The Bootleg Presents: Hoops RoundTable I

Men's Hoops Editor Ray Salloom brings together some amazing folks to discuss Stanford men's basketball! Check out our first ever try at this concept, born out of the creative genius of our own Lars82, which we believe will become a regular feature here at The Bootleg!

Welcome to the first ever Bootleg Hoops Roundtable where we gather folks who love, live, and breathe hoops...and then some.  For our inagural article, we have the following three folks joining us on our panel:

Drew Shiller - Former Stanford basketball player turned color commentator starting with the 2010-11 season.  A multi-sport athlete, Drew came to Stanford via USF and contributed well for the Cardinal in his two seasons on the Farm.

John Platz - Former Stanford basketball player turned color commentator over 20 years ago now has the lead microphone in his hand, providing the play-by-play for all to hear.  John certainly knows the game inside and out and knows more about the game than this editor ever will.  John also is our sideline man for Stanford football.

"Roscoemaynard" - Former Stanford basketball player who has provided years and years of wisdom, witty remarks, and butt coil to The Bootleg through his time on the boards and through his weekly columns during the basketball season.

I posed seven questions to the panel this week, ranging from last weekend's loss to Cal and what they think Stanford should do if they are offered an invitation to play in the postseason.  Here's what they had to say:

(1) What positives/negatives can we take from the sound defeat we sustained in Berkeley on Saturday afternoon?

The freshman learned what the game in Berkeley is like.  You can be put on your heels pretty quickly due to the noise, energy of the home team, the usual "road venue" referee stuff.  Without coming in with a determined and aggressive mindset, you can fall behind quickly.  If the defender is blanketing you and the offense is breaking down, make a move, make a play on your own.  In my opinion, the frosh will have more of that dual mindset next year in Berkeley - and other tough road venues such as UW.  We also were "out-physical-ed" at Cal, which in part is a byproduct of our freshman-heavy rotation.  That won't be an issue next year.  For the remainder of this year, we need to get back to having guys keeping the word "rebounding" top of mind during games....blocking out, being quick to the ball, securing it, outletting the ball safely.  Awareness of rebounding fundamentals is more important when the other side has more experience and more beef on the glass.

"Roscoemaynard": Jeremy Green, and I continue to be impressed with the effort and attitude of Andrew Zimmerman and Jack Trotter.  Other than that, no positives at all.  Everyone else got whipped.

Shiller: There is no doubt that it was a very poor performance on practically every level.  The only positives were Jeremy Green (who was named 1st Team All-Pac 10 and that an ass kicking may give the team some motivation going forward.

(2) What areas have you seen this team progress (or regress if you believe this has happened) since Pac-10 play has started?

Point guard play has regressed since Oregon, which is really shocking.  I think our help defense has improved and our passing in offense is crisper.  Josh Huestis and John Gage have become contributors and Jeremy Green has really picked it up.  Our press breakers have improved.

Shiller: I gave a pretty detailed response that I posted on the Bootleg about 10 days ago that addresses this question.  [Ed's note: Here is a link to that very post which hit our beloved site - Drew's Post

Platz: There has been both progress and regression, and the cycle has repeated multiple times.  A significant reason - not the only one - is, once again, the frosh-laden rotation.  It's tough against the teams that have a lot of size and depth inside, we've battled but have given up a lot in that area of the court.  Beyond the size challenges, our younger players need to learn to play on both ends every minute that they are on the floor, can't be proud of this bucket or that pass, and then fail to concentrate and give effort on the defensive end on the ensuing play.  On the game-by-game aspect, can't rest on the laurels of this 20-point outing or that double-double or that streak of threes.  Consistent, difference-making, both-ends players don't pay a lot of attention to praise from persons other than coaches or teammates...they pay attention to the next play, the next game.

(3) What preparations go into getting ready for a conference tournament?

Stanford is in a situation where they need to run off four wins in four nights (extremely difficult to do) which means you need some excellent bench production/minutes to keep the starters fresh.  It's imperative to block out all distractions, which is also difficult to do for Stanford because it is almost finals time and classes are starting to come to an end.

Platz: Get organized, get organized, get organized.  School stuff, meeting up with family/friends in LA, ticket requests, etc.  Each day there is a game, and you need to prep your mind - and body, obviously - for that task.  Use the in-between hours wisely.  Some teams don't.

