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.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.07.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 7th, 2011

  1. Real games start TONIGHT, but it was all about the exhibitions this weekend. On Saturday night in Pullman, Washington State hammered Lewis-Clark State, 88-41. Considering that the Cougars were without their best player, junior point guard Reggie Moore, this was a great result for Ken Bone’s team. Moore went down with a groin injury in a scrimmage against Montana on Oct. 30. He and senior shooting guard Fasial Aden, who suffered a concussion in the scrimmage, are both questionable for the Nov. 14 season opener at Gonzaga. In Moore’s place was freshman combo guard DaVonte Lacy, who led the Cougars with 21 points. Another newcomer, Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd, had 14 points for the Cougs.
  2. Arizona State played on the road for its lone exhibition game, something only one other D-I team has done so far this year. The Sun Devils spoiled the opening of Grand Canyon’s new arena, using a 52-point second half outburst to propel them to a 89-69 win on Saturday afternoon. With the lack of a true center, the Devils used a three-guard lineup for most of the game. Three starters — Chris Colvin, Keala King, and Trent Lockett — led the team with 15 points each. Colvin was the biggest surprise, as the Palm Beach CC transfer let everyone know the Devils would be just fine at point for however long Jahii Carson is out. “He played with a lot of confidence,” coach Herb Sendek said. “He does have some good swag to his game.” Next up for Arizona State is their regular season opener against Montana State on Friday.
  3. Seattle Pacific couldn’t possibly do it again, could they? After beating Arizona a couple of weeks ago, they hung with Washington for a half on Friday night, but in the end Tony Wroten, Jr., and company were just too much for the Falcons. The former Garfield High (WA) star stole the show with ten points, six rebounds, and four assists, one of which was an alley-oop that brought all of the 9,481 in attendance to their feet (start at the 5:30 point). Seven freshmen made their debuts in a Husky uniform, but only Wroten, Jr., and wing Martin Breunig had good performances. Breunig had eight points and two turnovers. Next up for Washington is the regular season opener against Georgia State on Saturday.
  4. The surprise of the weekend came in Salt Lake City, where Adams State shocked Utah thanks to a Chris Webber-like technical foul with 11 seconds left. With the game tied, Utah freshman guard Kareem Storey signaled for timeout when the Runnin’ Utes did not have any left, giving Adams State two free throws. Deray Wilson put one of the two away, which would prove to be enough after the Utes threw away the ensuing inbound pass. Even though it is just an exhibition and the players have said all of the right things, this could really hurt a young team’s confidence, especially since they had virtually none to begin with. If they come out with a less-than-stellar performance in their regular season opener against San Diego Christian next Monday, the season might be over before it really even gets started.
  5. If you have not already, be sure to get your votes in for the first round of our microsite ESPNU Pac-12 Logo Tournament. Due to a bigger-than-anticipated response, we expanded the first round so everyone had a chance to vote over the weekend. But the quarterfinals will begin Wednesday, so make sure to check back and vote for your favorite before we close the polls at Midnight tonight!
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.03.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 3rd, 2011

  1. The Pac-12 sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament last season, but apparently that isn’t enough to be “relevant.” The loss of Derrick Williams, close exhibition wins (and losses) so far this year, not playing on ESPN enough, and only having two teams in the Big Dance two years ago are the reasons for this, FoxSports’ Billy Witz says. “It’s the quality from top to bottom that gets you progress,” says California coach Mike Montgomery. “There’s been the notion that the Oregon States and the Washington States weren’t any good, so it didn’t make any difference if you beat them because they’re not any good anyway.” The same is true in nonconference play; if UCLA or California gets a big win against a Top 25 team but Oregon State loses to Utah Valley State on the same night, the wins don’t even matter. In fact, the losses will sometimes get more attention. If the Pac-12 is going to be relevant in everyone’s eyes across the nation, teams like Oregon are going to have to prove themselves by beating or at least staying close with the Vanderbilts and Nebraskas of the world.
  2. Washington will face Seattle Pacific in an exhibition tomorrow night and Percy Allen has the preview. The Falcons, as you surely recall, knocked off Arizona last Thursday in Tucson and will look to do the same thing against the Dawgs in Seattle. Wins against D-I opponents aren’t anything new though for SPU, as they defeated Eastern Washington and Nevada as well last season. “It’s been fun,” coach Ryan Looney said. “Our coaches have done a good job preparing for those games and obviously our kids are motivated to play them too. The Falcons outrebounded the #16 Wildcats, 29-20, so yeah, I’ll say they were pretty prepared. “You always would like to win, but I think what’s really important is that we go through game preparations the way we’re going to go through it next Friday in our nonconference opener (against Georgia State),” coach Lorenzo Romar said. It may be just me, but I think only a coach who was worried about losing that game would say that.
  3. In other exhibition news, Oregon won the only Pac-12 game of the night, an 82-75 victory over Grand Canyon. The Ducks looked anything but impressive in the first half as the Antelopes threw out some unique defensive combinations that seemed to confuse the Oregon guards. UO had 17 turnovers on the night, but the key stat was 33 — as in 33 free throws made. If not for GCU fouling so much (which seems to be a common theme among D-II opponents this year) the Antelopes could have very easily won this game. Instead Dana Altman’s team, led by forward E.J. Singler and center Tony Woods (16 points each) escaped with a win. The game was played in front of 6,271 people at TTATT.
  4. Derek Hart previews the UCLA in this article. The Bruins have been picked at or near the top of the Pac-12 by pretty much every preseason publication out there, mainly due to their frontcourt. They have the deepest group of big men in the conference, and possibly the nation, led by junior forward Reeves Nelson and sophomore center Joshua Smith. Both averaged double figure points last season. The addition of the Wear twins, David and Travis, not only bolsters the depth in the paint but on the perimeter as well. Due to renovations at Pauley Pavilion, Bruin home games will be spread out across the greater Los Angeles area this year. They will play14 games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena (former home of USC),  four at the Honda Center in Anaheim, and one game at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
  5. The fate of Arizona State’s season relies on forward Kyle Cain and guard Trent Lockett, the latter of whom is featured in this story by Doug Haller. With freshman guard Jahii Carson most likely ineligible due to academics, this will be Lockett’s team to lead. In his first year he was named to the Pac-10 all-Freshman team; last season he was second-team all-Pac-10; and this year he wants to climb the ladder even higher. Before he does that though he needs to improve the range on his jumper. There might not be another guard in the league that has the mid-range jumper AND offensive rebounding ability that he has, but if this Sun Devil team is going to make a respectable postseason tournament, Lockett has to be able to knock down the three with consistency.
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Pac-12 Media Day Recap: Part One

