Dave Rice was raised a Runnin' Rebel.
He was a reserve guard on two of Jerry Tarkanian's Final Four teams, including the 1990 squad that won the national title. He coached with Tarkanian. And now he is the first former UNLV player to become head coach of the program.
True to his Vegas roots, Rice is already talking about winning with style.
"Winning is No. 1, I get that -- but style of play is going to be 1a," Rice said in a statement. "We're going to get out and run -- we’re the Runnin' Rebels. Everything will be up-tempo. We also want to be known for being consistent. Every day in practice and every single game, we want to be consistent. That is not exciting to hear and it sounds like coach-speak, but consistency leads to great results."
For evidence that points to Rice's ability to pull it off, UNLV only has to look toward what Mountain West Conference foe BYU accomplished this season while Rice was associate head coach. The Cougars ran their up-tempo offense with Jimmer Fredette leading the way and went to the Sweet 16.
"We'll have a learning curve anytime a new system is put in place, but we want our guys to have high expectations immediately," Rice said. "It's time to get to work."
Tarkanian publicly threw his support behind Reggie Theus to become the next UNLV coach, but that doesn't mean the school's choice of Dave Rice doesn't energize fans of the Runnin' Rebels yearning for the good old days.
Rice has Tarkanian's blessing as well.
"He's going to try to bring back some of the old tradition," Tarkanian blogged in the Las Vegas Sun. "Dave said he wants to play the same style we did. He wants to push the ball up the court and play some pressure defense."
It's what being a Runnin' Rebel is all about.