UNLV basketball:

Moser’s happy on offense helping the new Rebels find their own shots

The junior still knows how to assert himself, but he’s also concerned with getting other guys going, something he’ll try tonight at 7 against UC Irvine

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Mike Moser congratulates teammate Bryce Dejean-Jones after a play against Jacksonville State during their game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack. UNLV won 77-58.

UNLV knows what it wants to be: a fast-paced, defensive-minded team that creates turnovers and scores on the extra pass.

Now, getting there is a different story, one the 24th-ranked Rebels are clearly still trying to figure out. Last Friday’s loss to Oregon served as a wake-up call, they hope, to remind them that teams aren’t going to just bow down while they figure out exactly who they are.

UNLV (3-1) may know its destination, but figuring out the route best suited to get there is something even veterans like junior Mike Moser are trying to figure out. The Rebels’ next stop on that journey is at home Wednesday night at 7 against UC Irvine (3-4) on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.

Moser has had an up-and-down start to the year offensively. In games one and three he’s 3-for-12 with 12 points, while in games two and four he’s 11-for-24 with 34 points. It’s no coincidence that in both of those bounce-back games, Moser took and made UNLV’s first shot of the game.

Moser knows what making a shot or two can do for all-around game. That’s why he spends a lot of his time on offense these days trying to create opportunities for some of the Rebels’ new faces.

“He’s been extremely unselfish offensively,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said.

The thinking goes like this: If you’re scoring points, you’re more likely to be tuned into the game and focused on your other responsibilities, too. Some players tune out and play poor defense if they’re not getting what they want on offense.

Moser knows all about this tendency, which is why he’s working hard to get guys like freshman Anthony Bennett and sophomore Bryce Dejean-Jones enough looks on offense. That’s not saying those guys wouldn’t try hard if they didn’t shoot, Moser just doesn’t want it to get to that point.

“I know how bad it sucks running up and down the court not touching the ball, trying to play defense and it’s your responsibility to rebound as well,” Moser said. “I think I try more to help those guys out just for that reason.”

Moser’s averaging more than three assists per game, though his contributions to that end are more about small adjustments like drawing a defender away from whoever has the ball. His turnovers rise with his scoring output, an indication that at times his points may come at an overall detriment to the team.

The best-case scenario is probably for each of the Rebels’ playmakers to take turns creating shots and opportunities for one another. Like everything else, though, that’s going to take time.

The good news is that after indications to the contrary, UNLV should be able to continue that development at full strength Wednesday night. Bennett missed practice Monday with lower-back stiffness, the same thing that slowed him the past two seasons at Findlay Prep, but he was a full participant on Tuesday. Conversely, point guard Anthony Marshall went Monday but sat out Tuesday with some swelling in one of his knees. Both are expected to play against UC Irvine without being limited by minutes.

As a precaution, though, freshman guard Daquan Cook will suit up. Rice had planned to redshirt Cook this season, a move that left the Rebels without much depth, but he said Tuesday that the decision could be reversed. If Cook sees any game action his redshirt wouldn’t count this year, though he would have it available if needed in the future.

There’s a lot UNLV has to figure out yet. Rice challenged Dejean-Jones and freshman Savon Goodman to attack the rim for offensive rebounds, an area the Rebels struggled with against Iowa State. There are also things like the full-court pressure and zone defense that gave them fits against Oregon.

The list goes on and on, though it’s easier to start checking things off and getting everybody to buy in when the team’s leading scorer from last year is content spending a lot of his time getting shots for teammates. It’s all part of finding the route that takes them where they want to go.

“If that means I have to defer and play a more creating role,” Moser said, “then I’ll do that. Whatever it takes to win.”

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

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  1. I hope Cook doesn't have to burn the redshirt. But, if it's in the best interest of the team, then I hope he understands.

  2. I second that emotion

  3. I personally think it would be good to play Cook some minutes. We average over 18 turnovers per game. Anthony Marshall and Katin Reinhardt are not true point guards and Cook is. I would love to see Cook come in to spell AM at the point. This can help steady our offense and give Daquan some valuable experience for next year. If DC redshirts, next year we will have only a redshirt freshman and a freshman fresh off a two year Mormon mission up for point guard. Point guard is definitely our thinnest position and if AM were to go down for any length of time we would be in trouble with Katin running the point. We will see how it goes.

  4. Dantley Walker will not find any playing time next year in the backcourt. Best case scenario, he'd be fifth in the rotation behind Dejean-Jones, Reinhardt, Kendrick, and Cook. From what I've read, Kendrick can play the point guard position, despite being around 6'7" tall.

  5. Cook would be wise to NOT give up his redshirt....because he will be transferring next year anyways?????? Takers??

  6. You might very well be right phillips. Walker is certainly far from a pure point guard as many points as he scored in high school. I do still think Cook can be very valuable and would hate to see him transfer Rebeljedi. All of the players mentioned above are two guards and just because Kendrick may have some ball handling skills does not make him a point. Cook may not be the most talented player but with as many scorers are we have and will have next year, somebody has to pass. Our best teams always had unselfish leaders like Smith, Wade, Anthony, and Dedan Thomas to get the scorers involved.

  7. Phillips is correct about Kendrick!! It is my prediction that he will in fact start at point guard next year! He is a 6'7 point guard and a former Mc D's AA! In Jr. Collage he plays the point exclusively and everyone should go watch him on the schools website;Indian Hills Community Collage: http://www.indianhills.edu/athletics/ind.... Walker is a lead guard who can really score and averaged 10 assist a game in high school. Jedi, I hope you are wrong but we are Deep Deep Deep and playing time may always be an issue!! These are great problems to have !!! GO REBELS !!