After a couple of months of college life, UNLV freshman Oscar Bellfield is handling almost everything with ease.
He has adjusted to being away from home, meeting new friends and sitting in lecture halls with hundreds of students. None of that has been a problem.
But Bellfield admits to one eye-opening experience — meeting the demands of the basketball practices run by Rebels coach Lon Kruger.
Unlike Allen Iverson, Bellfield sees the need for practice. He just never expected the sessions to be so grueling for three hours a day, six days a week.
"I’ve been challenged a lot, as far as how long practice is and going hard every single minute like the coaches want us all to do," Bellfield said. "It’s a lot longer than I expected.
"Coach expects us to go hard throughout the whole practice. It’s possible, but it’s something that’s really challenging. He’s not letting you slack off and making sure you do everything perfect."
The learning curve is much sharper for a freshman point guard.
The 6-foot-2-inch Bellfield, from Westchester High School in Los Angeles, is competing for playing time with sophomores Tre’Von Willis and Kendall Wallace.
Willis, a transfer from Memphis, is expected to start in UNLV’s season opener against San Diego on Nov. 15. Bellfield is showing he can be a solid backup, at the least.
"No spot is guaranteed with anybody," senior swingman Rene Rougeau said. "I like Oscar a lot. When he first came here, he really impressed me with his hustle, his athleticism and his ability to take criticism well and work hard."
Bellfield has excelled in several practices and is "off to a good start," according to Kruger.
"I think right now we’re looking at Oscar and Tre handling those point guard minutes, and I think they’ll both do a good job with it," Kruger said. "Oscar is very competitive.
"I think there’s a good, healthy competition in a lot of areas, not just the starting spots but also the guys who are going to be first in there behind Wink (Adams) and first in there behind Rene, and those types of things, as well.
"Most importantly, I think our guys understand that they determine that because we just evaluate, and whoever is getting results and whoever is consistently taking care of responsibilities is more likely to be in there sooner and more often."
Bellfield is a solid defender and has obvious point guard instincts, no surprise considering his nickname is "O" and he wears No. 0 and idolizes "The Big O," former NBA great Oscar Robertson.
"Throughout my whole career, people have been wondering if I was a natural point guard or if I was a shooting guard," Bellfield said. "I’m more of a point guard. I do pass a lot, but now I’m trying to put the whole package together as far as knowing when to pass, when to shoot and when to create.
"Everything is fast-paced. It’s been real tough with everybody going at each other and trying to go hard every single drill. But I’m having fun and enjoying myself."
And he’s picking up on one of Kruger’s primary lessons.
"I expect to see some minutes," he said. "We all earn minutes in practice."
• NOTES — Kruger’s book, "The Xs & Os of Success," is available for purchase this week. Proceeds from the book, published by Stephens Press and co-written by D.J. Allen of Imagine Marketing, go to charity. … The Mountain West Conference announced an agreement with the Missouri Valley Conference to participate in a Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge that could begin in the 2009-2010 season.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907.Read Adam Hill’s UNLV Sports blog