New UNLV coach Rice promises up-tempo Rebel style
LAS VEGAS – New UNLV coach Dave Rice promised Monday that the Runnin' Rebels will get back to their well-known up-tempo style.
"It's to defend at one end, and to push the ball as fast as you possibly can to the other end," said Rice, who won a national title as a player with UNLV in 1990 as part of a team famous for its over-the-top personalities and double-digit margins of victory.
"If the other teams scores, let's not let that happen very often," he said. "We're going to sprint it up, and we're going to play together, and we're going to play winning basketball."
The 42-year-old coach was formally introduced Monday by the university.
Rice said he's appreciative of the support and attendance of current UNLV players and his former coach, UNLV great Jerry Tarkanian.
Rice won the job over three other finalists: Minnesota Timberwolves assistant and former UNLV star Reggie Theus, St. John's assistant Mike Dunlap and former Oregon coach Ernie Kent.
Tarkanian had previously supported Theus for the opening that was abruptly created when Lon Kruger left after seven seasons to go to Oklahoma. But Tarkanian was front and center at Rice's introduction, and Rice thanked him both personally and in front of dozens of reporters, boosters and university personnel.
UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood said Rice is the right fit at the right time for the university.
Rice said he's talked with Denver Nuggets assistant Stacey Augmon about coming to coach at UNLV, but said no deal has been made.
"He's just so concerned right now with the Denver Nuggets and the fact that they're about to start the playoffs, he's really interested in coming and we're going to continue to talk," Rice said. "One of his first questions was 'When would I have to come?' And I knew exactly where he was going — he didn't want to leave his team in the middle of (the playoffs)."
Rice served as a Rebels assistant for 11 seasons under Tarkanian and three other coaches before Kruger arrived in 2004.