Pac-12 M5: 12.13.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 13th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Utah has received, and frankly earned, plenty of criticism over the weakness of its non-conference schedule this season. Games against BYU and Boise State are solid, of course, but past that you’re delving into teams like Fresno State (bad), Idaho State (worse), Savannah State (oh, for crying out loud) and Evergreen State (are you serious? Is that even a place?). But certainly part of the reason for that is the fact that head coach Larry Krystkowiak was welcoming to Salt Lake City an almost entirely new roster, again. Beginning next season, expect things to beef up some, as the Utes will play Kansas in a “neutral” site game in Kansas City, as well as traveling to the Caribbean to compete in a Puerto Rico Tip-Off event. Now all that is well and good, but where the Utes have ditched the possibility of scheduling home-and-homes with in-state schools Utah State and Weber State, they are now struggling to come together with BYU and extend that particular series. And that would be completely unacceptable.
  2. Speaking of scheduling, do you realize that it is now the middle of December and Oregon State has played exactly five games? How does that happen? Sure, it allows Craig Robinson to brag about the fact that his team has only lost twice so far (nevermind that those losses were to Coppin State and DePaul), but after Arkansas Pine-Bluff was kept at home last weekend by an ice storm, the Beavers are in the midst of 12 straight days without a game. They’ll make up for some of it later in the month with three games in four days as part of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, but clearly the Beavers have yet to build any momentum.
  3. Doug Haller of AZCentral.com shares a post comparing the top six assist guys in the Pac-12 and the differences in how those assists are handed out. For instance, Oregon’s Jonathan Loyd, the conference’s assist leader, hands out 31 percent of his assists to Mike Moser, and 34 percent of all his assists lead to layups or dunks. While that last number is certainly a fine amount, UCLA’s Kyle Anderson, on the other hand, creates dunks or layups on better than 60 percent of all his assists.
  4. We’re a little bit late to this unfortunate piece of news, but Stanford took a big loss earlier this week when it was announced that senior point guard Aaron Bright’s season and collegiate career are over due to a dislocated right shoulder. He’ll undergo surgery in January. His loss marks the third Stanford player lost for the season to injury (Andy Brown’s career was ended by yet another torn ACL in the offseason, and Christian Sanders is out for the year with a hip injury), while forward Rosco Allen has yet to play a game due to a stress fracture. None of this makes things any easier for head coach Johnny Dawkins as he tries to keep his job in Palo Alto. As for Bright, the high point of his career will go down as his run to the postseason NIT MVP honors during his sophomore campaign.
  5. Lastly, we’ve got plenty of good match-ups this weekend, but without a doubt, the Pac-12 highlight is Arizona’s trip to Michigan on Saturday where the Wildcats will try to fight through a raucous road crowd in order to defend their #1 ranking. Mitch McGary and company will give Sean Miller’s frontcourt perhaps their biggest test of the season to this point, while guys like Nik Stauskas, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin will test their perimeter defense. Adam Butler of Pachoops.com got together with Dylan Burkhart of UMHoops.com to preview the battle.
Share this story

Pac-12 Team Preview: Stanford Cardinal

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on October 30th, 2013

We continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings.

Stanford Cardinal

Strengths. Experience and depth. Oh, and a lot of talent. This Cardinal roster is littered with upperclassmen, with seniors Dwight Powell, Aaron Bright and Josh Huestis expected be in a starting lineup joined by a couple of juniors in Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown. More upperclassmen are among the names of  the guys in competition to contribute off the bench – John Gage, Stefan Nastic, Robbie Lemons. And if there are still some holes left after listing those guys – and there definitely are – the freshmen and sophomores on this club are generally highly regarded players who are expected to be able to fill roles around the stars on this team; prospects like Grant Verhoeven, Rosco Allen, Christian Sanders, Elliott Bullock, and twin guards Marcus and Malcolm Allen.

