Lady Rebels Announce 2013-14 Slate|
Aug 19, 2013
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) -
UNLV is no stranger to challenging schedules under women's basketball head coach Kathy Olivier and that trend continues with the 2013-14 season, as the Lady Rebels will face teams from the Big Ten, Pac-12, American Athletic, Big East and the Atlantic Coast conferences. Overall the Lady Rebels will play at least 10 contests against teams that reached the postseason in 2012-13.
The 30-game regular-season slate, which was released by the athletics department on Monday, includes UNLV playing a total of three home doubleheaders in the month of November along with the Runnin' Rebels. Two of those contests are among the early season highlights, with the Lady Rebels hosting both BYU and Utah, the first meeting with those schools since they left the Mountain West. December's featured action will be the annual UNLV Christmas Tournament, which returns to the Duel in the Desert name this year, and will see the Lady Rebs face three power conference schools.
"We feel it's going to be another challenging year, but this is what we need to schedule for ourselves to be prepared for the demands of our conference schedule," said Olivier. "We are going to face teams in our non-conference portion that will test our moxie; we will have to be mentally and physically prepared to face these teams. After the demanding season that we went through a year ago, our returning players have been through the fire and survived, and we're hoping that experience can pay off for us this year."
UNLV will also play at least four games in the Thomas & Mack Center this year, beginning with the first two, the season opener against Santa Clara on Nov. 8, and a Nov. 12 contest against BYU, both of which are doubleheaders. This will be the first-ever meeting between UNLV and Santa Clara in women's basketball, while it will mark the 40th contest in the all-time series with BYU, but the first since the 2010-11 season.
That will be followed by the first road game of the year, a trip to the Midwest to take on Northwestern Nov. 17. This marks the third straight year UNLV will play on a Big Ten home court, after claiming the Iowa Hawkeye Classic in 2011-12 and playing in Minnesota's Golden Gopher Classic a season ago. UNLV returns to the Chicago area for the first time since playing in the DePaul Invitational to open the 2005-06 campaign. The Lady Rebels return home for two more games in the TMC: against CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 23 and a meeting with former MW rival Utah on Nov. 26, this is part of a doubleheader with the Runnin' Rebels. The last time the teams met was also in the TMC, a win by the Utes in the 2011 MW Tournament First Round.
UNLV will play its first games of the season in the Cox Pavilion on Thanksgiving weekend, as it hosts the Lady Rebel Round-Up, which features Cincinnati from the American Athletic, as well as a pair of teams that reached the Sweet 16 of the 2013 WNIT, Charlotte and Fordham. UNLV and Fordham will open tournament play on Nov. 30 at 1 pm, followed by Cincinnati vs. Charlotte. The consolation and championship games will be played on Dec. 1. All-time, UNLV has only played one total game against this year's field (a win over Charlotte in 2000-01).
The first two weeks of December will see the Lady Rebels hit the road twice, with games at San Francisco (Dec. 6) and at Loyola Marymount (Dec. 14). This is the first time UNLV and USF will play since 2001-02. The non-conference schedule closes out with the Duel In The Desert, an eight-team, two-bracket tournament. In the Scarlet bracket, UNLV hosts Clemson (ACC) on Dec. 19, Oregon State (Pac-12) on Dec. 20, and Creighton (Big East), who reached the second round of the NCAAs in 2013, on Dec. 21 to close out the event. UNLV has only met Clemson once before, while the Creighton contest is the first meeting between the two since the 2004 WNIT championship game.
The other bracket will feature Washington, DePaul, Pittsburgh and Louisiana-Monroe, also playing in a round-robin setup.
Playing an 18-game league schedule for the first time since its last year in the Big West (1995-96), the Lady Rebels will open Mountain West play by hosting defending league champion Fresno State on New Year's Day with a noon start. UNLV will actually face the Bulldogs, another NCAA team on the schedule, twice in the first seven games, thanks to the unbalanced schedule created by the addition of Utah State and San Jose State to the league.
The first conference road games for UNLV will be on Jan. 4 at Air Force and Jan. 8 at Nevada, Reno. UNLV will play its first games against the new league members on Jan. 22 at Utah State and Jan. 29 at home against San José State. That will be the only matchup this season with the Spartans, while the other team UNLV plays just once this season is Wyoming, with a road contest in Laramie on Feb. 8 against the Cowgirls, a WNIT team in 2012-13. The Lady Rebels will finish the regular season with a Senior Night matchup against Nevada, Reno on Friday, March 7, as the final week of the regular season will be on a Tuesday-Friday schedule.
This year's MW Tournament, to be held again in the Thomas & Mack Center, switches to a new format due to the change to an 11-team field. The first round will begin on March 10 with three games, and then three more games will be played on March 11. Then the tournament takes a break for two days as the men play their first two rounds, before turning to action with the semifinals on Friday, March 14. The championship game is set for Saturday, March 15.
"I'm convinced the Mountain West is one of the more demanding and challenging schedules of any conference when you look at the quality of teams, the great support from their home crowds and the travel in our conference, which affects all the schools," said Olivier. "You need to have mental toughness and have a deep team as well to really have success in this league, as every game is a battle. We feel that we've developed that depth that's needed to hopefully challenge for a conference title this year, and we're looking forward to the start of the season."
The Lady Rebels, after suffering a run of injuries, ended the 2012-13 season with a 12-19 mark, and tied for fourth in the Mountain West at 8-8. This year's team will actually feature six players that have been full-time starters, including the return of senior former all-conference point guard Mia Bell, a Las Vegas native who redshirted last season. Five players that all started last year, including MW Freshman of the Year Réjane Vérin, also return while the Lady Rebels add to the mix sophomore center Aley Rohde, a full-time starter as a freshman at Arizona in 2011-12.