UNLV reserve guard Reggie Smith building for next season

As UNLV prepares to play Boise State on the road, Smith discusses his play through five weeks with the Rebels

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Reggie Smith dives for a ball held by New Mexico gaurd Kendall Williams during their Mountain West Conference game Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The most important thing that sophomore guard Reggie Smith has learned at UNLV is probably the attribute fans would say he displays the least on the court: patience.

Smith brings breakneck speed to the guard rotation, which occasionally results in reckless turnovers. His shot (46 percent from the floor, 56 percent behind the 3-point line) is vastly improved. And as a man at the bottom of the rotation, he understands that his time on the court will vary game to game.

“I think we’re not worried about the minutes; we’re more concerned about the ‘W,’ ” Smith said.

No. 12 UNLV (18-3, 2-1) will be chasing another one of those at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Boise State (10-8, 0-3). The game is televised on The Mtn.

Smith’s first game was at home against Louisiana-Monroe, just more than five weeks ago. He’s averaging 4.1 points in 7.4 minutes per game. His best performance was 13 points and five assists in a 124-75 victory against Central Arkansas.

With just about six weeks left in the regular season, coach Dave Rice said he may continue to alter and add to Smith’s role. But with starters Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall, as well as Justin Hawkins, who almost plays starters’ minutes, entrenched at the top, there’s a limit to how much Smith can be expected to contribute.

“We still feel like he will play a big part in our team this year from a playing-time standpoint,” Rice said. “But, certainly, the experience he will gain playing this year is going to enhance his opportunities to hit the ground running next year.”

Considering the hype around his transfer to the Rebels, one could expect Smith to be disappointed by his role so far. But the start to this season — UNLV was 11-2 by the time Smith was eligible — tempered his expectations.

“Coming into a team that’s rolling, everything’s going well for them, what can you expect?” Smith said.

Instead, he has settled into the back of Rice’s 10-man rotation as a change of pace off the bench. The last three guys in that rotation — Smith, Quintrell Thomas and Kendall Wallace — have to be ready at a moment’s notice. Of course, depending on the match-up, they may not see the court at all.

It’s a difficult position to be in. For example, in UNLV’s 80-63 victory against New Mexico, Wallace came in to take two free throws for the injured Brice Massamba, then returned to the bench without any time ticking off the clock.

That’s not how Wallace imagined his final season playing out. But like Smith and the rest of the Rebels, he’s more focused on the outcome of the game than how much time he had on the court.

It may seem like a low-pressure gig, but Smith recently confirmed that’s not the case. In the first half of last week’s 101-78 victory against TCU, Smith committed a turnover and was pulled from the game, complete with a vicious tongue-lashing from Rice.

“I think we were up more than 10 points, but he expects so much out of me,” Smith said. “Next year, I’m going to be the point guard, so (I need) the mentality and the mind-set that every possession is valuable.”

Learning that, and displaying it on the court, is the most important thing that Smith can take from this season. Whatever he can add in production for the rest of this year is a bonus.

“As long as we’re winning, I’m fine,” Smith said. “I know my time will come, and when it does, I’ll be ready.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Reggie will be fine next year. He's lightning fast-like Ty Lawson now on the Denver Nuggets--so it oughta be fun watching UNLV on the break.

    So we get to see UNLV/Boise on the Mountain, eh? I guess beggars can't be choosers but when you're used to high-def sports broadcasts the Mountain looks positively out-dated. Love it when the games are on the CBS high-def channel.

  2. I think Reggie will be fine too. He needs to let the game come to him and just be patient, watch the floor and see what's transpiring with the way people are moving, and the chemistry will come together. It's also nice to have options on a team, and every player brings something different. As far as TV stuff, I'm just fortunate to be able to watch the games (albeit I often have to ask a bartender to find the mtn...)

  3. I gotta say, I don't see Reggie as the starting point guard next year. I think Anthony Marshall will not only be the starting point guard, but he'll also be an NBA point guard. Add Bryce Jones and you know that they're either going to get Shabazz or Anthony Bennett...plus Khem Birch and Mike Moser and Reggie just isn't gonna see starter minutes next year. This team is just too deep and is getting more deep as Rice continues to stockpile talent.

  4. The MTN (Missing Television Network). I agree with lowlife the games are definitely much better in HD on CBS College Sports.

  5. For the love of god, Please start Katin Reinhardt next year at the Point! I like what Reggie is bringing, and I think he will be a fantastic backup, but I have watched two of Reinhardts games recently and he is simply awesome. Ability to get his shot anywhere and has unlimited range, and is a complete scorer, along with being a creative true point guard. Reinhardt, Marshall, Bryce jones, Moser, and Lopez/Birch should be quite the starting five next year! I understand that Bryce is tearing practice up.

  6. Please remember that Katin Reinhardt is still playing in high school. I understand that some of the teams he is playing against have division I talent but it is still high school. I think he will be good for us but it will also take time getting used to the college level. We can't compare both Reggie and Katin because they aren't playing at the same level. I'm sure if Reggie were playing point guard in high school somewhere right now he'd look awesome too.

  7. I'm pulling for Reggie. But it will be an arguably more crowded back court next year. Sure we'll lose Oscar and KW, but add Katin, D Cook (don't sleep on him), and B Jones. Of course Marshall and Hawkins will both deserve a ton of minutes. Its a good problem to have, but it will be an interesting fight for minutes.

  8. Oscar Bellefield started as a freshman.....So do many other players....I have seen basketball long enough to be able to tell he can do it. He carries himself with the appearance of mental toughness. To me it is a element we can really use next year to have a guy this creative with thball, who makes others better, and can shoot lights out. Creating his own shot.