Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
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Ryan Greene, Rob Miech and Ray Brewer discuss both UNLV's ugly exhibition — which, remember, was just an exhibition — against Washburn this week on the hardwood. Plus, the guys look at what kind of shot the 4-6 UNLV football team actually has to keep its dream alive at Air Force this weekend.
Trailing Division-II Washburn, 37-30, Stanback scored seven consecutive points to jumpstart UNLV. He scored all of his game-high 15 points in the final 15 minutes of the Rebels’ 62-52 victory.
Saturday, against Pittsburg State, they start counting, and UNLV coach Lon Kruger will count on the sophomore forward to help set the early scoring tone by starting Stanback.
Kruger revealed the move after practice Wednesday afternoon inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
A bad left ankle sprain kept Stanback out of practice for nearly three weeks, but he returned Oct. 31. He did not start against Washburn and afterward said his ankle felt about “85 percent” healthy.
Stanback, a 6-foot-8 transfer from UCLA, went 0-for-6 in the first half Tuesday, but he rebounded well by hitting six of his eight second-half attempts.
Kruger said it will depend on how practice goes today and Friday.
Gotta earn it
Is an exhibition game like Tuesday’s a perfect reward for someone like Steve “Chopper” Jones, a senior walk-on guard who always goes full-bore in practice?
In 16 minutes against Washburn, Jones missed his only shot. He yanked down two defensive rebounds, had two assists and turned it over once.
Kruger said his system isn’t about charity. Produce, and you’ll play when it matters.
“We typically play a deeper rotation earlier in the year than later on, but that’s simply to find out who’s going to get results,” Kruger said. “This is the opportunity to do it. Get results, they’ll get more minutes.
“That’s simply the way it works. They know that and understand that.”
Three 3-minute scrimmages set the tone for a rousing cap to Wednesday’s practice.
Stanback was the star as he was the only player to score for the winning team in all three games.
In the first, the White squad allowed only a strong Matt Shaw rebound basket in a 9-4 victory over the Black. Derrick Jasper sailed in for a layup on the left side and hit a 3-pointer from the right corner for the White.
In the second, the White blanked the Black, 10-0. Stanback started it with two free throws and Santee collected an inside shot and two free throws of his own.
In the third, Stanback put the White up, 6-1, on a layup with 6.2 seconds left. Chopper gave the Black some hope with a lean-in 27-footer with 1.7 ticks remaining, but time expired as a loose ball bounced away at halfcourt.
Gentlemen, start your engines
Practice typically ends when, after scrimmages or drills, the Rebels shoot free throws, then they hit the floor to stretch on mats that look like they were dipped in Pepto-Bismol.
When the players failed to convert a certain number of layups – teams of two passing to each other, four balls going at once – they ran Suicides, or line drills.
They ran them a third time after they hit Kruger’s target of 38. With a 37 it would end. They executed 38.
Try to maintain your poise and composure, Kruger told his players. Pick each other up. Stay positive.
When they dispatched and only hit 22 of 30 free throws as a team, they ran again.
Practice would end if three players could each hit a free throw.
First, Oscar Bellfield missed. They ran.
Kruger called for three new shooters, but Willis went straight to the line and wouldn’t budge. Kruger said, Tre, you can shoot one. He made it. Walk-on guard Todd Hanni made one, and Matt Shaw finished it by connecting.
“That’s what basketball teams do,” Kruger said. “I think we have to improve on every facet, be more physical, be in better condition, move the ball … everything.”
In a surprise move Tuesday, Hanni’s grandfather Larry flew from his home in Indiana to see the exhibition game. Todd didn’t play. Larry stayed through Wednesday’s practice and caught a night flight home … Calvary Chapel Christian School’s boys team watched most of the practice … Balcony and plaza-level tickets are available, starting as low as $10, for Saturday night’s opener against the Gorillas of Pittsburg State. Click here for tickets or call 702-739-3267.