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UNLV transfer says Dave Rice's practice style 'wasn't getting anyone better at all'

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Big-time recruiting classes and high-talent transfers haven't resulted in elite success for Dave Rice at UNLV. One former Runnin' Rebel player has an idea why.

Ethan Miller

Since the end of the 2007-08 season, UNLV has received votes or been ranked in every major preseason top 25 poll. The Runnin' Rebels have been the preseason favorites in the Mountain West three times, and they have produced a No. 1 overall draft pick.

Since the end of the 2007-08 season, they have won exactly zero games in the NCAA Tournament.

After taking over in Sin City before the start of the 2011-12 season, Dave Rice has been able to stockpile the greatest assembly of talent the program has seen since the infamous Jerry Tarkanian era. He's also lost a fair share of that talent to transfer, and been unable to cash in with the players who chose to stay and the elite transfers he was able to replace the departed with.

UNLV was already being hit with the perennial underachiever tag before its 2013-14 campaign, one which saw the Rebs lose 13 games and miss out on the postseason entirely for the first time under Rice's watch. It's safe to say the scarlet "U" has now been figuratively stitched onto every jersey inside the Runnin' Rebel locker room.

But simply labeling Vegas as an underachieving program and moving on is too simple. Rice has had some ultra-talented players the last three seasons, and those players have put up some impressive numbers. So what's the deal?

Florida Gulf Coast forward Demetris Morant, who transferred in from UNLV back in May, has some thoughts.

"At UNLV, to be honest, working on stuff individually, no. We didn't really do that," Morant told Dana Caldwell of the Naples Daily News. "The team stuff, yeah. Running plays. But that wasn't getting anyone better at all."

Morant averaged just 3.8 minutes and 0.6 points per game in his one year with the Runnin' Rebels, but is expected to play a much larger role for FGCU and head coach Joe Dooley this season.

To be fair to UNLV, Caldwell's story quotes two other transfers -- Brian Greene from Auburn and Jamail Jones from Marquette -- who favor Dooley's methods to what they had received at their old programs, but neither went so far as to say that their previous coach's practices weren't "getting anyone better at all."

Regardless of why things haven't gone according to plan up to this point, there's no doubt that the pressure is on Rice to produce this season.

The Rebs lost 79.3 percent of their scoring from 2013-14, but Rice hopes to make up for that with the addition of San Francisco transfer Cody Doolin and a top five recruiting class headlined by Rashad Vaughn, Dwayne Morgan and all-name candidate Goodluck Okobonoh.