Should UNLV basketball move to a two big man lineup?

LAS VEGAS NV - FEBRUARY 02: Quintrell Thomas #1 of the UNLV Rebels is fouled as he goes to the basket by Josh Watkins #15 of the Utah Utes during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center February 2 2011 in Las Vegas Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


This question has been posed by many UNLV basketball fans who follow the team intently. Lon Kruger has had a lineup consisting of four guards and a big man for most of his tenure at UNLV. This lineup gives the team a lot of flexibility when it comes to who handles the ball, but it also creates situations in which our post offense is non-existent and our defensive rebounding is a major issue.

Last week, when UNLV played New Mexico, Lon Kruger put the Brice Massamba and Quintrell Thomas in the game at the same time. The effect was amazing, interior passing abounded and there were no offensive rebounds for the Lobos during that time. Granted,  Massamba and Thomas were only in the game for a total of 2 minutes together, but my points is that the glass was dominated on both ends. Youc ouldn't double on of the bigs because they would simply kick the ball out for an open three point shot or they would pass the ball to the other big man and he would get an open layup.

Imagine if this went on for the whole game, with fresh big men coming in and out of the lineup. The guards would suddenly have wide open shots on the perimiter, the offense would click, opposing players would have a tough time coming down the lane, our rebounding woes would disappear.

UNLV has three big men that can all score, defend, and rebound in the post - Carlos Lopez, Brice Massamba, Quintrell Thomas. If we rotate them where every four minutes, a big man goes out, than each big man only plays for 24-28 minutes. The rotation would look something like this:

Time of Game Playing Playing Resting
1st half, 20:00 Thomas Massamba Lopez
1st half, 16:00 Lopez Thomas Massamba
1st half, 12:00 Massamba Lopez Thomas
1st half, 8:00 Thomas Massamba Lopez
1st half, 4:00 Lopez Thomas Massamba
2nd half, 20:00 Massamba Lopez Thomas
2nd half, 16:00 Thomas Massamba Lopez
2nd half, 12:00 Lopez Thomas Massamba
2nd half, 8:00 Massamba Lopez Thomas
2nd half, 4:00 Thomas Massamba Lopez


Now obviously, you are not going to be able to substitute each big man at the exact times listed, so just substitute at the next dead ball after the said time. This keeps each player fresh due to regular breaks that aren't so long that the player looses his focus. In order to keep teams from picking up on the exact rotation and adjusting their game plan to it, simply change the place of the players every so often to keep opponents on their toes.

As for the rest of the rotation, now dealing with a 3 guard rotation, we should always have one of our two facilitators on the floor, that would be either Oscar Bellfield or Anthony Marshall. Both run the offense well and are considered point guards at their respective positions. I like seeing both playing on the floor at the same time, but it's more important to have one of the two always in the game, so I'll split them up between the starting squad and the bench squad. Since Bellfield has more game experience than Marshall, I'll give the starting position to Bellfield and have Marshall come off the bench.

Our other four guards, Tre'Von Willis, Chace Stanback, Derrick Jasper, and Justin Hawkins, will also be split between the bench and starting squads. I'm going to split up our two best out of this group, Willis and Stanback, in order to create more even lineups so that we simply don't lose anything when the bench lineup comes in. Willis sticks with the starting lineup while Stanback goes to the bench.

When it comes to Derrick Jasper and Justin Hawkins, it's a tough choice as to who to start. Jasper has more experience with the team in general, but has been very out of sync this year - he's been almost non-existent. Hawkins has really blossomed since his Freshman season last year and is in the flow of the offense, not to mention his stifling defense. I'm going to give the starting job to Hawkins only because Jasper has been almost inept on the offensive end of the court. I don't want to have that kind of ineptitude going up against the opposing team's best players.

Here is what the two lineups would look like:

Starters Bench
Oscar Bellfield Anthony Marshall
Justin Hawkins Derrick Jasper
Tre'Von Willis Chace Stanback


The rotation would be different from the big man rotation. Instead of rotating one big man out every four minutes, you rotate each squad every eight minutes. The rotation would look like this:

Time of Game Playing Playing Playing Resting Resting Resting
1st half, 20:00 Bellfield Hawkins Willis Marshall Jasper Stanback
1st half, 12:00 Marshall Jasper Stanback Bellfield Hawkins Willis
1st half, 4:00 Bellfield Hawkins Willis Marshall Jasper Stanback
2nd half, 20:00 Bellfield Hawkins Willis Marshall Jasper Stanback
2nd half, 16:00 Marshall Jasper Stanback Bellfield Hawkins Willis
2nd half, 8:00 Bellfield Hawkins Willis Marshall Jasper Stanback

 The idea of this rotation is to keep both units fresh while keeping both units even so that we don't lose much when one or the other goes out of the game.

The second rotation is optional, but I definitely think that the first rotation is mandatory if the Rebels want to go from a good team to a great team.

 

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