Rice, Rice Baby

Dave Rice

After years of mediocrity or worse, the recent re-emergence of the UNLV basketball program is a surprise to younger college basketball fans who are unaware of the program’s dominance in the early ‘90s.

It all started with a move that appeared to be a deflating blow. Then-head coach Lon Kruger left the Runnin’ Rebels to take Oklahoma’s head job. Many feared Kruger’s departure was a loss from which UNLV would be unable to recover. However, UNLV athletic director saw it as an opportunity.

The loss of Kruger developed into the greatest thing to happen to UNLV basketball since the ‘90s. In the hiring Dave Rice, a member of the 1990 UNLV national championship team and then an assistant at BYU , came the restoration of the history and pride that UNLV had been lacking.

Rice arrived at UNLV with the goal of this being his ultimate head coaching position. With that mentality he was able to instantly gain the trust and love of Runnin’ Rebel fans. Rice continually preached his philosophy of the runnin’ and gunnin’ style that was successful in the ‘90s under his coach Jerry Tarkanian.

In Rice’s one-and-a-half seasons, UNLV has not become the scoring machine that the early ‘90s teams were, but he has started a desperately needed transformation. Rice has done the unfathomable in recruiting not one, but two McDonald’s All-Americans.

Rice is 44-14 since taking over for Kruger, a very impressive record for a relatively young and inexperienced team. Notably impressive is that the Rebels only have one home loss. Not only has Rice been successful in overall performance but he has also brought national attention to UNLV. Rice’s resume boasts impressive wins, such as the dismantling of North Carolina, which was the number one team at the time.

Rice is still young and inexperienced in terms of strategy. But with the type of recruiting and the people with whom he surrounds himself, it is easy to see that there is no ceiling for how well he could do.

While not everyone will be satisfied with the Rebel’s performance, it is safe to say that the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels are back. The idea that this Runnin’ Rebels squad is beginning to become a mirror image of ‘90s teams strikes fear in the hearts of all schools around the country. The Rebels are back and with Dave Rice at the helm they are here to stay.

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Cole Turner
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Inside the Circle: David Levi, Personal Assistant of Floyd “Money” Mayweather

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The Cover 4 was fortunate to catch up to David Levi, UNLV Graduate and Floyd Mayweathers Personal Assistant. We asked David what it is like to be part of the money team! Check out the article below!

Thanks for reading and thank you to David Levi for the interview

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State your position with The Money Team? 

I am Floyd’s personal assistant. I also take care of various things needed for The Money Team.

What is your boxing background?

I started boxing back in high school. Every Friday my brother and I invited kids over from school and we all boxed each other in the backyard with 16oz gloves and headgears. A short while later a boxing gym opened up new my house and I started training every day. I had my first amateur fight senior year of high school and won by knockout. The following year I attended UNLV just to fight for the boxing team there. After my freshman year boxing, I stopped fighting all together to work at Mayweather Promotions.

Have you ever stepped in the ring with Floyd? Even just messing around? 

That’s a funny question because Floyd always asks me if I want to spar a little bit with him. He always tells me he’ll “take it easy on me”. The guy beats the hell out of world class fighters, so I’m not so keen on getting in the ring with him. Maybe if I started training again I would do it for fun. I would like to someday just to say I did.

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How did you join the Money Team? 

I interned for Mayweather Promotions on and off for about a year and a half. I then was hired as an office assistant for about six months. One day I was over at Floyd’s house which rarely happened and I approached him when he was alone and asked him to give me a shot and I would do whatever he needed to be done. About a week later he called me and said he was going to “test me out” and it’s been two years since!

What is the typical day in the life of David Levi? 

I’m on call 24/7. No day is every the same and that is what I like best about my work. Usually if Floyd is out of town my day consists of running a couple errands for him, paying people, and I usually sit in the sports book and bet for Floyd the rest of the day.

During training my schedule is a little different. The day starts at the boxing gym around 2PM. The whole team encourages Floyd while he trains. I usually have to run out of the gym to the sports book to put bets in while he is training. We usually go to dinner after training and head to the fitness gym around 2AM.

What type of role do you take in fight planning/marketing?

Golden Boy Promotions does basically all the planning and marketing for Floyd’s fights. I use my twitter and instagram as a marketing tool by posting photos of Floyd while training. I occasionally do some interviews about Floyd’s training as well. I also seek out sponsorships and endorsements for various Mayweather Promotions fighters and Floyd.

What is the typical day in the life of Floyd Mayweather?

Floyd usually spends a lot of time with his children while he’s not training for a fight. The afternoons always consist of watching football and basketball. Him and I are usually on and off the phone nonstop because I’m placing bets for him while he watches the games at home or wherever he happens to be at the time. He knows more about football and basketball then anyone I’ve ever met. He’s a tremendous athlete, he often plays basketball late at night at the fitness gym in pick-up games.

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What’s your favorite part about being part of The Money Team?

There are definitely various perks in Vegas being part of the team. I’d say my favorite part is being able to see Floyd spar every day during training. Most people only get to see him fight once a year, I get to see if every day while he’s training!

