Notebook: The Shark and LJ circle

Tarkanian gives Southern Illinois a nod of approval


Steve Marcus

UNLV basketball legends Larry Johnson and Jerry Tarkanian sit behind the bench Saturday night before the Rebels game against Southern Illinois at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV vs. Southern Illinois

UNLV's Anthony Marshall drives past Kendal Brown-Surles during the first half against Southern Illinois at the Thomas & Mack Center Saturday. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

Willis leads charge in victory against Southern Illinois

Las Vegas Sun reporters Rob Miech and Ray Brewer dissect the UNLV basketball team's 78-69 victory on Saturday against Southern Illinois. Tre'Von Willis had a career high 25 points and appears to be the Rebels' team leader.

UNLV legends Jerry Tarkanian and Larry Johnson sat in the first row behind the Rebels’ bench Saturday night for the 78-69 victory over Southern Illinois.

Both were treated like rock stars, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans for most of the night.

Tarkanian, 79, also was popular with the roughly 200 Southern Illinois fans sitting behind the visitors’ bench.

Tarkanian told Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery how impressed he was with the Salukis of the Missouri Valley Conference when walking past their bench as he and Johnson headed toward the exit with less than a minute to play.

“Your kids played hard,” Tarkanian told Lowery.

The comment was greeted with smiles from SIU’s traveling party. It was also well received by Lowery, who thanked Tarkanian by jokingly saying he needed someone like Johnson to beat the Rebels.

Mo Valley showdown

The game was the first of a four-year Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge. In other matchups, Indiana State beat Colorado State, 65-60, on Friday, and BYU defeated Bradley, 70-60, on Nov. 13.

New Mexico plays host to Creighton, Utah plays host to Illinois State, Wyoming plays at Northern Iowa, TCU plays at Wichita State, San Diego State plays at Drake and Air Force plays at Missouri State.

That’s 15 fouls

In three games, UNLV coach Lon Kruger has had the luxury of a true low-post game.

The “three-headed monster” that Matt Shaw likes to call his group consists of him, Brice Massamba and Darris Santee.

That trio combined for 20 points and 11 rebounds, with 3 blocked shots, an assist and a turnover, in the opener against Pittsburg State.

Against UNR, it went for 16 points, 15 boards, an assist, two turnovers and a steal. Saturday, it accumulated 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks, an assist and a turnover.

By the way, the Rebels have had the rebounding edge in all three of their games, 42-36 against Pittsburg State, 44-42 against UNR and 38-29 against the Salukis.

Free throws

UNLV’s three opponents this season have shot 36.4 percent (Pittsburg State), 38.6 percent (UNR) and 35 percent (Southern Illinois) from the field … After being the lone Rebel to hit double figures in scoring in UNLV’s first two games, freshman guard Justin Hawkins had his first scoreless game against SIU. He missed his two shots, and he had three rebounds, three fouls and a block in 14 minutes … junior guard Kendall Wallace’s 2-for-5 day behind the arc made him 7-for-11 from long range on the season … Shaw’s 13 points represented his first double-digit scoring effort since March 13, 2008, when he had 11 against TCU in the opening round of the Mountain West tournament. Knee surgery sidelined him all of last season … Sources indicated that Dwayne Polee, a 6-6, 180-pound forward from Los Angeles Westchester High, is scheduled to visit UNLV this weekend for the Louisville game. The recruiting service Scout.com rates Polee, an electric finisher, as the No. 27 player at his position in his class. Rivals.com ranks him as a three-star athlete. He bailed on USC during its troubles and lists Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington, along with the Rebels, as programs he’s interested in. Polee’s father, Dwayne Sr., played at UNLV in 1981-82 before transferring to Pepperdine.

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Previous Discussion: 58 comments so far…

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  1. Hey guys...who was the Pro Football Hall-of-Famer sitting next to Tarkanian?

  2. where was the fixer

  3. He was in your conscience taking bets as to when you were going to move out of your mothers basement.

  4. Dwayne Polee just made my jaw drop:


    Ridiculous hops and impeccable timing as a shot blocker. Come join the Runnin' Rebs Family Dwayne.

