by Jake Runyon
I respect San Diego State. I really do. They’re talented, well-coached, and play with energy and poise. That being said, I also hate San Diego State. I hate everything about them. I hate how Xavier Thames and Winston Shepard’s names sound like turn of the century British detective names like Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I hate Josh Davis’ cornrows. I hate the fact that Dwayne Polee II snubbed UNLV twice (once coming out of highschool, and once when he decided to transfer from St Johns). I hate the fact that Steve Fisher knows exactly what he is doing, and I hate that his players execute his gameplan.
Last night UNLV did so many things right. They shot the ball well, they played good defense. All in all, it was one of their best performances of the season. However, it was the inability to bring the ball up the court that killed us.
At the end of the day, its important to remember that this game had very little implication on UNLV final standing. Last nights game had more do with pride then it had to with UNLV’s postseason. It was however, a good test to see where UNLV is heading into the MWC tournament.
Khem Birch, A: I felt like the Khem played one of his best games of his career. It has happened later than when I would have liked, but Khem Birch has finally taken the role of leader. He had a great night defensively, as usual, but his biggest impact was on offense. He played the most aggressive he has played all year. He wanted to score on every touch, and if he wasn’t going to score, he was going to draw the foul. He was able get Josh Davis and Skylar Spencer in foul trouble, however, the Rebels weren’t able to capitalize with those two on the bench.
Carlos Lopez Sosa, B-: When Carlos was on the floor last night, he played with more energy and fire than anyone else in the whole Thomas and Mack. He played efficiently on both ends of the floor. Really, when he was on the floor, he was one of our best players. But Carlos struggles to stay on the floor. Whether it is poor footwork or bad decisions, Carlos always seems to find himself in foul trouble. If he avoided fouling so often, he would get more time on the floor.
Deville Smith, D-: It just wasn’t there last night for Deville in any way. 0 for 5 from the field, and 7 turnovers. The only reason I don’t give Deville an F is because he did do a decent job defending Xavier Thames and Winston Shepard. Deville just isn’t a PG, and I hope he knows that is the reason Cody Doolin is coming in next year. I hope that Doolin being here next year takes some pressure off Deville.
Bryce Dejean-Jones, C-: I know some people would disagree, but I don’t think that Bryce played that bad last night. His shot was off, but his shot has been off all year with a few exceptions. I would have liked to see Bryce play a little more aggressive, but the problem with BDJ sometimes is that aggression turns into recklessness. When he is clicking, he is impossible to stop. But against those long guards that SDSU has, it was difficult for him to find space.
Kevin Olekaibe, B: The one negative last night for KO was that he shot poorly. Besides that he had a pretty efficient game. I also loved the touching tribute to his Dad.
Christian Wood, C: The good: Chris is no longer playing like a freshman. He defended well, and rebounded well. The bad: Chris was a little overzealous offensively and took a few too many bad shots. All in all, if you’re a rebel fan, you have to be excited about the future. Think about next year. How will anyone ever score on us between Goodluck, Khem and Chris?
Jelan Kendrick, B+: Last night Jelan played the best I’ve ever seen him as Rebel. 4 of 4, 10 points, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers. I would have liked to see him take few more shots since he was feeling it. The only negative, and it wasn’t much his fault was he was late on a couple of screens which freed up Shrigley to knock down some big shots for SDSU in the 2nd half.
Daquan Cook, B-: I wouldn’t mind seeing Daquan as our the starting point guard for the rest of the season. Daquan just doesn’t make very many mistakes, and it has been mistakes that have killed the Rebels this season. Daquan shot the ball well last night, with the exception of a weird floater he took midway in the second half.
Coaching Staff, C: I felt like the gameplan was very good last night. In fact, I think UNLV did everything right last night except one thing… dealing with the full court press. How did that happen? It is no secret that SDSU presses. I know our guards aren’t the best ball handlers and decision makers, but it looked as if there was never even a discussion with our team about what to do in a press.