Advertisement

Originally published December 22, 2016 at 11:31p.m., updated December 23, 2016 at 12:00a.m.

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Running Rebels out of own gym no great feat these days

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) puts a three over UNLV guard Kris Clyburn (1) during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) puts a three over UNLV guard Kris Clyburn (1) during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Advertisement

— Chris Beard stayed all of seven days before leaving the entertainment capital of the world for the South Plains of Texas.

Anyone who thinks trading Las Vegas for Lubbock bumps the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees for the $100,000 Sox owner Harry Frazee used to finance a Broadway show into second place in the worst-trade-in-sports history standings obviously didn’t watch the telecast of Thursday night’s basketball game in Thomas and Mack Center.

Before jumping to conclusions about Beard’s sanity, understand that in order to stay in Las Vegas he would have had to coach UNLV’s basketball team, no way to make yourself look good.

The Runnin’ Rebels didn’t quit, but they didn’t stand a chance either, losing to Kansas, 71-53, in front of 14,116 inside Thomas and Mack Center.

Strangely, the fans who stayed until the end seemed extremely stressed out, as if the game were close or something. Oh, wait, never mind. In Vegas, some of the spectators pay more attention to the betting line than the numbers on the scoreboard, and in that respect, UNLV fared much better by the end of the game than at the half, by which time the Jayhawks had taken a 42-20 lead. At that point, the Rebels didn't look as if they could cover anyone or anything, least of all a spread.

When last I ventured into Thomas and Mack, roughly 30 years ago, the final scoreboard meant everything because colorful coach Jerry Tarkanian led one of the most entertaining shows college basketball ever has known.

The arena has great history. The grand opening in 1983 starred Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross and Dean Martin. Mostly though, the stage belonged to towel-chewing, sad-eyed, raspy-voiced Tark the Shark and his players, Freddie Banks and Armen Gilliam, then Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony.

Tarkanian demanded defensive effort and rewarded those who complied with offensive freedom.

Tark would have loved coaching the players Bill Self sent to the court Thursday night, even if most of them in the final 20 minutes had one foot on the floor, one on their flights home for Christmas. That’s understandable. The game was in the bag and the bad news on the personnel front was just settling in.

Losing freshman center Udoka Azubuike for the season to a wrist surgery meant a lot to the players because they’re a close bunch and he’s a popular teammate.

Azubuike sat on the end of the bench, his wrist in a brace, and one of the players who will be counted on to absorb some of his minutes, Carlton Bragg, was on the bench with two fouls after playing seven minutes. Not good. He’s going to have to figure out how to do better than that.

Landen Lucas can’t play 40 minutes, so even when Kansas uses four guards, which will be most of the time, Bragg must be ready for extended minutes.

“The four-guard look, especially now with Udoka out, it ends up being a really good thing that we were playing it so often because we’re going to need to do it a lot,” Lucas said. “Carlton’s going to have to adjust a little with the plays, learning the five, but he’s smart and we all have confidence he’ll do that.”

It’s no time for Bragg to feel as if he’s playing out of position. Your position is where your team needs you and this team needs Bragg at center, where physical play is a must.

“I don’t think Josh (Jackson) came here to play the four either, but everybody understands that while you’re out there, you’re just a basketball player, you have to do whatever coach asks,” Lucas said. “If that’s what it takes to win, I’m sure everybody will buy in.”

Kansas made it through its pre-conference portion of the schedule with an 11-1 record and heads into conference play with nine scholarship players. Nobody would have guessed that when Azubuike got his hand caught in a jersey in practice Tuesday that it would spell the end to his season.

“We had no idea,” Lucas said. “It didn’t seem too serious at all. Then when we got the report, we were all shocked.”

It makes winning a 13th-consecutive Big 12 title tougher to accomplish, but when Kansas resumes its schedule Dec. 30 in Fort Worth against an improved TCU, it will do so as nearly everybody's pick to win the league.

By the Numbers: Kansas 71, UNLV 53.

By the Numbers: Kansas 71, UNLV 53.

— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. UNLV


Comments

Brett McCabe 9 months ago

Tiger has the third-worst trade in sports history, trading life with Elin Nordegren, for whatever you call his life now.

Beard's move was weird both for its timing and for its location. I won't take any cheap shots at Lubbock, because I've never been there and, if it's good enough for Buddy Holly, then it's good enough for me. But I would think that the right coach could turn UNLV into something special. To this point, no one has ever proven that TTU basketball can ever be something special.

And now, you are trying to do something special in a conference that includes: Bill Self, Bob Huggins, Lon Kruger, etc., etc. Gotta say that the guy must love a challenge.

Bryce Landon 9 months ago

Bob Knight made TTU special for a little while. He got them to the Sweet 16 with players less talented than the ones on Bill Self's KU sqaud who couldn't even beat Bucknell in the Round of 64 that year.

Bryce Landon 9 months ago

Also, Jim Dickey had a good thing going at Texas Tech in the mid-1990s until academic fraud was uncovered there. They had a 30-win season and posted an unblemished record in conference play in the final year of the SWC in 1995-96.

Marius Rowlanski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Glad you didn't take any cheap shots at Lubbock Texas but you just couldn't help taking at least one cheap shot. I'm sure Tiger doesn't need any more commentary about poor decisions. This is a ship that has already sailed a long time ago. Maybe an OJ reference to his life decisions?

I absolutely agree that UNLV could be a special place again but it will take a coach who decides to stay at Las Vegas instead of jumping to seemingly better opportunities.

