The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels had a tough season last year. The team went 18-15 and missed the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. Despite having one of the more talented teams in the country, the Rebels still fell well short of expectations in the 2014-15 season.
According to College Basketball Talk, UNLV head coach Dave Rice talked with Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal saying that his team is better prepared for the upcoming season. He said that the team has been hard at work this summer and he hopes that the hard work will help produce better finishes this year.
“We have to get physically and mentally tougher,” Rice said. “We were in a lot of games last year that we just didn’t finish. We have to get over the top in those. It’s important for our guys to walk in here and see how big NBA players are. They are obviously extremely talented and athletic, but they’re also physically strong. If you’re going to have an opportunity to play at that level, you better be strong.”
Of the team’s fifteen losses last season, nine of them came by six points or less. The team also had another close loss at the hands of eventual Mountain West co-regular season champion Boise State when they lost by nine in overtime on the road.
The Rebels are going to have another talented roster this season. Stephen Zimmerman and Derrick Jones lead the incoming freshman class as well as transfers Jerome Seagears (who sat out last season) and Ike Nwamu being able to lead the charge. Returning players like Goodluck Okonoboh and Patrick McCaw will both be able to provide some key plays for the team this season.
While they may have a talented team, it all comes down to whether or not the Rebels put their hard work into affect this season. The team is still a good bit away from being the dominant team that they were from the early 90’s, but the Rebels are certainly looking to give teams fits and possibly play spoiler in 2015.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports