The road to the NCAA Tournament is not as clear this year as it has been the past few years. The Rebels have made it to the big dance for four years straight, but their streak looks to be in jeopardy.
So what do the Rebels need to do to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth year in a row? Well, the consensus among fans and experts alike is that there is only one answer: Win the Mountain West Tournament.
But how do they accomplish that? The Rebels haven’t been able to win the conference tournament on their own floor since 2008. The talent is there this year, but a lot of things will have to come together if they want to cut down the nets on March 15.
The Rebels have seemed to peak late in the season, which is the perfect time. However, they are still a Jekyll and Hyde team and you never know which one will show up. There’s also all the chatter about who will stay and who will leave, and I think that affects all of the players this late in the season.
If the Rebels come out shooting like they did on the road against Air Force, Utah State or even Boise State, then we can beat any team on the floor. In my opinion, one of the most important keys to winning this tournament will be free throws. We have not been so good in that department this year, so it will be crucial to convert them at home this week.
We also took to Twitter to find out what some other UNLV fans thought about what UNLV needs to do to win the conference tournament. I think you’ll see some themes developing.
@jimmy3fingers: Finish out the season with Wins by hitting Free Throws and then our PG need 2 step up in the MWC Tourney
@lasvgsJoe: make free throws and win the next 3 games.
@_JxBx_: The effort is there. Need to make FTs, lock down on D and sustain runs. We need to play inside/out and have smart guard play.
Free throws have been a sore spot for this team all season. #Ifwehadonlymadeourfoulshots seems to be a trending topic among Rebels fans on Twitter after every close loss.
@toddkali: defend and speed offense up. They play better fast.
@MikeLangeLV: Deville is the key. Need consistent great play at the point. Tall order with how inconsistent the team had been
@msw_sportsdon’t panic. Get every1 involved thru PG assists. Keep cold shooters on the bench. Exploit key opposing players by drawing fouls. take high % shots. Clog the lane. Get in transition. Double up on key players. Strong passes. Come out of time outs w/ authority.
Rebels fans also seem to have Deville Smith on their minds, and for good reason. As he goes, so go the Rebels. At his best, Smith controls the tempo and creates opportunities for his teammates. But he’s also shown some inconsistency, on and off the court.
@Vegas_Bill: Play defense, make shots, play with energy and heart. No long lapses on offense. Also no games with Dave Hall. Ha!
(Dave Hall is a MW Referee who seems to have it out for the Rebels, he is NOT a fan favorite!)
@VegasRebelFan: All about the draw. But I think the bench will be key. Emergence of Chris Wood is huge. Need JK also. Shot selection another big one. Can’t be launching 20+ threes… Dominate the paint
Then you always get the smart alecks:
@dpwtvdodger: the most important thing. We must score more points than our opponent by the time the game is over. everything else is irrelevant
@sig570: can we pay off refs?
I think most of those answers were right on point. Thanks for your input, Rebel fans. The Rebels will play on Thursday, March 13, at 2:30 p.m. against Wyoming. You can buy tickets at the Thomas & Mack box office or online at unlvtickets.com.
I’m praying they make their run and on Saturday night it’s finally OUR TEAM cutting down the nets. I’ll see you Thursday afternoon for Step 1.