be mature enough to accept a back-up role for the sake of the team. Bought my tickets for Wednesday as soon as I heard the news. Go Rebels.

  19. Dont like those preseason games either. Any way we can schedule Findlay Prep?