Rebels basketball:

Possibilities abound: UNLV has a plethora of lineup options for 2012-13

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV’s Anthony Marshall, left, and Mike Moser wait for a rebound with New Mexico guard Phillip McDonald during their Mountain West Conference game Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 80-63.

The months leading up to UNLV’s first practice will feel like an eternity for a lot of people, coach Dave Rice included.

Last week he said he would get the team on the court that day if he could, and this was before Anthony Bennett — the No. 7 overall player in the class of 2012 — committed to the Rebels. Now the sweltering summer days will take on the kind of slow, dragging feeling usually reserved for kids counting down the days until Christmas.

So to help pass the time, we thought we would take a look at some potential lineups the Rebels could play with in 2012-13.

The city’s anticipation for this season is predicated on the enormous potential this team has, and even more exciting is that the Rebels look, at least, like they could win in a variety of ways. Speed will always be the preferred style, but this roster looks to be more suited to adapt its game and take what the defense is giving them.

The roster could change again as UNLV has one scholarship still available and UConn transfer Roscoe Smith, a forward who could play immediately with two years left, is expected to make an official visit this week. So, have fun with this and feel free to post your own favorite lineup in the comments.

Note: Bryce Jones will now go by Bryce Dejean-Jones, his legal name.

    • Pre-Khem(istry)

      Anthony Marshall

      Bryce Dejean-Jones

      Mike Moser

      Anthony Bennett

      Carlos Lopez

      There’s at least a decent chance this will be the starting lineup when UNLV takes the court for the first time in 2012. Certainly not a guarantee, but I’d be very surprised if it’s not at least 80 percent accurate.

      Positive: Very balanced; four guys can shoot the 3; versatile enough to try to play fast or slow; strong rebounding with Bennett, Moser and Marshall, who had five rebounds per game last year.

      Negative: Obviously would like to have Birch as an option at center; only Marshall and Moser have played significant minutes in real games together; can Dejean-Jones handle the ball well enough to help out Marshall?; Lopez must improve his rebounding to make up for Moser being on the wing.

      Rating: 4 out of 5

    • Athletic

      Marshall

      Dejean-Jones

      Moser

      Bennett

      Khem Birch

      The toughest thing with this group is just picking the most athletic players at each position. You could make a case for at least three other guys to be in this lineup, which is a good problem to have and one of the many reasons people are so excited about this team.

      Positive: With arms extended, Moser/Bennett/Birch nearly cover the court from sideline to sideline. Imagine trying to score against that; against most teams, they would have superior athletes at at least three positions; four guys can extend the defense with perimeter shots; the intimidation factor is very high.

      Negative: Three new pieces, although Birch and Dejean-Jones already have UNLV practice experience; could this group play at a slower pace if necessary?; is too much athleticism actually a negative thing? (No, why would we even ask that?)

      Rating: 4.5 out of 5

    • Track team

      Marshall

      Reggie Smith

      Justin Hawkins

      Moser

      Birch

      This is arguably the fastest player at each position, and while it’s not the most practical, it would be fun to see this lineup in the open court.

      Positive: Opponents would have to send multiple defenders back in order to slow the fast break, which would open up UNLV’s rebounding; this is also close to UNLV’s best defensive lineup; three capable ball-handlers.

      Negative: Not much of a post offense as Birch is a work in progress and Moser wants to play on the perimeter; three guards means an opponent could have a big size advantage at small forward; Smith, the fastest player on the team, needs to prove that he’s not a liability with turnovers.

      Rating: 3 out of 5

    • Half-court

      Hawkins

      Katin Reinhardt

      Bennett

      Quintrell Thomas

      Birch

      UNLV’s offense last year could never consistently rely on feeding the post for a bucket. That shouldn’t be a problem with this group.

      Positive: Three potential weapons in the post; Bennett and/or Thomas could bull their way to the basket if the opponent doesn’t have two guys of that size; good inside-out potential with jump shooters on the outside.

      Negative: The lane could get crowded as the bigs try to stay out of each other’s way; lack of experience with three new players and two bench players; questionable mid-range game could allow defense to pile defenders in the paint.

      Rating: 3 out of 5

    • Refuse to lose

      Marshall

      Reinhardt

      Dejean-Jones

      Bennett

      Lopez

      Whether you’re playing basketball or Monopoly, these are the guys most likely to pull out all the stops — or in the case of Monopoly, throw the board — in order to avoid a loss. Slots 1-3 definitely belong in this category, but 4 and 5 are tossups among a few different guys.

      Positive: Mean streak that UNLV often lacked last season; balanced lineup with two versatile big men and four possible perimeter shooters; at least three guys not afraid to take the last shot.

      Negative: Two freshmen and only one returning starter; perhaps too many guys trying to take the last shot.

      Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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    1. "Does UNLV have the best frontcourt in the country? Anthony Bennett's commitment over the weekend puts him alongside Mike Moser to start the season, and former Pitt transfer (and 2011 No. 1-ranked center) Khem Birch will be eligible in December."
      -Eamonn Brennan ESPN.com

      "Yes. Simple answer. That frontcourt had firepower without Bennett. Adding a phenomenal athlete such as the Canadian standout enhances that potency. Moser should be a Wooden Award candidate. Birch and Bennett too. Wow. ""
      -Myron Medcalf ESPN.com

    2. How about the (Almost) All New Lineup?

      Reinhardt
      Jones
      Moser
      Birch
      Bennett

      With Marshall back in his original sixth man role?

