The UNLV men's basketball team is getting ready to play its first game without Head Coach David rice after a surprise resignation over the weekend.
The Runnin' Rebels take on New Mexico at the Thomas and Mack Center Tuesday night.
As they took to the court to practice for the game, the team couldn't help but think of now former Head Coach Rice.
"Obviously very sad about the news, I mean Coach Rice, we really had a special relationship," said player, Ben Carter.
Players said the news took them by surprise, they were expecting a regular team meeting but we're instead told Rice was stepping down.
"It was a little hard at first but at this point we can't fester on that," said player Ike Nwamu.
The announcement was made just one day after UNLV lost it's 3rd straight game in the Mountain West Conference.
According to the university the team hasn't been doing as well as it should, losing five out of the last six games.
Associate Head Coach Todd Simon is taking over for the rest of the season.
"It's been a little bit surreal, it's just not something that 48 hours ago was even a thought," said Todd Simon about taking over.
As tough as this is for the players and the coaching staff their focus is now on the court and on the 15 games left in the season.
"It's definitely hard getting to know Coach Rice the past few months through recruiting and everything but at this point we've got to move forward," said Nwamu.
Danny Tarkanian, son of legendary UNLV Men's Basketball Coach Jerry Tarkanian, feels the University jumped the gun. He thinks the school should've let Coach Rice finish out the year then evaluate.
"I think that the team still does have a chance to win the Mount West Tournament and they had just as good a chance with Dave in there as anyone," explained Tarkanian.
As for who is going to permanently take over, rumors are already swirling with former NBA Coach Mike Brown being mentioned but Tarkanian has another name in mind, Reggie Theus.
"UNLV made a commitment to Reggie Theus more than ten years ago. They said 'hey you go and get a degree completed, work for a good as an assistant, get a head job and if you do well we are going to hire you,' well Reggie did all that," said Tarkanian.
The University's Athletic Director said the school will decide how to move forward with the head coach position at the end of the season.