Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 | 2 a.m.
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Probably the most commonly discussed difference between basketball at the college and high school levels is the speed. What you don’t hear as much about is the physicality.
“You’re getting hit a lot the whole game; I’m not used to that,” UNLV’s Katin Reinhardt said. “You’re sore after every game.”
Another Rebels freshman, forward Anthony Bennett, is the one grabbing national headlines for his ability to quickly acclimate to the college level. And while Bennett deserves all the attention he’s getting, it overshadows the development of UNLV’s 6-foot-5 freshman from Mater Dei High.
Reinhardt feels more comfortable with the Division I speed, he’s getting used to getting knocked around a bit and according to UNLV coach Dave Rice, Reinhardt is making strides as an all-around player.
“Katin’s always been able to score and shoot and make plays on the offensive end,” Rice said, “but where I’m most pleased is his progress and his commitment on the defensive end. He’s improved significantly since the start of the season.”
Reinhardt’s next chance to continue improving is Thursday night at 7 as the Rebels (11-2) host Chicago State (4-12) on VegasTV. UNLV will play the game without junior forward Mike Moser, Rice said after Wednesday’s practice.
There hasn’t been a setback for Moser, who played at UNC for the first time since dislocating his elbow on Dec. 9, but Rice said he wants Moser to look closer to form as the guy who led last year’s team in points and rebounds before putting him back on the court.
Moser’s availability will be evaluated on a game-by-game basis for now, Rice said. Since he’s logged plenty of minutes, Rice added that he’s not as concerned with Moser missing time just ahead of the conference season as he would be if it were a younger player.
“Mike’s not a guy who needs game experience,” Rice said. “Mike’s just a guy who needs to have full range of motion.”
Without Moser, the starting lineup will be the same as it’s been the past five games. That includes Reinhardt, who joins Bennett and starting point guard Anthony Marshall as the only Rebels to start every game.
Bennett and Reinhardt are having the best seasons of their careers by default. Meanwhile, Marshall is doing the same thing as a senior at a new position, a feat that’s not lost on Rice or Reinhardt. Marshall currently has new career highs in shooting percentage (49.5 percent), 3-point shooting percentage (51.6), assists per game (5.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1). With 16 made 3-pointers already in the books, Marshall could eclipse his total from last season (20) by the start of conference play.
“He’s tried to become a pass-first guy, and because of that I think he’s been a little bit more selective with his shooting and it’s been a big deal for his percentages,” Rice said.
Added Reinhardt, “It’s good to be around that kind of guy every day in practice and every day in film.”
For Reinhardt, everything comes back to the film room. Other than the court, that’s the best place to go so he can go to get better, the coaches have told him.
“I don’t want to settle and stay at a certain spot,” Reinhardt said. “I want to get better and better every single game and throughout the years as well.”
Reinhardt’s averaging 10.4 points per game with a 48.7 effective field goal percentage, which adds extra weight to 3-point attempts. In the last two games he’s better than 50 percent from the field and averaged 14.5 points per game, including spurring UNLV’s second-half rally at UNC. The Rebels’ lone lead of the game came on one of Reinhardt’s four made 3-pointers.
The offense, though, was a known commodity for Reinhardt. He came in with a reputation to hit big shots in big games and thus far he’s lived up to that. But to hit a shot in a close game you have to be on the court at the end of a close game. Reinhardt’s defense has at times been so suspect that he may have been a liability on the court, which forced Rice to consider pulling him and putting one of his best shooters on the bench.
“Early in the year it may have been a consideration, but I’m very confident in him at both ends of the floor in a close game,” Rice said.
That’s the result of dedication in the film room, where Reinhardt can diagnose mistakes, attempt to correct them and eventually get to the point where he’s playing defense that leaves his opponents walking away sore.
“I’m trying to focus on defense because defense wins games,” Reinhardt said. “There’s going to be a lot of times where I’m playing the end of game and a lot of people are going to go at me or go at somebody else and I want to have the opportunity to stop somebody and win a game that way rather than making a shot at the end.”