February 21, 2019 Currently: 37° | Complete forecast

UNLV basketball:

Look for Chace Stanback to start against Pittsburg State

Sophomore forward’s 15 second-half points Tuesday impress Kruger


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.

Lon Kruger

Lon Kruger

The Rebel Room

One season begins, will another continue?

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.

Maybe Chace Stanback will provide the boost at the start of UNLV’s season opener on Saturday night that he supplied the Rebels with at the end Tuesday night.

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.

Who sits? Senior forward Darris Santee scored two points, with no rebounds, in 20 minutes against the Ichabods. Sophomore center Brice Massamba had six points and four boards Tuesday in 14 minutes.

Kruger said it will depend on how practice goes today and Friday.

Gotta earn it

Click to enlarge photo

Steve "Chopper" Jones

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.”

Stanback shines

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.

Not Wednesday.

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.

Next, Kendall Wallace hit one, Chace Stanback hit one and Tre'Von Willis 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.”

Free throws

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.

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Previous Discussion: 25 comments so far…

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  1. good to see they are working hard. i will not be worried if they go hard on Saturday. UNR wont be an easy win.

  2. The starting lineup should be:


    That is the only lineup that gives us any chance of being competitive this year. Coach Kruger is delusional if he starts anybody else. That is the only five players that have any talent at all and are ready to play at this level.

    Sure Shaw may look like Fat Albert this season and the opposing fans say "hey, hey, hey" when they see him but he is the only big guy who gives us a chance. Get his fat butt out on the court so he can get in shape. You want to make the NIT or don't you? If you don't start Shaw the best you are going to do this season is the CBI! Smarten up Kruger. The starting five for UNLV is:


    Anything else: HELLO CBI.

  3. sufferin,
    if you went to the game on tuesday you saw that shaw cant handle the passes that come his way. and they have a real shot at a tourny berth, so a letdown season would be nit.

    oh, and this team being in the CBI would be the best team to ever play in that tournament.

  4. Massamba is doing well, he just needs to smarten up. And Sufferin, I had you all wrong when I thought you knew something about college hoops; Hawkins and Marshall are the real deal.

  5. lenny,
    agreed! if sufferin cannot agree on the fact that hawkins (he was recruited by UNC) and marshall are really good players, he is addicted to arguing..no matter how dumb that sounds, its true if he thinks those 2 arent good.

  6. sufferin,
    if UNLV pulled it off and signed Cory Joseph (read the new article)..would you think that was a dumb signing too? everything you say is arguing with something someone else says. ive never heard you agree with someone on here. if the rebels get joseph youll probably talk about how hes gonna be no good or something, when the truth is that no mater where CJ goes he is gonna be great.


  7. 1st of all, I said "That is the only five players that have any talent at all and are ready to play at this level."

    Did you miss the part about AND ARE READY TO PLAY AT THIS LEVEL? Hawkins and Marshall might be great down the road but they are not ready to play at this level right now. We have games vs. UNR in 6 days and Louisville 16 days and Arizona in 3 weeks! Hawkins and Marshall have no business being in the starting lineup right now. If UNLV has any chance of winning those three games we have to go with the lineup I put up above:


    Hawkins and Marshall may be the real deal but they aren't read now.

    Matt Shaw played 20 minutes in the NCAA Tournament game vs. Kent State in 1998 and he had 9 points and 5 rebounds! Shaw played 15 minutes against Kansas in the 2nd Round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament and had 6 points and 3 rebounds. Shaw has NCAA Tournament experience and he actually saw time on the court and scored some points!

    As for Cory Joseph. New year, same sad story. Kruger is after another stud from Findlay who won't come to UNLV. Findlay owns the damn team and Kruger has his friends coaching the team up there and all he can land is the LEFTOVER SCRUBS like Massamba and Lopez. Talk to me about Lon and his recruiting when he finally gets someone drafted in the 1st or 2nd Round of the NBA Draft. Six years at UNLV and Kruger has never had one player drafted!

    UNLV Basketball is not good under Kruger. We are mediocre and weak. Look at our team and look at real Top 15 programs, our boys look like little kids compared to the studs on the big boy schools. Sure our guys try hard but they are not tough, they are not intimidating and they are NOT TALENTED. You all fool yourself into believing that our team is so ultra talented and so athletic. NO THEY AREN'T!

    We are NIT material this year. 4th, 5th or 6th place in the MWC at best. We will struggle all year and probably play in the CBI Tournament.

    To make the NIT we need a set lineup of:


    That is our only chance at success. I know UNLV Basketball and I am telling you that is our best five players this year! Anything else and we will be in the CBI. Mark my words.

  8. 2008 NCAA Tournament sorry. Still living in the 90's when UNLV had Top 10 teams.

