- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
You get the feeling that Greg Anthony, UNLV's point guard, unofficial team spokesman, budding businessman and aspiring U.S. senator, will either wind up on Capitol Hill, whacking legislators on the backside and telling them to pick up the intensity, or in the boardroom at GM, urging his vice-presidents to go out there in the next fiscal year and pretend Ford is up 10 with the ball.
Anthony's method of leadership is to apply constant pressure, not only to UNLV's opponents but also to the Runnin' Rebels themselves. Taking nothing away from forwards Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon, Anthony is the player most responsible for the feared Rebel relentlessness. Johnson is nicknamed the Source, but the title might be better suited to Anthony, from whom all good things flow for UNLV.
That was never more evident than last week in Seattle, where the Rebels engaged in some uncharacteristic hand-wringing while blowing away Utah 83-66 and Seton Hall 77-65 to win the West regional of the NCAA tournament and move on to a second successive Final Four meeting with Duke. Going into the regional, the defending NCAA champions were concerned that they were not smothering teams in the tournament as thoroughly as they had been for most of the regular season. They actually allowed Utah to run its offense, if you can believe that.
"Our intensity has been incredible for most of the year, and right now it's not incredible," said UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian after the Utah game on Thursday. "It's not bad, but it's not incredible. We've got to get that back."
Anthony was more blunt. "Pardon my French," he said, "but we're playing like——."
In truth, the Rebels were not nearly as bad as all that, but they were well off their game. The Rebels aren't satisfied unless they remove all semblance of organization from an opponent's offense. "They want to make you look like third-graders running around at recess," said Utah coach Rick Majerus.
That was pretty much what the No. 1-seeded Rebels did to Seton Hall in the first five minutes of the second half on Saturday. During that stretch, the Rebels served notice that whatever they had lacked earlier in postseason play was back with a vengeance. The Rebels opened with a 14-0 flash flood so devastating that if the calendar had not said late March, the Big East champion Pirates might have been mistaken for one of those Big West patsies.
Anthony, predictably, was the Rebel who put the pedal to the metal, stealing two consecutive inbounds passes that led to a dunk by Johnson and a layin by guard Anderson Hunt. When the blitz was over, the Rebels' tantalizing 39-36 halftime lead was long forgotten, and UNLV was UNLV once again. Johnson finished with 30 points against Seton Hall and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the regional, but Anthony, with 11 assists and five steals, was at least as responsible for revving up the Rebels.
"They just took us out of the game," said Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo. "They wouldn't even allow us to run our break. We literally couldn't make a pass. We were dribbling the ball because we actually could not make a pass."
On Thursday the Pirates had beaten Arizona 81-77 in their regional semifinal, thus denying the second-seeded Wildcats the chance they badly wanted to play UNLV. Several of the Wildcats were annoyed that the Rebels, who had played the first two rounds in Tucson at Arizona's McKale Center, had autographed a basketball that had adorned the wall of the Arizona locker room. The Wildcats brought the ball with them to Seattle as inspiration, but it wasn't enough.