UNLV students get look at this year’s men’s basketball team

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Keshon Gilbert (10) and Justin Webster (2) showing excitement after a teammate hit a 3-pointer during UNLV's game against UC Berkeley on Nov. 13, 2021. Photo by Jordan Anders-McClain.

UNLV students and the campus community got a first look at this season’s men’s basketball team at a “Sneak Peek” event last Friday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The event gave the Runnin’ Rebel fans a chance to see the 2022-2023 team for the very first time and even win some prizes. 

The Runnin’ Rebels were introduced in a “Midnight Madness” style and proceeded to run through several drills on the court. Following the drills, the team conducted a 5-on-5 scrimmage, Scarlet vs. Gray. 

There was also a 3-point competition, where each team shot on opposite sides of the court. Only one player was allowed to shoot at a time, with one minute on the clock whichever team made the most three pointers, won. 

At the conclusion of the event, fans were able to meet-and-greet the players, which included autographs and photos. 

This is head coach Kevin Kruger’s second season, and he thought the event had a really good turnout. He said it was fun to have the students and fans see the team, and hopes this year’s “Sneak Peek” will be the beginning of a new tradition.

Kruger said he is always looking for more ways to get UNLV students engaged with UNLV basketball and he understands how important student support is.

“It’s vital,” Kruger said. “The student body is the lifeblood of sporting events in college. Whatever we need to do at UNLV basketball to get more students at every game, we’re willing to do it.” 

Not only was this event free to the public, but UNLV students were treated to more than just the on-court event. The first 1,000 fans received an exclusive red Runnin’ Rebels shirt. Students received free food from Raising Cane’s and the chance to win a pair of Joyner Lucas concert tickets.

UNLV students felt like the event had a good turnout, and are very optimistic about the outlook of this year’s team.

Jaylen Joyce is a freshman at UNLV. He works for the team as a student manager and has seen first-hand how the players have been preparing for the upcoming season. 

As a basketball fan, Joyce is excited to see this year’s team. He said the players on the team are looking forward to playing in front of the students.

“We have a bright future ahead of us,” Joyce said. “We have a bunch of talent, and a bunch of young guys who bring a lot to the table and that can get the job done.”

While the event had a good turnout, some students felt as if the team could do more things to get the word out about future events.

“Promoting it earlier will bring more students out,” said Tommaliyah Johnson, a sophomore at UNLV.

Socializing is a big portion of the reason why UNLV students attend on campus events, and they felt like the event was an opportunity to do that.

“It was fun to get back into watching UNLV sports and it was a good way to socialize and get out there,” said Nyah Holloway, a sophomore at UNLV. 

UNLV sports are becoming more of an interest to students and they’re likely to get more involved with a team’s success.

“I love basketball and the culture is changing at UNLV, so I’m trying to be here for that,” said Seth Maokhamphiou, a junior at UNLV.

Although promoting an event is a good way to get the word out, students feel free food, prizes, and giveaways are key to helping student attendance. 

“Incentives really brought us here, the shirts and food definitely brings people together.” said Logan Karen, a junior at UNLV.

UNLV basketball players have been very interactive with the UNLV community, and it helps the students feel more involved with their college.

“I thought it was fun, and it was cool how afterwards you got to meet the players and get autographs,” said Amijulae Banks, a freshman at UNLV. 

The Runnin’ Rebels will have their first game of the season against Southern University, at the Thomas & Mack Center on Nov. 7.

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