UNLV freshman Trey Woodbury figured his relationship with teammates would be different as a college athlete.
He just may not have been quite prepared for how much time he would spend with them.
“I kind of expected it, but it is kind of surprising how close you get to your teammates on a college team,” he said before practice on Wednesday. “I was close with my high school team, but it’s on a different level when you live with somebody and you’re around them 24/7. That’s been really cool.”
All that time spent together has helped the team bond as it tries to blend 11 players who were in the program last year with a talented group of newcomers.
The Rebels will get their first taste of game experience Friday when they host Montana State-Billings in a 7 p.m. exhibition game at Thomas & Mack Center.
Woodbury, a freshman sharpshooter from Clark High School, said it will be a “dream come true” when he takes the floor at that arena to play for his hometown team.
It won’t happen on Friday night, however.
Woodbury suffered a knee injury during practice last week and is expected to be sidelined for the next couple weeks, according to coach Marvin Menzies.
He’s not the only player who won’t be available. Louis Bangai is dealing with a thumb injury and Menzies said the current plan is to redshirt the 6-foot-10 freshman from Cameroon.
Freshman forward Joel Ntambwe’s status is a bit more vague.
“He’s practicing again, but not sure how much I’m going to play him based on that,” Menzies said.
The rest of the team is gearing up to show how much the players have come together and what that might look like on the floor.
“Every day I feel like we get better and better,” sophomore forward Tervell Beck said. “Our guards are great leaders that are on top of us 24/7. I feel like our communication as a team has just gotten much better.”
Beck averaged 7.3 points in 16 minutes per game last season. He expects to have a breakout campaign on the offensive end of the floor, but spent the offseason refining his defensive skills.
“I feel my role is just doing whatever it takes to win, especially locking up on defense this season,” he said. “Knock down shots and defend. That’s my job.”
Menzies is pleased with how the team has bonded, though he said it’s all part of the coaching staff’s plan in building the program.
“We recruited to our core values,” he said. “We recruited to our culture and a championship culture so when you bring in good people, you don’t have to manage that piece too much. I think we’ve got guys that are about winning and team. We recruited good teammates so I think that puts you in a situation to have instant chemistry.
“I think these guys have kind of all embraced each other and the older guys have done a good job of mentoring and talking team, team, team to the younger guys, which I think helps set the tone.”