What is the coolest experience you have ever had with Floyd?

I’d say my favorite experience this far was the whole fight weekend for the Mayweather-Cotto fight. The fight was so intense and I am a fan of Miguel Cotto’s as well so I was extremely excited. I’ll never forget being in the back area with Floyd before the weigh in and he was jumping around talking shit out loud as Cotto just glared at him nonstop. Definitely the type of stuff I love being a huge boxing fan.

What was it like being interviewed by ESPN for their article?

Today’s social media has really simplified the ways to get into contact with media outlets. Over the last two years on Twitter I’ve created friendships with various writers for ESPN, Yahoo, FightHype, exc. and I get quoted from comments I make on Twitter. I’d say I enjoyed my interview with Yahoo’s Kevin Iole most.

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What happened with the 50 cent split? 

I think there was some miscommunication between Floyd and Fifty while Floyd was locked up. One thing was said and another came to fruition which Floyd didn’t agree with. I tend not to talk about it because it’s between the two of them.

What should people know about Floyd?

Floyd is one of the most fun people to hang around. He’s always joking around and talking shit. He has great energy and is tremendous person. He does a ton of charity which most people don’t get to see that side of him.

After Pac just got knocked out, will that fight ever happen? 

The fight is basically never going to happen at this point. Pacman was knocked out cold and is going to need a couple fights to get back to where he was. I don’t think he will ever be the same after that knockout. The money that was there for the fight is no longer there because of how Pacquiao lost.

When will Floyd step back into the ring?

Floyd will actually be fighting here in Las Vegas on May 4th. The opponent is yet to be named, but believe me it’s going to be a great match up! He also is scheduled to fight September 14th.

After Floyd boxing career is finished, how will he be remembered? 

I think after Floyd’s next two or three wins and retires undefeated he will go down as the greatest boxer of all time. At the end of the day when it is all said and done, Floyd has fought dozens of world champions and hall of famers. He makes all of them look like amateurs. There is no fighter ever in the history of the sport that has faced the opposition he has and made it look so easy.

What do you have planned in the future?

I’m really enjoying my time with Floyd and The Money Team currently but of course eventually all things come to an end. I would like to get into promotion or work behind the scenes for television involving boxing and entertainment. I really enjoy the entertainment industry and I plan on staying involved with boxing one way or another.

Thanks for the interview Cover 4!

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James Kaikis
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Bennett Tops Bazz, McLemore as Nation’s Best Freshman

Anthony Bennett is a man amongst boys!

Anthony Bennett is a man amongst boys!

Every year college basketball programs try to attract top recruits who can make an immediate impact on the team. Everyone wants the next Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, or Carmelo Anthony to play for their program and carry them into the NCAA tourney. An incoming freshman with exceptional talent can benefit a program immensely, even if it is “one and done.” Just ask John Calipari how useful a freshman can be. He owes much of his success to freshmen like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Anthony Davis. Although early, the 2013 freshman class has some studs making their names known and opposing teams praying they’re one and dones.

Forward Anthony Bennett of UNLV is without question the best freshman at this point. The first McDonald’s All-American to join the Runnin’ Rebels in decades has created a new show in a city known for its entertainment. The freshman already has NBA size standing at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, and his play makes him a consideration as an early lottery pick if he chooses to leave for the NBA after this season. Bennett uses every bit of his size to bully defenders in the paint on his way to 19.9 points per game while shooting 56.1 percent and collecting nine rebounds a game. While Bennett seems capable of getting to the basket at will, his game is far more versatile. His seven-foot wingspan gives him the ability to match-up against any opponent and his 1.5 blocks per game demonstrates his ability to protect the paint. While it would seem his game has to be lacking in some facet, the guy even shoots the three-ball at 38 percent. Bennett’s far more than your typical college player, hell he’s even more than two collegiate players at times (see video below).

Bennett’s 19-plus points per game and 9-plus rebound average have him in the company of Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Michael Beasley, so it’s safe to say he should be on the National Player of the Year watch. With a player of Bennett’s caliber to watch, UNLV fans should pack the Thomas & Mack Center all season long. While currently ranked 24 in the AP and 19 in the USA Today, the return of 2012 Mountain West Newcomer of the Year Mike Moser and the sure development of Bennett will make this team scary in March. Bennett may be the savior of Sin City and the Runnin’ Rebels have the potential to make a deep run in the NCAA tourney.