Stanford Basketball Has Enough Talented Veteran Depth To Return To The NCAA Tournament (Steve Solis / PRPhotos.com)

Stanford Basketball Has Enough Talented Veteran Depth To Return To The NCAA Tournament (Steve Solis / PRPhotos.com)

Weaknesses. There’s all that veteran talent, but the most this group has accomplished in their time on The Farm is an NIT title a couple years back. And while that was a genuine accomplishment for a program coming back from the ashes left in the wake of Trent Johnson’s departure, last year the Cardinal failed to improve upon it. The blame for the lack of success comes down on the head of one man: head coach Johnny Dawkins. He’s assembled plenty of talent in Palo Alto, but now is the time for his group to put it all together. A lot of that will have to do with finding a coherent rotation. Last year, 12 different players on this team played in more than 20 games and averaged more than five minutes per game; nine of them averaged more than 10 minutes per contest. Ideally, we’d like to see Dawkins find his eight-man rotation and, depending on the circumstance or the opponent, rotate a ninth guy in there as needed. But these players need to know their roles, and even if it means some of the guys on the bench wind up wearing a redshirt or seeing a year of eligibility go down the tubes, that may be better in the long run for the ultimate goals of the program.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Five Takeaways From Stanford’s Exhibition Game on Sunday

Posted by KDanna on November 5th, 2012

Stanford played an exhibition game against UNC Pembroke on Sunday afternoon at Maples Pavilion, and here are five thoughts on the Cardinal’s performance.

Josh Huestis had a double-double for the Cardinal in 14-point exhibition victory over UNC Pembroke. (credit: Bob Drebin)

  1. Too close for comfort? The final score read Stanford 85, UNC Pembroke 71, but it was a single-digit game for most of the way, and Stanford actually trailed the Braves 8-2 about six minutes into the game. As we discussed with Washington’s exhibition nail-biter, however, the closeness of the game doesn’t really mean too much. Also, Stanford’s Dwight Powell and Stefan Nastic didn’t play in this game for undisclosed reasons. Don’t judge this team before the November 9 opener against San Francisco.
  2. John Gage has diversified his game. The official roster says Gage has put on 10 pounds from last year to this year, and it showed in the way he plays. The junior known for his shooting touch held his own strength-wise against a 255-pound UNC Pembroke post player and had a sequence in the first half where he blocked a shot, stole a post entry pass, got a couple of rebounds, and hit a three. These are exactly the kind of things Gage needs to do to earn more minutes on the floor. As one of the tallest guys on the team, Gage will need to prove he can play in the post and body up with the likes of a Kaleb Tarczewski, Aziz N’Diaye or Josh Smith. If he can hold his own on the defensive end, Gage will be rewarded with more time and hence more opportunities to unleash it from deep on the offensive end. At the end of the day, Gage amassed 11 points and seven rebounds to go along with two blocks and two steals.
  3. Josh Huestis is more confident with the rock. The shooting stroke was already there for Huestis last year, but he was hardly consistent from outside of the key. While he didn’t connect on three three-point attempts, he showed more assertiveness in his jump shot and connected on 50 percent of his field goal attempts, not all of which were bunnies (one left wing 18-footer comes to mind). He also did all the other things that makes Huestis so valuable to the team, grabbing 12 rebounds and swatting away a shot.
  4. It will take some time for the freshmen to get adjusted. Each of the three new guys (Rosco Allen, Christian Sanders and Grant Verhoeven) showed why they were sought by Johnny Dawkins and his staff, but they will all understandably need at least a few games to be able to contribute in a meaningful manner to the Cardinal lineup. The biggest positive for the freshmen is that none of them seemed to shy away from the moment — Sanders swished a jumper on his second offensive possession of the game, Allen calmly stroked a 17-footer, and Verhoeven — as advertised — didn’t mind getting dirty down low and collecting an offensive rebound to go along with six points and two assists.
  5. Free throws. This team only shot 67 percent from the free throw line last year, often missing key tries late in games to keep the opposition alive. It wasn’t any better against the Braves yesterday, as the Cardinal made just 21 of its 33 free throw attempts for the game (64 percent). Yes, it was just an exhibition game and yes, there were probably some first-game jitters involved, but that percentage needs to be around 70% to give the Cardinal the best chance to pull out close games in the regular season.
Share this story

Stanford Week: Q&A With Pachoops’ Adam Butler

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 22nd, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the Stanford basketball program, we head back to Adam Butler of Pachoops for his perspective on the Cardinal basketball program. Adam and I go over every pressing topic surrounding the team’s immediate future, including how they plan on replacing three key seniors and expectations for sophomore-to-be extraordinaire, Chasson Randle. Here’s our conversation:

RTC: How do the Cardinal replace players like Josh Owens, Jarrett Mann, and Andrew Zimmerman?

