2008-09 Non-Conference Schedule Announced
June 2, 2008
LAS VEGAS - Home games against 2008 NCAA Tournament participants San Diego and the Pac-10's Arizona, California (Pac-10), and either the Big East's Cincinnati or the ACC's Florida State, plus a road game against Louisville, which advanced to last season's NCAA regional final, highlight the 2008-09 non-conference schedule for the UNLV men's basketball team, which was announced by the athletics department Monday.
UNLV finished the 2007-08 season with an overall record of 27-8 and lost to eventual national champion Kansas in the NCAA Tournament's second round. The appearance in the NCAA Tournament was the second straight for UNLV, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2007 and the first time that the Runnin' Rebels won games in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments since 1990 and 1991.
UNLV finished second in the Mountain West Conference this past season with a 12-4 mark for the second consecutive year and won the conference tournament championship, also for the second straight time.
The Runnin' Rebels are led by head coach Lon Kruger, who was named the 2007-08 MWC and USBWA District VIII Coach of the Year and will enter his fifth season at UNLV in 2008-09 after compiling a four-year mark of 91-42 (.684), including a record of 57-15 (.792) over the last two seasons. UNLV's 57 wins over the past two years ranks ninth in the country among teams that have played in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments and is the second-most victories over the last two years among teams in the West, only behind UCLA.
UNLV has a 15-game home win streak, which is the 11th-longest active streak in the country, has compiled a record of 38-3 at home over the last two seasons and has won 24 straight games against MWC opponents at the Thomas & Mack Center.
UNLV loses only two players from last season's team - seniors Curtis Terry and Corey Bailey. The Runnin' Rebels will have four seniors on the 2008-09 roster in Wink Adams, Joe Darger, René Rougeau and Mareceo Rutledge and return a total of seven letterwinners from last year, while welcoming six new faces. Several publications have listed UNLV in their early 2008-09 preseason Top 25 polls.
UNLV is slated to face a total of seven teams this upcoming season during non-conference action that played in the 2007-08 postseason, including three squads that appeared in the NCAA Tournament. UNLV will face teams from the Big East Conference, the Pac-10 Conference, Conference USA, the West Coast Conference, the Western Athletic Conference, the Mid-American Conference, the Big Sky Conference and a possible matchup against an Atlantic Coast Conference team among others.
"Our schedule will be very competitive and we are extremely excited about it," Kruger said. "We always strive to play the toughest non-conference schedule that we can, which is significant as we prepare for the Mountain West Conference season.
"We need our fans to continue to create one of the toughest environments in the country for opponents. Over the last couple of years our games have evolved into a great home court advantage and have impacted the outcome."
UNLV will tip things off for 2008-09 with an exhibition game against Washburn, a Division II school from Kansas, on Tuesday, Nov. 11. The game will be part of the 3rd Annual Legends & Friends Classic, which features a golf event taking place on Monday, Nov. 10. During the Washburn game, UNLV's Final Four teams from 1977, 1987 and 1991 will be honored. This will mark the third straight year that Washburn has made a visit to Las Vegas and the second consecutive year playing at UNLV in an exhibition game.
The Runnin' Rebels' Opening Night 2008-09 will be on Saturday, Nov. 15 against San Diego, which advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in March with an upset win over Connecticut. Last season, UNLV played at San Diego and won 66-55. The Toreros went on to win the WCC Tournament and finished the season with 22 victories.
Opening Week 2008-09, which will feature four games in eight nights, will continue with a home game on Tuesday, Nov. 18 against Texas-Pan American, which will be part of the tournament that UNLV is hosting (run by Global Sports Management and to be named at a later date).
The tournament will replace the Duel in the Desert that UNLV hosted each of the last two years. The new tournament will feature a field of California, Cincinnati, Florida State, Western Illinois, Coastal Carolina, North Carolina A&T, UTPA and UNLV and will be staged Nov. 18-29 with the first and second rounds played as home games at UNLV, California, Cincinnati and Florida State from Nov. 18-24. The third and championship rounds will be played at UNLV on Nov. 28 and 29 with four games each day.
