Kevin Kruger introduced as Runnin’ Rebels new head coach
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - UNLV formally introduced Kevin Kruger as head coach of the Runnin’ Rebels on Monday.
Kruger was a player for UNLV, playing for his father Lon during UNLV’s run in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. For the last two seasons, he was an assistant under T.J. Otzelberger who left for Iowa State last week.
Kruger has been an assistant coach at Northern Arizona, Oklahoma and UNLV, but has never been a head coach at any level. He said he wants to bring back the fire and intensity to the program.
“I just think we’re going to fight, we’re going to compete, we’re going to have a team that’s easy to root for,” Kruger said. “Diving on the floor, making plays for each other, get the Thomas and Mack crowd on their feet. We all know this town knows basketball and they appreciate the hustle and the grit and the determination when those guys make those hustle and winning plays.”
Kruger will be UNLV’s sixth head men’s basketball coach since the start of 2016, following Davie Rice who was fired in January of that year, his interim replacement Todd Simon, the Chris Beard-era that lasted less than three weeks, Marvin Menzies and Otzelberger. Players have also shuffled in and out during that time and Kruger is hoping to bring some stability.
“We definitely want to continue to progress and obviously that ends with winning games and guys graduating,” Kruger said. “Those things go hand-in-hand. I think we need to continue to elevate and raise the level of expectations that we have, continue to get guys in here that want to be here, want to be Rebels, want to get to the NCAA Tournament and compete for conference championships.”
With smaller crowds attending Rebel games in recent years, Kruger said he hoped to get the excitement level of the city back to when he was playing in front of a sold out Thomas & Mack.
“We’re going to work our tails off to get people back to the Thomas and Mack and play a style of basketball that the city can be proud of,” Kruger said.
The first order of business for Kruger will be finalizing his staff and talking to the current players to see who is staying and who is entering the transfer portal. Kruger says he intends on meeting with everyone individually this week.
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