UNLV faces a must-win home game against Air Force at the Thomas & Mack Center tonight, but it is also the final time UNLV’s senior class will play an official home game.
It is quite a senior class.
Rob Ketchum is mostly a practice player, but Mareceo Rutledge has provided important minutes this year in his second season at UNLV.
Joe Darger has been a key contributor for four seasons and stands in fifth place on the school’s all-time 3-pointers made list.
Not enough can be said about Rene Rougeau, who walked on to the team and became one of the best players in the conference while paying his tuition. He finally earned a scholarship, but has not lost any of the scrappiness or tenacity he exhibited as a walk-on.
But it is Wink Adams who really keyed the resurgence of the program.
He was one of the first true marquee high school recruits to commit in quite some time when he came to UNLV from Houston and it has opened doors to the coaching staff that might not have been open before.
He has also got the job done on the court, leading the team in scoring for the third time this season.
This is a class that will be missed, but it also has a great deal of work to do this season.
The team should win tonight against an Air Force squad that has yet to win a conference game, but a victory would be only the first in a string that this team needs to pull off to advance to a third straight NCAA Tournament.
Tonight’s game is what the promotions department calls a “White Out.” It is a theme that many schools incorporate some form of into its promotional calendar.
Nearly the entire crowd followed the theme and came decked out in all white, but as expected, Lon Kruger is not participating.
Rick Pitino famously sported an all-white suit when Louisville ran the promotion.
Kruger is just not quite as flashy, though he did lead his team to a victory over Pitino in Assembly Hall earlier this season.
The crowd is large and typically late-arriving for tonight’s game, but it was nice to see a large contingent here early for the ceremony to honor the team’s five seniors.
The fans were vocal in showing their appreciation for the contributions of one of the better senior classes in quite some time.
No mistaken identity
Martelee Rutledge wanted to make sure everyone knew who he was tonight.
He walked to center court with his brother Mareceo with a shirt that said simply, “Mo’s Bro.”
In keeping with the “White Out” theme, the shirt was all white except for the red lettering.