by Jake Runyon (@jakerunyon)
Here is a cool story. My wife and I had been planning a trip to NYC for a long time, and it just so happens that at the same time we were in the Empire state, UNLV was playing in the Barclay Center in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic.
Confession time: I knew we were going to lose against Stanford, and I hadn’t been to New York since I was 17. I didn’t go to the game. I went and saw a play with my wife. Sue me. I did however follow the game on my cellular device.
This GIF shows my reaction to UNLV vs Stanford.
How could we let those nerds from Palo Alto make us look so stupid. Check out this exclusive footage of UNLV’s locker room at halftime.
We lost badly… 89-60.
UNLV had to bounce back quickly before playing Temple the next night. (My wife and I went to that game. Okay. You can stop making me feel so bad about abandoning the team the night before, but we had 3rd row seats to watch Idina Menzel… yeah, the Let It Go lady)
Something changed in that small window of time between Stanford and Temple. I like to think that Coach Rice took the team to see a matinee showing of Wicked or Lion King on Broadway to boost morale.
On Saturday night, UNLV played like a team that had a very short memory. It was a new game, and while I wouldn’t say that UNLV played good against Temple, they did play with some toughness, especially in the second half.
For the most part, UNLV was in control of the game, but whenever UNLV would gain some momentum, Temple would resist and fight back <Thinking of a Bill Cosby joke I could put here>
While his stat-sheet was rather modest, Patrick McCaw (7 points, 4 rebounds) made a huge impact. All three of his baskets came at pivotal moments, and came as result of a little extra effort and hustle.
There were moments against Temple that Christian Wood took over. He would get the ball and realize that he was bigger and stronger than the guy guarding him. Instead of trying to pull off some Kevin Durant inspired fadeaway, he backed down the smaller defenders until he got close enough to basket to just turnaround and go to window.
We might look back at the second half of that game as the moment when Christian Wood realized that his advantage is his size, strength and athleticism, not his outside shot.
Another thing worth noting about UNLV’s trip to Brooklyn was the band. It was clearly not the same band that plays in the Thomas and Mack, and that is a good thing. The band must have been from a small nearby college, and they were 10 times cooler than the weird, bowling-shirt-wearing band we’re used to at the TMC. They had a drumline with step dancers and everything! (Who else remembers that Drumline was best movie of the summer in 2002? NIck Cannon was never cooler than he was in that movie.)
After the Coaches vs Cancer Classic, UNLV made their way home, and faced the Great Danes of Albany.
Rashad Vaughn impressed those in attendance at the Thomas and Mack, dropping 29 points on 11/18 from the field.
It is worth noting that Rashad Vaughn is averaging 24.3 PPG at home but just a measly 7 PPG on the road (4/19 from the field)
Early December Preview
UNLV now finds itself beginning the meaty part of their season. December is an important month for the rebels to boost their non-conference resume’, with games against Arizona State, Kansas, Utah, and Arizona.
Tomorrow night, UNLV takes on the Arizona State Sundevils in Temple.
Good news: Jahii Carson is no longer there. Last year he scorched the Rebels for 40 points in the Thomas and Mack Center en route to a 86-80 ASU win.
Bad news: Our group of inexperienced freshman are making their first visit into hostile territory.
ASU is the new home to former Rebel, Savon Goodman. In that case, I am hoping that UNLV can “STEAL” a win on the road. Hopefully our defense can “handcuff” the sundevils offensively.