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 31st, 2011

The Pac-12 Basketball Media Day took place Friday in Los Angeles. Here is part one of our coverage, where we will take a look at the top three quotes from each of the six northern schools.  Tomorrow morning we’ll cover the southern schools.

Washington (full transcript available here)

  • Coach Lorenzo Romar on the importance of playing schools like Duke and Marquette in nonconference play: “I think as we’ve seen over the last several years, our conference usually is evaluated based on our nonconference schedule in terms of a national perception. Sometimes an opinion is formed in the preseason, and then sometimes the nation doesn’t look back to see what teams are doing. So, again, we’re faced with it. There are a number of teams in our conference that have high profile, non-conference games. I think it’s important that we do well in those games.”
  • Coach Romar on Seattle Pacific-Arizona: “My thoughts are that in an exhibition game, it’s a time to experiment. It’s a time to teach. It’s a time to learn. I am very fortunate. We’re fortunate that we didn’t have an exhibition game last night, trust me. The way I see it from a coach’s perspective is I’m sure they got a lot out of it. Seattle Pacific went in there and obviously gave them a great ballgame and challenged them. That they have some new players as well. Some young players. That gives them a perspective of what level you have to be at at this level. So a game like that can do a lot more good for a team than if they were to play someone and blow them out by 50 or 60 and give them a false sense of who they were.”

UW Fans Are Hyped About the Arrival of Local Hero Wroten

  • Coach Romar on freshman point guard Tony Wroten, Jr.: “Tony Wroten, I can almost guarantee you, not a hundred percent, but I can — I’m willing to say that people will be surprised at Tony Wroten, and I’m not talking about the level of player he is, he’s an exceptional basketball player. But when they see how he will get on the floor and dive for a ball. How they can see that playing defense and things like that are really some of the intangible things that are important to him. When people see that, I think people have a different impression of what they thought he was going to be like. I think he’s been labeled somewhat of a show boat, show man, and that’s all he cares about. I think if you’re a Husky fan, people will be pleasantly surprised but that’s not totally him. He has fun. He enjoys the game. But at the same time, he’s a really tough competitor. So he’s done well.

Thoughts: Wroten, Jr., sounds even better than originally advertised, which is still pretty great. Definitely has the potential to be the next Isaiah Thomas or Brandon Roy for the Huskies.

Washington State (full transcript available here)

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Pac-12 After the Buzzer: Panic in Tucson?

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 28th, 2011

The Lede.  In the “Did that just happen” category, we have the Seattle Pacific Falcons, who promptly marched into the McKale Center on Thursday night and stunned the Arizona Wildcats, 69-68, in the first Pac-12 exhibition game of the season. This wasn’t your usual “LeMoyne over Syracuse” upset, where a D-II team gets very lucky and catches multiple breaks. The Falcons came in with an excellent game plan, executed it to perfection, and just flat out-played the Cats for 40 minutes. SPU understandably came out tight, with the Wildcats scoring the first six points of the game and the Falcons not making a basket until Jobi Wall put home a three two and a half minutes in. From there until the final ten minutes of the SECOND half, it was all Falcons, building up a thirteen-point advantage that they would hold on to for most of the game.

Get 'Em Out of Your System Now, Coach... (credit: Az Republic/D. Kadlubowski)

Arizona would finally regain the lead at 63-61 with 4:03 left, but Wall put the Falcons back on top with a layup two minutes later. The last minute of the game was absolute nuts, beginning with Arizona’s Solomon Hill bringing the Cats to within three with a free throw with 23 seconds remaining. After an SPU miss on the free throw line, Arizona pulled within one on a layup with five seconds to go. The inbounds pass would then be intercepted at half court, but a desperation three at the buzzer by the freshman Nick Johnson would fall short, clinching the surprising one-point victory for the Falcons.
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