Last Tuesday, the night before their home game against Utah State, the UNLV men’s basketball team packed its bags and checked into a hotel. The squad had already suffered five losses at the T&M, and coach Dave Rice felt it was time for a change.
“I just want to make sure we don’t have any distractions,” Rice told the Las Vegas Sun. “I want to give it a feel for our guys that it’s business.”
In-town hotel stays are common for Division I football squads, which have to wrangle upwards of 100 people for games that sometimes start relatively early in the morning. UNLV’s team crashes in hotels before home games, and it’s not unheard of for basketball squads to do it, too.
But is it okay? Specifics on where the team stayed and how much it cost haven’t been available, but this much is clear: They’re not booking the penthouse suite, and the money likely comes from a Rebel Athletic Fund booster, so it isn’t at the expense of some other program.
Still, that doesn’t mean Rice’s mental game is playing fair. After all, thousands of UNLV students prepare for their biggest days—academic, artistic, athletic or otherwise—without the benefit of a hotel quarantine. They avoid distractions and focus simply because that’s what they need to do.
Which isn’t to say Rice’s hotel policy isn’t working. The Rebels scored a decisive victory against Utah State on January 22, and held on for an overtime T&M win over Fresno State just three days later.