Keene State men’s basketball coach Rob Colbert is quick to point out the two personas of David Stantial. “Off the court, he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but put him on the court and he’s absolutely one of the fiercest competitors you’ll ever see.”
The 15th men’s basketball player to be inducted into the Keene State Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame, Stantial electrified Owl fans and sent fear down the backs of opposing players and coaches during his four-year (1998-02) Keene State career.
First in three-point field goals made (280), third in scoring (1,519 points), and sixth in rebound (666) on Keene State’s all-time lists, the Beverly, Mass. native culminated his career with a sub-Stantial performance as a senior, earning All-American and Regional and Little East Conference player of the year honors.
Ironically, Stantial almost never became an Owl. Committing to New York University after his junior year in high school, Stantial changed his mind after visiting KSC and meeting the coaching staff. “In hindsight, I don’t think it could have turned out any better,” he said.
Seeing limited playing time as freshman, Stantial returned the following season with a new position and a new outlook. “Changing from guard to forward was a big transition for me,” said Stantial, who bulked up and worked on his low post moves during the summer. “The coaching staff did a great job of working in combination plays that allowed me to get one-on-one match-ups in the post while still giving me plenty of looks from the three-point line.”
Stantial, who averaged 15 points and 6.6 rebounds during his career, had his share of memorable games for the Owls. He readily recalls a heartbreaking loss to UMass-Dartmouth in the 2001 LEC championship game and a career high 36-point performance against rival Plymouth earlier that year when he drained eight second half three-points to secure the win for KSC.
Stantial’s competitive juices flowed every time he stepped on the court, even during a scrimmage against Franklin Pierce. “I remember a time out and their coach yelling out of his huddle “’All right, whose covering Bird,” Colbert said. “I think David torched them for about 40 points that night.”
Stantial had the uncanny ability to take his game to the next level when the game was on the line. “I always wanted to the ball at the end of a close game,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than all you teammates wanting you to take that shot and making it to win a game.”
Praise is never more appreciated then when it comes from opponents. Former Southern Maine Coach Dan Costigan lauded Stantial for his poise during crunch time. “What has always impressed me about Stantial is when the game is on the line, he has the rare ability to elevate his level of play and more often than not, dictate the game’s outcome.”
The only thing missing from Stantial’s impressive KSC basketball resume was a trip to the NCAA tournament. “The two LEC championship games I played in were so close and that makes it tough,” he said.
Despite not making the NCAAs, Stantial looks back on his Owl career and numerous honors with fond memories and thanks his teammates, coaches, and family for their support.
Living in Gloucester, Mass. with his wife Laurie, Stantial has worked the past six years for Summa Inc., an equipment manufacturer. As far as basketball concerned, he is still hoisting up three-point baskets. “This past summer I played in four different local leagues along with six weekend tournaments,” he said. “I play as often as possible and I will for as long as my body will let me.”