Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010 | 2:15 a.m.
- UNLV freshman Mashour makes big splash, creates buzz at FirstLook 2010 (10-16-2010)
- Three key storylines as UNLV’s 2010-11 hoops season begins (10-15-2010)
- UNLV picked fourth in MWC preseason hoops poll, Willis honored (10-12-2010)
- Unveiling the Sun’s 2010-11 MWC hoops preseason poll, honorees (10-6-2010)
- 2010-11 UNLV men's basketball schedule
- All Sun UNLV men's basketball coverage
There were signs on Friday night during a 20-minute scrimmage at UNLV's annual FirstLook event that there might be a solution or two in place to last season's rebounding woes.
About 12 hours later, when the Rebels ran their first official practice of the 2010-11 season, the signs were even more prevalent.
Highlighting the high-energy workout at the Cox Pavilion were numerous battles under the basket for boards.
The most memorable moment came when sophomore Kansas transfer Quintrell Thomas tangled with sophomore UCLA transfer Mike Moser, with neither big man refusing to let go of the ball. The two then went to the ground in a fashion reminiscent of pro wrestling to settle the score. Thomas yanked the ball away and the two were helped up from the friendly tussle.
It's not the type of struggle that UNLV coach Lon Kruger and his staff will hurry to jump in and break up, either.
"I'd be really disappointed if our rebounding isn't improved a lot," Kruger said afterward. "Obviously, it wasn't very good last year, and we need to improve that. This group understands that. Plus, we're bigger, stronger and more capable."
Moser will sit this season out per NCAA transfer rules, but Thomas is clearly chomping at the bit after sitting out the 2009-10 campaign. He snatched several impressive rebounds on both ends during Friday's scrimmage and on the practice floor is trying to bring the same tenacity out of his fellow big men.
Of the Rebels' trio of centers from a year ago, only junior Brice Massamba remains. Joining Thomas in the fresh-blood department is 6-foot-11 Carlos Lopez, who redshirted a year ago while adding some more bulk to his frame.
Massamba looks improved, but it's Thomas who is making the most noise out of the gates, as he brings the instinctive rebounding presence UNLV sorely needed last season while getting wounded inside against the likes of Utah and San Diego State.
"It feels like you're playing in a game," Lopez said of this season's interior competition. "You're going against guys who are really good and will only make you better."
Wallace getting accustomed to spectating
Kendall Wallace's life was derailed in areas outside of just basketball when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last month.
His four-year plan within the UNLV hoops program will now be pushed to five, as he'll return for a final season in 2011-12. On top of that, he'll graduate this summer, meaning he's also looking for a master's program to pursue.
Last season, he averaged 6.9 points per game and hit a team-high 61 3-pointers in a reserve role.
Now, he's getting used to his new role within the team.
"You don't ever want it to be like this, but you can't really do anything about it, and you've got to roll with the punches, be positive," he said. "It's a tough thing to deal with. It's a long process to deal with, but you've got to be patient and work hard."
Wallace is in the infant stages of his rehabilitation following surgery.
He'll shed the bulky black knee brace in a week and start upping his work with head trainer Dave Tomchek, introducing weight-lifting exercises into the equation.
Emptying Saturday's notebook
• Senior guard Tre'Von Willis, who did not participate in Friday's scrimmage, was again watching from the sidelines on Saturday. It has nothing to do with his impending 3-game suspension to start the season. The Fresno, Calif., native is still sore following minor off-season knee surgery.
• Junior forward Chace Stanback looks noticeably bigger this season, having clearly hit the weight room hard in the summer months. He displayed some of that strength while providing the day's top highlight, throwing down a two-handed jam off of a slash to the bucket from the left corner.