Coaching proving more essential
How does a team that has the edge in talent at every position lose the game?
The first reason is coaching, and in UNLV’s case, that might be the place to look.
The Runnin’ Rebels have eight losses and they’ve lost them to different teams. They were shot out of the gym by an up-tempo UC Santa Barbara squad, then were nearly doubled in rebounds by an athletic Arizona team.
The one common factor when examining teams UNLV has struggled with is coaching experience.
Of UNLV’s eight losses, four of them came against coaches with two decades of experience. Colorado State’s Larry Eustachy has coached for 24 years – almost nine times more than Dave Rice.
San Diego State’s Steve Fisher has coached for 23 years, UC Santa Barbara’s Bob Williams for 24 and Arizona State’s Herb Sendek for 20.
In fact, there were only two teams that UNLV has lost to this year whose coaches had less than six years of experience, Nevada and Air Force, and no one can explain those.
In UNLV’s other six loses, the opposing head coaches average of 18 years of experience.
The Runnin’ Rebels have only defeated one coach this year with more than eight years of experience, and that was Utah State.
Stew Morrill is one of the most respected coaches in the country, after 28 years of coaching. He’s the only seasoned vet the Rebels have beat.
The other 14 UNLV wins have come against coaches who average only three years of experience. Of those, four of them came against coaches in their inaugural season as head coach.
This may sound like an attack on Rice, but it’s not. Despite UNLV’s high expectations, Rice is still an infant compared to other coaches across college basketball.
He has found some success in his short time leading the Runnin’ Rebels and had his fair share of blunders, but he’s still learning the ropes.
UNLV is 10-1 against coaches with equal or less experience as Rice. While this season has been a disappointment, the future is still bright for Rice.
Ask all college basketball programs if they would take a young coach with elite recruiting skills, that has room to grow as a game manager and they will take that coach in a heart beat.