A team loaded with Ju-Co transfers can mean one of two things. Either these are guys who are super-talented but for off-the-court reasons couldn't make the D-I jump right away, or there were simply on-the-court reasons why they weren't ready for college hoops straight out of high school.
Tonight, the latter seemed to be more fitting of the Central
Arkansas Bears, as Stanford blew past the Conway cronies 91-52 in the friendly
confines of Maples Pavilion.
Don't get me wrong- Corliss Williamson had a
couple of very athletic and impressive guys on his team. Mark Rutledge appears
ready to assume the title of team leader and LaQuentin Miles can get buckets for
days. But tonight was about Johnny Dawkins' side and his troops on Veteran's Day
earning him his 50th career coaching victory.
The game started out slow.
Not sloppy, just slow. Neither team could hit the backside of a barn for the
first four minutes. After that, the Cardinal offense took off in a big way,
jump-started by the backcourt tandem of Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle, or
Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright. They both shone equally tonight.
announced his presence on the college stage Friday with an and-one finish at the
hoop to give the Farm Boys their first points of the season. It was just what
the doctor ordered for Stanford, and it was just the start of a very productive
night for the Rock Island Rook.
He finished with 15 points, six rebounds
and four assists, but the most impressive aspect of his game tonight was
watching him handle UCA's version of "40 minutes of hell". Seeing him break
backcourt pressure and double teams with relative ease was a thing of beauty. It
made my heart skip a beat, weaken my knees and bring a tear of joy to my
eyes. You don't see what he did every day at the collegiate level. I know
I'm giving him a lot of praise and I hope he doesn't read this article because I
don't want to put the added pressure on him, but he was an absolute pleasure to
Aaron Bright was not to be outdone, though. His 16 points
led the way for the Cardinal as he found a nice rhythm from outside (80 percent
ain't too shabby). But you and I already knew Aaron was a dead-eye shooter, what
we didn't necessarily know was that he could pull out a few Showtime-esque
passes in the run of play, to borrow a soccer term. Before tonight, the last
time I saw Stanford attempt a behind-the-back pass like Aaron's was a two-on-one
situation against USC at home in the 2007-08 season. The result of the play led
to Coach Johnson saying in practice a couple of days later "I got my point guard
throwing behind the back passes?! (there's more to this quote, but contextually
the latter part makes no sense and would take an extra 200 words to explain)".
It wasn't in a good way; we turned the ball over on that play.
Even Trent Johnson would have smiled had he seen the behind-the-back bounce pass that Aaron
Bright fed to Chasson Randle in transition for an easy lay-in. It was the
prettiest pass all game and drew an NBA-Jam like "whoopsies!" out of me on the
gostanford.com webcast. That was the first true flair of swagger that this
Cardinal team has shown in a while, and plays like that can do wonders for a
team's confidence (just ask Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Washington during that
recent two-year stretch when they beat us six times). The pride of Bellevue
wasn't done with the dimes, either. He dropped three more that, while not as
flashy, were just as impressive from a distribution standpoint.
were others that certainly looked good. How ‘bout that ‘Bama Boy?! Gabe had
easily one of his strongest outings donning a Cardinal uniform with 12 points.
It was the conviction with which he went after loose balls and got to the rack
that impressed me most. Why, he had three offensive rebounds tonight! The
rebounding from all our guards was great to see. Five to the glass really paid
off for the Cardinal.
"Bigs" were solid. Josh Owens, a pedestrian 13 and
six. Did what he needed to in just 20 minutes on the floor. Why play him more
when you don't need to in a laugher like this? Andrew Zimmerman, got the start
tonight and once again did the little things you don't see in a stat sheet, as
one Bootie posted earlier about the game. Good screens, nice shows, plus a
couple of nice basket finishes- one baby hook in particular had me nod my head
Was this game perfect? No. Twenty-two of 38 from the
charity stripe wasn't what I or any other Bootie was hoping for. How much of
that can be chalked up to first-game jitters and getting adjusted to shooting
F-Ts during an actual game will become clearer on Monday and Tuesday. One
positive sign in this regard though was that Jarrett was a perfect 4-4 from 15
unguarded, and all of them went in without a doubt. Surely he has been spending
oodles of time in an empty gym trying to get his free throw woes fixed, and it
paid off tonight. There were also some sloppy throwaways in the backcourt when
the game was well out of reach against that Nolan Richardson-type pressure from
Central Arkansas (Corliss taking a page out of his old coach's
But for now, take the win and run with the confidence gained
from it. Bigger games are to be had this coming Monday and Tuesday, and
hopefully the Cardinal will be able to carry over their success to the Fresno State and Colorado State/Pony Express games en route to a five-hour flight to
the East (or is it closer to six? I can't remember).
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And 1: Stanford 91, Central Arkansas 52
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