AB: First of all, you don’t replace an Andrew Zimmerman. Beards like that don’t come around often, but when they do, they’re irreplaceable. On the court, however, Mann and Zimmerman were very solid role players and integral to the success of a Johnny Dawkins team in which hustle and defense would seem to be heavily rewarded. How else does a guy averaging 3 PPG and 3 RPG (Mann) play 20 MPG? So replacing those guys in some respects is easy in that they brought effort to the table. Guys like Josh Huestis, Gabriel Harris, and John Gage should be able to fill those roles. But it’s Owens who leaves the most gaping hole in the Cardinal lineup. Hustle, effort, all of the Tebow stuff, cannot replace talent, and Josh Owens had that. I loved his game and believe he’ll be tough to replace. But this is a roster seemingly full of eligible Owens replacements. My favorite of those candidates is Dwight Powell, who has length and athleticism for days but basketball IQ for minutes. Some more floor time for the rangy Canadian should go a long way in helping the Cardinal replace Owens. I’ll talk about Anthony Brown later.

Before Playing Basketball At Stanford, Zimmerman Starred As The Geico Caveman

RTC: Through some luck and upsets along the way, Stanford never faced a team seeded higher than fifth in the NIT. Do you think it would have won the whole thing if they had to face teams like Mississippi, Arizona, and Seton Hall instead of Illinois State, Nevada, and Massachusetts?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Stanford Week: Trio Of Highly Rated Recruits Arrive At Stanford

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 20th, 2012

The 2012-13 version of the Cardinal will not be missing any redshirts or transfers, but coach Johnny Dawkins does welcome in three highly rated recruits. Below, we’ll introduce you to each of those three newcomers, roughly in the order of impact that they’ll have on their new team.

  • Rosco Allen, Freshman, Wing, 6’9” 210 lbs, Bishop Gorman High School, Las Vegas, NV – Allen is a classic Johnny Dawkins wing, one who is big enough to bang on the boards but has a tremendous outside stroke as well. The one knock on Allen is his speed, especially in trying to guard the perimeter. That means he needs to bulk up this summer so he is able to guard opponents at the four. Allen should receive good minutes early on next season, but those will quickly dwindle if he isn’t able to keep up on the defensive end. The Cardinal have more than their share of big and lanky defenders in the post, so it’s either bulk up and play down there or improve lateral quickness in order to see more minutes at a less-filled three position on the roster. With that said, Allen didn’t receive offers from North Carolina, UNLV, and UCLA for nothing. He’s basically a bigger Chasson Randle, and he will definitely leave a footprint with the Cardinal by the time he leaves.

    Allen Has the Potential To Be The Next Chasson Randle By The Time He Leaves Palo Alto (credit: Sam Morris)

  • Grant Verhoeven, Freshman, Center, 6’8” 215 lbs, Central Valley Christian High School, Visalia, CA – With the exception of Brook and Robin Lopez, Stanford has traditionally had smaller centers who have great offensive touch. Verhoeven fits perfectly within this description as he can not only knock down the elbow jumper, but has nice footwork and can turn over either shoulder and score the ball inside. Unfortunately, the one knock on the center is a big one; he has trouble scoring over bigger and more athletic post players, something he’ll run into often against Pac-12 opponents. Still, he has tremendous upside, and after a year in Dawkins’ system, he should be set to gain major minutes down the road. With so many players at a little-used position, Verhoeven will have a tough time earning solid minutes immediately, but down the road he is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Stanford: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 25th, 2012

Over the course of the next two weeks, the Pac-12 Microsite will break down each team’s season: what went well, what didn’t, and a look ahead at the future. Today’s subject: Stanford.

