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Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels head coach Marcus Arroyo is shown before a game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Allegiant Stadium Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020.

With one UNLV sports season coming to an end and another just getting started, this felt like a good time to take to social media to solicit questions from Sun readers.

Let’s jump right into the Q&A:


Talk about how it feels like we’ll have a winless football season and the administration will just pretend like it didn’t happen.


First, thank you for phrasing your question in the preferred “talk about” format. Second, yeah, it sure has been a disaster of a season, no question about it. UNLV football has been beyond bad, getting blown out every week (average margin of defeat of 21.4 points, no loss closer than 13 points) and making no discernible progress from Week 1 to Week 8. That’s not a good reflection on the coaches or the players. But as to the administration ignoring the problem, there really isn’t a lot to be done right now. This is Marcus Arroyo’s first season, and it was a hectic, shortened campaign at that, so Desiree Reed-Francois can’t just clean house. Hopefully 2021 gives us a better indication of what Arroyo can do.


Having watched all the games, UNLV’s conference record will be??? (Assuming all games are played.)


In my preseason prediction column I had UNLV basketball pegged for a 15-5 record in Mountain West play. Umm… I would like to take this opportunity to officially update my projection to something a little more reasonable. A 10-10 mark in the MWC should be achievable if the team comes together over the course of the season, as happened last year.


What’s the basketball team pulse regarding COVID-19? I know we can’t predict how many more games will get canceled, but would have to assume more are coming. Feels like we’re in for a jarring season. How much stock can we really put into a season like this?


I get the sense that everyone within the program is trying their best, but it’s just an unwinnable fight. COVID-19 is crazy contagious and that’s all there is to it. If you interact with other people face to face, you are going to get it. Basketball players in a non-bubble environment are going to catch it and more games are certain to be canceled along the way. Fait accompli. We’ll just have to wait and see how bad it gets. So far, 25 percent of the football team’s games have been canceled. If basketball is canceled at a similar rate, they’ll lose seven games and end up playing 20. That’s not bad for a literal pandemic, if you ask me.


How does Marvin Coleman of this year stack up to last year’s version?


With the caveat that it’s still very early, Coleman hasn’t been as good this year. We all know Coleman is a great intangibles player, but last year he also brought some tangible qualities to the table — namely rebounding and steals. He hasn’t been making as many of those plays this season. As a sophomore he grabbed 4.8 rebounds per game, posted a rebounding rate of 10.1 percent and a steal rate of 2.9 percent; this season he’s bringing in 2.6 boards with a rebound rate of 4.6 percent and a steal rate of 1.4 percent. A good attitude is nice, but last year Coleman made magic happen on the court, too. He’s got to get back to that style of play.


Will Marcus Arroyo be the Dave Rice of football?


I know this was asked as an insult, but you can draw some parallels between their approaches to the job. Rice was a big-game hunter when it came to recruiting; he wanted high-end talent and sometimes sacrificed fit and style to accommodate 5-star prospects. And that worked—for a while. I think Arroyo’s tenure will also be largely dependent on how much top talent he can recruit. Granted, it’s been a crazy season, but UNLV under Arroyo doesn’t seem to be a “greater than the sum of its parts” type of team. Arroyo’s plan hinges on attracting bigger, faster, stronger athletes than the rest of the Mountain West at every position and letting them do their thing. Right now he’s got the No. 2 incoming class in the conference, so maybe it will work.


Talk about how slow the UNLV roster is off the dribble and whether it will be more difficult to turn over a flawed roster with COVID giving everyone an extra year.


UNLV’s lack of quickness has been jarring, and we all should have done a better job of seeing it ahead of time. Personally, I got so focused on evaluating the skill level of the roster during the offseason — shooting, passing, dribbling, basketball IQ, etc. — that I didn’t pay enough attention to whether these guys could run and jump. To my eyes, Caleb Grill is the twitchiest athlete on the roster, while Bryce Hamilton is a solid run/jump athlete with good agility. Nick Blake is more of a glider than an exploder, and the next-best athlete is Reece Brown, who won’t play real minutes this season. Everyone else is marginal at best in the quickness department. T.J. Otzelberger is going to have to scheme up a way to get penetration on offense while limiting it on defense. As to the question about turning over the roster, I think that will be a non-issue for teams going forward, especially now that the NCAA is going to allow players to transfer without sitting out a year. Player movement is about to spike in both directions and adherence to the scholarship limit will be easy.


Is the coaching staff looking to add any other players next year or are they all set with Gilbert, Collins, & Kaluma?


They’re all set with an incoming class of Zaon Collins, Arthur Kaluma and Keshon Gilbert. That’s going to be the best class in the Mountain West, bar none, and one of the best in the country. If the UNLV staff is interested in adding any particular skill sets to round out the 2021-22 roster, I think they’ll do it through the transfer market in the spring.


Who would win in a boxing match between T.J. Otzelberger and Marcus Arroyo and how many rounds would it last?


This is a trick question because a match between a football guy and a basketball guy would never happen. A football coach would schedule the bout for 2032 (with a return game in 2046), and no basketball guy has ever connected on a punch anyway.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun