Rebels survive scare from Division-II Washburn

Sophomore forward Chace Stanback’s 15 second-half points power UNLV


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Chace Stanback dishes off a pass against Washburn during a preseason game Tuesday. UNLV won the game 62-52.

Washburn vs UNLV

The UNLV men's basketball team got a quick warm-up for the regular season with a 62-52 exhibition win over Washburn.

UNLV vs. Washburn exhibition

UNLV guard Tre'Von Willis drives in against Washburn during a preseason game Tuesday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
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During a halftime ceremony Tuesday night honoring UNLV’s championship basketball season of 1989-90, former star guard Greg Anthony thanked fans for “great memories” and “wonderful moments.”

The exhibition game against Washburn that sandwiched those title-team festivities didn’t exactly produce many moments that fans will consider wonderful or memories that were great.

The Rebels left the Thomas & Mack Center with a 62-52 victory after the Division-II Ichabods went into a deep freeze with 4 minutes, 44 seconds remaining.

Washburn guard William McNeill sank a 3-point shot from the left corner, on UNLV freshman Justin Hawkins, to give the Ichabods a 52-51 lead.

“I mean, they’re scared,” McNeill said of what he sensed in the Rebels. “They have everything to lose, (possibly) losing to a D-II school like Syracuse did. They didn’t want to be on ESPN, losing to a D-II school.”

But that’s when Washburn’s hopes of a Le Moyne-like upset – the D-II Dolphins upended Syracuse last week in an exhibition – evaporated when it didn’t score again.

“We just ran out of gas,” said McNeill, a 6-foot sophomore from Alexandria, La. “We had some mental mistakes, and I turned it over quite a few times. We just had them on their heels the whole game. We really competed.

“A D-II school holding a D-I team to 34 percent shooting? That’s good defense. It can happen. It’s not impossible. D-II can beat D-I. They put on their shorts the way we put on our shorts.”

UNLV only hit 34.4 percent of its shot attempts, and had 18 turnovers to 10 assists. But Washburn shot 33.3 percent, with 24 turnovers and only 4 assists.

McNeill turned it over five times, and junior forward De’Andre Washington littered Jerry Tarkanian Court with nine miscues.

UNLV coach Lon Kruger, who begins his sixth season in Las Vegas on Saturday in an opener against Pittsburg State, said Washburn controlled the pace and tempo of the exhibition.

“We weren’t very crisp in many areas,” Kruger said. “We have to do a lot better in many areas.”

Befitting the sloppy and sluggish game, there were four consecutive scoreless possessions after McNeill’s 3-pointer.

On the fifth, Hawkins missed a close shot. But sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield tipped it in to give UNLV a 53-52 advantage. It was the 10th and final lead change in a game that was tied seven times.

Rebels sophomore forward Chace Stanback slipped in a soft hook in the left post on his team’s next play, and he followed that with a three-point play that enabled a crowd of 10,238 to begin to rest easy.

That it came in the game’s final minute, with 58 seconds left, showed how difficult the evening was for UNLV.

Wink Adams, Rene Rougeau and Joe Darger have moved on, and Stanback and point guard Derrick Jasper are back on the court after sitting out a year as transfers.

“They played real tough,” Jasper said of the Ichabods. “They moved the ball real well and they forced us to really guard, to get out in the passing lanes, and they back cut. They played really well.”

Washburn was tenacious on the boards, too. With 30 seconds left in the first half, the Ichabods played volleyball under the rim and finally put in a close shot after six misses.

UNLV led, 28-24, at the half.

“I’ve seen him worse,” Stanback said of Kruger’s halftime chat.

“No one was excited with how we came out,” Bellfield said. “We just really knew we had to pick it up in order to win this game. That’s not what we want.”

Stanback saved UNLV from some national mockery, like Syracuse no doubt weathered for nearly a week, with a strong second-half performance in his competitive debut at the Mack.

He went 0-for-6 from the field in the first half and admitted he felt jittery. He hadn’t played in a game in more than 18 months, since he was with UCLA when the Bruins went to the Final Four in 2008.

But he tallied all of his game-best 15 points in 9 minutes of the second half, in which he went 6-fot-8 from the field and also yanked down 6 rebounds.

