When the Lady Rebels hit the court this November, they’ll be up against a difficult nonconference schedule.
The schedule, which was released Wednesday, has them playing two of the four Final Four teams from last season — Stanford and Mississippi State — in back-to-back games. They will begin their season on Nov. 10 hosting Portland State.
“I think this schedule is probably even more demanding than last year and last year we rose to the occasion so hopefully we can match what we did last year and improve on that,” coach Kathy Olivier said.
The schedule holds the possibility that the Lady Rebels will meet teams that participated in the 2017 NCAA tournament in six consecutive games. They will do so without twins Dakota and Dylan Gonzalez, who announced in May they were forgoing their final year of eligibility for an entertainment career.
“Obviously our nonconference is for us to get ready for the conference but I think for this group, they need to be challenged,” coach Kathy Olivier said. “We have a lot of returners and we always go on the road in December because of the (National Finals Rodeo) and that December is going to be very challenging.”
The Lady Rebels will participate in three tournaments during the nonconference slate, two of which are in December. They’ll head to Tempe, Arizona, to play in the ASU Classic early in the month. From Dec. 20-22 UNLV will host the Duel in the Desert, which will include Texas A&M, Hawaii, Mississippi State, Oregon and Syracuse.
In November, they will host the Lady Rebel Round-Up the weekend after Thanksgiving and participants include UNLV, Hofstra, Minnesota and Wake Forest.
The Lady Rebels will begin their conference season Dec. 30 at Boise State and host their first conference game Jan. 3 against San Jose State.
The conference slate wraps up on March 2 with Utah State and the Mountain West Championships, held at the Thomas & Mack Center, run from March 5-9.
“For us in this conference, you have to play good opponents. You have to play high RPI teams and that’s just how basketball works,” Oliver said. “If you play an easy schedule then you’re not going to get anyone’s attention. For us at UNLV, we want to make sure that we’re getting people’s attention so hopefully we can compete against these teams and beat a lot of these teams.”
Lady Rebels 2017-18 schedule
(All home games at Cox Pavilion)
Nov. 10: vs. Portland State, 6 p.m.
Nov. 14: vs. UC Irvine, noon.
Nov. 19: vs.Grand Canyon, 2 p.m.
Nov. 25: vs.Hofstra (Lady Rebel Round-Up), noon.
Nov. 26: vs. TBA (Lady Rebel Round-Up), noon or 2:30 p.m.
Dec. 2: vs.UC Riverside (ASU Classic); Tempe, Ariz.; TBA
Dec. 3: vs. TBA (ASU Classic); Tempe, Ariz.; TBA
Dec. 9: at Gonzaga, TBA.
Dec. 16: at Stanford, TBA.
Dec. 20: vs. Mississippi State (Duel In The Desert), 2:30 p.m.
Dec 21: vs. TBA, (Duel In The Desert), noon or 2:30 p.m.
Dec. 22: vs. TBA, (Duel In The Desert), noon or 2:30 p.m.
Dec. 30: at Boise State; 1 p.m.
Jan. 3: vs. San Jose State, 6 p.m.
Jan. 6: at Utah State, 1 p.m.
Jan. 10: vs. Air Force, 6 p.m.
Jan. 17: at New Mexico, TBA
Jan. 20: vs. Colorado State, 3 p.m.
Jan. 24: vs.Fresno State, 6 p.m.
Jan. 27: at San Diego State, TBA
Jan. 31: at San Jose State, 7 p.m.
Feb. 3: vs. Boise State, 3 p.m.
Feb. 7: vs. UNR, 6 p.m.
Feb. 10: at Wyoming, TBA
Feb. 14: at Air Force, 6 p.m.
Feb. 17: vs. San Diego State, 3 p.m.
Feb. 21: at Fresno State, 7 p.m.
Feb. 24: vs. New Mexico, 3 p.m.
Feb. 27: at UNR, 6:30 p.m.
March 2: vs. Utah State, 6 p.m.
March 5: vs. MW First Round; Thomas & Mack Center; TBA
Contact Betsy Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.