What Went Right

The Cardinal dominated its non-conference schedule, winning 15 of their 17 games outside of the Pac-12. It wasn’t the toughest non-conference schedule in the world, but Johnny Dawkins’ team did wind up with a pair of wins against NCAA Tournament teams (Colorado State and North Carolina State) prior to their conference slate, then ripped through a field of also-rans in the NIT in March. All told, the Cardinal displayed a pretty drastic improvement on the defensive end of the court, finishing in the top 20 nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency numbers. And for a team that relied heavily on underclassmen (five different freshmen and sophomores played at least 40% of the team’s total minutes), there should still be plenty of room to improve, especially on the offensive end, in the near future.

What Went Wrong

While all that youth should pay off next year, it was the undoing of the Cardinal during the conference season. After getting off to a 5-1 start in Pac-12 play, the Cardinal lost five of their next six and struggled mightily, especially on the offensive end. Between Martin Luther King Day and Valentine’s Day they scored just 0.92 points per possession, highlighted by sophomore Aaron Bright’s 22-of-70 shooting during that stretch, good for just a 37.9% eFG.

In A Solid Year, As Aaron Bright Went, So Did The Cardinal (credit: Zach Sanderson)

MVP

On a squad that was a model of a team effort (11 different players averaged at least eight minutes per game, with six different players averaging somewhere between five points and 13 points per night), it is hard to pick out just one player, but the Cardinal were clearly a team whose fates aligned closely with Bright’s performance. He averaged four more points per game, one more assist and shot the ball nearly 20% better from behind the arc in wins than in losses. When Bright was going good, he was a tough defender, a confident floor general, and a deadly three-point shooter who made opposing defenses pay for collapsing in on interior players like senior Josh Owens. While there is something to be said for Owens’ 11.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 57.1% field goal percentage (not to mention freshman Chasson Randle’s team-leading 13.8 points per game), Bright was really the most important player on this team, as evidenced by his near-perfect run through the NIT when he averaged 16.8 points, 4.2 assists and shot a whopping 79.5% eFG.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Arizona Scores Big With Kaleb Tarczewski Commit

Posted by AMurawa on October 31st, 2011

Monday was a big day on the recruiting front in the Pac-12, with Arizona garnering the biggest headlines by getting a commitment from 7’0” center Kaleb Tarczewski – the sixth rated 2012 recruit according to ESPNU and eighth according to Scout. Tarczewski puts a nice bow on Sean Miller’s second-straight top-five recruiting class and likely seals up the top overall ranking for Arizona. Joining Tarczewski in Tucson next year will be 6’8” power forward Brandon Ashley (Scout’s #3 recruit, ESPNU’s #4), 6’10” center Grant Jerrett (Scout #23, ESPNU #9) and 6’2” shooting guard Gabe York (Scout #42, ESPNU #36). And, Miller’s still got a line in on the recruitment of the top recruit in the 2012 class, Shabazz Muhammad, although it appears UA trails a few others schools in that race. Most impressive, perhaps, about the job Miller has done is the fact that the Wildcats are once again recruiting on a national basis, pulling not only kids from California and the Southwest, but going back east and stealing Tarczewski away from Kansas, among others.

Sean Miller, Arizona

Miller Just Scored The Sixth-Ranked Recruit In The 2012 Class

Regardless, Miller has put together an impressive cast of characters in the desert. With his four-man 2011 recruiting class still just getting its feet wet, the Wildcats could have an impressive two-deep roster next year, allowing him to play a full ten-man (or more) rotation, as he seems to prefer. Check out this potential depth chart for 2011-12:

  • PG          Josiah Turner/Jordin Mayes
  • SG          Nick Johnson/Gabe York
  • SF           Kevin Parrom/Solomon Hill
  • PF           Brandon Ashley/Angelo Chol
  • C             Kaleb Traczewski/ Sidiki Johnson
Share this story