During a stretch of more than four minutes, Stanback single-handedly kept the Rebels close to the Ichabods with seven points – a dunk, a 3-pointer and an inside shot after a strong rebound of Darris Santee's missed free throw.

That cut UNLV’s deficit from 37-30 to 39-37.

“Anytime you step on the court you’ll have butterflies,” Stanback said. “For me, it was a little more than usual. I sat out last year and haven’t played in a year and a half. I had a lot of butterflies.

“But I got them out in the first half.”

Stanback badly twisted his left ankle three days before practice officially started, and he didn’t return until Oct. 31.

After the exhibition, which he didn’t start, he said his ankle is at about 85 percent.

“Whenever coach thinks I should start, I will start,” Stanback said.

Jasper, Bellfield and junior Tre'Von Willis started in the backcourt for Kruger, and Santee and sophomore Brice Massamba were the low-post starters.

Massamba (6 points, 4 rebounds) outplayed Santee (2 points, no boards).

One of those two figures to sit when Kruger decides to start Stanback, whose contributions Tuesday night helped the Rebels avoid some embarrassing explanations.

“Being our first game, newcomers and even veterans were not on the same page,” Bellfield said. “Better we get it out of the way now rather than later. It happened. Everyone witnessed it.

“We have to know within ourselves that that’s not what we want.”

Free throws

Stanback wasn’t even the first Rebel off the bench against Washburn. Less than four minutes into it, Kruger put Kendall Wallace and senior walk-on Steve “Chopper” Jones in for Willis and Jasper. Wallace went 1-for-3 from 3-point range, with two rebounds, a steal and a turnover in 16 minutes. Jones, in his first action as a Rebel, missed his only shot, hauled in two rebounds and had two assists and a turnover in 16 minutes … Bellfield went 0-for-5 from long range … The Rebels made only 18 of 30 free throws … Kruger said he began talking Monday with Carlos Lopez, the freshman from nearby Findlay College Prep, about redshirting this season. “It would be a good opportunity for him,” Kruger said, “if we can afford to do that.” Kruger might need the extra support inside. Lopez dropped 30 pounds after catching a stomach virus at a tournament in France in July and has regularly struggled in practice.

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  1. a few questions Rob..
    the RebelNation magazine which is usually on news stands around the Mack wasnt there tonight..do u have any idea why?

    Does Lopez have attitude problems at all? b/c he kinda looks a little cocky..i just dont want him to get mad if he redshirts and maybe transfer..it may be good for him tho b/c of the weight he lost (no fault of his own of course which really sucks).

    and wow!! J-Hawk surprised me a lot. Jasper led the team in rebounds and the "center" had ZERO boards. wow. i think he'll be on the bench soon. REEEEBBBEEEELLLLSSS!!!!

  2. Pretty embarrassing debut. Once again a struggle to score even 60 points. Santee again shows that he can not play at this level. He plays 20 minutes, scores two points and gets 0 rebounds? How can you not get a single rebound against a Division II team??? Between Massamba, Shaw and Santee only 7 rebounds. Jasper himself had 8. This team may have more athleticism and more talent but they sure seem to play the way last years team did. No inside game, bombing and misfiring from three and turning the ball over. I know it is one game but this is a scary precedent the Rebs are setting. When the one of the Alumni squads scores 7 more points than the current Rebs squad that spells trouble.

  3. fan11, that's not a magazine this publication is affiliated with ... Lopez has zero attitude problems. He's a team player who has come a long, long way since he left Puerto Rico a little more than three years ago for Findlay Prep. A great kid. He coached the Henderson Int'l School 5th and 6th grade boys team for a season. Biggest issue with him is he lost 30 pounds over the summer when he couldn't afford to lose 30 ounces. That was a major setback, and his transition to college hoops has been quite challenging. Like most freshman, though. Stay tuned for more on Carlos in the next day or two.
    J-Hawk is capable of good things right away, and Jasper said that's what this team has to do -- it's guards have got to crash the boards.

  4. If we have to go with Santee & Masamba it is going to be a long season as both are a total waste on the court. I watched the last two games, the exhibition and first look and they haven't improved at all. Too bad weight loss doesn't improve Masamba's skills. Carlos has skills those two obviously don't have, he can rebound and is an excellent passer. Once again get ready for small ball. In my opinion redshirting Lopez will have consequences. He did not look very happy last night and I have seen him many times. Once again Kruger has demonstrated he can't deal, teach, or develop a big man. Good luck to Carlos when he leaves here. I am a Kruger fan, but this is wrong.

