Skip to content

Christmas Wish List: UNLV needs players to step up after Mike Moser’s injury

Dec 12, 2012, 2:01 PM EDT

Anthony Marshall AP

Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.

What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.

Gotta have it list-topper: Someone to fill Mike Moser’s shoes

When Mike Moser went down with an elbow injury in UNLV’s win over Cal on Sunday, Rebel nation held its collective breath. After tests, it was revealed that he will likely miss about a month as he recovers from a dislocated elbow.

Luckily for UNLV, Pittsburgh transfer Khem Birch will come into the fold at the start of the second semester, which should help to fill the frontcourt gap while Moser works his way back. Birch is likely not the silver bullet that fixes everything for Dave Rice’s team, but his presence should take some pressure off of Anthony Bennett.

The freshman Bennett, in his own right, is having an All-American-type season, averaging 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Without Moser, they’ll like look to him more, but it will be the responsibility of Birch, Quintrell Thomas, and Carlos Lopez-Sosa to pick up the slack.

Looking at the UNLV schedule over the next four-to-five weeks, there are three major tests that stand out. The Rebels meet No. 21 North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Dec. 29, then No. 17 New Mexico at the start of conference play on Jan. 9. If Moser takes more time to recover, that could keep him out for the Jan. 16 game against No. 18 San Diego State.

Stocking Stuffer: Better shot selection

It is often the case with young teams that they can fall into the trap of taking bad shots, and sometimes taking bad shots in large numbers. UNLV has fallen victim to that at points this season, ranking 203rd in the nation with an overall shooting percentage of 42.7 percent.

Much of the problem is in the backcourt, with Katin Reinhardt, Bryce Dejean-Jones, and Justin Hawkins all shooting 37 percent or less from the field. Dejean-Jones and Reinhardt are also shooting close to 30 percent from behind the three-point line.

As the Rebels move into Mountain West play, close games can be decided by shot selection down the stretch. They’re doing fine in other major statistical categories (scoring, rebounding, assists), which means patience can go a long way.

Without Moser for the next month, Anthony Bennett will likely become even more of a focal point, as well as Khem Birch as he becomes acclimated to the program and the system. Both are options around the rim, with Bennett shooting 54 percent from the floor.

Planning on re-gifting: Turnovers

A byproduct of both pace and inexperience, the Rebels are turning the ball over 15 times per game. Granted, they’re one of the best teams in the country at sharing the ball and have a solid assist/turnover ratio, but working to reduce turnovers will go a long way. Anthony Marshall is still settling into his role as a point guard and is leading the team in assists, but also leading in turnovers (5.8/2.8).

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Latest Posts
  1. Tourney Snacks: Kentucky, Notre Dame win in Midwest; Arizona, Wisconsin advance to set up Elite Eight rematch

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:45 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    The Elite Eight will feature a rematch in the West Regional between Arizona and Wisconsin and Kentucky battling Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional.

  2. Updated tournament records: Kentucky moves SEC above .500

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:00 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Kentucky’s win also means that the Big 12 is down to one team: Oklahoma.

  3. No. 2 Arizona pulls away from No. 6 Xavier, setting up West regional final rematch

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Arizona played slightly better on both ends of the floor in the second half, and they’ll take on No. 1 Wisconsin as a result.

  4. Kentucky responds to Daxter Miles Jr.’s pregame comments

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:48 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    If you are going to talk, you better be able to back it up

  5. Tip times, announcer pairing and channel guide for 2015 Elite 8

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:19 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The schedule for Saturday has been released.

  6. #POSTERIZED: Jalen Reynolds dunks on Kaleb Tarczewski (VIDEO)

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:11 AM EDT

    Jalen Reynolds Jalen Reynolds

    Jalen Reynolds dunks everything he gets his hands on, it seems.

  7. No. 1 Kentucky dominates No. 5 West Virginia to advance to Elite 8

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:06 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    No. 1 Kentucky looked completely dominant in an easy win over No. 5 West Virginia.

  8. Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky lead No. 1 Wisconsin to second consecutive Elite Eight

    Mar 26, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    After Dekker scored 15 points in the first half, Kaminksy scored 15 in the second half for the Badgers.

  9. USC sophomore guard Kahlil Dukes to transfer

    Mar 26, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Dukes averaged 2.1 points in 7.2 minutes of action per game.

  10. Josh Jackson, No. 1 player in Class of 2016, cuts his list to nine schools

    Mar 26, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    2014 Under Armour Association Finals

    Josh Jackson, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, is down to nine schools.

  11. Virginia Tech’s leading scorer Adam Smith to transfer, will be eligible immediately

    Mar 26, 2015, 4:24 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Adam Smith averaged a team-high 13.4 points per game as a redshirt junior.

  12. Tip times, channel guide for the 2015 Sweet 16

    Mar 26, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Here is the schedule for the Sweet 16

  13. Reports: NCAA meets with Donnie Tyndall second time, investigation nears end

    Mar 26, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpte3owi1njbhnjg0mtc2yjbkzdgzmdzhnzm2mtbjytc1 AP

    Will Tyndall be able to survive the investigation?

  14. Dayton extends Archie Miller’s contract through 2021-22

    Mar 26, 2015, 12:53 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Archie Miller is one of the hottest names in coaching, and Dayton is trying to keep him around as long as possible.

  15. Tradition of success through change raises expectations at Xavier

    Mar 26, 2015, 12:10 PM EDT

    Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo) Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)

    Xavier’s reached the Sweet 16 in five of the last eight seasons, but is there a point where that won’t be good enough?