Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 | 2 a.m.
I moved to Las Vegas in 1985 and wish the locals of today could experience the energy and interest generated by the Runnin’ Rebels basketball team during the Tarkanian years. In my work, I traveled nationally, and when I mentioned I was from Las Vegas, it was not the gambling and the entertainment people wanted to talk about, it was the Runnin’ Rebels.
UNLV was a name that was on everyone’s consciousness because of the product and the way it played the game. I had the experience of going to New Orleans to the Final Four. As we changed planes in Dallas at 6 a.m., people throughout the concourse saw our UNLV jackets and went out of their way to say good luck, shake our hands or give us high-fives. I felt like a true rock star even though I was just Joe Fan.
New Orleans was the same: Providence and Indiana fans wanted to buy our UNLV shirts, jackets and hats. This created incredible recognition of our city and university.
Somewhere along the way we lost our swagger, style and reputation (and coach) and have developed into a decent middle-of-the-pack program. However, there has been a long period of “no buzz, no energy” associated with it. It is my sincere hope that Dave Rice and Stacey Augmon can recruit the type of player who will put the flair and buzz back in the game for us.
Most of the locals I associate with would rather see UNLV go full tempo for 40 minutes and lose 101-98 than stand around half court and plod to a 59-57 win. I will bet you that if they can put that type of team together, you won’t be able to get a ticket to the Thomas & Mack Center and the buzz will be back!