Kruger started his head coaching career at UTPA in 1982. The Broncs recorded an 18-13 overall record last year.
On Thursday, Nov. 20, UNLV will host Northern Arizona. Last season, UNLV defeated NAU in Flagstaff, Ariz., 83-74. The Lumberjacks finished second in the Big Sky Conference with an overall record of 21-11. The Runnin' Rebels will close out their season-opening four-game homestand on Saturday, Nov. 22 as they host North Carolina A&T, from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which will be part of the second round of the GSM tournament.
UNLV will begin road play on Monday, Nov. 24 at UTEP. Last season, UNLV defeated UTEP at the Thomas & Mack Center, 84-71. The Conference USA-member Miners were 19-14 overall last season and participated in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
The Friday after Thanksgiving, UNLV will welcome the other seven teams playing in the GSM event to Las Vegas. UNLV will play California on Friday Nov. 28, and depending on Friday's outcomes will either play Cincinnati or Florida State on Saturday, Nov. 29. Cal, coached by Mike Montgomery, advanced to the second round of the NIT last season. Cincinnati played in the CBI, while Florida State had an overall record of 19-15 and played in the NIT.
The Runnin' Rebels will hit the road again for a Wednesday, Dec. 3 game at Fresno State. UNLV defeated the Bulldogs, a Western Athletic Conference member, 84-71, last year at a game at Orleans Arena.
The Runnin' Rebels will remain on the road as the National Finals Rodeo takes over the Thomas & Mack Center and play at Nevada, Reno, on Saturday, Dec. 6. UNR finished tied atop the WAC standings last season with an overall record of 21-12 and played in the CBI. UNLV defeated UNR for the second straight time last year, 79-67, at the Thomas & Mack Center.
UNLV will again play a game at Orleans Arena this coming season - against Western Michigan on Sunday, Dec. 14. The Broncos were the Mid-American Conference's West Division champions last year with a 20-12 overall record.
After 17 days away from the Thomas & Mack Center, the Runnin' Rebels will return home to host WCC member Santa Clara on Wednesday, Dec. 17, and will host Arizona for the second straight season on Saturday, Dec. 20. This will mark the third year of the four-year series with the Wildcats from the Pac-10, who finished last year with a 19-15 overall record and a NCAA Tournament appearance. Arizona head coach Lute Olson, who took a leave of absence last year, is back and will be on Arizona's bench at the Thomas & Mack Center.
UNLV will close out the home portion of its non-conference schedule on Tuesday, Dec. 23 against Southern Utah from the Summit League.
The final non-conference game for UNLV will be at Louisville on Wednesday, Dec. 31. It will be the second straight year the two schools will meet, as the Cardinals played at the Thomas & Mack Center last season. Head coach Rick Pitino's squad tied for second last year in the Big East standings, had an overall record of 27-9 and advanced to the regional final of the NCAA Tournament.
The 2008-09 MWC men's basketball schedule has not yet been released and is expected to be announced by the league before or by mid-August.
--- Additionally, registration is ongoing for this summer's UNLV Runnin' Rebel Basketball Camps.
Day Camps will be offered from June 16-18 and August 4-6. Both camps will have three sessions. The first will be from 9 a.m. - noon (ages 8-10), the second will be from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. (ages 11-13) and the third will be from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. (ages 14-18).
The UNLV Runnin' Rebel Basketball Camp is a fun and challenging learning resource for every player. Players of all levels will improve their skills through intense and detailed instruction on the proper execution of offensive skills and fundamentals. Players will receive individualized training from UNLV coaches, staff, players and high school and college coaches. Each camper will participate in individual contests and team competition as well as receive a camp T-shirt and ball.
The cost of each camp is $150 per session. June 14 is the registration cutoff for Camp 1, while Camp 2 needs to be registered for by August 2. For more information and to register online, visit the camp website, which can be accessed from the men's basketball page at UNLVRebels.com or directly at UNLVBasketballCamp.com. For more information, please call the UNLV men's basketball office at 702-895-3295.