REBELS BASKETBALL:

Critical evaluation week for UNLV begins Tuesday against Washburn

Dave Rice era takes off with exhibition against Ichabods, followed by Saturday scrimmage with Loyola Marymount

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Sam Morris

UNLV basketball head coach Dave Rice motions to his players during practice Thursday, October 20, 2011.

Between recruiting, running practice and several other duties that have kept him busy in recent weeks, Dave Rice said that he hasn't had time to think about one notable aspect of Tuesday night's exhibition against Washburn.

It will be his first time on the sidelines as a head coach.

The highly-anticipated Rice era at UNLV begins at 7 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center.

"I think the thing we've talked about from Day One is trying to bring more consistency to practice every day, and that carries over to the game," Rice said following Monday's practice. "While we're fortunate to have a number of players returning who have won a lot of games, we also have some new guys. Fitting guys into a rotation, developing team chemistry, I think there's real value in these exhibition games from those standpoints."

Following Tuesday's exhibition, UNLV will then host Loyoloa Marymount and former Rebels coach Max Good for a 40-minute Saturday afternoon scrimmage that is closed to the public and media.

Within the Rebels' rotation, no spot will likely be more closely watched this week by the staff than the center position, where senior Brice Massamba will draw the start on Tuesday night. Not only is it the lone position on the floor where UNLV's clear-cut starter is not known, but in Rice's uptempo offensive system, the center is relied upon many times to trigger the attack.

In an up-and-down three seasons at UNLV, the 6-foot-10 Massamba has averaged 3.5 points and two rebounds per game, at times looking like the reliable big man many thought he'd eventually develop into on both ends of the floor. He's looked like that player at times, but those times have had gaps consistently between them.

He's competing with sophomore Carlos Lopez and junior Quintrell Thomas for minutes at center, and being the lone senior in the group is only part of the reason he's getting the first crack at starting down low.

"I think he probably does have an advantage because he's a senior and because he does bring a lot of experience, but I think also, to his credit, he's done a terrific job in practice," Rice said. "There's going to be an opportunity for other guys to earn playing time, and nothing is settled by any stretch."

As expected, junior Anthony Marshall and senior Oscar Bellfield will start together in the backcourt, while UCLA transfer Mike Moser's long-awaited debut in scarlet and gray will have him starting at power forward.

Meanwhile, preseason all-Mountain West selection Chace Stanback will serve the first half of his two-game suspension stemming from his offseason DUI arrest. Junior Justin Hawkins will start in his place.

UNLV's first official game under Rice will take place next Friday at the Mack against Grand Canyon.

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  1. Grand Canyon game is on Friday, not Thursday.

  2. REBELS, REBELS REBELS!! Give us something to cheer about before the game with BSU on Saturday.