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Time for Willis to reassume leading role as Rebels pay visit to Louisville

UNLV may need senior guard Tre'von Willis to return to last season's form if they hope to defeat Louisville on Saturday.
UNLV may need senior guard Tre'von Willis to return to last season's form if they hope to defeat Louisville on Saturday.
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Tre'Von Willis isn't a supporting actor.

He isn't Batman's sidekick, Robin. He isn't Sherlock Holmes' assistant, Dr. Watson. He isn't Wayne's excellent buddy, Garth.

Tre'Von Willis is a leading man -- and on Saturday in Louisville, UNLV will likely need Willis to become a leading man once again.

The 20th-ranked Rebels face, arguably, their stiffest test of the season early Saturday when they invade Louisville's new home -- the KFC YUM! Center -- to take on the unbeaten, 24th-ranked Cardinals.

Willis, the Rebels leading scorer a season ago at over 17 points per contest, has averaged just 9.6 points through seven games as he works himself back into shape following offseason arthroscopic knee surgery.

The senior guard was also forced to miss the team's first two regular season games -- as well as a pair of exhibition contests -- as a result of his highly publicized June arrest.

Despite Willis operating at less than 100%, the Runnin' Rebels have nevertheless picked up their teammate, racing to a 9-0 record, and a top 20 national ranking. Against the ultra athletic Cardinals, however, and in front of what is sure to be a hostile KFC YUM! Center crowd, it may be time for the veteran guard to pick his teammates up.

In order to do this, Willis must revert back to the style of play that made him the Rebels best player a season ago. In other words, Willis must attack at the offensive end.

Last season, Willis -- a tremendously efficient scorer from inside the 3-point line -- avoided falling in love with the long ball. Only 37% of Willis' field goal attempts were from 3-point range.

So far this season, 46% of Willis' field goal tries have come from beyond the arc.

Perhaps the most startling contrast, though, between the Willis of a season ago and Willis so far this year, has been the senior's inabilty to get to the free throw line.

As a junior, Willis averaged nearly six (5.8) trips to the line per contest. Through seven games this season, Willis has visited the line less than two (1.9) times per game.

If the Rebels hope to escape Louisville with a high profile, resume enhancing road victory, Willis must be more aggressive offensively, and create easier scoring opportunities for himself both off of drives and at the line.

Willis, who has come off the bench in all seven games in which he's appeared this season, will likely find himself sharing top billing with a teammate of his -- even after his anticipated return to form.

Junior forward Chace Stanback, a Willis wingman a season ago, has become a star in his own right, leading the Rebels in scoring in six of the team's nine games.

Against a talented, ranked opponent, and in front of a raucous, sellout crowd, the Rebels may very well need Willis to rejoin Stanback as a headline performer.

Just don't think of it as Robin rejoining Batman. Think of it as Han Solo rejoining Luke Skywalker.


  • RebelFire 4 years ago

    Great article. Your timing for getting these articles out is great, kind of working in tandem with the LVR Journal and Sun as they bring us reads on certain days you cover the quiet days - whether you intend to or not. Thanks!

    You hit it right on the head with Willis and your article is really a beacon for Willis to get it on NOW! L'Ville is as good as any place to return to status. The time is now Willis! Let's get it on!

  • Profile picture of Will Douglas
    Will Douglas 4 years ago

    Thanks a ton, RebelFire. Now I just need to get the Sun & RJ to start linking my stuff (yeah right).

    Physically, Willis seems to be very, very close. Now I think it's just a question of trusting that the knee is healthy and good to go 100% on.

    Once that confidence and that swagger fully returns, I expect Willis to once again become a force...he's too good of a player for that not to happen.

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    very nice

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