Looking through the media guide there have been 144 basketball games and 46 football games. A conservative estimate is that I have written 160 scouting reports.
Why am I telling you this? It's because at times I get bored of doing them. Too often I use the same old format and it gets a bit tedious.
So today I am going to mix it up. I am going to tweak the format and have some fun with it. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't. Hopefully you'll learn something.
STANFORD'S BEST PLAYER: PG Chris Hernandez. The kid isn't the most talented, but he may be the best leader in the Pac-10. He is smart, tough and has a knack for the game. He is somewhat similar to Richard Midgley, but I think he is a better all around player.
PLAYER STANFORD MUST STOP: Channing Frye. Most teams seem intent on stopping Salim Stoudamire, but the Cats have proved that they can win without the senior shooter. So far the better Frye plays, the better the offense plays.
TOUGHEST MATCH-UP FOR ARIZONA: Rob Little. The Cats are more physical this year, but they don't have anyone quite as strong as Little. He could have a big day and Stanford could still use.
MOST IMPORTANT BODY PART (STANFORD): Chirs Hernandez's back. He missed the ASU game and if he is limited against Arizona it could be a long day.
MOST IMPORTANT BODY PART (ARIZONA): Salim Stoudamire's head. Cats need Stoudamire to remain focused and into what he needs to do, even if it isn't scoring.
DID YOU KNOW: The loss to ASU snapped an 18-game home win streak for Stanford. It also snapped a 13-game win streak by the Cardinal over the Sun Devils.
WHO COULD FORGET: Arizona lost last year's game when Robinson launched a desperation shot from just over the time line. The fans, including one Tiger Woods, stormed the floor. The Cats haven't forgotten either and would love a little revenge.
PREDICTION: A few years ago when the Cardinal list Casey Jacobson and Curtis Borchardt I thought there was no way the Cardinal could remain an elite player. I actually thought they might finish as low as eighth. Instead they hardly missed a beat. After they lost Josh Childress, Matt Lottich and Justin Davis I thought that on paper they looked to slip, but I told myself that they were still a good program and Trent Johnson would pick up where Monty left off.
That hasn't happened. The Cardinal lack depth and athleticism. They also seem to miss Mike Montgomery. That guy could flat out coach.
This one will not be easy, but the Cats are just playing so well and have so much depth. I see Stanford hanging around most of the game but by the 10:00 mark of the second half the Cats will have a commanding lead and coast to victory.
AROUND THE PAC-10
ASU at Cal: Despite the lopsided loss against Arizona I actually liked what I saw from ASU. I can't say the same about Cal. Quite frankly, I'm not sure how they hung around so long. I think the Devils are the better team and should win a close one. Of course in a coaching contest I'd take Braun over Evans any day. That being said, Devils win late and get a much-needed sweep.
WSU at USC: On paper the Trojans are the better team. Luckily for WSU they don't play these games on paper. WSU is tough and determined. They gave UCLA all they could handle and have been a team that is tough to play. Conversely, the Trojans appear to be mailing in the season until Tim Floyd shows up next fall. I say the Cougars control the tempo and get the win.
Washington at UCLA: The Bruins almost choked the game away to WSU and will have their hands full with the Huskies. UW is the better team, but somehow I smell an upset. A close game at least. The Huskies need this game to hold serve with Arizona (assuming the Cats beat Stanford). I'm picking the Huskies because Nate Robinson is the best player, but I feel the Bruins can make it a game.
Oregon State at Oregon: This is the toughest game to pick. Oregon should be the better team, but Jay John has his team playing so well right now. It is an important game for both teams, but actually more important for the Ducks who need to win at home after already dropping a game at McArthur Court. That being said, I'll take the Beavers to win a close one.