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December 1, 2011

The uniqueness of UNLV and Moser

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 3:30 pm

I have an Insider piece on UNLV forthcoming, but in the meantime I want to add a couple further thoughts that I was unable to fit into what will no doubt be hailed as deathless prose….

A POT that gets offensive boards.
The Rebels have devoted 40 percent of their shots to threes thus far, yet they get offensive boards too (they’ve hauled down 36 percent of their own misses). That’s unusual. Typically when you see a perimeter-oriented team (POT), they’re either just really bad at offensive rebounding because of their personnel and the way they’re spaced on offense, or they actively avoid offensive boards out of a concern for transition defense. And, within reason, all of the above is fine. We’ve seen time and time again that it’s possible for a POT to be really good on offense without being really good at offensive rebounding, the locus classicus being perhaps Wisconsin in 2011. But my question is simply whether such offenses truly have to sacrifice offensive rebounding to be that good, or whether perhaps they could have been better still with a few more offensive boards.

In this vein I think of the Duke national championship team from 2010. Powered by Brian Zoubek, the Blue Devils that year were manifestly beastly on the offensive glass. The only question is whether we can correctly classify a team that took a normal number of threes in a conference which (that year) never shot threes as “perimeter-oriented.” Anyway, first-year UNLV head coach Dave Rice may give us a cleaner test of this proposition. As long as 6-8 sophomore Mike Moser is on the floor, this team will get offensive rebounds. Speaking of Moser….

There’s a reason this never happens.
Moser is a UCLA transfer (so too, of course, is Chace Stanback), one who left the Bruins expressly because of a lack of playing time. Take it from Ben Howland, May 7, 2010:

Mike is a good kid, a great student, and a very hard worker. I have enjoyed having him in our program. He has a great attitude and I’m supportive of him finding a program where he will have a chance to play more minutes than we envision he will have here.

Oops. UCLA’s 2-4, and Moser’s blowing up like DeJuan Blair, Jr. Through games of November 30:

          %Min  %Shots  OR%   DR%  FTM-FTA  Pct  2PM-2PA  Pct  3PM-3PA  Pct
Moser     74.5   28.0  17.1  28.6   28-35   80.0  44-77   57.1   8-26   30.8

It’s early in the day to be touting Moser’s wonders, sure. He’s played all of 440 possessions in Vegas. Then again he did record that 16-18 double-double against Carolina, he did lay down that 34-10 double-double in last night’s double-overtime win at UCSB, and rebounding, where Moser is perhaps most Moseresque, is not the most mercurial of stats. Mark me down as impressed, and the depth of Howland’s regret over the words above will henceforth be directly correlated to Moser’s degree of excellence.

One of my pet peeves has always been fans yelling at a coach when a star recruit doesn’t pan out. I’ve long felt that the fans should be yelling not only at the coach but also at the evaluators from the recruiting services that rated the kid so highly. But once a player is in the program, a coach can evaluate his personnel under conditions that can only be termed ideal. The players do whatever drill the coach says and team up in scrimmage according to the coach’s wishes. The coach sees his players going head-to-head every day and can make direct comparisons. Which is why the list of transfers who leave a program specifically because of a lack of playing time but then go on to be big stars is a very short one. Almost without exception the coach at that first program turns out to be right.

Right now Howland doesn’t look right, but a better question is whether anyone was right about Mike Moser except perhaps Mike Moser. Our College Basketball Prospectus 2011-12, to take one example, didn’t anoint Moser as the next Derrick Williams. Sometimes surprises do occur. We are all Howland.

Twitter: @JohnGasaway. Contact: here.

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