Posts Tagged ‘unlv’

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.

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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

It’s always an exciting week of events leading to yet another fantastic finish of a weekend in Conference Tournament action. From the Princeton/Washington buzzer beaters, to the history-making U Conn five day-five game winning stretch, to the San Diego St/Kentucky championship beat downs.

Every game, shot and dribble of the basketball determining the post-season fates of these athletically gifted young men. As hopes and dreams are elevated or deflated based upon the success of a single shot or the inability to close out their opponent.

The goal?

A chance to play in the Big Dance. A chance to put your name in the hat with the best of the best and actually have a playoff to decide on the court, who is the number one team in the country. Some earned that right, others fell in backwards while yet some hopes were dashed by a 10 member committee where “everyone in the room has a different emphasis on different criteria. So when we go to vote, everyone selects the criteria they think is important to them and they ultimately vote.”

Says Gene Smith tourney committee president. What?! Are you kidding me?! This isn’t the Oscars where voting is subjective. It’s not a restaurant review where everyone’s taste is different.

It’s essentially black and white numbers, right in front you on the infamous blind resume. Loaded up with statistical information of wins, losses, strength of schedules, road games, conference games, RPI index ratings. It really is not that difficult. Sure when you get to the bottom of the 68 teams there might be a team or two that can be switched. That argument will never cease, even when there are 96 teams to choose from.

But get this: 13 teams with at least 11 losses, most since 1985.  7 teams with at least 13 losses, never been more than 3, and 5 teams with at least 14 losses and there was a total of SIX in the last 25 years.

What I find more appalling though is the seeding throughout the selected teams. By far the worst job I’ve ever seen!  Teams like a Kansas St. and Vanderbilt who had mediocre seasons at best wind up at #5 seeds.  The Wildcats lost 3 times to Colorado and the Buffaloes are not even in! The Commodore’s have an RPI ranking of 27 and in mid-20’s in the polls losing four of the last 7 games yet seeded as a TOP 20 team.

Then the Huskies of Connecticut that finished 9th in their conference, string together five consecutive wins, take the Big East crown, and are rewarded with a #3 seed meaning TOP 12 in the country. The Kentucky Wildcats follow a similar pattern by winning the SEC title yet are dropped to a #4 seed and the team they beat in Florida are rewarded a higher #2 seed.

The list seemingly goes on and on but the MOST egregious of all was Utah St. being ranked in the TOP 20 for quite a stretch and win their conference tournament with a record of 30-3 and are seeded 12th?! That’s an absolute joke!  That means had they lost that last game they wouldn’t even be IN the NCAA Tournament.  Just sickening, as were the players when we saw their faces when announced on CBS late Sunday afternoon.

Oh and by the way Clemson has ZERO wins against the TOP 50 teams, and they’re dancing.
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The HBO special that aired on Saturday evening about the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV found a special chord of emotion in my heart.  Growing up in Las Vegas from the 70’s onward and having a wonderful father who introduced me to sports and college basketball made me a diehard Rebel fan.

My memories of the grand opening of the Thomas and Mack Arena with Danny Tarkanian, Freddie Banks, Armon Gilliam lighting up the scoreboard in “The Shark Tank” are still vivid in my mind. As are the rolling out of the red carpet during player introductions and a dazzling display of fireworks and pyrotechnics INSIDE of the arena.

And never forgetting the ominous sound of the Jaws theme pulsating throughout the building and all 18,000+ fans opening and closing their arms in a gigantic great white shark CHOMP leading up to the tipoff.  I remember being hoarse from screaming before the game even started.

I can never forgot the eventual accumulation of the hard work and perseverance by Jerry Tarkanian and his fantastic coaching teams that took Greg Anthony, Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Anderson Hunt and Moses Scurry to winning the most fulfilling accomplishment in college basketball–the National Title.

The city of Las Vegas erupted in a cataclysmic chorus from one end of the Strip to the other.  People running down the street, yelling and screaming.  Cars honking and screeching with “National Champions, UNLV, Rebels” written in shoe polish across the windows.