  9. I can't beleive I am going to agree with Sufferin on the starting lineup. Marshall is going to get playing time. He is a stud. 7 rebounds in 9 minutes.

  10. i think everyone that reads this article agrees on the first 4 guys, but the 5th guy it will be determined by matchups and who is playing well. and i highly doubt that shaw will be playing the best throughout the year..and i really see Shaw at his best off the bench with wallace b/c they can both shoot real well and start a run!!

    they need a big man who doesnt need scoring to be on his game, they need one who can REBOUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Marshall and Hawkins are both well qualified to play right now. Marshall is a rebounding and scoring machine. Hawkins can run the show when Oscar and Jasper take a break this year.

  12. I think one thing we're all in agreement here is that Santee should take a powder. Perhaps the humiliation of a senior getting benched by a sophomore might be just the right fuel to light a fire under his shorts. If he can't take the same intensity he shows during practices and carry it over into game time, what's the point?

    Honestly, I don't think Matt Shaw is in good enough shape to start at this point in the season. Down the road that will change, and when it does, if Brice hasn't made major improvements in his game, Shaw should get the starting spot. Until then, the starting five will probably be:


    Santee should give Stanback breathers off the bench, and Wallace and Marshall can rest the guards. Until Shaw gets down to his fighting weight, he can replace Massamba for quality stretches. I also like the energy and enthusiasm "Chopper" Jones brings to the Rebels. Even though his numbers weren't that solid, he gave the team that emotional spark that it seemed to be lacking most of Tuesday night.

    I really hope the Rebs learned a lot from their near upset to Washburn. The talent's there; they just need to find some cohesion.

    See you guys Saturday night!

  13. Chace needs to call for the ball right away against Pitt. State. To me he looks like the only true scorer who can do it on a consistant basis on this team. This team really needs Stanback to step up demand the ball, and put up a lot of points this season. Tre can score but he is so up and down, we need a true scoring leader on this team and it is right there for Chace to take it.

  14. I agree 110% with Sufferin's line up but I cant understand his perdictions. Sufferin you are the ultimate pessimist when it comes to UNLV basketball. We are an athletic team for the MWC and have alot of upside. We will definetly finish in the top 3 of the MWC.

  15. In all fairness, Kruger is going into his 6th year as head coach. In order to get players to the NBA by now, he would have had to have amazing recruits in his first and second years. It takes a while to build something special. And if your quick reaction is to bring up Calipari and Wall, you are crazy to think this program is at that level right now. The talent now is better than when he got here, and I don't see a reason for that not to continue.
    Beyond that, UNLV needed a "clean" coach something fierce! With the way Tark went out, whatever Bayno was doing while he was there, Rollie's contract issues, we needed someone to come in who could establish a legitimate program with integrity. Now we've got the integrity, we've just got to improve, and that happens everyday.

  16. The only expectations that we should fairly be looking at for this team is a 20 win season anything beyond that is just flat out stupid. Anyone who thinks this team is tourney material did not watch the Washburn game. UNLV has a long way's to go to reach tourney level with this team and that shouldn't even be discussed with this squad. I heard Kruger the other day on the radio and when he was asked if this was a tourney team all he said was "we are deep". If a coach has a good tourney team he will answer that question honestly and not duck the question.

  17. if the rebels jell like they should and probably will, they will make the tourny. they wont be playing up to their full potential until probly January. hmm BetOnBlack, perfect timing for Conference huh??????


  18. rob,
    when is your blog going to be started up again? i remember you telling me you would start Wednesday and be doing it daily. just curious. you guys have some great coverage. im just looking for my fix :)

  19. Back to back years going to the Big Dance and a sweet 16 appearance for Kruger. In my book that is good.

  20. Shaw's hands are horrendous and he constantly puts the ball on the deck and gets it stolen. He has zero back to the basket game. Massamba is the superior option at center.

  21. i think santee deserves a shot against pitt st. if he blows it, whoever played better of massamba/shaw.

    oh...why hasn't anyone talked about the duel Stanback and Babbitt are gonna have in the UNLV-UNR game on Wednesday?? That will be interesting to watch. Two Super Sophmores with unlimited potential.

  22. Louis thats not good enough.

    i remember a time when getting there was a given and losing in the 1st or 2nd round was a failure.

  23. hrz,
    it takes time. once they get to that point, we can consider anything but sweet 16 a failure. Kruger is definately moving in the right direction. If you dont agree with me, go ask LJ or Tark. If you think they're wrong, give up on life.

  24. BetonBlack, you might know sports, but you obviously don't know Coach Kruger.

  25. Neither do you JerryWayne!! Who are you John Wayne's illegitimate son?