Nothing Doing on Rebels’ Final Possession

Rashad Vaughn

Despite playing listless and uninspired basketball for most of Tuesday’s game against Boise State, UNLV nevertheless had a chance to walk off with a win in the final seconds of regulation. But the Rebels came up empty when Rashad Vaughn missed a long 3, and Boise State whipped UNLV in the overtime period to hand the Rebels an 80-73 defeat.

The final play of regulation was an example of the Rebels at their worst, with no ball movement, no player movement, and really no plan. With the score tied at 68-68 after a Derrick Marks bucket, Chris Wood inbounded to Rashad Vaughn on the baseline with 13.1 seconds to play, and Vaughn crossed halfcourt with more than eight seconds on the clock. Watch the play unfold from there:


Literally nothing happens until Vaughn takes his 22-footer. Jordan Cornish is camped in the left corner. Patrick McCaw is spotted up on the left wing. Goodluck Okonoboh is hanging underneath the basket. Chris Wood is the only player off the ball who attempts to do anything, as he tries to set a ball screen with five seconds left, only to be waved off by Vaughn, who instead reverses direction and launches the shot.

Should Dave Rice have called timeout when he saw how stagnant the Rebels were on final possession? After the game, he said he didn’t want to call timeout and trusted Vaughn with the ball in his hands, but also that he wanted Vaughn to attack the defense and try to get closer to the rim.

If that was the case, the Rebels’ spacing is certainly not conducive to ball penetration. In order for Vaughn to be able to take his man off the dribble, McCaw would be better off stationed in the right corner, drawing his defender away from the middle. As the play unfolded, McCaw’s defender was able to cheat over and help cut off Vaughn’s path to the basket when he made his move. Okonoboh’s presence was also a hindrance, as his defender was able to stay in the paint and protect the basket.

If the reasoning for not calling timeout was that Rice wanted to give Vaughn a chance to penetrate the Boise State defense before it got set, then the Rebels probably should have had a better idea of how they wanted to space the floor to create driving lanes. Instead, their configuration and lack of movement away from the ball almost guaranteed that they wouldn’t get a quality shot.

Related content:
Rebels Drop to No. 109 in RPI
Killer Turnovers Doom Rebels in OT Loss at Boise State
Cody Doolin: “We’re Looking Forward to First True Road Win”
Dwayne Morgan Hoping to Turn Corner in Second Half
Shooting Star: An Oral History of Dantley Walker

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  • techie

    McCaw was supposed to receive the pass. Jordan Cornish points out where ball should go.

    Looks like a play was drawn up, but Rashad just shot it.

    • Mike Grimala

      Rice said the play was for Vaughn to drive to the basket. Looks like the spacing wasn’t good and Vaughn got trigger happy.

      • pguerrero28

        For a coach that pays so much lip service to “team” and “playing together”, his team sure seems to run a lot of isolation plays where one player tries to break down a defender while the rest of the team clears out and just stands there. Works in the pros, I know, but such plays are not run nearly as much in college, where there is typically more movement, both ball and player.

    • pguerrero28

      McCaw was wide open. Rice may be covering for Vaughn, since, as this article explains in depth, the spacing on the floor was not conducive to an isolation drive to the lane. Not calling a timeout in that situation is inexcusable, as was the long, contested 3 taken. But that’s kind of to be expected with the Rebels under Rice

Vegas Seven


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