Yes there is the dark side to all this success as handed out by the massive amounts of suspensions and scrutinizing from the NCAA infractions committee that surrounded the Shark like pilot fish his entire tenure in Vegas. Not saying everything Coach Tark did was all roses but the segment also showed how UCLA was filled with its own bevy of indiscretions with “Papa Sam” Gilbert who seemingly supplied players with any goods and services they needed as they drove in the most expensive cars.

Of course the NCAA and John Wooden never saw any such things happening.

The overall most depressing time was the historic tragic loss to Duke the following season after beating them by a record 30 points the previous year. Even Tark knew they were in trouble that day when he held an early morning-same day practice before the game and said, “we are gonna lose, they are not focused.”

Of course the bogus charge call near the end of the game against the team’s leader and quarterback Greg Anthony was a HUGE momentum swing in the game and caused his dismissal from it by incurring his 5th foul.

Ultimately I will always remember those days with extreme fondness and watery eyes, through the highs of the wins and the lows of the tournament losses.

Let’s start with the biggest news of the weekend: Melissa Leo dressed as a doilie dropping the FIRST EVER F bomb at the Oscars!  Hard to believe its the first but in that stuffy, stick-in-the-rear, pompous atmosphere it just may have been. Hathaway I thought was a great even though she had a boulder for a co-host.  I guess the only time Franco can be entertaining is when HIS supporting cast is a rock!

Speaking of entertainers, why is everyone up in arms about Cam Newton’s comment? Ok yes he is an athlete most importantly, but don’t we buy tickets for these professionals to “entertain” us?  Why do movie, television, and musical entertainers get a free pass to act any way and say anything they want? We also as a society allow them to make millions of dollars with zero resentment.  Yet professional athletes are held to some different standard and are scrutinized on everything they do and say.  No I’m sorry Mr. 30-50±-year-old overweight guy sitting in your easy-chair still wearing your too small Letterman’s jacket, YOU CAN’T PLAY LIKE THEM!  They are the elite of their trade just like Oscar winners are on the big screen.  Yes they are entertainers and if any player acted half as bad as Charlie Sheen who exudes his “don’t give a care” attitude they would be ripped to shreds by the media, fans and suspended while Sheen banks his $45 million per year doing a suitcase full of blow and a television show. 

And then of course there’s that little flame in Miami they call the Dream Team that just got whacked at home like a mob boss in a season ending scene of the Sopranos.  By the Knicks none the less!  Yes the trio of Heat ballers who continue to disappoint their fans and loyal servants of King James serfdom that has a losing record against winning teams and is a pathetic 5-11 in games decided by 5 points or less, including 0-7 versus Boston, Dallas and Chicago.  No I’m not anointing New York the crown either but Chauncey Billups was a HUGE part in that trade as an experienced dynamic Point Guard who still has a little “heat” left of his own. By the way, just saw a replay at the end of that game, D-Wade was WIDE OPEN for the 3pt shot, when LBJ did not pass and missed, he dropped his head and walked off!  Body language says alot.

Dang man, where did that win go?

Unfortunately, as a UNLV fan, I have to give massive props to the Jimmer and crew at BYU for winning a beast of a game in Aztec country essentially dominating from wire to wire and making their case for a #1 seed in the Big Dance.

And now back to the NFL combine, who are we as fans and media to just continuously beat down and scrutinize these 20+year-old kids who are working their tails off to excel in areas of a physical nature that we can only dream of?  Lighten up!  Tell the stories, ask a few questions, that’s fine.  But let the NFL teams and organizational heads handle the hardcore interviews since THEY are the ones investing millions in them and their team’s futures, not you.  The performances these guys are putting on are nothing short of amazing for their size.  How about 49 reps with 225 lbs., or a 4.44 sec 40 yard dash by a 250 lb Defensive Lineman? Let the professional seers handle these young kids lives and destinies instead of flying around like vultures looking for some raw meat to gorge upon.  But one last note, as I highly respect the commentators and their vast knowledge of the game which exceedingly outweighs mine, can we stop using the word “athletic” as an adjective?  I think by this point, they really ALL are.