UNLV BASKETBALL:

Stanback ready to be back in the loop

After two years in the background, UCLA transfer is set for his close-up

Image

Leila Navidi

Chace Stanback, center, and other players on the UNLV basketball team enter the Thomas & Mack for their first practice on the campus of UNLV at FirstLook 2008 last October.

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.

Click to enlarge photo

Chace Stanback, then a freshman at UCLA, dunks during an open practice session at the 2008 Final Four in San Antonio. After playing sparingly in 25 games for the Bruins, he transferred to UNLV, where he figures to be a key figure for the Rebels this season.

For the most part, UNLV basketball fans have only had one good, solid look at sophomore forward Chace Stanback so far.

The sophomore transfer from UCLA scored 10 points, showed off his smooth inside-outside game and his tenacity on the glass last October during the program's annual FirstLook event, leaving those in attendance wanting more from the lanky, 6-foot-8 wing.

After sitting out for a year per NCAA transfer rules, chances are they'll now be getting more than they ever bargained for. And when fans show up for FirstLook 2009 next Friday at 9 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center, Stanback will be a focal point, rather than an extra.

UNLV graduated three of its top four scorers and rebounders following a somewhat disappointing 21-11 campaign last season. Stanback will be relied upon heavily to fill in both stat columns.

"(Power forwards) in what we do are really just big wings," Rebels coach Lon Kruger said. "It's not like he's a low-post banger. He's a skilled perimeter guy who can do a lot of good things on the floor.

"If you want to put a number to him, it doesn't really means he's an inside guy."

The term "four" or "power forward" will in fact be just a title for Stanback, whose versatility rivals that of anyone who has donned a UNLV uniform in recent years.

At 6-foot-8 and more defined than a year ago, yet still thin, Stanback hardly looks powerful. But he showed during practices last season as a member of the scout team that he's willing to mix it up inside with anyone.

"I love to rebound," he said. "I feel like I can be a great asset on the rebounding side. I feel like I can post up and everything like that, then also play on the perimeter.

"I really didn't see myself playing the four-spot, but now I see that most of our offense revolves around the four-man. That's pretty good for me, but that's also a lot of responsibility, which I'm ready to take on."

At UCLA, he got lost in the mix, for the most part.

Rated as the nation's No. 69 prospect in the 2007 class, he was used sparingly in 25 games on a Final Four team.

Now, Kruger's offense is one in which a versatile power forward can thrive in with ease.

"I've never been a get-after-it type of player, or just an all-out, aggressive type," he said. "I think I've developed in that area a lot, playing for coach Kruger and having all the coaches ride me at every practice."

Stanback said he was surprised by the attention to his development he received last season in practices, as scout team members are typically there just to simulate what an upcoming opponent may do.

"It was real tough," he said. "I've never sat out a whole year from basketball since I was 6 years old. That was a tough thing for me to do. With the season we had last year, I always felt like I could go out there and give them some kind of a boost, help them out."

Instead, knowing how crucial he'd be to the program's future, Stanback was toughened up regularly, which is something needed to play power forward in the Kruger system.

Typically, in that particular offense, the four is the guy who trails behind the point guard down the floor and sets up atop the key, takes a swing pass and then, from there, either creates on his own or sets himself up for an easier look down low.

For all the buckets he might score inside of 10 feet, he'll surprise some opponents with his ability to then step out and display a feathery 3-point touch.

The biggest question with Stanback is just how long it will take for him to find his rhythm early on.

With new faces seemingly everywhere on the floor for the Rebels, be it transfers, freshmen or redshirts coming off of injuries, this summer was key for the team to get a jump start on coming together, mostly via pickup ball.

Stanback, however, was back in Los Angeles, working out on his own.

The reason? He wasn't on scholarship until the start of the fall semester, which helped rule out summer classes at UNLV.

That doesn't mean he wasn't in a classroom.

Stanback's blackboard was the empty gym at Fairfax High, where he led the Lions to a 2007 state title by averaging 25.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.

He'd work on individual skills, and five times a week would stay on the floor following weights and flexibility and balance exercises long enough to see 500 shots hit the bottom of the net before heading home.

