There were some extra people on the court during UNLV’s basketball practice Friday morning at the Thomas & Mack Center.
With the Rebels participating in some full-court 5-on-5 action, coach Lon Kruger brought in local officials to whistle violations.
"Just kind of double-checking the guys on using their hands too much, and simulating some gamelike conditions," Kruger said. "We’ll have refs in a few times a week as we get closer to the season."
The team played several 5-minute increments with different lineups each time.
The most successful group was Wink Adams, Tre’Von Willis, Rene Rougeau, Mareceo Rutledge and Darris Santee.
The combination put up 17 points during its stint, which included three 3-pointers by Adams in a span of about 45 seconds.
Rutledge had another solid practice throughout, making several jump shots, grabbing rebounds and making a great backdoor pass to Adams for a layup.
"Everybody’s going hard. I think everybody’s playing well," Rutledge said, adding that he expects improvement this season. "I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better. I’m just playing and doing my thing."
Teammates raved about Rutledge’s improvement, especially during the Summer trip to Australia. Now a senior, he sees an opportunity to play a pivotal role.
"Being out there and being a leader, for one," he said. "I’m a senior now and I have to do my part to be vocal and help keep guys motivated."
On the opposite end of the spectrum, freshman point guard Oscar Bellfield had a good practice as the team got into more simulated game situations.
"Playing in the full court really gets a point guard in the flow," he said.
Bellfield distributed the ball consistently to open teammates and committed few turnovers.
Another freshman, DeShawn Mitchell showcased a wide array of skills. His athleticism has been well-documented, but Mitchell made some nice plays defensively and showed an ability to make jump shots.
Of course, there was some athletic maneuvers, as well.
Mitchell had several breakaways and made two acrobatic 3-point plays.
Willis also knocked down a few 3-pointers.
DARGER GETS BACK TREATMENT
Senior forward Joe Darger sprinted off the court and back into the locker room after the third segment of the 5-on-5 portion of practice.
Kruger said after practice that Darger has had a sore back and was just getting some treatment.
Beas Hamga yelped in pain after diving for a loose ball and getting tangled up with Brice Massamba near the end of practice. After limping around the court a few times, Hamga’s knee appeared to be fine.
Derrick Jasper again did not participate in any drills.
Though he is sitting out practices, Kentucky transfer Derrick Jasper does shoot around with his teammates afterward. His surgically repaired left knee doesn’t appear to be affecting his jump shot.
Jasper and UCLA transfer Chace Stanback went head-to-head in a 3-point shooting contest.
Both were terrific. They each made about 80 percent of their attempts, and at one point, both made seven in a row.
Eventually, Jasper prevailed.
Neither player can play in games this season for UNLV, but both should contribute immediately upon becoming eligible for the 2009-2010 season.