July 17, 2019 Currently: 92° | Complete forecast

Recruiting, small-town Vegas and where’s Rafer?

That was a heart-breaking loss for Orlando last night against the Lakers. The Magic gave it away. I couldn’t believe how stupid they played at the end.

Dwight Howard’s two missed free throws were horrible. If he hits either one, the game’s over. The victory would have been clinched.

I do not understand why Stan Van Gundy had Jameer Nelson in the game in the fourth quarter and in overtime. Jameer’s a good player, but he’s been hurt all year. He hadn’t played in so long.

I thought Jameer killed them. He didn’t get up and crowd Derek Fisher at all on that 3-point shot at the end of regulation. If he crowds Fisher and he drives for a layup, it’s over. Orlando wins. It was so stupid.

Rafer Alston played a great first quarter, sat out most of the second quarter, played in the third and then sat out all of the fourth and overtime. I couldn’t understand that at all.

I don’t know what Stan was thinking. I really don’t. It was frustrating to watch, but I still enjoy it. I have been pulling for Orlando because of Rafer, who played for me at Fresno State.

Enough about the NBA Finals.

Someone asked me about the top selling point of the city, the school and our program, when I was at UNLV, and we always pointed out the enthusiasm of the people and how great they were.

The support was incredible. We pointed out Gucci Row and how much they paid for those tickets. It was astronomical. Mind-boggling. I think it was about $1,800 a game.

But the big thing we sold was our relationships, how close the coaches were with the players. The players did a lot of recruiting for us. We brought them in and the kids would take them out and recruit them.

We would try to stick kids together from the same area. If a kid were from Baltimore, we’d set him up with someone from that area so they could relate to the experience that kid had.

There are certain guys who would do a better job, like Mark Wade. He was a good recruiter. There were certain guys who could communicate well with other players.

Mark Warkentien set all that up for us. For us, the biggest thing was our relationship with the players. When you recruit, you have to develop that relationship. That’s the biggest factor.

I think it’s pretty similar these days. I don’t know what they’re doing, but I think the players take them out and all that.

As far as the growth of the city, it’s so big now. When we were here, it was basically a small city that had everything the big cities had – great restaurants, great entertainment … all that. Now, it’s so big.

It was so close-knit when I was there. After a big win, Mike Tyson or Lola Falana would be hanging around the locker room, talking with guys. It was great. The atmosphere was incredible.

I liked it when it was smaller. Heck, I was younger then. I liked the fact that I could get anywhere I wanted in 15 minutes. There was no traffic anywhere.

You knew everybody, all the politicians and big hitters in town. Everyone. Now it’s such a big city. I prefer it small. Most people I talk with do, too. But you can’t stand in the way of growth.

Another fan asked about one-and-done players. I always loved to get as many as I could. They’re the great ones. Anyone who says I don’t want to recruit one-and-dones, I don’t understand that at all.

I think anybody saying something like that just can’t get the great ones and is trying to (b.s.) you.

I don’t know anyone who could turn down a great one like that. Because he’s going pro early? I’d love to have all my guys go pro early, as long as we had others coming in.

The great teams, like Connecticut, Texas, North Carolina and Duke, all have guys going hardship all the time.

Hardship? That’s what it started out as. Heck, I’m an old-timer. That’s what we called it. It ain’t hardship anymore, is it?

The list of questions is long and excellent, and I’ll get to more – like UNLV returning to the top of the college basketball world and my epic trip to Armenia a few years ago – next time.

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