Runnin' Rebels have first official practice - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Runnin' Rebels have first official practice

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

It's the day Runnin' Rebel fans have been waiting for, the first official day of basketball practice.

The pain of the loss to Colorado at the NCAA tournament last March is still there, but the hope is it will be a different story this March.

It is obvious the talent level is higher this year.

Anthony Marshall and Mike Moser return, but it's the new faces including Anthony Bennett, Katin Reinhardt and Khem Birch that have put UNLV back in the national conversation.

"We want to get our program to be nationally significant and some of the things we did last year put us in a position where we have an opportunity to do that now," Head Coach Dave Rice said. "We have returning players who are good, we have new players. We're exited. We have two guys who redshirted last year so our depth adds competition in practice and we have high expectations as well."

The Runnin' Rebels say they aren't interested in the hype.

"It's nice to hear those things but we're not really paying attention to it," Marshall said. "A team has never won a championship looking at the paper. We've just got to go out there and improve. Last year we though we had a good team and came up short."

"I'm not really focused on the hype," Bennett said. "I'm just worried about what the team can do against other teams and how far we can go this season."

"If we continue to practice like we did today, we could be good," Moser said. "If we keep it up post season we could be great."

UNLV is expected to be ranked in the top 15 of the major pre-season polls.

Some experts have even called them a legitimate Final Four contender.

The Runnin' Rebels play an exhibition game against Dixie State on Nov. 7.

Their first official game is Nov. 12 against Northern Arizona.

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