"I think he's a much stronger, smarter player," said Fairfax High coach Harvey Kitani, who was the last coach to have Stanback on the floor for major minutes. "Honestly, I don't (think he'll show any rust), and I'll tell you why. He's worked so hard, and during his one-year absence from actually playing, I think if there's anything, it might just be some excitement. But I think he's gonna have a tremendous year."

Added Stanback: "You lose that chemistry with the players, not being here and seeing them every day. But I feel like I've gotten better individually."

And if he can live up to the hype and potential, which leads many to believe that Stanback could be the Rebels' most reliable scorer, he'll have no trouble fitting in.

There would certainly be no begging for more.

"He's got the knack to get the ball in the hole," Kruger said. "He's the guy who's done that all his life. That's not something everyone does."

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  1. Looking forward to the mismatches Chace and Jasper should provide with their length and versatility.

    Lenny, don't get too excited. The four in this offense is not a typical power forward. And it's that way with a lot of college teams. He needs to be able to handle the ball a little, shoot the midrange jump shot, and distribute. Remember Wendell White was a 6-6 guard and played a nice four for the Rebels as did Rene Rougeau. And Chace is taller than both of them. The key will be rebounding for Chace and, more importantly, the five.

    Keep up the great coverage. Gets us excited for the season.

  2. Really hoping Stanback is all he is hyped to be. A long athletic wing who can score is one component we desperately need. Hoping he can be an Anthony Jones type from back in the day. He has a very similar body type and spring. Gotta put more points on the board and become the runnin rebs again. Enough of this 50 point stuff we saw last year down the stretch. Pumped to get the season rolling.

  3. Lenny, Kruger said it himself that a four in his offense is really just a four by title. Stanback fits the bill perfectly for what a four is in this system, since he can go inside and out. Just because he's not built like your typical power forward doesn't mean much. He fits the description in this offense perfectly. I think he'll flourish, plus, he'll still get plenty of looks from the outside. His versatility could be a true weapon.

  4. SufferinSuccotash how can you say the future isn't bright? The program is recruiting better than it has in years. The players Spoonhour recruited 7-8yrs ago would even see the court today.

  5. Good call vegasnative, Wendell White is a good example as is Joe Darger of a "unconventional" power forward playing in Kruger's 4 spot. Both played the 4 in this offense and both did quite well undersized. Wendell brought a rebounding tenacity, midrange jumpers and forced mismatches, Joe brought ability to guard bigs and created mismatches with his 3 point shooting. Now Chace, who is taller than both at 6'8", will bring length, smooth ball handling, inside out game, mid-range and perimeter shooting not to mention his own admittance at wanting to get after it on the boards. Can we say match-up problems for opposing teams!?

    And to sufferin, Stanback averaging 2 points as a true freshman on a loaded UCLA team has no relevance here! Also nobody is saying that this team will be in the final four this season. I haven't heard that from anybody other than you. One thing this team will do is be a big step in the right direction with endless potential and prove that the future is bright for this program. REAL BASKETBALL PEOPLE GET THIS! I will go out and say this young team has a better chance at dancing than the past 2 season's squads. Those who know basketball will tell you. You know those "know-nothing rebel fans"

  6. Look at the seats. No one goe's to any UNLV function's because no one cares! Why do you continue to cover them if no one cares?

  7. ummm, are you serious ElRavioli! nobody goes to and UNLV games! lol! Nobody cares!

    I'll let somebody else correct you on you ignorance...

  8. @elravioli are you dumb are what the picture was from pratice that was open to the public dummy!

  9. Succotash, you may have been right about Sanford but you're going to be dining on crow about Kruger.

    Things are starting the right way...The Rebels are under the radar; complete underdogs. Lets go Re-bels! clap, clap, clap clap clap..

  10. I'm as excited as anyone for this year's Rebels to "roll out the red carpet." Also, I'm not prognosticating the kind of gloom and doom "Sufferin" doles out on these forums. But, in all fairness, if this team underachieves as badly as the 2008-2009 squad, some scrutiny will undoubtedly fall Kruger's way. I'm optimistic, and die-hard as always, but cautious.

