© 2016 ashleym

UNLV Basketball Facing Uncertainty

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After a tumultuous off-season brought about many unexpected changes for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, head coach Marvin Menzies continues to assure fans that the team will be ready for the 2016-2017 season.

“We are going to be fine,” he told The Las Vegas Sun in a recent interview. “We are going to work our tails off. I don’t have any doubt we are going to be a success. Zero doubt. I feel confident some good things are going to happen sooner than later.”

Menzies was offered the head coaching position after former Arkansas-Little Rock coach Chris Beard left for Texas Tech after accepting the UNLV job for less than a week.  This proved to be one of several blows for the Runnin’ Rebels as valued player Stephen Zimmerman Jr. announced soon after that he would be leaving the program for the NBA draft. Standout guard Patrick McCaw, who was arguably UNLV’s best all around player last season, also entered the draft and was considered a top sleeper pick. Both men were drafted early in the second round. With the majority of other scholarship players opting to leave the program, Menzies is left with only four returning teammates from the previous season.

The coaching struggle ultimately lost the Rebels one of their 2016 recruits after three-star forward Carlos Johnson announced he was de-committing several months ago. Johnson cited the program’s uncertainty as the main factor in his decision.

The undeveloped team will certaintly face a great deal of challenges in the upcoming season. With the recent release of UNLV’s nonconference schedule, it seems as if Menzies’ recruiting abilities will be put to the test. The Runnin’ Rebels are set to play the notorious basketball powerhouse Duke as well as Kansas, who remains a favorite for the NCAA title. The schedule also reveals tough games against Arizona and Oregon.

Despite these unfavorable odds, Menzies, who played a great recruiting role as part of Lon Kruger’s 2004-2005 staff,  remains optimistic. “I know we can get guys here,” he told The Sun. “We can get guys who can help us win. It is going to be a process, but I don’t want it to take forever. I want to put the best product on the floor as soon as possible, but also a product that has the best potential to grow. You have one chance to put together the best roster. That’s when you first get hired. This is my chance.”

The Runnin’ Rebels ended their disappointing 2015-2016 season without an appearance in the NCAA tournament. The team faced a significant amount of adversity after the dismissal of five-year head coach Dave Rice in early January. Todd Simon served as the interim coach for the remainder of the season, but could not salvage what was left of the team. Last season’s team was also riddled with injuries. After Zimmerman suffered a sprained left knee in February and impactful forward Ben Carter endured a season-ending torn ACL, bench players were forced to step up.

While the Runnin’ Rebels’ season is filled with uncertainty, Menzies and the rest of the coaching staff will attempt to defy the odds and secure a spot in the 2017 NCAA tournament.

3 Comments

  1. Posted July 3, 2016 at 9:58 pm | #

    I have a feeling that Marvin Menzies will turn this program around. It may take some time to be a true Mountain West contender, but it does take time rebuilding programs. We are a very young team and if the players actually stays more than 2 years, we should be fine. I liked how you talked about Menzies’ bio to give fans an insight of what to expect from him as the head coach. He knows this program pretty well, as he was an assistant under Lon Kruger for one season. I remember when Menzies was introduced as the head coach and I actually helped out with transcribing his interview and he said that UNLV is his dream job and he wouldn’t have picked anywhere else to coach.

  2. Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:53 pm | #

    Coach Menzies is an amazing person, I’ve had the chance to interview him a couple times as well as talking one-on-one since covering his hire. He did a great job recruiting this offseason given all of the circumstances and his staff around him are proven winners so it’s nice UNLV cleaned house. The young core along with Morgan staying and getting senior transfers will help UNLV stabilize in the fall as long as they find a way to form a legit offense and work on rebounding. I noticed you said Tom Simon, but it’s Todd Simon that served as interim coach.

    • Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:00 am | #

      Thanks for catching that edit 🙂

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