Marvin Menzies was tasked with cleaning up a mess he wasn’t responsible for. Back in 2016-17 he took over a program that didn’t have enough players to craft a starting five.
Even though Menzies would like everyone to ignore his first season – a last place finish in the Mountain West – as a lost cause, he has still produced two disappointing seasons. What isn’t helping is the easy comparisons to Eric Musselman and Nevada.
Musselman took Nevada to the Sweet 16 in his third year in charge. In head-to-head matchups, Menzies is just 1-4 against Musselman.
Not only has Nevada dominated on the court, Musselman’s offseason has upstaged Menzies. Both programs have added players in May. Nevada grabbed a graduate transfer from Texas A&M-Corpus Christie who averaged 16.9 points per game two seasons ago. But Musselman wasn’t done; he snagged his best high school recruit since taking over in Reno in 5-star big man Jordan Brown.
Menzies’ addition: Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, a lengthy forward from Cameroon who has been playing basketball for less than five years.
Tchamwa Tchatchoua is an addition for the future. Even though UNLV expects him to play immediately, his real value is what he develops into in years three and four. It is a distinct contrast from Musselman’s philosophy to snag the best players even if they only have a season or two to stay in Reno.
If Marvin Menzies was handed a 10-year contract with a patient fanbase, a slow rebuild would be perfectly acceptable. But those parameters don’t exist in college basketball.
Menzies has three years left on his deal that was signed by a past athletic director and an outgoing president. The people that hired Menzies are no longer in charge.
And the fans have deserted Thomas & Mack, as UNLV’s attendance has continued to drop leading to silent home games. There is no reason for fans to show up to see a team struggle to finish in the top half of the Mountain West.
UNLV has posted more losses than wins in conference play in the past four seasons.
The offseason losses continued to pile up, as former Runnin’ Rebel Greg Anthony tweeted that UNLV never recruited his son, Cole.
I wish we were in a better place as well…they never recruited my son! https://t.co/XbHMVRWQBj
— Greg Anthony (@GregAnthony50) May 11, 2018
Cole Anthony is a 5-star in the class of 2019. He is a top 10 player and could end up as the best point guard in his class. And according to Greg Anthony, Menzies wasn’t interested.
To be fair to Menzies, Greg Anthony made it sound like UNLV never would have had a chance to land his son. But that didn’t make the news any easier for UNLV fans to swallow.
Menzies isn’t ignoring high-level players entirely. He landed Brandon McCoy last spring and in 2019 he is chasing two 5-stars in Charles Bassey and Christian Brown. If UNLV lands one or both, they could be added to the current foundation to take UNLV to the top of the Mountain West.
But the pressure is on Marvin Menzies to start winning. His recruiting strategy seems focused on years five, six and beyond. The question though is if there is enough patience in Las Vegas for Menzies to see his plan through.