  5. " Rivals.com ranks him as a three-star athlete."

    Uhhh, right. If he's only a 3 star athlete than the sun is dark. Dang that was an incredible video.

    Espn has him ranked as a 93.

  6. ESPN also has him as the 78th best player overall and 15th at his position.

    We've seen what he can do in open space but can he shoot, defend(other than shot block), dribble or create.

  7. that rim looks a little to low for him

  8. Polee at UNLV = Sufferin' Succotash starting to like Kruger.

    No Polee = Fire Kruger

    We need some Superstars who know how to DUNK!

  9. With the other teams that Polee is considering, it seems we have a very very very good chance at him! especially if we beat Arizona, that would help our cause, im sure.

  10. Yeah hope we have a good game next Saturday! Man, he's got hops!

  11. Fire Kruger... man, you make yourself look more ridiculous every day

  12. Rob, thank you for puttin that guys fire out. Fire Kruger? That's like saying Urban Meyer or Bronco Mendenhall should be fired.

  13. What's tough is that between Joseph and Polee we have only one scholly left for next year since Henry Buckley has already verbally committed.

    But, we may not get either one. Hope we get at least one of those guys.

  14. Hey guys, check this out. Probably short lived, but you don't see this every day.


  15. Camron,
    You don't have to post that on every single story..even though it is good news

  16. I just wanted to make sure everyone saw it. Did it hurt or hamper you in some way? Come on man, sheesh.

  17. nah it didnt..im just sayin! I always get told to not post so much so im just sayin..the people that read every article and comment them (the ones that care and know what RPI is) will see it

  18. Okay, it's inflated, but the point is well made that by most teams standards, we've played well against a pretty tough non-conference schedule.

    Smart move by Kruger scheduling Pitt State which didn't count against our RPI, and then following up with two quality opponents we matched up well with.

    The higher we can keep that RPI, the better, even if it's early in the season.

  19. Check this out Camron


    No. 14

  20. Don't forget that Beas was a "5-Star Recruit" that looked just as good in high school. I do like that Lon is getting kids in the upper tier recruiting circles.

  21. Beas wuz a fluke...the top kids iz wut we need, jus got get'em to buy into krugers grit..no primadonas...gota get UNLV to being the class of the west again!!!well w/in our reach

  22. Rob: You have your opinion and I have mine. The personal attacks are not needed. Just because u enjoy watching NIT quality Basketball and inferior talent, that doesn't mean we all share the same opinion. Lon Kruger is in his 6th year on the job, he has a favorable schedule with tons of home games early in the season.

    It is a long year and we will see where things go. Recruiting has been horribly weak under Kruger (in my opinion) and just because kids take a look at us doesn't mean they will sign (UNLV fans know this from years of recruiting heartbreaks).

    Maybe u have never experienced big time basketball, or maybe u think u have and are just confused. Either way, our difference of opinion doesn't have to be personal. Continue to kiss Kruger behind and I will continue to be skeptical of hsi motives and so called huge success.

    All opinions deserve to be heard. I love UNLV and only want what is best for the school. I have no idea where your loyalties lie?

  23. lol...RREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEbbbbuuuuuuuuulllllzzz!

  24. Sufferin, the team we have watched these last 3 games is not NIT basketball..if you think that then you need 3 inch thick glasses. Also, Kruger's recruiting has been better than since the early 90s. Yea, we would get 1 NBA prospect here or there, but since the 90s we have not had a team that has so many good players.

    also, don't bash Rob. He knows what he is talking about, you don't. You would continue to bash Kruger if he signed the # 1,2,3,4, AND 5 recruits in the nation by saying he should have done it every year or something stupid. The only Rebels teams that have been as deep as this one are Tark's. And, there hasn't been ONE Rebels team that is 11 deep.

    Also, UNLV at this point has the 2nd hardest schedule in the nation buddy! We have a harder Out of conference schedule than many of the BCS schools. Kentucky is playing Sam Houston State and we are playing UNR and SIU (2 tourney teams)! so get your facts straight you negative biased piece of sh!t!

