CBB Summer Buzz: UNLV
The Rebels are instant MWC contenders in their first season under new coach Dave Rice
Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we're bringing you a closer look at a few of the high-profile schools before most freshmen have even moved into their dorms.
We continue with UNLV.
2010-11: 24-9 (NCAA tournament -- round of 64)
It's tempting to say UNLV has a new coach, which is technically a true statement. Look at Dave Rice's history, however, and you'll realize his arrival in Sin City is more of a homecoming than anything.
In 1990, Rice was a member of the Runnin' Rebels squad that claimed the national championship under the guidance of Jerry Tarkanian. A Rhodes scholarship candidate, Rice finished his bachelor's degree in '91, then his master's degree in '93, while working as an assistant coach. "The thing for me that's been great to help the transition is that I was here at UNLV as an assistant coach for 11 years," Rice said. "So I've only been gone from UNLV for seven."
Those seven years away have helped cement Rice's Western hoops bona fides. One year under Stew Morrill at Utah State led to six more as the offensive coordinator at BYU. When Lon Kruger went back to the Midwest to take over at Oklahoma, Rice jumped at the chance to go back to his alma mater, staying in the Mountain West Conference as the Cougars departed for the WCC.
And well he should. Kruger left him a tough, well-drilled veteran team -- an instant contender. Rice quickly assembled a veteran staff that should know what to do with a team that once haunted the coaches' nightmares.
"I was at BYU last year, so we played in the same league with UNLV," Rice said. "Our associate head coach Justin Hutson was at San Diego State for five years. Heath Schroyer was head coach at Wyoming for the last four years, so we all have a really good feel for UNLV and the players." Not to mention that his third assistant is UNLV legend and former teammate Stacey Augmon.
Rice and his MWC coaching all-stars will have some quality material to work with. Point guard Oscar Bellfield (3.7 assists per game while sharing with Tre'Von Willis) is ready to run the offense as a senior, and he'll have fourth-year classmates Brice Massamba and Chace Stanback patrolling the interior -- though Stanback's situation could change, as we'll discuss later. Kansas transfer Quintrell Thomas will attempt to improve on his uneven sophomore season in the paint, as well -- he certainly has the size, at 6-foot-8, 245 lbs.
Rice is also interested to see what happens when three experienced players, who were limited to the practice floor last season, get into game action.
Become an ESPN Insider and read the complete UNLV summer preview, including analysis from Insider's team of experts.
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COLLEGE BASKETBALL SUMMER BUZZ
Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we're bringing you a closer look at 25 of the most intriguing college programs before school's even in session.
All in one place
A collection of all the Buzz to date.
The post-Kemba era begins
Is this the year Pitt breaks through?
Jardine, Joseph look to lead 'Cuse
St. John's Red Storm
Massive turnover defines Lavin's crew
Cards have talent to fill holes
North Carolina Tar Heels
Tar Heels prep for title run
Duke Blue Devils
Blue Devils face point-ed questions
Michigan State Spartans
Another tough schedule awaits Tom Izzo's crew
Ohio State Buckeyes
Sullinger rekindles title hopes in Columbus
Postseason hopes reborn in Bloomington
Freshmen, vets form potent combo
'Dores seek NCAA tourney breakthrough
The Mike Anderson Era begins
Vols face long, tough rebuilding path
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Bulldogs need Sidney to stay on the court
Frontcourt will have to carry load for Bruins
Talented Wildcats need a new star to emerge
How does Kansas replace the Morris twins?
Perry Jones should blossom for Baylor
Freshmen must lead Longhorns
Can Butler do it again?
Rice, MWC movement will aid Rebels
Tu Holloway's moment is here
George Mason Patriots
Pearson should flourish under Hewitt
Can Rams run deep again?