  5. Carlos is going anywhere. It was his idea to consider a redshirt. Read the following from the RJ:

    He (Kruger) did not insert 6-11 Carlos Lopez, however, and said the freshman from Findlay Prep initiated the idea of being redshirted this season while he works on getting stronger.

    "We'll continue to talk about that now," Kruger said. "It would be a good option for him if we can afford to do it. But the ballgame tonight showed that we could probably use Carlos."

  6. Seeing how we can use all the help we can get inside maybe learning and re-gaining weight and strength in season may be the better choice for Los and Lon.

  7. Hope Chace can start next game without the jitters! He looked pretty good in the second half for being 85%!

    I think he'll replace Santee in last night's starting lineup. Massamba is definitely showing more aggressiveness than the senior.

  8. stone, no need to be putting those comments in here. Nothing there that isn't here...
    gorebs, last season's low-post play was anemic, indeed. But it would be egregious not to mention how Joel Anthony developed here as a senior after a very savvy redshirt maneuver, by Kruger, after his junior season. It was questionable at the time. Kruger even said it was one of his more unorthodox moves in his career. And look how that paid off. Joel was a shot-blocking machine as a senior and he is now getting paid to play the game at the highest level, in the NBA. Same goes for Louis Amundson.

  9. I love your articles Rob, but with all due respect, what I copy and pasted did have something that wasn't here.

    My comment was in response to go_rebels who insinuated that Carlos would be unhappy with a redshirt (i.e., that it was all Kruger's idea). Your article is ambiguous as to who initiated the redshirt talks, while the quote that I posted gives the insight that it was Carlos' idea.

    BTW, I still think that the Sun's coverage of the Rebels blows the pants of the RJ's coverage. Sorry if I offended by using the "enemies" stuff. At least I didn't post a link, right?

  10. How can Kruger create any continuity by playing 10-11 guys? This team should be scoring in the 80's by playing smothering defense.

  11. Please update your "Roster" page.

  12. I think Massamba and Santee would be better at rebounding if Kruger petitioned the MWC to put a handle on the basketball. Maybe even some glue on their hands would help. We're in trouble at the post position. Are we all in agreement on that point?

  13. stonedog, doesn't really matter who initiated what. Carlos is behind the curve, through no fault of his own due to that weight (and strength) loss in France. At practice, that's apparent every day. Coaches are always imploring him to Eat! after practice to get back to where he was. It's gonna be a climb for him, so neither he nor coaches could be under the impression that he's ready for the rigors of D-I ball ... thx

  14. It matters to me. If Kruger initiated it and Carlos doesn't want it, some of us are nervous that he might leave. However, if Carlos initiated it we'd feel a lot more comfortable.

    BTW, where was Larry Johnson?

  15. Joel Anthony didn't want to redshirt after his junior year and look where he is ...

  16. Wow, what can I say? At least we won. This was a much scarier game than it had any right to be. But, in the end, it was still an exhibition, and no reason to panic.

    Negatives: The team played with no sense of urgency until about two minutes left in the game. The bigs are still a "big" question mark. Brice looked better than he did at any point last season, but that ultimately wasn't saying much. Santee, after going strong in practices, came up way short again when it mattered most. When is this guy going to turn it on, or is he someone who just can't handle the pressure? The "team," and I use that term loosely at this point, was nothing more than a collection of talented players. They had no identity, no rhythm, and no sense of each other's roles. The Rebels, just like last season, settled on perimeter shooting (what little of it there was), and only got the inside/outside game going with five minutes left and their backs against the wall.

    Positives: If Stanback is only running at 80-85%, watch out. He looked nervous and out of synch early, but stormed back with a vengeance in the second half. He's the real deal, as is Jasper, who's got more speeds than a Schwinn bicycle. The rebounding looked better as a whole, thanks to a taller backcourt that was entirely more aggressive on the boards than our frontcourt. The guys were also unselfish, looking for each other constantly, and making passes almost to a fault.

    Summary: We've got a lot of work to do. The team is deep and athletic, but don't know each other very well yet. They also need to treat each game as if it's tournament time, and they're one and done. They can't afford to take anyone or anything for granted. I'm looking forward to seeing what lessons were learned (hopefully) on Saturday night against Pittsburg State.

