"This would've been a good year to open with Hawaii-Loa, Hilo, Maui, Paui and Haui," says Las Vegas coach Jerry Tarkanian, bemoaning the fact that seven of his eight top players will be newcomers. Instead, his Runnin' Rebels tip off against the Soviet National Team and then, over a two-week stretch, face DePaul, in the Maui Classic, and Arizona. Ow-i. But what will pain opponents will be the quality of Tark's fresh talent, including three junior college All-Americas along the baseline.
At forward are Moses Scurry and James Jones. Scurry took a shine to UNLV after watching a pregame light and fireworks show on TV last year. But he would have ended up in Vegas anyway. "I was going wherever David Butler went," he says. The 6'10" Butler, Scurry's teammate at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, was fast enough to cover the in-bounds pass in San Jac's full-court press and then to fly back to rebound at the other end. And Tark has another 6'10" juco in George Ackles, from Garden City (Kans.) Community College, who chose the Rebels partly because of UNLV's running offense and partly because of Tark's relationship with Garden City. "We've been in the juco system a long time," says former UNLV assistant Mark Warkentien, "and a deal's a deal."
A Nevada native is back in town to direct the floor show. Point guard Greg Anthony was the state's top player in 1986 at Rancho High in Las Vegas, but he went to the University of Portland because of UNLV's glut of guards. He was the WCAC Freshman of the Year in 1986-87 and then transferred back home. Tarkanian calls him perhaps the best defensive guard he has ever seen.
Defense earned sophomore forward Stacey Augmon, UNLV's lone returning starter, a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. He was so upset by the American team's third-place finish, though, that he threw his bronze medal on a hotel bed in Seoul and couldn't find it later when he returned to the room. "It made my mother mad," says Augmon. "She had a big place on the wall all picked out for it." The Las Vegas City Council is trying to replace the medal for him. It makes you wonder what the council would offer Augmon if he led the Runnin' Rebels to their first NCAA title.