  11. You care Ravioli. Thats why you blogged. Nerd...

  12. I really do want to believe that this rebel squad can do something special, but the truth is we have a whole lot of unprovens on this team. I cannot get hyped up for this season like I did last year only to nearly have a heart attack because the rebels sucked, so I will stay skeptical until proven worng. I hope I am wrong, and I hope I eat my words but I just don't see this team doing much at all. I am not a big fan of Lon Kruger I think he is a C to C+ coach at best and I do not like his style of play. If Lon would let the players play instead of always having his feet on the brakes we actually might score more then 50 pts. and beat somebody. Some coaches have to be so in control & micromanage evey facet of every play to the smallest speck on the court that the players just cant relax and play ball. To me that is Kruger.

    I don't know how many times last year I saw Lon telling Bellfield to slow it down, walk the ball up court after a rebound, when he had a clean lane to run right to the basket. This is Krugers control factor, it's like this "You will do what I tell you to do, I don't care if you have a clean layup or not, & if you dont do what I tell you you're gonna sit right there got it".

    I hope the rebels play out of this world but I will remain skeptical until this program is consistantly in the top 25 again.

  13. I just don't understand how anyone can't be fond of Kruger. The school had not won a NCAA tournament game in 15 YEARS until Kruger showed up. Unbelievable, some people have incredibly short memories.

  14. betonblack.... let me ask you a question. when kruger was telling bellfield to slow it down.. name one person on the floor that benefited from a running style instead of a set offense..... yeah, you cant.

    wink was slow because he bulked up.

    tre had no ball control and made turn over after turn over.

    joe needed space to shoot.

    thats why he wanted them to slow down....

    and how can you say that you dont see it happening this year? please elaborate on that.

  15. WE CARE Ravioli!
    Thats not a bad turn out for a practice. I guess no one cares about UCLA either (see the pic from a UCLA practice with even more empty seats).
    UNLV basketball ranked 22nd IN THE NATION for attendance in 2009.

    http://www.daytonflyers.com/sports/m-bas...

    Idiot.

  16. sufferin... getting old man. i think you are unpleasable.. really getting old. i know you love all the attention you get, but lets try the old 2 positive to 1 negative deal for a while. you are losing people, you have some valid points sometimes but lose us when your too busy being an a**hole

  17. look win lose or draw you can count on the fact that this team will be prepared and and have a chance to win every game. they wont quit (which is is what youll get with the football team) and theyre young with a blend of experience. wendell white was a versatile player that single handily kept us in the game against georgia tech in 07. chace has way more talent for that position. in lon we trust i think his resume speaks for itself i wont waste my breathe arguing with people that question him. trust me these guys can play with anyone on the schedule and i think the talent and skills on this team is such that itll dictate the style of play differently from last year. finishing at the rim is priority number one. seeing the football team makes me so thankful we have lon trust me if nothing else you will have so much fun at these games. long live the musket hey reb!!!

  18. Without question, our biggest woes last year were rebounding, defensive breakdowns in the paint, crappy shooting and intensity that only lasted in short spurts. That said, we still could have added 5 games to the win column had we just grabbed one extra rebound, made that last defensive stop or found the bottom of the net when it counted most. We could have been 26-6 (13-3) even with those poor efforts.

    Looking at it from that prospective makes me feel good about the upcoming season. Chace's presence will no doubt result in improvements in all the above mentioned categories. Factor in last year's dose of humility and we should be in for an exciting season!

  19. The recruiting nonsense came up a while back on this site. Saying the Rebels are suffering is an ignorant statement. The freshman they have coming in are very solid and the transfers they are getting are outstanding. People need to get over the fact that the main players this year will mainly be transfers from other programs. A good player is a good player, regardless of how they come into a program. There are many reasons kids (remember these are kids who don't always think decisions through the first time) transfer schools. It doesn't matter. If they can play, then they can play. My last little nugget is if you haven't ever coached the game, and I'm talking about actually coaching and not YMCA or Boys and Girls club stuff, than don't talk about what offense they run or what position the players play. If you know so much than go grace the world with your expertise and coach somewhere.

  20. There are some unknowns on this team and its tough to predict where they'll be. I think UNLV being picked third in the MWC is more a testament to what other coaches think about Kruger and the job he does as a coach as opposed to how good the transfers and freshman will be. I'm optimistic about the talent and love Kruger as a coach. UNLV is close to breaking through with recruiting, but there is no guaranty UNLV signs any of these guys coming through the pipeline right now. If Kruger gets a couple, things could be great. If not, they'll have to continue to be scrappy to get wins.

