Posts Tagged ‘college basketball’

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On April 11, 2011 at 4:00pm former Runnin’ Rebel player and Assistant Coach for UNLV and BYU Dave Rice was announced as the new Head Coach of UNLV replacing Lon Kruger.  It was an exciting day for the older Rebel faithful as well as the new Scarlet and Grey bloods in the Board Room at the Thomas and Mack Center.

Athletic Director Jim Livengood announced Rice as the “right fit at the right time, having an outstanding resume, excellent leadership abilities and passion both on and off the court.”

All local media was well represented as well as the Board of Regents, President Neal Smatresk, Coach Jerry Tarkanian, Brad Rothermel, all athletic department personnel, current as well as ex-players, ex-politicians, and a bevy of Rebel supporters from around the city.

Dave Rice said “it is a great day for UNLV, it’s family and that it’s all about the Runnin’ Rebels and not about myself.”  He stressed many times his appreciation for Tarkanian and all he learned from him as a player on two Final Four teams in 1990 and 1991, National Championship team in 1990, as well as his tutledge as an assistant when Tark approached him after graduation and told him, “I think you can become a great coach some day.”

Coach Rice quickly mentioned that Justin Hutson, assistant coach from San Diego St., has already been signed to a contract and was the one of the best recruiters in the Southern California areas.  He also served as the great defensive mind of the top 10 ranked Aztecs this year limiting opponents to 58.6 points per game and 39 percent shooting.

Also on his list of potential staff members is former UNLV great and current Denver Nuggets assistant Stacey Augmon.  He was called immediately but had a major concern of how soon he would have to be in Las Vegas as he wanted to stay with his team as they gear up for the NBA playoffs.

In his moderate in length yet humble speech Rice commented on his reasons for coaching instead of following the path of his master’s of business administration degree that he earned and he mentioned that he “loves the competition, but mainly I love the impact I can have in the young men’s lives as my coaches had in me.”

He felt that it was very key to build a strong, trusting relationship with the players now, that they are a great group of kids that have a ton of hard work ethics and effort and was very appreciative that they showed for the press conference.

Rice also expressed a deep need to “build upon the tradition that Coach Kruger had left behind” and then answered the question that thousands of Rebel fans alike have been asking: What will be the style of play?

His response: “We’re going to get out and run–everything will be up tempo.  It will be Runnin’ Rebel basketball.  We will defend as hard as we can on one end, then push as fast as we can to the other. But most importantly we want to be consistent.”

Again he modestly thanked the coaches he had been under at UNLV and that he was “humbled by all the people in the room and am very excited to be back at UNLV and in Las Vegas.”

Dave brings with him to Las Vegas his wife Mindy who graduated from UNLV and their two sons, Travis, 13 and Dylan, 8.

He closed his first oration as a head coach in Division I men’s basketball by stating that “it is our program, not mine, I am just a caretaker and honored to be a part of Runnin’ Rebel Basketball again.”

Afterwards he was asked a few “softball” type questions by the media then convened for some one-on-one interviews and an even larger fan-appreciation event held next door at the Cox Pavillion where around 300+ UNLV fans were introduced to their new head coach.

I personally feel that Dave Rice has an excellent chance to succeed here and brings a lot of game knowledge, experience, and zeal to a program that has been left full and ripe by the previous coach Lon Kruger.  There will not be much of a honeymoon period for Dave as this program has been in the Top 30 nationally for the last five to six years and returns a plethora of starters, talent and incumbent recruits.

The staff that he assembles will be critical to his prosperity and Rice has already taken a huge step in that direction with his first hire and those already contacted.

His temperament for bringing back the life-blood and roots of the very foundation that built this school into a national basketball powerhouse with the amoeba defense and fast break offense will not only excite the players and fans for years to come, but recreate the Runnin’ Rebels of lore and vault them to a higher level of distinction.

According to numerous local sources here in Las Vegas, Ryan Green, Las Vegas Review Journal, Las Vegas Sun, and CBS Sports Dave Rice has agreed to be the next head coach of the Men’s Basketball team at UNLV.

The race came down to two names, Rice being one and the other top candidate Reggie Theus. Theus played for the Rebels in the mid-70’s while Rice was a backup player on the 1990 Championship team.

Both were excellent choices for the job with plenty of coaching experience themselves, though Rice has yet to hold the official title of head coach. He has spent the last 18 years on college coaching staffs at UNLV and BYU and during Dave Rose’ recent illness in Utah, Rice served in the head coaching capacity.

The best question to be asked now: Will he be able to assemble a high quality staff of coaches to take this program to the next level? The likes of Stacey Augmon, Justin Hutson, Larry Johnson all can add great experience, leadership and recruiting ability.

Though Jerry Tarkanian was stronger proponent for Theus he recently stated about Rice that “He’s a really sharp guy and a good person.”

Quoted by Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The potential candidate pool included several high-profile names, including former Rebels great Larry Johnson and coaching legends Larry Brown and Bob Knight.

Rice and Theus were always considered the front-runners, though St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap and former Oregon coach Ernie Kent also made Livengood’s list of four finalists.

“Jim has played it real, real close to the vest,” Rothermel said. “Everything else being equal, and it is, you should take somebody who has strong UNLV ties.

“I know David very well, and he’ll do as good a job as those of us who support him help him do. We have to get resources for him so he can recruit and do the things he needs to do to win.”

For more on this you can check out these local Las Vegas Media outlets:

Las Vegas Review Journal

Las Vegas Sun

The Bulldogs from Indiana have had a very solid history in NCAA college basketball.  Some high notes, some low.  Like the loss against Florida in 2000 at the buzzer by Mike Miller.