  25. I had decided that I wasn't going to respond to u anymore Rebelsfan11, but I am drunk right now and don't care. The last three games UNLV played were against teams that will be lucky to make the CBI. Of course the D-2 school isn't even eligible for that.

    2nd hardest schedule in the nation? You are killing me! This is exactly why I promised my sober self that I would never respond to you again. You are insane!

    UNR and SIU are nobodys and the season will prove me correct. They are barely top 75 at best when it is all said and done.

    I have no idea what Rob does or doesn't know but his constant personal attacks against me when I only post my opinions are unneeded. Maybe he is a huge UNLV fan who grew up in Vegas? I don't know and don't care. I just think the guy should focus on doing his job writing articles and spend less time worrrying about my personal opinions.

    I ahte to break the news to you newbie rebelsfan11 but both Bayno and Spoon were recruiting at or better talent than what Kruger has brought in so far. It is true that Kruger has had better luck with the so called talent but overall it is no better than what the previous coaches were recruiting.

    11 deep? Please! UNLV is lucky if we have two players who can compete against Top 25 competition. I commend u for your passion but u are delusional at best. UNLV is barely an NIT program and loading up on wins at home vs mediocre talent proves nothing.

  26. I will call you a fan when you say one positive thing about UNLV. Who cares if Bayno and Spoonhour brought one good player in every few years, their teams sucked and couldn't win 20 games!! I'm not saying that we have the 2nd hardest schedule in the nation. I am saying that thru today, according to the SOS (Strength of Schedule) system UNLV is ranked #2. #1 means you have the hardest schedule. Im sure it will go down, but that shows UNR and SIU are quality teams. They aren't CBI teams, I think you are 1-100 on all of your predictions these last couple years bud. I'm not a newbie, i've been lurking on this board for a couple years. True fans back their team even thru the bad.

    If you think our program is bad, be thankful you aren't an Air Force, CSU, or TCU BASKETBALL fan. im talking about those 3 programs basketball teams, NOT football.

  27. TCU will finish higher than UNLV in the MWC this season. Colorado State who knows and who cares. Air Force is Air Force and they are what they are, that is not UNLV's competition.

    1996/97: 22-10 (Bill Bayno)
    1997/98: 20-13 (Bill Bayno)
    1999/00: 23-08 (Bill Bayno)
    2001/02: 21-11 (Charlie Spoonhour)
    2002/03: 21-11 (Charlie Spoonhour)

    Spoonhour won 20 games, 2 out of 3 years at UNLV.

    You are out of your mind if you think that two games against Division I opponents tells us anything. I like the passion but you are crazier than I am if you believe that UNR and SIU are Top 50 teams!

    UNLV is not good. NIT at best!

    Don't be fooled by early season wins at home vs. creampuffs. UNR and SIU are definitely NIT or CBI quality programs and I will be proven correct by the end of the season. You don't know College BBall well enough yet to be able to predict the results as well as I can.

    If you aren't a newbie, you are screwbie. I was trying to give you a reasonable break by believing that you are either young or new to the internet, if neither one of those two things apply you are just a nut! You can back the team through the bad times and pretend with yourself that they are elite and great. I will tell the truth of what I see and that is that they are NIT talent and will be lucky to make the NCAA's by winning the MWC Tournament on our own homecourt. That is the truth, sorry if it hurts your feelings.

    I follow the team no matter what, but I don't supoort them when they STINK! I always root for them to win but I don't just crawl in a hole and pretend that the team is great when I know they are mediocre at best.

    UNLV is not Air Force,CSU or TCU. TCU would and will wipe the floor with us. CSU will cause us fits both at home and on the road. Air Force is what they are and they will never be in UNLV's level no matter what they do or who they RECRUIT.

    Being a mid-level MWC program is not good enough and never will be good enough for me or any other true UNLV Basketball fan. Maybe you are happy just barely being above CSU, Air Force and below TCU but I am NOT! Even mentioning those three schools names in the same sentence as UNLV is disgraceful and means the coach should be on the HOT SEAT!

  28. Rebelsfan11, maybe you shouldn't talk recruiting because you were obviously in diapers during the Bayno years. That guy bought in studs. Yeah, he couldn't coach but he recruited with the best of them.

