Saturday, June 5, 2010 | 2:15 a.m.
- For Tre’Von Willis and Chace Stanback, it’s a second chance to make a first NCAA tournament impression (3-17-2010)
- Tre’von Willis, Chace Stanback, Oscar Bellfield earn All-MWC postseason honors (3-8-2010)
- Stanback’s old-fashioned touch lifts UNLV to 80-72 victory at CSU (1-21-2010)
- 2009-10 UNLV Schedule/Results
- All Sun UNLV men's basketball coverage
Editor's Note: Each week this summer, UNLV beat writer Ryan Greene will have a 10-minute question-and-answer session with a member of the Rebels' men's basketball team. The focus is not just on last season, but also what lies ahead.
After essentially two full years without a full load of game action, UCLA transfer Chace Stanback made more than a splash as a sophomore last season at UNLV.
The 6-foot-8 Los Angeles native overcame a badly sprained ankle suffered just before the start of the season and ended up as the second-leading scorer (10.7 ppg) and leading rebounder (5.8 rpg) for the 25-9 Rebels. He also led the team in steals (54) and blocked shots (28).
The wiry forward possesses a skill set that is rare for someone of his size, with a knack for making plays above the rim, outstanding instincts on the boards and a soft shooting touch from everywhere on the floor.
But what's stuck with Stanback since the season's end was, well, the way it ended.
After playing a reserve role on a Final Four team at UCLA in 2008, a first-round exit from this year's NCAA tournament felt wrong to him.
What Stanback's summer centers on is getting ready to take the Rebels even further in the 2010-11 campaign.
Ryan Greene: A lot of guys last year seemed to be dealing with nagging injuries. Your ankle injury early on seemed like it had a pretty big effect on you early in the season. Is that safe to say?
Chace Stanback: Oh yeah, definitely. It limited me from doing moves prior to what I was doing before the injury. It got better as the year went on. I would say it's still not 100 percent yet.
CS: I mean, I'm still working on it. I just didn't feel like myself, I wasn't as explosive as I normally am, wasn't jumping as high, stuff like that. But I feel like I'll get back to being more explosive this season.
RG: The timing for your sprained ankle couldn't have been worse. How hard is that to play on while it's healing? I'd have to imagine that practicing every day and playing a few times a week keeps it from getting better.
CS: It definitely wears and tears on it, and you never get a chance to completely heal. You have to deal with it, fight through it and play through it. After the season ended, I took about a week or so, and I've been doing a lot of exercises on it to get it stronger. Resistance-based, simple stuff just to strengthen it.
RG: Losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament, after the last time you were there you got to go to the Final Four, was the result there kind of surreal for you, to be there two days and go home for good?
CS: It was disappointing. It was very disappointing. We fought the whole game. I didn't feel like we played as well as we could in the first half. In the second half, we definitely picked it up and showed we wanted to win. Unfortunately the ball didn't bounce our way.
RG: You talked about working to strengthen the ankle. What else are you working on this summer? Does any of that involve putting on weight?
CS: Putting on weight is always on my agenda. I don't know. I just can't seem to do it. Other than putting on weight, it's speed, quickness, trying to stretch my range out, work on my defense and ball-handling. Pretty much everything.
RG: You laughed when you talked about putting on weight. For how much of your career have coaches been riding you about putting on weight?
CS: Man, it's been a long time. Since high school.
RG: What kind of methods have you tried?
CS: I've tried eating right. I've tried protein. I've tried a lot of stuff. I just have a very high metabolism. It's really difficult to gain weight.
RG: Is it a genetic thing? Is the rest of your family like that?
CS: No. My dad put on 40 pounds during his freshman year of college. I guess it just skips a generation.
RG: How much exactly are you trying to gain?
CS: I'm trying to get to 220. I was at 210 when I came back from L.A. last month, but I lost all of that. I'm down to 202 now.
RG: What's the regimen for you this summer? Eating? Protein? Lifting? All of it?
CS: It has a lot to do with eating. Definitely. I don't have the greatest eating habits in the world, but neither does anybody else. We all like to eat whatever we want. As for weights, I've always lifted hard. I've always been in the weight room. That's never been the issue for me. It's just my eating habits.
RG: You know, you could probably go to In-N-Out Burger five times a week and add 18 pounds pretty quick?
CS: Yeah, but that's not good food, though. I'm trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, more bread, peanut butter. Stuff that will stick to you. I'm trying to cut out some stuff myself, like eating fast food all the time. And candy. I haven't eaten candy in a while. I'm trying to keep that going.
RG: Is this all part of a want to be more of a physical presence next year? What's the motivation behind it?
CS: I think it'll definitely help me when I go down the lane and get bumped a little bit. I won't get knocked off-balance as easy.
RG: Did you think you got tossed around a little too much last year?
CS: There were a few times I did, but for the most part, no. I felt like I held my own.
RG: There will be some added help inside from Kansas transfer Quintrell Thomas and redshirt freshman Carlos Lopez this season. They're the two new additions to your guys' veteran rotation. I know you practiced with them both for much of last season, but what have you seen from those two so far in pick-up ball this summer.
CS: They've both been working really hard. In pick-ups, they've been playing really well, Carlos has been able to knock down 3-pointers, and he's a great rebounder. Quintrell's a great rebounder, too. He's a post player, and he finishes a lot in hte paint.
RG: Quintrell gets a lot of buzz from fans because they think he can bring that nasty presence inside and play the role of a natural-born rebounder. Does that description fit?
CS: I think he does. I still feel like he needs to work, as everybody else on the team. He's definitely a player that we could have used last year.
RG: No other changes on the roster, and you guys have to feel pretty good knowing that it's pretty much the same personnel. You're not trying to get used to much that's new. How nice is that stability?
CS: It's definitely beneficial for us. Everybody pretty much knows how each other plays. We're going to be able to build better chemistry with one another and know even more about how each other plays. Also, everyone has a year of experience under the belt. We'll try to take it further.
RG: At the same time, sitting out next season after transferring from UCLA is Mike Moser. When he committed, he mentioned that he hadn't met you before that weekend he visited here and said you helped sell him on the idea. What did you think of him from hanging out that weekend?
CS: Mike's a cool guy, and we got along great from the moment I met him. I told him that coming here would be a great fit for him. He bought into it, and it got him to come here.
RG: It also sounds like he's the same style of player as you. You guys played pick-up that weekend. What did you think?
CS: He pretty much does the same things I do. He can rebound, shoot the three, he can create his own shot off of the dribble and he's pretty active. There are definitely some similar qualities.
RG: Pretty generic question, but what expectations have you set early on for next year for yourself? Even battling that injury all of last season, you had a productive year. Anything you didn't accomplish then that you want to accomplish moving forward?
CS: I just want to go deep into the tournament. As deep as we can go. That's all I really care about. Individual stuff doesn't matter to me. It's a team thing to me. It's a great feeling, and I want us to be able to do that next year so my teammates can know what that feeling is like and they can be able to enjoy it.