The State of Stanford Basketball Heading Into a Huge Road Trip

Posted by AMurawa on December 18th, 2013

Way back before the start of the season, I got caught up saying some silly things: Stanford Sweet Sixteen this, Stanford Pac-12 contender that. And everybody I mentioned that kind of thing to just sorta blew me off, not even really bothering to offer up much of a reason why such notions were wrong-headed. I stuck to my guns, seeing a potentially potent offense and enough athleticism and depth to improve upon a poor defensive effort last season. While a nonchalant four-point win in the opener over Bucknell wasn’t impressive, it was easily written off with excuses about “first game of the year” and “oh, Bucknell’s pretty tough,” both of which were probably true to some extent. But then, against BYU in the second game, Stanford scored 103 points at home. And lost. In regulation. By nine. Alarm bells went off.

While Stanford Has Had Plenty of Offensive Reasons For Excitement Early, Their Defense Has Let Them Down

While Stanford Has Had Plenty of Offensive Reasons For Excitement Early, Their Defense Has Let Them Down

The Cardinal got back on track briefly, plowing through four mediocre teams and setting up a meeting with another significant challenge against Pittsburgh in Brooklyn. And it was not good. The team showed no heart in giving up 1.33 points per possession, and the same old questions about Johnny Dawkins’ ability to either: (a) gameplan to take advantage of his players’ strengths, or (b) coach his players up to the point where they can improve from season to season re-emerged. Stanford was officially buried until it could do something to prove that the team deserved to be taken seriously this season.

Since that time, the Cardinal have taken care of some bad teams, worked through a tough finals week and lost senior guard Aaron Bright to a season-ending dislocated shoulder suffered in practice. But beginning tonight and continuing on Saturday, this team has a chance to prove that it should be taken seriously. Fail in these two games – tonight at Connecticut, and Saturday against Michigan in Brooklyn – and we’ll check back in with Stanford in early February to see if anything has really changed. Otherwise, throw these guys on the scrap heap.

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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.

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Stanford Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 18th, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Stanford.

What Went Right

After three years of showing signs of a mouthwatering combination of skill and athleticism, Dwight Powell exploded in his junior campaign. At 6’10” and a now well-built 235 pounds, Powell displayed the type of versatile game that will have him playing in the NBA following the completion of his college career. He’s always had the hops and size to throw down massive dunks, but he’s now got the ball-handling, basketball IQ and, perhaps most importantly, confidence to complete those types of plays with defenders in the area. Throw in an excellent feel for rebounding the ball, a developing jumper that is slowly approaching the three-point line, improved post moves and a variety of ways to finish in the paint and Powell has established himself as one of the best and most exciting players in the Pac-12.

Dwight Powell, Stanford

Dwight Powell Had A Breakout Season In His Junior Campaign (AP)

Before we leave this topic, we’ve got to spend a second on Andy Brown. After three ACL tears in his left knee, it was just assumed that the chances of the 6’7” forward every being a meaningful on-court contributor at the Division I level had passed. Instead, Brown made for one of the nicest stories in this or any other season. He played in all but one Cardinal game this season, averaged 23 minutes a night, and wasvery effective, displaying a toughness (as if you didn’t already know that a guy who had rehabbed from three torn ACLs was tough) and a feel for the game that can’t be taught. Already 22, he’s got at least one year of college eligibility ahead of him and here’s hoping it is another healthy and productive season.

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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 09.21.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 21st, 2012

  1. Coach Larry Krystowiak and Utah picked up a huge commitment this week as San Francisco City College combo guard Delon Wright verbally committed to the Utes. Wright got a sense of just how loud and exuberant Utah’s student section, The Muss, could be when he took a visit to Salt Lake City for last weekend’s Holy War. Krystowiak is certainly getting the guys in place to rebuild a dormant Utah program (four-star small forward Jordan Loveridge is the other big catch, who will be a freshman in 2012-13). Wright will arrive for the 2013-14 season and will have two years of eligibility remaining. He also drew interest from Gonzaga, Washington, Washington State, and St. Mary’s.
  2. Arsalan Kazemi, the man who entered Rice three seasons ago as the first ever native Iranian to play D-I basketball, was granted a transfer from the Owl program on Monday. The senior power forward told Sports Illustrated that Oregon and Kentucky were early leaders for his transfer options. Fall classes at Oregon don’t start until next Monday, September 24, making the Ducks a sensible option. Kazemi also told SI he intends to petition for a hardship waiver in order to play immediately, although he did not say on what grounds the waiver request would include. With the Ducks losing Olu Ashaolu, who emerged as a solid go-to guy in the post toward the end of last season, this would be a huge pick-up for Dana Altman. Kazemi is also in talks with Cincinnati, Texas, Florida, and Ohio State, and has denied that he might turn professional. He is the sixth player to leave Rice this offseason, with the other one of most note to Pac-12 fans being center Omar Oraby. Oraby transferred to USC last Thursday.
  3. Stanford got a pair of commitments from Las Vegas twins Malcolm and Marcus Allen earlier this week. Marcus, a shooting guard, seems more fit to garner early minutes as a freshman, but both definitely have talent at the one and two positions, respectively. Both brothers have been praised for their knack in scoring, making them perfect Johnny Dawkins prototypes. Perhaps even more impressive is the work they’ve done in the classroom, though, with both of them earning weighted 4.8 GPAs in their three years at Centennial High School. Both brothers will be eligible to play beginning in 2013-14.
  4. Stepping away from the recruiting and transfer news that dominates this time of year, Jeff Goodman has a terrific article on the “second chance kids” that will try to bring USC back to national relevance this season. Things got considerably tougher on Kevin O’Neill and company when star guard Maurice Jones announced he was transferring out of the program just a little over two weeks ago. Ruled academically ineligible 10 days before the announcement, Jones wouldn’t have played the 2012-13 season anyway. But it brought back more of the “what else can go wrong” feeling that haunted the Trojans all of last season. Even despite the loss of Jones, the Trojans figure to be much more competitive this year through the play of returnees and newcomers like Jio Fontan, J.T. Terrell, and Eric Wise.
  5. Lastly, it’s that time of year again where Drew and I get to exchange our weekly football picks. Last week Drew took advantage of a pair of home upsets (Stanford over USC and Utah over BYU) to pull within just three games of me.  Things should get really interesting beginning this week now that Pac-12 play begins in earnest. We’ve got a battle of the basement up on the Palouse (Colorado-Washington State), the Drew-Connor rivalry (Oregon State-UCLA), an in-state rivalry featuring two teams coming off close losses (California-USC), and our game of the week, Arizona-Oregon. Utah and Arizona State will also play each other, but I couldn’t think of anything creative for that one. Picks below, with our game of the week prediction in bold:
Game Connor’s Pick (26-7) Drew’s Pick (23-10)
Oregon State at UCLA UCLA UCLA
Colorado at Washington State Washington State Washington State
California at USC USC USC
Utah at Arizona State Arizona State Utah
Arizona at Oregon Oregon 31-17 Oregon 40-28
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