Stanback, Rebels poised to move forward

As far as Chace Stanback is concerned, the time for reflecting on regrets has passed. He had six months for that.

Stanback plans to make his senior season at UNLV more memorable than his offseason mistake leading up to it.

"What’s done is done. I can’t change the past," he said. "I’ve been trying to stay out of trouble."

After his day in court and a one-game suspension, Stanback returns to the basketball court today when the Rebels (1-0) host rival UNR (0-1) at 7 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The 6-foot-8-inch forward made headlines for the wrong reason after his May 13 arrest. In September, he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of marijuana, and in addition to legal penalties, he was suspended for UNLV’s exhibition and its first regular-season game.

"All of that is over now, and it’s time for a change," he said. "I’m just being a lot more focused and attentive on and off the court. I’ve moved on, so hopefully everybody else can, too."

Potentially the team’s best player, Stanback has been on his best behavior in recent months, according to Rebels coach Dave Rice.

"He has been terrific," Rice said. "It’s just such a tough deal for him, and he has owned up to his mistake and taken responsibility for it. It was a big mistake and penalty that he had to pay. I know he is really excited that it’s behind him. And I know we are really, really excited to have him back."

UNLV is back to full strength just in time for the Wolf Pack. Rice will start Stanback and junior guard Anthony Marshall after both were suspended for Friday’s opener against Division II Grand Canyon. Marshall was sidelined by the NCAA for a minor rule violation related to summer league participation.

Sophomore forward Carlos Lopez is also expected to play. Lopez returned from a sprained right ankle and practiced the past two days.

Rice said Stanback and Marshall will be in the lineup with senior guard Oscar Bellfield, senior center Brice Massamba and 6-8 sophomore Mike Moser, who had 16 points and 20 rebounds Friday.

The biggest star of the Rebels’ 83-66 victory over the Antelopes was junior guard Justin Hawkins, who scored a career-high 25 points. After his first career start, Hawkins returns to a reserve role.

"That was a great game for those two guys," Stanback said of Hawkins and Moser. "It’s definitely going to boost their confidence and help us along the way."

With 10 scholarship players available instead of seven, Rice is looking to use UNLV’s depth to his advantage and force a faster pace.

"In our progression as a program, we want to play attacking defense, but we also want to play attacking offense," Rice said.

On the defensive end, Stanback expects the Rebels to turn up the pressure, something they seldom did while working short-handed.

"Once we all get back, we’re going to be even stronger and look even better," Stanback said. "We’ll definitely be able to pick up full court a lot more and play a lot harder, because we’ve got fresh guys ready to come in, so it’s going to be different from a speed point of view.

"We want to run as much as we possibly can. We’ve been working extremely hard for this, and I feel like we’re ready to push forward."

UNLV has won five straight in the series with the Wolf Pack, who took a step back Friday by shooting 13-for-50 from the field in a surprising 68-46 loss to Missouri State in Reno.

But Rice said he informed his players to forget that result and remember that UNR has four returning starters and is picked to win the Western Athletic Conference.

"It’s a talented team. We’ve already addressed that with our guys. I anticipate that the game against Missouri State was a little bit of an anomaly," Rice said. "We do look at this as a rivalry, and we look at it as a big game."

Rice’s message apparently was received.

"We’ve got to expect everybody’s ‘A’ game," Stanback said. "We know Reno is a good team, and they probably just had first-game jitters."

Rice said Stanback, the Rebels’ top returning scorer and rebounder, has set a better example on and off the floor in terms of behavior, classwork and leadership. He was ordered by the court to perform 40 hours of community service.

"He’s making progress on all of that," Rice said. "He has been great."

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907.

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