And 1: Stanford 91, Central Arkansas 52

Kevin "Kevo" Danna brings his insights and observations from Friday Night's 39-point victory by Stanford over Central Arkansas at Maples Pavilion!

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.

Chasson 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 watch tonight.

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 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.

There 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 in agreement.

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 playbook).

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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