Published Saturday, April 2, 2011 | 6 p.m.
Updated Sunday, April 3, 2011 | 12:30 a.m.
- UNLV players, recruits react to news of Kruger's departure
- Brewer: Kruger leaving for Oklahoma isn't all that bad
- Jerry Tarkanian: Oklahoma's athletic department has deep pockets
- So, who's the odds-on favorite for Kruger's job?
- A look at Lon Kruger's coaching history at UNLV
- The coaches who have led the Rebels through the decades
Now, the process kicks into full gear for UNLV Athletic Director Jim Livengood.
He arrived in Houston for the Final Four weekend on Friday afternoon, and the timing of head coach Lon Kruger's departure from UNLV for the same job at Oklahoma likely couldn't have been better.
With much of the coaching world in town with him for the end of the NCAA tournament, Livengood has wasted no time meeting and talking with candidates.
In his first 24 hours in town, he already had a chance to meet with BYU associate head coach Dave Rice, who many consider to be the front-runner for UNLV's vacant position.
The Sun learned on Saturday that feelers have also already been put out to former UNLV great Reggie Theus — a Minnesota Timberwolves assistant who is currently on the road in Memphis — and St. John's assistant coach Mike Dunlap along with a few others.
Theus's name has been attached to the opening along with Rice's right from go, while Dunlap has previous ties to Livengood, who brought him to Arizona as the Wildcats' associate head coach in the 2008-09 season. He then spent a year at Oregon after Sean Miller got the head coaching position at Arizona before last year, and now is with Steve Lavin in New York. However, Dunlap has deep West Coast ties and is rumored to be wanting to get back closer to home. He's a defensive guru who is considered one of the nation's up-and-coming head coaching candidates.
"I had a chance last night, then today and tomorrow to meet with many people," Livengood said. "The pool becomes who makes the most sense and is the best fit for UNLV right now. The best candidate five years ago might not be the best fit right now.
"The big thing right now is we don't want to go too fast, but we have to hurry, too."
On Friday night, a source within the UNLV athletic administration said that the process would likely be completed within two weeks. When asked on Saturday morning, Livengood said he expects that it should be 'faster than that.'
Livengood will return to Las Vegas on Tuesday morning.
From Tark …
It should come as no surprise, but legendary UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian said he backs both Rice and Theus as candidates for the job that made him famous.
Rice played on UNLV's Final Four teams in 1990 and 1991, while Theus suited up for the Rebels in Tark's early days in the late 1970s.
"Dave's been around some people who are good basketball people," he said. "Reggie took New Mexico State to the NCAA tournament in his second year, and I thought did a great job with the Sacramento Kings — I was shocked when he got fired there.
"First, they're UNLV guys. They know the system, know the people, know a lot about the program. I think they'd both be really good coaches."
Rice's name was earlier connected with openings at Wyoming and Bradley, while Theus is also in the conversation for the still-open post at Fresno State.
A third former Rebel is also expressing some interest, according to Tarkanian — Larry Johnson.
The former national Player of the Year who led UNLV to the 1990 NCAA title spends his time between Dallas and Vegas, but might be better suited for an assistant coaching job on the new staff rather than the top job.
Grandy Glaze reacts …
UNLV's two 2013 commits — Nigel Williams-Goss and Dantley Walker — shared their thoughts about Kruger's departure on Friday night.
The program's lone incoming freshman, Grandy Glaze, was reached via e-mail for reaction on Saturday.
"I am a little surprised, but I know it is a business," he said. "Coach is a grown man and he can do whatever it is he feels is best for him and his family. I am still a Rebel and would love to meet the new coach. I want to see what new system he brings in to the program, so I am definitely looking forward to that."
Glaze is already signed to a binding national letter of intent, but appears to be patient with the current situation. He is due to arrive on campus in early June.
The original connection that led Glaze to UNLV was between his AAU coach, Mike George, and now-former Rebels assistant coach Greg Grensing.
Update on USC transfer Bryce Jones ...
Bryce Jones, a 6-foot-5 USC transfer who took an official visit to UNLV last weekend, isn't giving up on UNLV just yet, despite the coaching change.
Jones, who is also considering San Diego State and Gonzaga as options, said the school and program as a whole made a strong enough impression on him and his family that he's going to wait out UNLV's coaching search and see if he's still wanted by the new regime.
"I enjoyed the school a lot," he said when reached by phone on Saturday night. "Whoever they bring in, if I feel comfortable and there's still a possibility of coming, I still may go there.
"I'm not putting them aside at all."
Whoever takes over for the departed Lon Kruger, barring defections by current players, will have one open scholarship remaining going into the 2011-12 season.
The official visit to UNLV was Jones's first in his second time through the recruiting process. He has two more planned — One starting on April 8 at SDSU and another to Gonzaga beginning on April 22.