  29. 11, like Urban Meyer ha? Right. Urban Meyer won 2 bcs championships, probably about to make it 3 and went 22-2 at Utah, including a bcs bowl. Kruger has been to the Nit twice and won 3 games in the NCAA tournament in just about the same time span.....The problem here is that Sufferin acts like Kruger should be coaching middle school because he doesn't know anything and others act like Kruger is a combination between Phil Jackson and John Wooden. The guy is somewhere in the middle. Your comparisons are getting to be more ridiculous than anything else on here.

  30. I think you are confusing the TCU football team with the TCU basketball team Sufferin. TCU is picked to finish 7th in the MWC by people who know a whole lot more than you. I know I'm one of a lot of people who are tired of you saying the same stuff over and over again on this site. Your free to post just like everyone else, but at least come up with some new material. How about you go away for 1 year. Next year at this time you can post about how sorry you are that you were so negative towards the Rebels, a team you claim to be a fan of yet refuse to support unless they make decisions you approve of, because you realize that after another Sweet 16 run Kruger does, in fact, know what he is doing. I've been in Vegas for 6 years and I'm a better fan than you because I support the team regardless because that is what real fans do. You lost any credibility you had by saying that. sorry

  31. I wasnt saying Lon is Urban Meyer quality. I am saying he is loved by his department just like Urban Meyer is. And that is probably true guys..If and of you believe TCU is better than us, haha. Your predictions are great Sufferin since you say NIT 3 years and are right 1 out of 3. YOU ARE A DEMIGOD!

  32. So here's what I'm going to do for you Sufferin', since you know so much about this program. I've begun saving your "predictions" for you. I'm copying and pasting them to Word everytime you make your ever so confident prediction of what will happen this season. At the end of the year I'll revisit them and give you a simple % of corectness. Lets see how much you really know. And lets see how much you just love to run your mouth and tell us all how much you know. You love to say "the season will prove you right." Lets find out. I love how you disapeared after we beat L-ville in Freedom Hall last year. And I love how you reapeared after the TCU/CSU back to back loses and told everybody how right you were. Get over yourself. This should be fun.

  33. AJ, I've been doing the same, make sure you sure which article they are from, date, and game it was after so you can trace em b/c im sure he will say we are lying!

  34. Sufferin', if Bayno and Spoon brought in better recruits then why didn't those teams win anything? Or did Bayno's NBA guys win a national championship that I wasn't aware of? You may think you know something about basketball but you are an idiot for those continuous idiotic comments about firing Kruger and how horrible his recruiting is. Like I said previously you are an IDIOT, because the bottom line is that talent doesn't matter if you can't coach them. Please do us all a favor and go follow those coaches that could recruit and stop following our Rebels and bash them WHEN THEY ARE WINNING!!!!!

    Shawn Marrion was awesome, but I don't remember him winning a damn thing!

    This is officially the last time I respond to anything that you post. YOU ARE AN IDIOT.

  35. Sufferin lets make wager. Ill bet the rebs make the NCAA tourney. If we do you never comment on this site again if we dont we will all admit you were right. If you want to add some money in that bet I am willing. Oh and TCU finishing higher than us this year really? Have you seen them play yet?? I feel like you have had some good stats to back up most of what you say but saying that and saying that SIU and UNR are scrubs makes me think your just crazy.

  36. You people take this WAAAAAAY to seriously. I'm a UNLV student, band member, and friend to a lot of these players, and you've gotta remember that they are all 18 - 21 year-olds! I bet most of you don't even remember your 18-21 days! So next time you go bashing players, remember you're talking about kids.

  37. The recruiting is just fine. Oscar, AM and J-Hawk are the best underclassmen to play at UNLV in forever. Even Tark didn't reel in a lot of McDonald All-Americans. LJ, the best player we ever had came out of the JUCO ranks. If u don't like the talent or the coach then don't watch, it's as simple as that. We don't need fair weather fans anyways.

  38. you kno cliffton ur a big nerd lol j/k ur trying to talk tuff nu really dnt kno wut ur talkn about so jus go bak to class study hard and concentrate on ur piece u blow, bang or wutever it iz u do...becuz ur probly on scalorship and my booster money probly paid for it...

