Blogs Runnin' Rebels UNLV — 13 September 2011
Three-peat would leave quite a legacy

There’s no sugarcoating the fact that the 2008-09 season would currently be classified as a disappointment for UNLV’s men’s basketball team as it enters today’s Mountain West Conference Tournament quarterfinal game with San Diego State. Forget about the fact that this is easily the toughest the Mountain West has been from top-to-bottom in its short 10-year history with five teams making strong runs for NCAA Tournament bids. Or that an 0-16 Air Force team can make both UNLV and BYU sweat out hard-earned victories on their home courts the final week of the season. A 9-7 conference record is about three or four losses more than most people expected out of a Runnin’ Rebel team that returned three key starters from back-to-back NCAA Tourney teams and was the clear-cut preseason choice to win the league. The good news is that there is still time for Wink Adams, Joe Darger, Rene Rougeau and company to rectify the situation.

If UNLV can accomplish a three-peat in the Mountain West Tournament here this weekend and in the process punch another ticket to the Big Dance, head-scratching losses to teams like Colorado State, TCU and Wyoming will be long forgotten and forgiven by Runnin’ Rebel faithful.
UNLV hasn’t made three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament since 1989-1991 when studs like Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony were patrolling the hardwood and Tark the Shark was busy munching towels on the bench. That’s some pretty lofty company to keep. And, considering where the program was when this senior class first came aboard, quite an accomplishment. Another trip to March Madness would also do a lot towards cementing Adams’ spot as one of UNLV’s all-time greats following a disappointing injury-plagued senior year. Stay tuned.
* Anybody else wonder if maybe UNLV might pull a BYU and surprise San Diego State today with a little zone? That move definitely caught the Aztecs flat-footed and knocked them out of their offensive rhythm in a 69-59 home loss on Feb. 24. However, UNLV’s man-to-man defense has forced 37 turnovers in two games against the Aztecs and also come up with 20 steals. …
* Actually, UNLV’s sputtering offense is the bigger concern today. The Rebels have shot just 33.9 and 33.3 percent from the floor in their losses to the Aztecs this season including 10-of-37 from 3-point range. …
* It also wouldn’t hurt Lon Kruger’s squad to turn up the tempo a little. The Rebels had just eight fast-break points in Saturday’s loss at Cox Arena and have been routinely in the single digits in that category lately. Time to live up to the ‘Runnin’ half of the teams’ nickname. …
* Adams, Darger and Rougeau bring a 7-1 record in Mountain West Tournament play into today’s game and two championships. The lone loss came in the semifinals their freshman year to … you guessed it, San Diego State, 63-60. …
* Buddy Gouldsmith’s Rebel baseball team brings an impressive 11-3 record and an eight-game winning streak into Friday night’s Mountain West Conference opener at San

Diego State. If they make it nine in a row they should throw him a parade. First up on the mound for the Aztecs is the potential first pick of June’s baseball draft, right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who is 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA and 45 strikeouts in just 20 1/3 innings. Strasburg warmed up for his MWC opener by striking out 18 San Diego Toreros in eight innings while touching 99 on the radar gun.

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Steve Guiremand

Steve Guiremand is the editor of Rebel Nation, a UNLV all-sports publication owned by Stephens Media that is printed weekly from August through April. He was born in southern California and graduated from the University of Southern California in 1978. He has covered college and professional sports as well as recruiting for over 30 years for several publications including the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, The National Sports Daily, the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Las Vegas Sun. He moved to Las Vegas in 1998 and has covered UNLV football and basketball as well as the old Las Vegas Stars triple-A baseball team. He’ll blog about UNLV sports and recruiting.

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