UNLV has played only three games this month, but as the Rebels get closer to opening their Mountain West schedule, they will play three games in four days.
It’s the type of challenge coach Marvin Menzies said he thinks will benefit his team once conference play begins Jan. 2 against Colorado State.
“That’s exactly why you want to play in at least one of these tournaments in the nonconference, to give yourself a back-to-back game type of experience where you have very short turnover,” Menzies said.
The Rebels (5-4) come off a 92-90 overtime victory over Brigham Young as they open the Diamond Head Classic at 2 p.m. Saturday against host Hawaii (6-4). ESPNU will televise the game at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
UNLV will play Colorado or Indiana State on Sunday and a final game on Christmas Day against an opponent to be determined.
Two personnel issues followed the Rebels to Oahu.
One is the uncertainty over the future of senior forward Shakur Juiston, who injured a knee Dec. 8 at Illinois. He could try to return late in the season or shut it down now and receive a medical redshirt to return next year.
“It’s one of those deals where if you don’t have to make a decision right away on such a big decision, you don’t,” Menzies said. “You just make sure you process it and look at all the different angles and scenarios and find out which one you’re most comfortable with because there are going to be pros and cons to whatever he decides. We’ll do it collaboratively with the family. We’re just not in a place now where we’re making any final decisions, but I don’t anticipate it will be too much longer.”
Menzies started freshman Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua against BYU. He totaled three points and six rebounds while playing 40 minutes.
“I felt pretty fresh,” Tchatchoua said. “I felt like it was practice. It was no different.”
Menzies said matchups would determine how the power forward position is handled.
There also are questions at small forward, where Tervell Beck never left the T-Mobile Arena bench against BYU. Menzies downplayed questions about Beck, but this is a player who started the final 13 games last season and has yet to start this year.
“It’s my decision,” Menzies said. “It’s not the child’s decision whether they get to play or not. Now I have to look at the parameters of trying to win the game, and that’s first and foremost. I’m not trying to sugarcoat it. Can he do some things better? Yeah. So can all the other guys. Not a big deal.”
Menzies acknowledged that Beck hadn’t been in ideal condition but said the sophomore recently lost more than 10 pounds.
“He’s all in,” Menzies said. “It’s that he’s got to figure out how to operate a little bit differently on the floor in terms of an energy level sometimes. It’s all basketball. It’s nothing that he can’t do. He’s just got grow and learn what this level requires. It’s just different.”
When asked about not playing against the Cougars, Beck said, “I guess I’m not going hard enough.”
But he said he was determined to play hard “and try to earn some minutes. It’s not getting in my head or anything. It’s making me a better person for it.”