    P.S. I was completely disappointed with the half-time ceremony for the 1990 team. It felt rushed and half-baked; just thrown together. How could LJ be a no-show? However, anyone who stuck around for the Legends game probably had a better time than watching the Washburn near-debacle. I know I did.

  17. Rob,

    I believe that the information of who initiated the redshirt talk is important in the context of go_rebels comment. As I stated previously, he seemed to be under the impression that Carlos would be unhappy with the decision to redshirt this year, and as a result, would transfer from the program. Also, he seemed to be under the impression it was all Kruger's idea.

    By shedding light on the fact that Carlos was actually the one who brought up the idea to Kruger, it shows that Carlos is at least willing to entertain the idea. Coach Kruger may have been considering redshirting him regardless, but the fact that Carlos started the talks says to me that he wouldn't be so unhappy with the decision that he would immediately want to transfer out of the program.

    All I'm trying to say is that it DOES matter, IF you are trying to determine what Carlos' frame of mind is.

  18. I'll say what I said last year at this time.
    This team is no good.
    Last year I said the same thing and all of vegas jumped all over me. But I was correct in the end.
    It seems like this team has been solved.
    I hope I am wrong this time.
    Please prove me wrong Rebs.

  19. Thanks for the quote stone dog.
    I found the info relevant. I like your work Rob, but please relax...you do make a lot of mistakes. Joel probably couldn't have gone anywhere even if he wanted to (after the red shirt), but Carlos could find a new home in d1 ball easy.

  20. I hope we don't end up "going small" again this year. If we go with Chace as our only big it is going to be a problem. He will get beat up just like Darger did and end up injured. If we could get 15 points and 12 boards from the groug Massaba, Santee, Shaw we could be OK.

    One stat that I noticed was Marshall getting 7 boards in 9 minutes. That's incredible.

    You are donig a great job Rob. I just wish you could get some antidepresants to sufferin.

  21. LJ was at the danny tarkanian fun raiser before the game... dont know what happened in between that and the game. :(

  22. rebinreno... riiiiiiiiiight ... the point was look at the improvements Anthony and Amundson and Essengue made at the end of their careers. Don't confuse yourself.
    As far as Carlos goes, he has stated his intentions in many pieces over the past year on this page. He is not Beas Hamga. He is not a fly-by-night kid who will change his course on a whim.
    chris, don't know what to say about that ... I bet he knows where to get 'em ...

  23. fund*

  24. Last night showed that basketball is a team game, and superior talent can struggle against inferior talent if players aren't on the same page.

    That being said, it needs to be noted that this was the first real game for many players in a long while, and the first time these guys played together in a real game situation. The fact that they struggled, but ended up winning by 10 is a good sign.

    This is a seriously talented team that will improve as the season progresses. How far they go will be fun (if not frustrating, from time to time) to watch.

  25. The only antidepressant that I need is REGGIE THEUS!

    What you are watching and commenting on is not Runnin' Rebel Basketball.

  26. Rebinreno- Stop showing your ignorance. This is a business and Rob was asking you to reframe from posting competing media quotes under his column. Did that go over your head? Obviously you had no idea. If you are not happy with the contunied coverage the Sun and Rob give our community on the Rebels...then take a hike. This City has not seen this kind of coverage on the Rebels since the Tark days.

  27. I have the same gut feeling right now that I had a year ago after the Washburn game. That game was much closer then the score indicated. Washburn could have beaten the rebels last night and as a fan I did not expect to see UNLV play like that at all. There is no way Washburn should have been within 40 pts. of UNLV no matter how little these guys have played together. I was expecting a 40 pt. drubbing and what I saw was a D2 team take them right down to the wire. D2 talent is equal to the talent playing pick up games at Desert Breeze or Sunset Parks. I see the same exact style of play that I saw last year which leads me to believe we will see the same kind of results. I hope I am dead wrong!!

  28. I know there is a ton of negatives from last night's lack luster game. But, you have to look at the positives because this was an exhibition game and this was Washburn's biggest game of the season. Krugger was trying many different line ups and it is going to take time to solidify a true player rotation. (Classic let down game)

    Stanback and Jaspers looked very athletic and should have a big impact on this team. Marshall and Hawkins seemed to be aggressive players with huge upside and have a real feel for the game.

