Thad Matta may be ready to get back into coaching.
According to Aaron Torres of The Athletic, Matta is regarded as the “overwhelming favorite” for the UNLV job that came available after the firing of Marvin Menzies. Rick Pitino, who has denied interest in the job previously, is “not a factor.”
Matta quit Ohio State in 2017, citing health issues that were making it harder for him to coach at a high level. The last time he was linked to a high-level job, he turned down the opportunity, saying he wasn’t ready yet to return to coaching. If Matta takes this opportunity, he’s clearly feeling better and thinks he’s prepared for the demands of an NCAA coaching job once more.
Whenever there’s a decent college basketball coaching job available, there will be some people linking Rick Pitino to it. It even happens when the job isn’t available.
That’s the case with UNLV, with growing rumors about the safety of coach Marvin Menzies. Despite the rumors, it’s fair to say that Pitino won’t even be talking to UNLV as long as Menzies, his former assistant at Louisville, is employed there.
“I root for UNLV every game,” Pitino told Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday. “I have been a big fan since the Tark days. But now I root for them every game because of Marvin Menzies, a younger brother to me. I, nor my agent, haven’t had any discussions with UNLV about coaching there. I will continue to root for my ex-assistant coach every game. Go, Marvin.”
Pitino is currently coaching in Greece, and he’s sent mixed signals about coaching stateside again. Most recently, he said his preference would be to coach at the NBA level, but we’re guessing he’d listen to overtures from a solid college program — just not one that currently employs one of his close friends.
UNLV has turned to their second choice after losing their first after less than a week.
The Runnin’ Rebels named New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies as their coach on Saturday, pending approval by the Board of Regents.
Menzies accumulated a 198-111 record over nine seasons at NMSU, becoming a basketball powerhouse in the WAC and taking the school to five NCAA Tournaments, including four consecutive berths from 2012-2015. He has, however, failed to win a tournament game during any of those appearances.
Menzies was the original runner-up when UNLV hired Chris Beard, who left after less than a week at the school. It was only logical that they’d go back to Menzies after that.
UNLV is not happy after recently-hired head basketball coach Chris Beard accepted the Texas Tech position just one week after being formally announced at the school.
Beard, who led Arkansas-Little Rock to an upset of Purdue in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, had his UNLV contract ratified less than a week ago. When the Texas Tech job became available, however, Beard bolted, and UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy made clear in a statement that she’s not pleased.
It’s tough to blame UNLV for feeling wronged. At the same time, you can understand Beard’s decision. A job in the Big 12 at a school fresh off an NCAA Tournament appearance beats the heck out of a school in the Mountain West trying to reclaim its former glory.
The real sad thing about this is that now the Runnin’ Rebels will never have the opportunity to experience something like this, at least under Beard.
Mick Cronin’s time at Cincinnati may be coming to an end.
The Bearcats head coach is reportedly heading toward an agreement with UNLV, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
Cronin has led Cincy to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a Sweet 16, making this a potentially interesting move. UNLV hasn’t won a tournament game since 2008 despite making it four times since then, losing in the first round to a lower seed all four times.
Cronin wouldn’t be the first coach to move west after coaching a big school from the east. Jamie Dixon left Pittsburgh for TCU earlier in the week.
In the world of sports we have crazy fans, and then we have crazy baby-naming fans. The latter are people who are willing to make a life decision to showcase their devotion. Remember the NBA Finals when that Cleveland radio host decided she hated LeBron so much she would name her son Dirk? That’s what we call commitment — or insanity. You can figure that one out on your own.
As The Dagger pointed out on Thursday, there is a UNLV fan who has made a similar promise in an attempt to improve the future of the UNLV men’s basketball team. Top recruit and Las Vegas native Shabazz Muhammad says a fan — who was not named — tweeted him recently and promised to name their first-born child after him if he chooses to play basketball at UNLV.
That was pretty crazy,” Muhammad said. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes on Twitter. Sometimes at (Las Vegas Bishop) Gorman, the UNLV fans come to practice and they have No. 15 jerseys with my name on the back. It’s pretty hectic. The last time we practiced at Gorman, there were 200 UNLV fans there.”
Muhammad is the consensus No. 1 player in the class of 2012, so UNLV fans are hopeful he will stay home and help put them back on the map. With Muhammad considering other destinations that include Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky, the Runnin’ Rebels are a long shot to land the forward. I suppose if you want to display the ultimate show of affection, the first-born child name game is a good place to start.
Lon Kruger left UNLV’s basketball program to take the head coaching job at Oklahoma last week, leaving the Rebels searching for a new head coach. Contrary to popular belief, the job is not available on craigslist, but rather one for which athletic director Jim Livengood is nailing down finalists. The two names most prominently mentioned in connection with the vacancy are Reggie Theus and Dave Rice. When reached by phone on Monday, former UNLV national championship coach Jerry Tarkanian told Larry Brown Sports he supports former players Theus and Larry Johnson for the job.
Coach Tarkanian told LBS he recommended Reggie Theus for several reasons, saying “He’s got a great personality and he can talk with anybody.” Tark added that Theus “has been a good head coach, and the people love him in Vegas.”
He also said he supported his former player Larry Johnson, who is considered the best UNLV player in the program’s history, for the job. Tark acknowledged that Johnson’s lack of head coaching experience hurts him in the search, but says he thinks Larry would do a great job because he’s such a good person. In an interview with LBS last month, Johnson told us he was interested in coaching.
Overall, Tarkanian said Lon Kruger did a real good job as head coach of the program.
No replacement has been named yet, but Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports a hire could be made this week. Ryan Greene says that Theus and Livengood talked Sunday night but that Rice is the favorite to get the job.
Photo Credit: Collegiate Images/Getty Images
UNLV is looking for a new basketball coach now that Lon Kruger has left for Oklahoma. The Las Vegas Review-Journal says former Rebels Dave Rice and Reggie Theus are top candidates and that a hire could be announced as early as Tuesday. They also say that Bob Knight expressed interest in the job, and LBS favorite Larry Johnson is also interested. But according to this mock posting on Craigslist (shared by Bryan Fischer on twitter), all you have to be is a former UNLV broadcaster to be considered for the job.
Here are some of the funnier points from the fake job post:
> Position will remain open until filled or until the publicity is just overwhelming.
> Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree (no matter how long it took you to get it)
> Any mention in the press by Jerry Tarkanian will greatly improve your chances of an interview and in that case, *no* previous coaching experience will be required.
> Special consideration will be given to any candidate who has had a face to face altercation with Steve Kerr.
Again, before you start sending in the hate mail, keep in mind this was just a joke. The reality is that ties to UNLV do help one’s chances of landing the job. But as for the report that Bob Knight expressed interest? Can you possibly imagine Knight coaching at the same place where Jerry Tarkanian became a legend? Neither can I. But if you want to read actual news on the job, we spoke with Jerry Tarkanian who shared his thoughts on who should be the next head coach.
Here’s the post in its entirety, and tell me it isn’t the funnies craigslist posting you’ve seen since this and this.