What is wrong with UNLV Basketball?


Us UNLV fans know, the Rebels simply aren't playing like they did at the beginning of the season. We aren't getting many open shots, and when we do get them, we miss them. We have issues that are really hurting the team badly as of right now and I'm going to address these.

Problems:

  • Lack of leadership
  • Bad follow throughs on jump shots
  • Selfishness with the ball
  • Too many jump shots

Follow me after the jump to get the explanation for each of these issues.

- Lack of Leadership

Last season we won a lot of our conference games, and beat BYU in the MWC Tournament, with Tre'Von Willis really leading this team. This season Willis was recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and still hasn't really recovered to where he was last season. We looked like we would be fine without him with Chace Stanback stepping up in the first 6 games of the season, scoring at least 15 points in each.

After that, Stanback dropped into a horrible shooting slump and still hasn't really recovered from it. Since then nobody has stepped up to really take control of the team and lead the team, give them an example, or just get the players in the right mindset for the game. As a result, you see a Rebel squad that is trying to do everything by themselves, and ultimately being unable to score.

- Bad follow through on Jump Shots

I intensely watched the San Diego State game and was really upset with how many wide open jump shots UNLV missed, specefically 3 pointers. The Rebels have gone 27-115 from behind the arc in the last 7 games and, after examining their shots, it seems that the main reason for that is a bad follow through on all players. They're simply pushing the shot and not following through all of the way instead of 'Putting your hand in the cookie jar' (Basketball term).

There is a simple way to fix a shot with any kind of problem, using S.P.I.N.A.C.H. The idea behind it is to slowly go through the process of the shot over and over. 30 minutes a day dramatically improves your jump shot and I'm sure that this Rebel team could certainly use it.

- Selfishness with the ball

Because of the kind of offense UNLV runs, many times the Rebels will get too much credit for being so unselfish with the ball. I can see where that comes from for announcers and analysts who simply don't follow every UNLV game and only see some tape and the stats, which look very unselfish. But other than that 15 minutes of tape and some very misleading stats, UNLV has been very selfish with the ball following their 76 Classic championship.

The stats are misleading mainly due to the many fastbreaks UNLV's defense creates. Oscar Bellfield is averaging 4.2 assists per game, but those are mostly in transition or fastbreak, so it is much easier to be unselfish with the ball. In the half-court, you see way too much players take a screen, and instead of driving the ball to the rim, take a step back, fade away 3 pointer brick with 25 seconds left on the shot clock. I could understand these kinds of shots if we had run our sets, had no success, and had to get a shot off with the shot clock running down, but there is 25 seconds or more left on the shot clock on a lot of these shots.

The players are being selfish with the ball and as a result, are taking bad shots that waste possessions, some more important than others. We need to be taught again to keep running the offense until we get an open shot. That should keep the Rebels from taking half their shots with a hand in their face.

- Too many jump shots

Let me give you a stat from the San Diego State game: Free Throw Percentage. The Rebels shot 4-7 from the free throw line. It's not the issue of shooting 57% from the free throw line, its the issue that we only took 4 trips to the line for 7 free throws during the entire game. This is a direct result from not driving the ball to the hoop nearly enough. We take way too many jump shots, open or not.

The issue does not lie with taking too many open jump shots, that's impossible to do. The issue is taking too many contested jump shots. We only scored 49 points in the San Diego state game and most of that was due to not getting any penetration at all. We need to drive the ball to the hoop agressively and at least get to the free throw line. We are shying away from contact and that is killing our offense.

 

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