UNLV freshman eager to continue seeing more court time Saturday at Wyoming

The Rebels are 1-5 on the road in league play, but Savon Goodman hopes to have a big hand in changing that Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Savon Goodman and Colorado State forward Greg Smith bang in the paint during their Mountain West Conference game Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack. UNLV won 61-59.

What happened last week to the rest of us might as well have happened last year to Savon Goodman.

Whether you call it a short memory or the blissful ignorance of youth, Goodman said he felt like UNLV (20-7, 7-5) was riding a four- or five-game winning streak into Saturday’s game at Wyoming (18-8, 4-8). Informed it was only two games because of a Feb. 13 loss at Air Force, the freshman forward smiled and shook his head.

“Was that last week? See, time goes by like that,” Goodman said while snapping his fingers.

You can excuse the lapse in memory, because for Goodman everything is different now. He doesn’t have time to think back to the seven conference games where he never got off the bench or the combined three minutes he played at San Diego State and at Boise State.

It’s actually funny that trip to Air Force seems so long ago only because that’s the game that started Goodman’s recent rise, though it came with an auspicious entrance. Goodman and sophomore Bryce Dejean-Jones were late to the team bus to Clune Arena, causing Dejean-Jones to start the game with Goodman on the bench.

The tardiness didn’t really change anything for Goodman, though, who played nine minutes and shot 2-for-3 from the field. He followed that up with eight minutes (four points, two rebounds) against SDSU before setting a new personal league-high with 16 minutes in Wednesday’s victory against Colorado State.

Goodman and Dejean-Jones split all 40 minutes at small forward in that game, something that could be more common from here on out as UNLV coach Dave Rice said junior Mike Moser will stick to power forward the rest of the season. While that doesn't mean for certain Goodman will play 16 minutes again or even crack double digits, it's clear Rice has carved out a role for him.

“For people who want to have a vision of how I want our program to be in coming years it would be the toughness Savon Goodman brings every day in practice and every day in the game,” Rice said last week.

Rice calls his team’s performance a combination of effort and execution. Goodman’s problem this season has always been more of the latter as he tries to learn the schemes so he’s not like “a little freshman on campus and everything’s moving really fast,” Goodman said. So while the Philadelphia native makes mistakes, it’s never because he’s not giving enough effort.

And considering the Rebels’ difficulties on the road, that’s a trade Rice would seem willing to make. UNLV is 1-9 in its last 10 road conference games, though Rice said he’s more concerned about the last three.

“Those were very poor performances,” he said.

That included a five-point loss at Boise State and blowouts at Fresno State and Air Force, where UNLV trailed by 16 and 24 points, respectively. Results like that require change, and the 6-foot-6, hard-nosed freshman who yells at teammates on defense could be just the right fit.

“When things start going right defensively it seems like I stay out there a lot longer,” Goodman said. “So I’m going to try my hardest to make sure when I’m out there that the team is playing a hell of a lot better on defense, and on offense I’m going to try to find my niche.”

Goodman admitted it’s rare to see a freshman barking at upperclassmen, though that’s what he feels he has to do. Senior guard Anthony Marshall is regarded by most as the team’s leader, but as the Rebels enter their final two road conference games — at Wyoming and then at UNR next Saturday — the team is still searching for the cohesion and effort on the road that suggests they really know how to play together in tough situations.

Goodman doesn’t care about UNLV’s struggles on the road, because to him that seems like ages ago, back when he was mostly a spectator with floor seats. He’s much more interested in an expanded role that results in victories.

“I’m just trying to get out there as much as I can,” he said.

Wyoming banged up

It's unclear just who exactly will be available for the Cowboys when the Rebels come to town. Leonard Washington, who's tied with CSU's Colton Iverson for the league lead with 11 double-doubles, missed the last game with an ankle injury. And according to the Casper Star Tribune, starters Larry Nance Jr. and Derrious Gilmore are both ill.

Throw in a back injury for reserve forward Derek Cooke Jr. and Wyoming has four key contributors who are uncertain for Saturday's game. Follow Taylor Bern (@TaylorBern) for updates on the players' statuses as they become available leading into the game.

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

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  1. Wish everyone played as hard as this kid does. Would be nice if he was a little more skilled- offensively he is a walking-no pun intended- turnover machine.

  2. @rose1414 (aj foyt) - His offense has a long ways to go, but you'll always find playing time if you play defense the way he does.

  3. Thrilled to see Savon Goodman playing more. He may make some careless turnovers but then again(see Bennett, Reinhardt, and Jones) who doesnt on this team? What he does bring is all out effort, toughness and he hits the glass hard. Also is not afraid to take the ball to the rack. If Bennett had Savon's motor he would be player of the year in college hoops this year. Guys like Savon and Khem are bringing the kind of tenacity that a certain Assistant Coach used to have when he wore the uniform. Not a bad guy to emulate. Runnin' Rebels!

  4. "...and on offense I'm going to try to find my niche."

    This is the key quote of the whole piece for the Rebels offense. Right now we have 4 players, Marshall, Bennett, Katin, BDJ, all trying to be the man on offense. God forbid Katin or BDJ make a few shots early because they won't pass the ball into the post the rest of the game. Which is why we nearly lost the other night.

    The Rebels need more role players. Players that will sacrifice their goals for the good of the team. When I see Air Force, New Mexico, and CSU play, I see average talent that play unselfishly together. Would the offense be better if BDJ and Katin didn't play on the court together as much? I think Goodman playing opposite one of those players would help the overall chemistry of the offense.

  5. Wyoming isn't very good to begin with, so we should win this game. But if one, two, three, or all four of their banged up/ill players can't play on Saturday, then we have absolutely no excuse for dominating this game. My prediction: UNLV 65, Wyoming 52. Go Rebels!

  6. The rebels should use s n opportunity to display the ability to be ruthless nod step on. Throt for 40 mins. So many young players see the team on a small run and perhaps a 7-12 point lead, and they think it is ok to start taking high degree of difficulty shots....which allows teams to hang around....the best teams play each possession like they are down 1.

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  7. Like Savon and his team-first attitude. Nice to see him make the Dean's list, too. A good kid with a bright future.

  8. Savon has been solid on Defense and still gives a ton of effort on offense. He doesn't really take bad shots at all which is nice, but he does turn it over a bit. One thing I like to see from him would be when he goes up for a dunk/layup, he needs to go STRONG cause he's been blocked way more times than he should, and instead draw contact and at least get some free throw tries out of his efforts.

  9. At the beginning of the season I predicted that Savon would be the biggest surprise on this team. Unfortunately, he hasn't been given the opportunity to prove me right. I'm sorry, if effort was a big concern for this team earlier, then this kid should have been playing, no doubt!!His attitude, desire and effort are the shot in the arm that this team needs.

  10. I look for Goodman to be our Hornung or JJ OBrien, but with even more offensive potential. He has started with a foundation of strength and rebounding; with time, I think he'll build on those qualities. He produced a 30pt game in Desert Reign - in his first game, I think - amongst other Div I current and former players this summer, and if I remember right, he had a great Canada trip too. There's more there than what we've seen. @chump... Still time for him to surprise us - he may yet!