Marc Frey 9 months ago

I have been to Lubbock, granted in 1983. And found that the town was dry, so every TT student wanting to drink,went to the airport to drink, since it was not under the same rules as the rest of the city. I kinda go with the Hershel Walker trade as one of the worst, or best if you are a Dallas Cowboys fan.

Andy Tweedy 9 months ago

You're right, if your team did it, it's far worse! Orioles trade Steve Finley, Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling to the Astros for Glen Davis. If you're an O's fan, like me, that still hurts!

Gary McCullough 9 months ago

I live two hours south of Lubbock. It is no longer dry. The basketball venue is one of the nicest in the Big XII. And they have a really nice microbrewery/restaurant (Triple J Chophouse and Brewery on Buddy Holly Ave.) that rivals the Free State's fare. Of course it's still situated in West Texas which includes wind, sandstorms, and red necks. But TTU is a great university. My wife earned her doctorate in nursing practice and I've taught statistics to some of the best graduate students I've had, which includes KU and UT students. Mac Davis thought happiness was Lubbock in his rearview mirror, but the city has considerably more appeal than when the song was first released in 1980.

Andy Godwin 9 months ago

Jackson's versatility is what has impressed me the most. He really is a special player and would hate to see where KU would be if he couldn't/wouldn't play so well in the middle. However there is concern about fouling and unfavorable size mismatches when the Big XII gets into full swing. "I don’t think Josh (Jackson) came here to play the four either, but everybody understands that while you’re out there, you’re just a basketball player, you have to do whatever coach asks,” Lucas said. “If that’s what it takes to win, I’m sure everybody will buy in.” On another note, the Hawks need to dramatically improve at the free throw line. They will lose a game or two if they don't starting making their shots.

Bryce Landon 9 months ago

Didn't they lose to Indiana in part because they couldn't hit free throws?

Kurt Eskilson 9 months ago

Any game that goes to overtime could've been won by one more free throw.

Marius Rowlanski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Surprisingly Bryce, we did a little better at the line then Indiana did on their end.

Still, all it takes is one really bad night at the FT line to derail a championship run.

Dirk Medema 9 months ago

Who are the 4's mismatches that are going to be a problem for Josh? I'm betting more that Josh is going to terrorize the rest of the conference from that spot even more than he would have, and Svi will from the 3.

The 5 spot would seem to be more a function of whether Dwight can regain his form. He obviously is lacking at the moment, but in a lot of ways closer to being Landen's replacement than Bragg or Mitch.

Dirk Medema 9 months ago

TK - May I suggest that you print the opening 3 paragraph in italics. It is a very creative, sort of Alice in Wonderland look at things that would be easier to appreciate it there was some demarcation between it and the game that the article is really about. Just a suggestion.

Martin Rosenblum 9 months ago

I was at the game along with a very large KU contingency, The game got no closer than 12 points in the second half, but the UNLV fans acted like the Jayhawks would somehow give up and let them win. Interesting how quiet they got near the end when it was clear that our guys just lost focus for a second. Had UNLV made free throws, with as many times as they were at the line in the first half, it could have been closer. They stink at the FT line! Their fans were getting miffed at the KU crowd for making fun of the FT situation. I sensed as well, that covering the spread was probably pretty important to more than a few locals.

Andy Taylor 8 months, 4 weeks ago

𝚂𝚝𝚊𝚢 𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚘𝚖𝚎 𝚖𝚘𝚖 𝙺𝚎𝚕𝚕𝚢 𝚁𝚒𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚜 𝚏𝚛𝚘𝚖 𝙽𝚎𝚠 𝚈𝚘𝚛𝚔 𝚊𝚏𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚒𝚐𝚗𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚏𝚛𝚘𝚖 𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚏𝚞𝚕𝚕 𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎 𝚓𝚘𝚋 𝚖𝚊𝚗𝚊𝚐𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚘 𝚊𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚏𝚛𝚘𝚖 $𝟼𝟶𝟶𝟶-$𝟾𝟶𝟶𝟶 𝚊 𝚖𝚘𝚗𝚝𝚑 𝚏𝚛𝚘𝚖 𝚏𝚛𝚎𝚎𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚘𝚖𝚎... 𝚃𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝚑𝚘𝚠 𝚜𝚑𝚎 𝚍𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚒𝚝 ---------------> http://bit.do/bestweb-GetPayUsd-Hour

Jeffrey Nichols 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Tom - I need for your writing to be better than what you are giving. There are too many of these examples - one sentence paragraphs, no commas:

"Anyone who thinks trading Las Vegas for Lubbock bumps the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees for the $100,000 Sox owner Harry Frazee used to finance a Broadway show into second place in the worst-trade-in-sports history standings obviously didn’t watch the telecast of Thursday night’s basketball game in Thomas and Mack Center."

If you are going to make random and completely unrelated comparisons, at least make it readable.

Marius Rowlanski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Regardless of 'where', leaving Las Vegas 7 days after making a commitment says a lot more about Chris Beard than it says about Las Vegas.

As far as there being no way to look good coaching at Las Vegas, if it's already been done, it can be done again. Tarkanian was probably the gold standard at UNLV but others have also had successful runs. Lon Kruger coached at UNLV for 7 years with a 69.5% winning percentage and made 2 Sweet 16's.

Overall, UNLV has 18 NCAA tournament appearances, four Final Fours and one NCAA Championship. I think the worst thing to have happened at UNLV is that it has become a jump off location for coaches with higher ambitions rather a daily than being a final destination.

One final note, Kansas played one really good half and then one that was average at best. Duke, a team that we have beaten, spanked UNLV by 50 points

Commenting has been disabled for this item.