The UNLV Runnin” Rebels were back on the court Monday, with new players and new coaches getting their first reps during the team”s first official practice.
But the fresh faces weren”t the only reason Monday”s practice felt different. Everyone seemed to agree there is a new attitude permeating the team, and it”s starting from the top.
Head coach Dave Rice set the tone shortly after the practice was opened to the public, as he stopped play during an intrasquad scrimmage to loudly correct a mistake that was made on the court. Rice was vociferous in calling out the player, which was something of a departure from his in-practice demeanor last year.
“[Rice] is more firm in his decisions,” said senior center Carlos Lopez-Sosa. “He”s going one way, and there”s nobody that”s going to stop him from going that way. If you don”t want to be part of the program or if you don”t feel like you can help this team with the direction that we”re going, there”s no point of being here.”
Lopez-Sosa wasn”t the only player who noticed the difference from last year.
“It”s extremely different,” said junior Roscoe Smith. “It”s basically a 360.”
Other news and notes from UNLV”s first official practice on Monday:
Birch does not practice
Junior center Khem Birch held out of practice as punishment for missing This needs to be 24/7, because Australians live on the other side of the world from most of these casino ’s headquarters. a weightlifting session earlier on Monday.
Dave Rice said Birch overslept and missed the early morning appointment, prompting Rice to “suspend him for the day.”
“For us to get to the level that we have an opportunity to get to, we all have to be on the same page,” Rice said. “So I suspended Khem for the day. He and I will meet tomorrow and I suspect he”ll be at practice tomorrow.”
Big Zimm in attendance
The Rebels” current starting center may have been suspended for the day, but the man they want to be their center in 2015 was sitting courtside as Bishop Gorman big man Stephen Zimmerman was at the Mendenhall Center to take in Monday”s practice.
Zimmerman, a 7-footer ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2015 by Rivals, is one of the Rebels” top recruiting targets. He”s been offered by UNLV (as well as just about every other big-time program across the country), but his attendance was an example of one of the advantages of recruiting a local player.
Aytes leaves early
Freshman forward Jamal Aytes didn”t quite make it all the way through his first college practice, as he had to call it a day after hyperextending his knee. Aytes did not participate in the suicide sprints that ended the practice.
Rice said he didn”t anticipate Aytes missing any time.
Wood sits out with injury
Chris Wood, the Rebels” other highly-touted freshman forward, sat out with a broken finger. Wood watched from the sideline near Zimmerman and appeared to be wearing a cast.
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