January 24, 2013 2:01 AM EST
Instead of just appreciating what almost certainly will be Anthony Bennett’s one and only season of college basketball, some observers will obsess with speculating on his NBA Draft status.
At essentially the midpoint of his freshman year at UNLV, Bennett has displayed phenomenal talent that will take him to the next level soon enough. But he’s not the finished product, of course, and he has not conquered the college game just yet.
That finally became evident last week, when the 6-foot-8-inch, 240-pound power forward ran into defenses that were geared to slow his roll. He was double-teamed, grabbed and held to a season-low nine points in back-to-back games against San Diego State and Colorado State.
Opponents are figuring out one way to handle Bennett is to get physical with him. By the end of the Mountain West schedule, Rebels coach Dave Rice joked, Bennett might be prepared for the NFL Draft.
“Conference play is different in terms of how teams scout and in terms of how physical the games are. I think it’s been a little bit of an adjustment for him,” Rice said. “Anthony was fantastic in nonconference, and so teams are going to set their defense around him. He’s the first person on their scouting report, so they’re going to guard him hard and know where he is.”
Bennett will be the top target for one of the league’s toughest defensive teams today, when UNLV (15-4, 2-2) hosts Wyoming (15-2, 2-2) at 6:15 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center. It’s no mystery who will be guarding Bennett the hardest.
Leonard Washington, the Cowboys’ 6-7, 230-pound senior forward, is as fearless as they come, a guy who could be a heavyweight boxer if he’s not playing basketball.
“Washington is experienced, and I know he’ll take the challenge,” Rice said. “There’s no doubt that will be a key matchup in the game.”
Washington had 14 points and 14 rebounds Saturday as the Cowboys knocked out San Diego State 58-45, holding the Aztecs to nine points in the first half.
Bennett, averaging 19.9 points and totaling 106 free-throw attempts through 15 nonconference games, has averaged 10 points and attempted two free throws in three MW road games.
Aside from his 22-point, 16-rebound performance in a 76-71 overtime victory over Air Force on Jan. 12 at the Thomas & Mack, Bennett has been controlled by three of the league’s top teams.
“It’s a lot tougher,” Bennett said of MW play. “They are just trying to stop me. They are going to do whatever it takes, if it’s double-teaming or just being straight up physical with me. But I think I’m going to adjust to it soon, and hopefully it will get better.”
For the first time in his career, Bennett is forced to fight off multiple big men defending him in the post. He faced elite competition while at Findlay Prep, but it was nothing like he’s seeing now.
“In high school, I never really had all that stuff,” he said. “We have a lot of weapons, but they feel like they need to double-team me to get the ball out of my hands, and it is what it is. I’m not going to try and force any shots or anything. I just want us to win.”
One quiet week exposed a weakness in Bennett, even if his draft stock is not suffering. Chad Ford, a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com, ranked the top 30 draft prospects last week and slotted Bennett at No. 5.
“Bennett laid claim to the title of ‘best freshman in college basketball’ until (Kansas’ Ben) McLemore started doing his thing a few weeks ago,” Ford wrote. “Bennett has made a seamless transition from high school thanks to an NBA body, a huge 7-foot-1 wingspan, elite athletic ability and a game that allows him to score inside and out. If he was 2 to 3 inches taller, he’d be a lock for the No. 1 spot.”
Adapting to more physical play is not Bennett’s only challenge. Defensive lapses by Bennett caused Rice to bench him for the final 3½ minutes in a win at San Diego State, and three days later in a loss at Colorado State, Bennett walked up the floor during one first-half possession while gasping for air.
“It was probably the altitude. I never played in Denver before, so it was something I never expected,” he said, shrugging off questions about his conditioning.
“He’s adjusting to altitude,” Rice said. “We’re not going to run away from the fact that altitude is a factor.”
Rice said all of UNLV’s players, not just Bennett, need to “fight through fatigue” late in games.
“When we’re tired and mentally fatigued, we’ve just got to be tougher,” Rice said. “We’ve got to go get defensive rebounds, and we’ve got to screen harder.”
So while NBA scouts put every aspect of Bennett’s game under a microscope, Rice is focusing on making his freshman star tough enough to fight off double-teams and defenders such as Wyoming’s Washington.
“There’s no doubt that Anthony will make that adjustment,” Rice said, “because he’s a good player and he’s very coachable.”
Anthony Bennett was born on March 14th, 1993 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Bennett_(basketball)
March 14th, 1993
3 + 14 +1+9+9+3 = 39 = his life lesson = Dream come true.
March 14th, 1993
3 + 14 +2+0+1+2 = 22 = his personal year (from March 14th, 2012 to March 13th, 2013) = Lucky.
3 + 14 +2+0+1+3 = 23 = his personal year (from March 14th, 2013 to March 13th, 2014) = Sports. Athlete. Leadership.
23 year + 3 (March) = 26 = his personal month (from March 14th, 2013 to April 13th, 2013) = Fans. Popular. In the news. Making headlines.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
1528657 2555522 60
his path of destiny = 60 = Unique. One of a kind. Moving forward. Making progress.
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predictions for the year 2013 are at: