Stanback feeling his way back from ankle injury

Sophomore becomes more comfortable with each day on the court

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Justin M. Bowen

Chace Stanback looks to pass during UNLV basketball practice at the Cox Pavilion on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009.

Chace Stanback

Derrick Jasper defends Chance Stanback during UNLV basketball practice at the Cox Pavilion on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009. Launch slideshow »

The Thrill of the Chace

It's been 18 months since UNLV forward Chace Stanback has seen game action, and now he's itching to get back on the court.

UNLV sophomore forward Chace Stanback is back, sort of. There’s a 6-foot-8 guy in a No. 22 jersey out at practice hitting jumpers, sliding on defense and executing hard dribble drives.

However, the UCLA transfer knows he has some work left to return to normal after badly turning his left ankle three weeks ago today.

“Every time I jump, I try to come down on the right one,” Stanback said after Monday’s run inside the Cox Pavilion practice gym. “Until I’m more comfortable … ”

In the next couple of weeks, Stanback said, the feel and flow of the game and his teammates will again become second nature to him.

“Watching him today, he made some good plays and he hit some shots,” said junior forward Matt Shaw, who played with Stanback at Los Angeles Fairfax High. “I don’t think it’ll take a full week. Each day he steps on the floor, he’ll feel more comfortable.

“Naturally, it’s different than what it used to feel like. But where he is and what he’s done, he’s fine.”

On Oct. 13, in the Thomas & Mack Center, Stanback rose to defend a shot by guard Tre’Von Willis. In mid-air, Willis bailed out, passing the ball to a teammate.

Stanback landed on the outside of his left ankle.

It actually looked worse than it was, according to trainer Dave Tomchek. Even Monday, it was easy to spot discoloration up to the middle of Stanback’s left shin.

Still, Tomchek pegged Nov. 1 for Stanback’s return. He came back Saturday, taking part in all but a few drills in the practice gym that players and students call The Dungeon.

“I didn’t expect him to play at all Saturday, but he got in a few reps and felt good,” said Rebels coach Lon Kruger.

“He’s about 85 to 90 percent,” Tomchek said. “His progression is good.”

Was it among the top 10 percent of the worst ankle sprains the veteran Tomchek has seen?

“In looks? Yes,” he said. “Pain? No.”

Stanback looked at ease in a 5-on-0 full-court drill.

He hasn’t lost the nuances of the offense or awareness of teammates. In the left post, with his back to the perimeter and Wallace, on his squad, beyond the 3-point line, Stanback directed Wallace.

With his right hand above him, Stanback either pointed to the left, to get Wallace, on the right, to move that way; or Stanback pointed to the right, to get Wallace, on the left, to move that way.

Not once did Stanback look back to see where Wallace was – he knew.

Carlos Lopez guarded Stanback, and when Darris Santee closed in for a double team, Stanback easily passed out of it.

When Stanback lost a rebound in traffic, assistant coach Greg Grensing said, “how you feelin’ Chace?” Stanback nodded. He was doing fine. No time to stop.

He blocked out Lopez and yanked down the rebound. He took another rebound into the left post and executed a nifty double-pump maneuver that lost two defenders, but the close shot fell short.

Then he made an ill-fated move on help defense, giving Oscar Bellfield a clear path to the basket in which the sophomore guard capitalized.

And Derrick Jasper sank a jumper along the right baseline against Stanback, who missed a jumper and then missed a leaner on the left side.

Stanback just missed deflecting a bounce pass from Lopez that Santee converted for an inside shot, but he followed that by boxing out Lopez and snatching a rebound over Santee.

Jasper left Justin Hawkins in his wake, but he found Stanback waiting to smother his interior shot on the left side.

Perhaps Stanback’s move of the day was his fake turn to the right, quick twist to the left and subsequent 17-foot jumper over Todd Hanni.

He was a gear or two slow on one full-court sprint, but it was toward the end of the practice. Kruger said getting into top-flight condition will be as challenging for Stanback as getting in synch with his teammates.

Moments later, though, Stanback drilled a 3-point shot on Tyler Norman, who was caught on a switch. Stanback went 19 days without participating in a practice drill.

“It’s still pretty sore, but it felt good to get back out there,” he said. “I think I am favoring it a little bit, especially on certain cuts. But for the most part it feels good.”

That the injury happened before practice officially started was a blessing for Stanback, who averaged 5.8 minutes and 1.8 points in the 25 games he played for UCLA’s Final Four squad in 2007-08.

UNLV plays a closed-door scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Long Beach State, plays host to Washburn in a Nov. 10 exhibition and opens its season Nov. 14 against Pittsburg State at the Mack.

“It will feel like a game, even though it’s a scrimmage,” Stanback said of the Saturday meeting in Long Beach. “But I’m excited to see where I’m at. It’s a test. I need to get back into the flow cause I’ve been out so long.

“I think I can do it. My teammates are helping to push me through it. I’ll take it one day at a time and hope to get through it. The scrimmage is first.”

Stanback played so well, so frequently during his redshirt year in practice last season that many might expect a lot from him this season.

“I just play my game,” he said, “do whatever the team needs me to do and play hard.”

Shaw has seen Stanback’s game up close and personal.

“He’s very skilled,” Shaw said. “He can pretty much do anything on the floor. I expect him to play well. He’s very team-oriented. He’ll do whatever is asked of him. Anything.

“He’s a great shooter. I don’t think people know how well he can shoot. They can expect him to shoot all the time. He can drive and get to the hole, and he’s great on the boards, but he’s an incredible shooter.”

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  1. Get healthy Chace! I looked at the pictures and noticed the bruising on the left shin. I was like damn, but take it one day at a time. We're definitely gonna need your presence this season.

  2. I know everyone is pumped to see Jasper in a UNLV uniform but Stanback to me is the biggest key. We have lacked any kind of consistent scoring punch and Stanback sounds like he can be the guy to supply it. Wink was tough as nails when we needed buckets but lacked the size to execute shots over the top of players. Stanback has the size and athleticism that if all breaks down he can go get you scores inside or out. This team needs a guy who can fill it up. No more 50 point games please! Runnin' Rebels!

  3. ksiff, yes it is ... gumby, point taken. They are pretty equally important, because Jasper has got to be a threat to make some moves and take it all the way. He has to put that fear in the other guy's teammates, help-wise, and that will open up the dam for UNLV, creating so much for Jasper's teammates. They are both dangerous, no doubt

  4. Don't forget about O! It sounds like he made some great progress over the summer and is looking to be more aggressive. I think he'll be a big factor in their success.

  5. If UNLV gels quickly, plays unselfish basketball, and constantly looks for each other on the court, they will give our opponents nightmares. I'm actually hoping the Rebs don't get one dimensional, and draw a play for somebody like Stanback each and every time they need the points. It's great if he's capable, and it sounds like he is, but we transformed into that kind of club last year. Once other teams got wise to the nuances of Wink's game, it hurt us down the stretch. More weapons equal more ways to win. November 10th can't get here fast enough. Go, Rebels!

  6. southern, versatility will be the main thing with this team. For example, nothing against Darger, but if he had a pump-fake, two-power-dribble move to the hoop, he would have been lethal. This team has that.
    Lenny, I think you're right. Danger is going to come from many angles this season.
    I think the biggest thing for this team was watching last season fray. I think the core of everythign will be what that taught every one who witnessed it. More on that later ...

  7. Not only am I happy with what I have seen so far with this team, but I am excited about the non-conference schedule. I believe the schedule is going to prepare this team well for conference play. This can be a really fun season!

  8. Yep, sureshot, gettin' in the middle and creatin' havoc should be routine with this club. So much will open up.
    I hear what you're saying about Darger. To be fair, that kid did sacrifice a lot the past two seasons with how he was asked to defend the post. Man, he is tough, taking those 'bows and more from 6-10 and 6-11 cats, to say nothing of Luke Nevill and some other behemoths. That was symbolic of how disjointed last season's club was, having guys play out of position, and the trickle down of that was, well, you saw that hideous 4-7 finish...

  9. i just cant wait until this season starts..about the scoreboard being fixed (back to old one hopefully), any news Rob?

    a starting 5 like..
    jasper
    bellfield/marshall
    tre
    stanback
    santee(if his improvement is true)/massamba/shaw..
    with having these guys staying together for virtually 2 years (minus Santee, which i dont mind)..we could easily return to the Sweet Sixteen both of these next two seasons..or farther.
    but thats if they play to their potential, have team chemistry, and the big men play like big men.

    hoping all those happen..lets be the 1st team in the MWC in a while to win the regular season title and tourny..thatll get us a good seed in the tourny :)
    see you on the 10th..ill be one of the first ones there!

  10. hey fan, man, been busy with other stuff but I'll make that a priority ... look for the scoreboard note very soon. thx
    starting five looks good, but you have to include J-Hawk in there. He has been a bit up and down, but he is solid. He turned in a fine performance in Tuesday's scrimmages, which you'll read about here first thing in the a.m. ... or, in a few minutes... :-)
    I have said and written this in the past, but I'll put this program down for a Final Four run next season. DJ running it for a season, solid depth and experience all the way around ... etc etc etc
    This season? Maybe it'll gel and kick into gear as the season progresses and play three games in the NCAA tournament ...
    Rebels are 100-1 to win it all this season. A stretch, indeed, but there are worse things you could do with a 5-dollar bill ...
    Just an observation.

  11. that last comment gets me FIRED UP.... rob? final 4 prediction?? you would know more then the rest of us clowns. exciting. i know you are researching our hidious scoreboard... any word on having throwback 1990 uniforms? i know its probably not feasible but figured i'd ask....again...

  12. yea ive been thinkin final 4 for next season also..but didnt wanna say it..
    i dont think many of the other colleges out there have 10-12 players who can start on any given night
    jasper, stanback, tre, oscar, marshall, shaw, santee, massamba, j-hawk, wallace (when hes hot), lopez, and i may even be missing somebody? but wow. that depth should scare everyone in the MWC if they play to their potential

  13. Chace is absolutely my favorite player out there now. I was happy to see him back at practice. Even with a bum ankle he can do things nobody else can. He has size, agility and a good shot. That is a nice mix to play ball with. People will be pumped once they see Chace, Derrick, Oscar, Tre and Santee all play together. That will be a tall talented lineup. Tre is getting quite a bit better too. He has a certain confidence that was missing last year. Man, I am pumped for next Tuesday.