It won't happen. UNLV is the best team in the nation, not just the best in the Big West, so nothing will keep the Runnin' Rebels from winning their eighth straight league title. But as many as three other conference teams could ride UNLV's glittering coattails into the NCAA tournament.
Uc Santa Barbara coach Jerry Pimm has comfortably dropped anchor in the city's picturesque harbor, where he lives on a 50-foot yacht. The Gauchos have three starters back from last season's NIT team, including 6'1" Eric McArthur, who, inch for inch, blocks more shots than anyone in the country. CAL STATE-FULLERTON coach John Sneed took over for George McQuarn last November and found success so quickly that the Titans beat UNLV. The victory earned Sneed a three-year contract.
But the best Vegas imitation in the conference belongs to LONG BEACH STATE, where Tark got his start long ago. The 49ers have 10 newcomers, including eight players who last season were either playing at a junior college or another Division I school, or ineligible because of poor grades—rebels, if you will. Three veteran guards give the 49ers direction.
Fresno State coach Ron Adams may start two juco transfers; NEW MEXICO STATE is still seething after being left out of the NCAAs last year; UTAH STATE lost three starters; and UC IRVINE will carry on with six freshmen. Second-year PACIFIC coach Bob Thomason still needs time, while no one envies SAN JOSE STATE coach Stan Morrison, who takes over a troubled program in which 10 players quit last season in a dispute with then coach Bill Berry.