    Rob - I am most concerned about Trevon. He seems to be having the same chemistry problems with the team as he did with the seniors of last year. I hope I am wrong because Trevon is full of talent. I would love to hear what an insider who is at practice feels about Willis chemistry and attitude.

  29. Was it me or did Shaw looked like he gained about fifty pounds?

  30. We STILL don't need Reggie Theus. Get real, Sufferin!

  31. I got Runnin' Reggie Fever burnin' up my mind!
    I got Runnin' Reggie Fever and it feels so fine!
    I don't need to see a doctor, or stay in bed all day...
    The only thing I need is to watch Reggie Coach Today!
    I got Runnin' Reggie Fever,
    I got Runnin' Reggie Fever,
    I got Runnin Reggie Fever burnin' up my mind!!!

  32. It was scary. Coach has a lot of work to do but there is potential, you can tell by the end of the game. They were a little more under control and less sloppy. Massamba even showed potential when at one point he went up stong and was fouled. I believe by the end of the year, we should see a good UNLV team

  33. damn.. why is everyone jumpin on dudes case for posting a relevant quote? Why didnt the sun just report the same information? then u guys wouldnt need to pick on dude.

  34. rob, i know you arent associated w/ rebelnation..im just curious if you know why..

    sufferin, get real. no coach at any college will get fired for what kruger has done these last 3 years.

    has everyone forgot about Henry Buckley who is at a Prep School right now and will come in as a freshman next season. he is a big man :)

  35. What, has the BYU-Journal dba Review-Journal reduced itself to using ringers? Doesn't get enough readers for its monthly UNLV articles?

    "why is everyone jumpin on dudes case for posting a relevant quote?"- Because its a competing publication! Seriously, why do you have to ask that?

  36. I'm no fan of the RJ, that is for sure. But Stonedog did the right thing in bringing the quote in to clarify that situation.

    It DOES matter who initiated the red shirt on Carlos. He's a top 100 recruit who could go to dang near any program he wants. So if he initiated the red shirt talks with Lonny we know that he is happy and won't be leaving the program.

    I understand it's a business but hell even Stonedog said that he loves Rob's coverage 100 times more than the BYU/San Diego State loving RJ! Back off him.

    Keep up the good work Rob!!!

  37. First off there is no way you can compare this years team in terms of players. We at least had some experience and cohesion in Wink, Renee and Darger last year. Sure, Tre' and Oscar came back but that does not make up for the experience or leadership last year's team had.
    After this game, I believe we may be looking at what some like to call a "rebuilding" year ;p I know many of us do not want to accept that but, team chemistry isn't something that happens overnight.
    I hope I'm wrong and we win the MWC and make it to the tourney, but it seemed more likely with last years team than this one.
    Regardless I'll be there cheering "RREEEEEEEBEEELLLSSS"

  38. remember it was an exhibition. yeah they looked bad, but for most of these guys it was the real first game playing together. They will look better midway thru the season barring injuries.

  39. Larry Johnson was watching the stripper mobile!!!
    They had more moves than the basketball team.

  40. Even though this game was scary to watch, two things need to be said:

    1. It really doesn't matter who initiated the conversation between Carlos and Kruger. If Carlos wants to leave if he is unhappy, then that's his choice. Coach Kruger is not a bad recruiter, and Carlos will not the only Rebel to come from Findlay Prep - that's a given.

    2. It was a D-II team, and this was an exhibition game! It gives Kruger an early chance to test his rotation and give his players the chance to become accustomed to this atmosphere. Why else would he allow Chopper to get some playing time early (that, and the fact that Kruger LOVES playing his seniors).

    But when push came to shove late, the Rebels turned it on with some people and gave the cushion needed. With these games you can really go two ways - keep your players in and allow them to pummel away or mix up your lineup and keep it a bit "entertaining". But it's hard to do the former when many on your team have the jitters from the absence of playing college ball in front of fans (and the 20th anniversary team, mind you =P).

    Either way, its an exhibition game, many of these players are not seasoned at the college level or for that matter MWC basketball, and until a Center manages to grab 8 rebounds in a game, I could care less which big guy wants to redshirt haha!

    Go Rebs!