There's plenty of offseason left before Dave Rice makes his head coaching debut, but he will be tested even before the season tips off.
Chace Stanback, the Rebels' top scorer and rebounder from last season, was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence last week. That means one month after leaving BYU to return to his alma mater, Rice is already in the spotlight/
He issued a brief statement earlier in the week after the arrest became public. He followed it up Thursday with another statement sent to media members and posted on the team's website:
"I take this situation with Chace Stanback very seriously. I am disappointed with the bad decision that he made last week, but I will support and help him through the process. Chace and I have met several times and he has consistently expressed regret. He is a valued member of our team, but he has a very clear understanding of what is expected from each individual in this program and that his actions were unacceptable. The process is ongoing and when it is complete we will have further comment regarding a resolution."
The investigation into the case is ongoing, so discipline isn't expected until that is completed. But given that this is the second leading scorer in as many years to come down with a serious legal issue heading into the season, Rice's response becomes magnified.
Last season, Lon Kruger suspended Tre'Von Willis after the senior guard pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor related to a domestic dispute. Kruger handed down a suspension that consisted of two exhibition games and the regular-season opener against UC Riverside. He eventually tacked on a second regular-season game against Southeastern Louisiana before Willis played in a win against a ranked Wisconsin team.
Media members weren't satisfied, and now, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnists are putting on the pressure for Rice to get the disciplinary action right. Ed Graney writes that Kruger "went too soft" on Willis, and Ron Kantowski wants to see Stanback banned for at least five games.
A five-game suspension, or more, isn't out of the question. No glorified scrimmages against Grand Canyon and Washburn this time. Five games, minimum, that count for something when the selection committee meets to discuss the brackets next spring.
Five games will show that UNLV learned from the Willis debacle.
Five games will show that Dave Rice means business, that he isn't such a nice guy, per his reputation, when it comes to serious matters such as driving under the influence, when a lapse in judgment can result in other people being hurt or so much worse.