Back in 1971, a suave and debonair bachelor named Peter Revson, an heir to the Revlon cosmetics fortune, won the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 with a speed of 178.696 mph. As the public address announcer would say in those days, it was a "new ... track ... record!"
Then, during that offseason, the guys who design Indy-style cars said "Let's Run." They bolted these big wings onto the back of the cars which enabled them to run like cheetahs through the corners.
The effect was like watching Loyola Marymount play U.S. International during Hank Gathers' heyday. The next year, Bobby Unser won the Indy pole with a speed of 195.949 mph, breaking the track record by more than 17 mph.
Seventeen years later, Loyola Marymount beat U.S. International, 152-137. That also was a new track record.
When the Indy-car designers said "Let's Run," the change was dramatic. But not as dramatic as when Paul Westhead said, "Let's Run."
When Dave Rice took over as UNLV basketball coach, that was his idea, too. Let's run, like the old days. Let's make some jaws drop, and some rims rattle. And to hell with Bo Ryan and Wisconsin, and 51-48.
The transformation in the Rebels' style has been noticeable.
Even if one is watching from behind Holly Madison's giant cardboard mask, or Louis Amundson's, one would conclude without hesitation that the Rebels are more fun to watch this season than last, when former coach Lon Kruger's rallying cry was Let's Walk the Ball Upcourt and Set Up the Offense.
But what do the statistics indicate? What's the difference between perception and reality?
The Rebels lost 65-45 at New Mexico on Saturday, and that did not seem like the definitive example of "Let's Run."
So I did some homework. I charted the Rebels' fast-break points from this season and last, limiting it to conference games, because the cast of "Cocoon" could score on the fast break against the likes of Cal State San Marcos, and those points should not be considered in any most-things-being-equal statistical comparison.
Last season's Let's Walk Rebels averaged seven fast-break points and allowed six. This season's Let's Run Rebels are averaging 13 and allowing six.
So all this running and gunning and indiscriminate jacking of 3-point shots has produced three additional fast-break baskets per game.
I doubt Paul Westhead or Bo Kimble or even Per Stumer would be impressed. Nor Bobby Unser, who been known to drop in on the New Mexico state basketball tournament at The Pit when the small schools are playing.
The Let's Walk Rebels averaged 70 points and allowed 65; the Let's Run Rebels are averaging 75 and allowing 71. Those will probably be lower by Saturday after Air Force leaves town.
UNLV was 11-5 in conference play last season; this season, it must win out, win at Colorado State, to finish 10-4.
It has been said that statistics are like a bikini: What they reveal is interesting, what they conceal is vital. I'm not exactly sure what these fast-break stats conceal. What they reveal is that when somebody is successful in controlling tempo against UNLV, or getting back on defense, the Rebels struggle like Steven Seagal trying to fit into size 34s.
To wit: UNLV scored four of the combined six fast-break points at Air Force and won in overtime, scored zero of the zero combined fast-break points at Wyoming and lost in overtime, scored five of the nine combined fast-break points at New Mexico and got hammered by 20.
That's a small sample size, but it seems to indicate that even the less-talented teams find it easier to impose their style on the Rebels than the Rebels imposing style on them.
This, and the fact that guys named Krabbenhoft and Bruesewitz generally have trouble running the floor, must be why Wisconsin plays the way it does.
Teams that play uptempo and jack 3s seem more susceptible to huge comebacks than teams that work for high-percentage 2s and wear Converse high-tops. Possessions don't mean as much when you're not running clock or wearing Converse high-tops. This explains how UNLV blew an 18-point second-half lead at Texas Christian last week and even lost a high-scoring game.
Is losing 102-97 better than winning 36-33, the score by which Wisconsin beat Penn State in last year's Big Ten tournament?
Maybe at the box office. Not in the standings.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.