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While Bennett is far above anyone other freshman this year, consideration must be given to guard Ben McLemore. It’s a pretty big deal when a freshman leads No. 6 Kansas in scoring. McLemore is averaging a team-leading 15.8 points per game with 5.5 rebounds per game and 2.2 assists per game.  All it takes to recognize his talent is to watch his clutch performance against Iowa State. The freshman put up 33 points, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the 3-point line. He stepped up big by knocking down the game-tying three with only a second left. Whenever you have a freshman step up in such big moments, it can’t go unnoticed. From highlight plays that show his ability to elevate higher than kids at a Wiz Khalifa concert, to his ability to come up big during big games, McLemore can’t be ignored. If the freshman can successfully carry his team to a top seed in the NCAA tourney and continue at the pace he’s going, he will overtake Bennett for top freshman honors and further improve his draft stock.
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Another top freshman guard is Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. The young point guard averages 14.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. The Cowboys have lost two of their last three games and need to snap out of the funk they’re in. As a major contributor to their offense, Smart’s stats show his importance to the team. The guy fills up a stat sheet like a young Jason Kidd. He’s a top two contributor in assists, points, and rebounds. While certainly a top freshman, I have a hard time comparing him to the level of Bennett and McLemore. With the college basketball only half-way through, anything can change. While I don’t see Smart capable of overcoming Bennett for top freshman honors, he definitely must be considered in the top-3 freshman.

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The last freshman consideration is UCLA’s forward Shabazz Muhammad. While Muhammad began with a rocky start due to potential NCAA violations of amateurism, he seems to be trying to live up to the preseason hype. Post #FreeShabazz, is averaging 19.6 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game. With UCLA about to hit the road in the Pac-12, Shabazz better be ready to be heckled by fans for his possible violations and lead UCLA to match the early expectations everyone had for it. If Shabazz can stay on the court and continue to play at the level he’s been at the past couple games, he’ll move up in these rankings (he’s averaged 19.5 points and 8 rebounds over his past two). Shabazz has some big shoes to step into (probably Adidas), and if he fails match the hype, his status as the number one pick may slip. The potential to go either way is there, it will just be up to him to determine which direction he goes in.

Other Considerations:

Jahaii Carson, Arizona State (16.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 5.4apg)

Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (10.3ppg, 9.3rpg, 3.5bpg)

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Tye Masters
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Showtime on the Strip – The Runnin’ Rebels

For the first time in two decades, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus is buzzing- and I mean buzzing! Excitement lights up the beautiful Vegas skyline as the Runnin’ Rebels kick off the 2012-2013 college basketball season. Loaded with talent (and high expectations), the Rebels basketball team hasn’t had a preseason ranking like this since the 90s; the kids are calling it Atlanta or Bust (The final four will be played in Atlanta this year).

For many, this is just the start to an another roller coaster college basketball season but for Las Vegas, its something more. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is a university searching for an identity. UNLV, home of nearly 28,000 students, is treated much like a gloried high school as the majority of the part-time population come and go to class without sniffing anything the campus has to offer outside the classroom. The university lacks a campus feel as less than 1,500 students live in the dorms annually and the football stadium is nearly 25 minutes away. The university is starving for campus culture and a true college environment.

A few years back a friend of mine started the Rebel Nation, the first true student section dedicated to the involvement of the student population at sporting events. Although Rebel Nation was successful, the sports teams never fully took off and the group didn’t grow to its full potential. But Rebel Nation did do something very important for UNLV as it set the foundation for true student involvement. The Rebel basketball team began to become more competitive under Coach Lon Kruger and attendance at the games grew. Just a few years later, Coach Kruger left the Rebels and the team was searching for an identity. Insert Coach Dave Rice, former Runnin’ Rebel and the reason the hype is back at UNLV. With Rice (and a handful of college transfers from Kruger), the Rebels brought back the RUN and unleashed a masterful style of basketball that college basketball fans crave. The new (yet old) Runnin’ Rebel style of play was an absolute hit (as Kruger offense was very methodical and boring to most fans). A second coming of the Rebel Nation grew and gained steam; the Rebellion was born and brought a swagger to the UNLV student section that most had never seen or experienced before.

The Thomas & Mack Center was rocking each and every week for the Rebel Games. The Rebels were upsetting top opponents (like North Carolina- I was at that game and rushed the court! It was unreal). Basketball tickets, once easy to come by, were being sold for three and four times the face value. Rivalries grew, hatred developed, fan involvement grew and a university culture was beginning to form. Rice and his outstanding staff signed the best Rebel recruiting class in 20 years which included one top 10 player and four top 150 prospects in addition to two of the nations top transfers. Freshman Anthony Bennett, Katin Reinhardt, Savon Goodman, Demetrius Morant, and DaQuan Cook join transfers Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith to give the Rebels a chance at becoming a National powerhouse.

The Runnin’ Rebels bring back a solid squad including star Mike Moser, senior leader Anthony Marshall, defensive standout Justin Hawkins, big man Carlos Lopez, top reserve Quintrell Thomas and, maybe the most exciting of the group, USC transfer Bryce Dejean- Jones.

The Rebels look poised to not only make some noise in the Mountain West but at the National level as well. As the 19th ranked preseason team, it won’t be surprising if the Rebels crack the top 10 after Birch arrives in mid-December (oh I can’t wait because is he going to THRIVE in this offense).

If this team can gain the national spotlight and bring UNLV back to the top of the college basketball standings, UNLV won’t be a university searching for its identity; it will be a basketball school with something to cheer for. Go Rebels.

James Kaikis

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