  39. s'succotash; keep these guys honest.

  40. i cant believe that cocksucker Tark is still breathing

  41. Rebels have never really recruited HS All-Americans. Just have gotten kids that have been overlooked and kids outta JC. UNLV has mostly just been good recruiters and been able to work with what they got, thats why we win games imo. it may all change soon..the top recruits are taking looks at UNLV.

  42. "I had decided that I wasn't going to respond to u anymore Rebelsfan11, but I am drunk right now and don't care" -Sufferin'Succotach

    You alien nation dudes should know better than to guzzle all that milk at once. Besides, how could you afford it? You're too busy to make a real living.

  43. Grayback is the best! He expects our recruiting class to be all of the top 5 players in the nation, and no program can do that..so even if he liked Kansas, I'm sure he'd be complaining about them too!

  44. Hey Crooks,

    It's been updated. Up to number 4 now at


  45. I didn't know we had 12 year old boosters, try typing in a language we all understand.

  46. Sufferin' is definitely my favorite RebelRouser. I don't know why people get so heated about his comments, since it's just part of a healthy debate.

    I know he's negative in tone, but one must concede that the team's best players are, indeed, transfers, and a lot of the players Kruger's brought in have washed out. When you look at the situation dispassionately, given the team's results, Sufferin's criticism is on point.

    All this being said, I'm still in Kruger's camp. He's putting in a foundation for long-term success, whereas most coaches with a quicker upward trajectory take shortcuts to get there. Shortcuts always end badly, while the coaches that take them scoot on to greener pastures.

    One must always remember that the NCAA has a massive target on UNLV's back. If Kruger did even close to some of the things some other coaches have done, the program would likely get the death penalty. As conservative as this city really is, most outsiders think of it as Sodom and Gomorrah, and want nothing to do it (until they're here and secretly handing out $20s). I believe Kruger understands this hypocrisy, and it's danger to his program, and keeps his efforts extra squeaky clean.

    There's a ton of talent and potential on this team, and I'm of the mind the team breaks through the mid-elite (solid top 15 team) this season. From there, I believe Kruger will make even more progress. I'm glad he's the coach and I like his approach.

  47. Lets keep it real, we beat pittifull state, reno. This team has done NOTHING but win against lesser talent. Lets hope we can step it to the next level and win the conference. I agree, about kruger not bringing any class a talent yet. The verdict is out, but people here in vegas wont go to games unless we have a superstar..

  48. You guys are forgetting the best player in UNLV history, hell maybe even college history WAS A TRANSFER, TRANSFER, TRANSFER. LARRY JOHNSON TRANSFERED TO UNLV FROM JUCO. Transfers are fine. I am okay with them. I'm sure we won't get as many of them from here on out because we are starting to be a nationally recognized team and can get top HS players

  49. @ figsy

    It's not that people here need a superstar to go to a game, it's that there is just too much to do in Las Vegas, and Las Vegas lacks any kind of culture or community. UNLV needs to win BIG for many people to go. I think we are on the path right now though. I try to go to as many as I can. Hell, I didn't even like basketball until I came to a few and was hooked.

    As far as schedules go, what team do you think has a tougher schedule up to this point? Kansas only played Memphis and their next 3 are weak, Mich St. has played Gonzaga, Texas hasnt played anyone tough yet, maybe Nova?

  50. Larry Johnson was also the #1 JUCO player in the nation at the time too, a little bit different. The transfers we have picked up lately have transferred because lack of playing time, besides Derrick Jasper! The reason why they weren't getting playing time in the first place was because they weren't good enough to compete with the other players on those teams. If they were that good of players then they would have stayed there at those schools and would have been playing a lot more. Now as far as Sufferin's comments go, I think he is a little bit harsh on the team so far. I do feel that he is right in the fact that we are still an above average team. We still don't have the athleticism and consistent shooting we need to compete at the highest level. I mean our best dunkers are our point guards (Jasper, Bellfield, and Marshall) haha! I dont think Massamba can dunk either, atleast in a game. My point being we still need to do better in recuiting under Kruger. We have yet to sign the big time guys here at UNLV and I'm starting to wonder when we will ever get them! But sufferin, SIU and Reno do have good basketball programs. SIU just went to the sweet 16 a couple of years a ago and have usually produced 20 win seasons, except for last year. And Reno will always be in the running for the WAC championship, along with Utah State. So those were 2 decent, NOT GREAT, wins for UNLV.

