Rebels happy in role as ‘dogs

Preseason rankings are mostly meaningless, and UNLV senior guard Wink Adams readily acknowledges that. He also admits he watches the polls closely.

Adams prefers the Rebels be unranked at this point and allowed to hide in the “Others Receiving Votes” pile.

UNLV is sitting just outside the top 25 — 26th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll and 27th in The Associated Press poll.

“It definitely doesn’t matter. I like playing as the underdog,” Adams said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve been winning. But as I was telling everybody, I think we play better as the underdog.

“Once you win, you can say, ‘I told you so,’ and walk around smiling.”

Rebels coach Lon Kruger said his team is getting proper recognition.

“All through the preseason, we’ve been somewhere between 20 and 30 (in the rankings), and that’s probably realistic and fair,” Kruger said. “It’s a beginning point early in the year. We want to do more than that, so we’ve got to keep working.”

Two weeks into practice, and about two weeks from the Nov. 15 season opener against San Diego at the Thomas & Mack Center, Kruger judged his team’s work as “not bad,” and said he wants to see improvement in defense and rebounding.

“We’re kind of where we expect to be, I think,” he said. “The younger guys are making good progress, and the older guys are giving good leadership.”

Adams said all the newcomers, especially freshman point guard Oscar Bellfield, have impressed him.

“I think we’re in good shape. We always can improve on defense, and really that’s the main thing,” Adams said. “As far as our offense, I think everybody is getting the shots they want.

“Everybody is coming along so fast. Every guy on this team has been taking care of business, on and off the court. We don’t have distractions off the court this season, and we can come to practice and always focus on basketball. Every guy on this team wants to win.”

TRIP TO TEMPE — The Rebels leave Friday for a Saturday scrimmage at Arizona State. The Sun Devils are ranked 15th in both polls.

“It gives us a little experience of going on the road,” Kruger said. “A six-hour bus ride is a bonding opportunity.”

UNLV’s only exhibition game is against Washburn, a Division II school from Topeka, Kan., on Nov. 11 at the Thomas & Mack.

TICKETS AVAILABLE — Single-game tickets for the 2008-09 season will go on sale to the public Monday.

Tickets to all 18 home games will be available for purchase at, by calling 702-739-FANS (3267) and at the Thomas & Mack ticket office.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at or 702-387-2907.


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