  21. C,mon sportsguy702

    Bellfield had several open lanes completely to himself and was told not to run. He is the point guard, he's fast and can outrun players down the court, he can handle the ball take it to the rack, that's what he's supposed to do. If it would have been me I would have took it and scored regardless of what Kruger said. If he would have benched me for it, then I would have transfered!!
    Wink wasn't any slower then he ever was, he could blow by people off the dribble, he just settled for the jump shot 90% of the time. (Kruger should have stopped that like he stopped the "runnin rebels".)
    Tre was streaky and never should have played point at all. He will do much better this year at (sg) only.
    Joe Darger sucked & so did his mohawk!! I never liked him. He never could create his own shot and all you had to do to shut him down was play him straight up.

    I don't care if you agree with me or not, I know I am right. If Kruger plays the same style of ball this year like he did last year my point will echo all through Las Vegas.

  22. Bellfield only finished at the rim, what 1 time last season against Louisville. Dude was getting swatted with those open lanes. Wink couldn't finish at the rim at 50% of the rate he was able to the previous year. He might not have gotten slower, but the added muscle affected his shot and his ball handling. I can't argue with Tre and Darger. Although I will say on Defense Darger was able to body up some big men.

  23. bet....

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/blogs/shark-b...

    i guess tark doenst know what he is talking about either huh? he says in this article that wink was much slower.... i hated the fact that we didnt push the ball but when i thought about, no one could run with bellfield. you cant play 1 vs 5. bellfield can score in the open lanes.... but those lanes close when they dont have to worry about wink hitting the three or anything else. thats why we ran set plays. this year will be much different trust me. everyone on the team can run with the exception of santee. brice is 30-40 pounds less = he can run this year.

    just have patience, mark my words this year they will run and we WILL see some 90 point games and possibly 100.

  24. Good point.

    I'll take Tark's opinion over any of these self proclaimed internet basketball gurus.

    Lon Kruger is better suited than anyone here to decide if Stanback is a better option at the 4 than Santee, Shaw, Massamba or Lopez.

    Frankly, after last year, I'm kinda suprised to see anyone making an argument for Santee or Massamba.

    MWC basketball falls completely off the map in the last half of this decade if not for Lon Kruger.

  25. It's all good rebel fans, I aint mad at ya!! If the rebels win anything this year it will be because they have athletes on the court who can make plays and get it done. I will admit that this looks like the best talent on paper that we have had here in a long time, I just hope Lon lets these brutha's play. You can go ahead and get excited if you want but I will wait until they show me something.

  26. blah blah blah.... Lenny V you are just a blind following kool-aid drinker who can't think for himself and you are way out of your league calling me out boy.

  27. @bet

    Maybe you should change your name to BetOnBlacktheClosetRacist. I was confused at times last year with some of the combintations that Kruger used on the floor, but our 4/5 players disappeared. I hope that Massamba's new dedication to conditioning pays off and he comes back strong. I am cautiosly optimistic for this year.

  28. Hey Ryan, I wanted to know if you can tell me some details of the First Look like how long it lasts,do they play a in team game,what else goes on. i'm from Pahrump and am going with about 15 friends and i wanted to know what to expect. Thanks

  29. bet,loius g, and everyone else....

    lose the catiously part of cautiously optimistic.

    trust me when i tell you that they will be strong this year and bet, i guarantee you lon lets this team run..why? because this years team has the talent and ATHLETIC ABILITY to do so.... also helps when you have a COMPLETE STUD leading the breaks in D-Jazz..... thats what he likes to be called incase you guys didnt know.

    oh and unlvrunninrebels,

    last year i remember it being kind of short but they said they are going to do more with the players this year. and they are supposed to play a 5 on 5

  30. I hear ya sportsguy & I hope you are 100% accurate.

  31. Thanks sportsguy702, I was going to go no matter what. I hope everyone else on here does too.

  32. Some of you should step outside your UNLV bubble and look at the scope of college basketball around the nation. From powerhouses to mid-major, the typical 4 in the NCAA is heading towards hybrid forwards like Stanback. The college 4 is a different position than the NBA 4, understand that.

    And secondly some of you have size incsecurities. The key is talent. Giving Santee, Shaw, Massamba, or Lopez more minutes just for the sake of size would be a mistake. Oscar, Tre, Jasper, and Stanback are our 4 best players hands-down, so they will get a majority of the minutes as they should.