Four Questions for UNLV in the Offseason

Marvin Menzies Question

UNLV finished Marvin Menzies’ first season with the worst record in program history at 11-21. The Rebels finished last in the Mountain West and lost 11 of their final 12 games. It was a season to forget, but now requires major work in the offseason so UNLV doesn’t repeat its bottom-dwelling form.

1. Will the Rebels land Brandon McCoy?

This is the recruit that will set expectations for next season. With Brandon McCoy, UNLV should be able to compete at the top of the Mountain West. Without him, next season’s expectations will fall to being a mid-tier Mountain West team.

McCoy is a 5-star center out of San Diego. He is considering UNLV along with Arizona, San Diego State, Oregon and Michigan State. He stands at 6-foot-10 and would give Marvin Menzies a chance to groom a talented big man. As a consensus top-15 player in the class of 2017, McCoy would be the best incoming player in the Mountain West, justifying the extreme jump in expectations for year two under Marvin Menzies.

UNLV may have a leg up on McCoy, as Menzies landed a commitment from Anthony Smith earlier this year. Smith is currently playing at Feather River Community College, but he shares a connection with McCoy. Shaun Manning, McCoy’s legal guardian, was Smith’s AAU coach.

2. How much roster turnover will there be?

Late in the season Marvin Menzies suggested guys that weren’t getting much playing time didn’t have a future with UNLV.

“I am 100 percent certain where I am going with my roster from a recruiting standpoint,” Menzies said. “I’ve seen enough. I don’t need to play a guy a few minutes here or there to determine his value to the future of what we’re doing. I know who I want to roll with going forward. And I know what we need to do in the recruiting landscape.”

That seemingly spelled doom for guys like Djordjije Sljivancanin, Ben Coupet and Troy Baxter. While it is all speculation as to who will be gone, it is clear someone aside from the three departing seniors will be leaving the Scarlet and Gray.

Menzies has four players committed in the class of 2017 in Smith, Jay Green, Tervell Beck and Mbacke Diong. With the Rebels still pursuing McCoy and other 2017 prospects, at least one underclassmen will be joining Christian Jones, Uche Ofoegbu and Tyrell Green.

Another season of serious turnover would suggest the program is unstable, but after the 11-21 season, UNLV needs fresh blood in the program, despite the optics of a mass exodus.

3. Will attendance increase next year?

UNLV drew an average of 10,406 fans to the Thomas & Mack this season. That ranks as the 5th lowest average attendance since the Runnin’ Rebels moved to the Thomas & Mack in 1983. It was the worst mark since the 2005-06 season.

That lagging attendance has helped cause a massive budget deficit that could climb as high as $5 million. The entire athletic department needs fans back in the Thomas & Mack.

Landing McCoy and becoming a top team in the Mountain West will bring fans back. As soon as Menzies turns UNLV into a winner, attendance will grow. But the athletic department may not be able to wait a couple more seasons for Menzies to get UNLV back on track.

This is where the new athletic director may make a major impact. With Tina Kunzer-Murphy leaving the job at the end of June, UNLV will have a new athletic director who will be tasked with finding money for the department that isn’t tied to the basketball team winning.

4. How tough will Marvin Menzies schedule next season?

College basketball coaches often create schedules that match their roster’s talent level. Menzies was dealt a tough hand with games against Duke, Oregon and Kansas already planned when he took over.

UNLV lost those three games by an average of 29 points. Throw in losses to TCU and Arizona State and the Rebels went 0-5 against Power 5 teams. Despite those games, UNLV’s non-conference strength of schedule still ranked just 278th of 351 teams.

The Rebels loaded up on teams ranked outside the top 250 like UC Riverside, Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Those games provided wins for Marvin Menzies, but also acted as a counter balance to the high end games on the schedule.

Next season’s schedule has started coming into place.

  • Arizona (Thomas & Mack)
  • Southern Utah (Thomas & Mack)
  • Rice (MGM Grand)
  • Ole Miss or Utah (MGM Grand)
  • at Pacific

Using current Ken Pom rankings there are two top 100 matchups on that list and two teams outside the top 200 plus Rice coming in at 154.

So far it is an average strength of schedule. Will Menzies tip the scale in favor of tough games or easier wins?

Vegas Seven


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