      That's our most offensively dangerous lineup with 2 best outside shooters who can create their own shots, 2 low post threats and Moser to grab boards and lead the break.

    3. What a sweet problem to have. So many choices. Can not see Reggie or Quintrell getting a whole lot of run this year unless injuries occur. Given their limitations that is probably a good thing. Assuming Morant and Cook are likely to redshirt this year?

    4. SERIOUSLY..stop it....Reinhardt needs to start from day one......I loveeeeee Marshall...but his liability to shoot, and create anything BEGS Reinhardt tostart at the poing with Marshalla s a top dawg 6th man. Have you seen reinhardt play??????/ Jimmer fredette with passing ability.

    5. Newyorkrebel- You nailed it. Jones, Reinhardt, bennett, Moser, and Lopez/Birch. Birch may be prone to foul trouble, but so is Lopez...by this year he should be settled....Lopez is very good offensively.......Split time withBirch. Marshall.....Do the right thing.

    6. I hope UNLV schedules some decent competition this year or their RPI rating will suffer. This team could go a long way in the tournament if they stay healthy.

    7. Reinhardt is going to be a great player but it is vital to have Marshall's experience running the point; especially at the beginning of the season.

    8. Keep in mind, Birch isn't available until December.

      Lineup I'd take:
      Marshall
      Dejean-Jones
      Moser
      Bennett
      Thomas

      This would be a very balanced and very big group. I feel that Lopez still really needs a lot of improvement, but Thomas can at least clear people out of the way for others to get a rebound, and Lopez isn't wide enough to do so. Think of Thomas as more of a Joel Anthony. He's not gonna score a whole lot, but he can sure take up space and clog a lane very well.

      Once Birch is available, switch out with Thomas.

      I don't really care too much about starting and things like that though, you gotta take what the defense is giving you. If the opposing team has a fantastic guard, Hawkins is your man. If they have a big 5 man, put Birch/Bennett/Thomas there. Definitely a good problem to have a few options.

    9. Have to red shirt Cook and Morant- there is NO pt for those guys this year. If Roscoe Smith comes I don't know where he will play. I actually hope he doesn't come here- we are too deep (if there can be such a thing) already.

    10. Love Marshall... But he's not a creator.. Not a passer... Not a shooter.. gREAT defensive stopper! Reinhardt. Needs the keys soon

    11. To say Marshall isn't a passer is ignorance. He averaged 4.6 assists last season. I will agree he drives into trouble sometimes and turned it over doing so, but he definitely passes the ball. UNLV was 3rd in the nation in average assists (much also due to Bellfield). Marshall was much more active rebounding too (2nd only behind Moser). Marshall gets to the line though, he's a driver. He gets the fouls (attempted 163 FTs last season, that's 63 more than the next player, Moser).

    12. I'm going to have to rely on the Olympics and updates on the games in Canada to get me through the summer.

      No matter what 5 are starting, there will be 5 on the bench that could make a starting line up that most D-1 programs would trade their starting 5 for without reservation.

    13. Good point khokhol. We're way deep!

      Marshall is a passer. He and Bellfield were nip and tuck for leading assists until about half way through, where Marshall proved much more the creator and producer, giving up an assist or two to Bellfield in conf play (the way I remember it).

      My favorite line-up @ start of season... Run two forwards.

      Reinhardt
      Marshall
      Jones
      Moser
      Bennett

      For later in the Season...

      Reinhardt or Marshall
      Jones
      Moser
      Bennett
      Birch

      But who knows? Thomas' and Lopez' experience may prove more valuable than the "recruited talent" factor. Love these problems!!!

      I just hope Rice learns from last year and subs guys in and out. They proved not to be the "supermen" of the 1990 team... they need some rest to play the Runnin' game with man-to-man "D", in my opinion.

    14. I would like to see the hockey style line changes Kruger used. If there is depth, unlike last season, have two, three, or even four fresh guys check in at one time and completely wear down the opposition.

    15. Coach Rice and staff will figure out this happy situation. What I'd like to see is a kind of game management system like Kruger employed-he never ran out of timeouts, and he always had fresh legs on the bench.

      Oscar Bellfield was a four-year starter at the point, and Reinhardt looks like the real deal with a special kind of capability. If he earns it in practice and in Canada, let him start.

    16. I think Rice should play nine and take Thomas out of the rotation when Birch becomes eligible.

    17. I'd like to see them red shirt Morant and Cook, and run 10, maybe 11 if we get Smith or Goodman. I'd like to take the philosophy that each and every trip up and down the floor is for the championship - goin' all out!!!

      Difficult to manage? Maybe, but sure as heck would be fun to watch, and I believe, good for recruiting. "If you come, you will play."

    18. ESPN's recruitment rankings are out. UNLV is #13, which is a pretty huge jump for this program. Great work coaches, fans, alumni, and community for support!

      http://insider.espn.go.com/college-sport...

    19. Telep and Biancardi talking about breakout recruiting classes: http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketbal...

    20. I'd like to see
      Marshall
      Hawkins
      Moser
      Bennett
      Lopez/Birch