  51. they were 2 resume wins.. if they were terrible teams we wouldnt be #1 in RPI. simple as that.

  52. i luv how people com in from the place they left and talkbout culture ur a bozo sofa...and ther iz great community is this town...one of the best big cities on the west coast...now back to the rebz wer we belong...we gotta great week of bball comin up cant wait till sat..there is no pro team here all we got iz da "REBZ" and big time sporting events...its time to start recruiting las vegas kids and the rest of the best on the west coast and across the nation...and get this program back to wer it belongs on top!!!!!

  53. fkg i think what sofa was trying to say is that most of the people in this town could care less about anything UNLV related because most of them already have ties to other schools. I do however feel that Kruger has done a great job getting people to games since he took over the marketing for the team.

  54. Nice pot shot fkg, you are a direct example of the Nevada education system (last by the way in the nation). Great job with your intewebz l33t talk. Take an English class.

    Rebel323 hit the nail on the head because UNLV, much like Las Vegas in general, is a commuter town with people who have moved here recently. I know a handful of people who have lived here their whole lives. I basically grew up here and have lived here longer than I have lived anywhere else which is much longer than I would have liked. fkg, you are a prime example of why I can't wait to get out.

    I'm glad to see Kruger can get the talent he has currently to tell ya the truth, because UNLV really has not been on the radar for most people at all, it's not a household name. But ya know what, I love UNLV, and have been a fan for as long as I have been here and will continue to be a fan when I depart an alumnus.

  55. I luv kruger and i kno he iz a God send to us all...and Las vegas isn't for evrybody...I was fortunate enuf to hav been bleesd w/ private school and I do my best to promote our our public..nice shot by the way...since u go to UNLV i guess ur a product of the system too...as for da short hand, it comz in useful.. welcom to 2010...Anywayz its all bout Kruger and his boys we got a real great team! gona b a year to remember cant get enuf of this!!!!

  56. flygsy-

    What are you talking about people wont go to a game with out a superstar?

    UNLV BB had the number one attendance on the West Coast last year. Attendance seems to be on the rise this year compared to the first 3 games last year. I know I have been to all of the games. The community does back this team, if not why would over 1,500 fans show up to first look at 9 pm.

    I know Vegas isnt a college town but locals and by locals I mean Vegas residents for 10 or more years, we have rebel red running through our veins.

    Go to a game before you talk about people showing up. It may look on TV that it is not at capacity thats because the T&M seats over 15,000. It is not like other college basketball stadiums that sit 8,000 at most

  57. @ Sofakingwetoddid

    You sound like that poster green_dragon_dung. As I told that winner: Don't let the door hit your a$$ on the way out of town...Good riddance!

  58. First of all Fkg319, Learn how to spell my name. Secondly, Learn to write the English language. Obviously private school didn't help you too much in that regard. It may be 2009 (not 2010 like you stated), but you still look like an imbecile. Thirdly, I am on scholarship, Thanks for the money, I appreciate it. We could use some more too, so donate!

    Call me inexperienced, but why does it matter where we get our players from? We have drawn 5-star recruits in the past; Beas Hamga being the most recent, and he was a bust! I would rather have a team of transfers who have proven themselves on the court rather than a bunch of high school kids with no college experience. Do we frown upon Jasper for transferring from Kentucky? Stanbeck from UCLA? Willis from Memphis? Heck no.

    And Figsy, all we need is a team and people will come. I've been to runnin' rebs games all my life, and in the mid 90's, it was bad, but now that Kruger is here and the team is having 20+ win seasons, we are averaging about 12,000 per game. Thats good attendance. The T&M is the 16th largest NCAA arena, with a capacity of 18,500 for basketball. (Its bigger than madison square garden!) Check out the list here: http://www.infoplease.com/ipsa/A0105720....