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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 1st, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

UNLV Rebels

Overall Rank: #71

Conference Rank: #4 MWC

 

2005-06: 17-13, 10-6, 4th

2005-06 postseason: none

 

After another season of mediocrity, UNLV is looking to rebound and make it back to the postseason.  A fourth place finish this year in the Mountain West Conference should be enough to at least make the NITs, but a trip to the NCAAs is possible if the big guys can produce.

 

Who’s Out: The starting frontcourt of Louis Amundson and Dustin Villepigue is gone.  Amundson led the squad with 14.3 points and 8.6 boards, while Villepigue tacked on 6.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest.  Jason Petrimoulx started 25 games as a junior before opting not to return to the program.  Fellow guards Ricky Morgan and Robert Berkey have run out of eligibility. 

 

Who’s In: The big get for Coach Lon Kruger is his son Kevin Kruger, who transferred in from Arizona State under the new rules for a fifth year player who graduated in four years.  The young Kruger is a tremendous outside shooter and will be the go-to scorer for the Rebels.  Incoming freshman Marcus Lawrence is a smooth pure point guard and will battle for minutes right away.  The perimeter doesn’t need much more help this season, but the future of the backcourt is well established with the additions of redshirt freshmen Efrem Lawrence and Scott Hoffman and wings Corey Bailey and Troy Cage.  In the frontcourt, Joel Anthony returns after sitting out last season.  In 2004-2005, the 6-9, 250 pound center averaged 1.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.  With the starting center job all but locked up for Anthony, bigger numbers are expected from the Montreal, Canada native.  Beside Anthony, Matt Shaw will battle for minutes.  The 6-8 power forward has the size and strength to compete in the MWC as a freshman and can score in the paint or step out and hit the short jumper. 

 

Who to Watch: Jo’Van Adams will move back to the starting point guard spot.  As a freshman last year, Adams averaged 10.9 points, 2.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds.  If he can run the show effectively, keep the turnovers down and find the scoring threats on the wings, the Rebels will be in for a good season.  Michael Umeh and Curtis Terry are solid options on the wing.  With the addition of Kruger, one will be relegated to the bench.  Umeh is a little undersized to be effective at the three spot and his outside shooting skills make him a likely candidate to provide a spark off the bench.  Terry, who averaged 7.4 points and 3.0 rebounds last season, can provide more help to the big guys on the glass.

 

Final Projection: Maybe expectations are always a little high for UNLV, but this squad has the potential to surprise some people in the MWC.  Not making a postseason would be a massive disappointment this year.  Much of the team’s success will lie on Wendell White who may start at the power forward spot.  Listed as a 6-6 guard, White has the athletic ability to get on the glass and be effective up front.  Foul trouble and depth will be a problem in the paint and the newcomers and returning players like Gaston Essenque and Joe Darger will have to be ready to contribute effectively. 

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT

 

Projected Starting Five:

Jo’Van Adams, Sophomore, Guard, 10.9 points per game

Kevin Kruger, Senior, Guard, 15.0 points per game at ASU

Curtis Terry, Junior, Guard, 7.4 points per game

Wendell White, Senior, Guard, 7.3 points per game

Joel Anthony, Senior, Center, DNP last season

72 Rice » Complete List » 70 Maryland

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