But now we have entered a new era, the Brad Stevens regime. 

He has elevated this program to an elite status only rivaled by the likes of Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Duke, UNLV, Florida and a small handful of others.

Going to back-to-back Final Fours is extremely difficult for any school or program and is usually done by only top national programs that recruit the BEST players in the country.  Then they are usually kids that stay around for their senior year.

Enter Brad Stevens taking the Butler Bulldogs back to the Final Four. 

Yes last year they lost by two to Duke in the National Title game.  Yes they lost their best player to the NBA.  Yes this team struggled during the middle of the season and looked like they were a one hit wonder.

But the young, jepoardy-looking “I’ll take Hoosier History for $400, Alex” Stevens has done the seemingly impossible.  Taking a mid-major school, mostly mid-level talent, and elevated them to the highest stages of college basketball.

Yes there are many great coaches that have done amazing things during specific times.  But they generally always come from the Big 6 conferences and/or are whisked away the next season by the big boys.

Not Stevens.  He has put his name in the hat with the likes of Calhoun, Coach K, Izzo, Calipari and others of our time.  With LESS talent!  The questions remain how long he can be this successful and where he continues his quest for championships.

But at this school, with these kids, Brad Stevens has done the greatest coaching job in two years ever, in the history of NCAA men’s college basketball.

So of course everyone in the sports world around the nation is fully entrenched in the Brandon Davies story at BYU.  For those totally not up to speed he was an outstanding and pivotal player on the Cougar basketball team that was dismissed for violating the school Honor Code by having sex with his girlfriend.

Yes EVERY school/university around the world has a list of codes, ethics, conduct regulations that all students must follow.  Some schools are a more stringent that others.  One would have to put the likes of the Stanfords and Harvards up near the top of that list as well.  But it seems that some times these “codes” and those that enforce them can be very vague and even “Salem witch trial-ish” and not governed by school authorities.  The higher scholastic schools use them mainly to discourage academic dishonesty.  Note this from The Harvard Crimson online magazine:

“Essentially, an honor code is a document signed by students who promise to uphold certain standards of conduct. The policy is typically accompanied by an assumption of integrity on the part of students—consequently, schools that institute honor codes will often allow or even encourage unproctored exams, for example.

But beyond these basic elements, the differences between one honor code and the next can be significant.”

Now this is where things become unique for BYU as a Mormon school and their list of regulations on the Honor Code Statement, this list includes things such as:

Be honest
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Respect others
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code

One can obviously see that this list of rules is way more strict than any you would find at any school and include violations of premarital sex, smoking and the encouragement of the “telling on”  or ratting out of others.

I’ve seen many social media posts and comments degrading these rules, including Alumni, as ancient, archaic, out of touch with the times.  Saying “kids will be kids and college is made for these types of activities”.  Well you know what?  You are wrong.  This list of codes leads to a very beneficial and healthy lifestyle.  But semantics aside, the school has the right to establish any Codes they wish and if any student does not wish to follow them, then they do no have to go to the school to begin with.  No one put a gun to the student’s head and forced them to sign up.  You made an obligation to follow them and know the consequences if you don’t.

My issue of concern is this:  How does the committee enforce these rules and the violations thereof and is there a discrepancy upon those whom they choose to punish and to what degree of punishment the violator gets?

In an interview with Hans Olsen, former standout BYU football player and alum who works for 1280am sports talk radio in Salt Lake City, Utah, on local radio ESPN 1100 with Steve Coffield and Dave Cokin, he stated he was subject to severe false allegations of sexual and physical assault of a female that really cost him and destroyed him mentally and emotionally.  None of the allegations had any basis but those that proposed them suffered zero consequences.  He was fortunate.  He was white.

Now where minorities are involved is this:  It seems to be that throughout the years we have only heard of these groups being suspended and cast out due to their violations.  Roddie Jenkins, Reno Ma’he, Harvey Unga, Michael Lloyd and now Brandon Davies to name the top students involved.  With less than 5% of the school student body being minorities why is the majority of kids being suspended not white?!  You’re telling me that zero white student athletes violate these codes as well?  Or do they just not get suspended and only put on probation? 

Does the name Jim McMahon ring a bell?!  From visual and actual accounts he violated every code on a daily basis.  He would get drunk with the other team the night before and tell them how he was going to destroy them the next day!  He would light up stogies on campus!  Are you telling me that the Honor Committee has become more strict now than back then?  Or is it because Jim was taking the team to a National Title?  Now by no means am I accusing BYU of unethical racial discrimination but the questions do have to be raised.

As far as the punishment of the violation is concerned, the rules are the rules.  Whether you believe in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or you are Atheist there are consequences for your violation of rules.  If you break the law of speeding you get a ticket.  Did you kill any one?  No, but you broke the local rules.  Same with those that break the BYU Honor Code, if you break the rules you suffer the punishment.  Davies didn’t get kicked out of school and according to Head Coach Rose feels that he can be apart of the team again.  So let’s not act like it’s an end all.  Brandon was not put to death, nor even kicked out.  Yes people can be punished, truly repent, and be reinstated to the position or status in life they once had.  Quit acting like his entire life has been destroyed. Their house, their rules

Let’s not forget that every year student athletes are kicked off their respective teams due to “school or team violations”.  Korie Lucious from Michigan St. for “unspecified reasons” comes to mind and many football players are suspended from teams before College Bowl games.  Funny I didn’t hear a huge national uproar against them.