It was Tark pal Mike Toney, a casino host at the Sands Hotel, who gave this Vegas team its motto, a mob phrase from numbers running that neatly described UNLV's attitude. "The thrill ain't in the winnin'," the players liked to say. "It's in the collectin' [of debts]."
Alas, the Rebels turned into nothing more than the neighborhood tough who whimpers when finally challenged.
With the final 12 seconds still to go last Saturday night, right after Duke had taken its winning lead, a wise old man rose from his seat and hobbled out of the Hoosier Dome. "Let's wait and see about UNLV," former UCLA coach John Wooden had said more than once during the season. "A lot of teams have won one [ NCAA title] in a row."
The Wizard must have known. Somebody else was about to do the winnin' and collectin'.