Jerry Tarkanian: Dave Rice has the love for the game needed to be successful

You don’t put in the extra hours required to be a successful college basketball coach unless you have the love of the game.

That’s the way I felt during my career and I know UNLV coach Dave Rice feels the same way. The Rebels open the season Friday and I couldn’t be happier with the job Dave has done.

He picked to go into coaching because he loves it and love the game of basketball. He’s a real bright guy and could have went into the business world and made a lot of money. There are no question about Dave — he is dedicated, has a love for the game and has great coaches working with him.

Dave, his coaches and players have just been great with me. Whenever I attend a practice, he makes sure I get a seat underneath the basket. All of the players come by and visit before I leave, and it’s been so great getting to know them.

I know a lot of people are saying this is the first time the UNLV program is linked to the years I coached, but is far from the truth. Lon Kruger and Charlie Spoonhour both welcomed me back and did a great job honoring the traditions.

There is no question Lon was great, but Spoonhour was great too and he often gets overlooked. Charlie is a good friend of mind.

It’s hard to say how good this year’s team is going to be. They didn’t play well in the exhibition against Washburn and they know it. They didn’t shoot the ball well, but that will come with time.

I think they are going to have a good year. I don’t know if it will a great year, but they have the depth and talent to do so. I talked with a couple of coaches from other schools and they tell me the best player is the Bryce Jones kid from USC who is red-shirting. I can tell you from watching practice he can play and will be a good one.

I will see everyone at Friday’s game. I’ll probably be sitting somewhere behind the bench and enjoy talking to everyone.

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