"Roscoemaynard": Well, back in the day we actually took finals during the conference tournament.  So you had to stay mentally very focused, which was a
strength of my teammates.  Mostly, you have to get ready to win your first game and know that if you do that, you have played the other team twice already.

(4) What are your thoughts/expectations/feelings regarding Stanford's opening round game versus the Oregon State Beavers?

I forsee Stanford having a good "bounceback" execution game on offense, coming off the Cal loss.  Oregon State is a wild card.  Five suspensions in their most recent game.  Do they mail it (the season) in?  Or will they be so relaxed that they actually make more "individual" plays than usual?  In particular, will Haynes be "on" offensively?  Will Burton being active in the paint on offense?  Will Nelson, the Santa Barbara High kid who put up 34 in their last game at ASU, parlay newfound confidence into staying on a roll offensively?  I don't see Starks - as a freshman - shooting well in (what I believe is) his first time playing in an NBA-sized venue.   

"Roscoemaynard": My understanding from talking with some friends that went to the Cornneckistanlis game was that we were horrendeous defensively.  Tighten that up and pound the ball in the paint and we win by 10.  The Nutria have lost three in a row, they are primed for another loss - they expect it.

Shiller: Stanford should, and I expect them to beat Oregon State - there is no way Oregon State will shoot the ball as well as they did in the most recent meeting in Corvallis, and the coaching staff will have the team adequately prepared on the defensive end

(5) If we do advance, what are your thoughts/expectations/feelings regarding what would be their QF game versus the Arizona Wildcats?

Can someone please inform our big men that Williams like to go right.  Make him go left, where he is only really good, and make Momo go left, too.
And then get the ball to Owens and let him attack Williams.

Shiller: Although Arizona won the conference, it is not a bad matchup for Stanford. In the first meeting in Tucson, the Cardinal didn't play very well and were within five with four minutes to go.  In the second meeting at Maples, Stanford led by five with 14 minutes left and it was tied with four minutes left...Arizona is beatable and hasn't been playing their best basketball over the last four games.

Platz: UA will be fresh, of course.  Cats are very well coached in all phases, including the "mental" side.  Little danger of taking its opponent too lightly.  Also, they have something to prove in LA, given the "o-fer" they produced on this year's SoCal road swing.  MoMo is perhaps a bit sore at being just an honorable mention all Pac-10 pick, so there's that possible factor.  Tough task, all in all.  But, on the other hand, they have less "experienced" size inside than do the other "upper half" seeds, so that makes the matchup not quite so daunting.

(6) What are you final thoughts on the regular season?

[Ed's Note: Please see the following post we referenced earlier for Drew's detailed answer - Drew's Post

Platz: For a while now I have compared this team with our 1985-86 team.  Two freshmen - Lichti and Wright - started that year, and the final record was 14-16 (6-12).  This team likely will finish with a very comparable record.  The 85-86 group freshmen, when it became an upperclass group and including the redshirt year guys Meinert and Reveno, became a top ten caliber team.  This group of freshmen, plus Andy Brown, likewise numbers more than a half dozen guys, and my bet is that they will push each other and develop a lot like that group a quarter century ago.  Unlike with that group, however, in my opinion there will be multiple NCAA Tournament appearances between now and the time for the current freshman class exits Palo Alto.

"Roscoemaynard": We have been surprisingly good at times, but relentlessly unfocused on offense.  Defensively, we have had some lapses over the last half of the season that cost us a .500 record in conference.  We finished a game or two one way or the other from where we should in conference, but we dumped a
couple in Anaheim we should have had!  I really like the toughness the freshmen displayed this year.

(7) Finally, if the Cardinal do not win the conference tournament, there is an outside chance they could still be invited to another postseason tournament.  Should the Cardinal choose to participate and if so/if not, why/why not?

On our Monday night radio show, Coach Johnny Dawkins indicated that Stanford desires to play in a postseason tournament, if invited to participate in one following the Pac-10 Conference Tournament, in a continuing effort to accelerate the development along team and individual learning curves.

"Roscoemaynard": You bet you go play.  We have no seniors, we need every practice, shootaround, and game we can get.

Shiller: Yes, Stanford should accept a postseason invitation.  It is valuable experience and an opportunity to win more games and develop momentum into the offseason.

Thanks for joining us for this week's Bootleg Hoops Roundtable!  Stay tuned for next week's edition!
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