For the first time all season, Stanford has some catching up to do.
With a 76-63 loss to the Washington Huskies, the Farm
Boys have fallen to fifth place in the conference standings and fall behind a
pace that would keep the Cardinal on track for a potential at-large
The reasons for Stanford's third Pac-12 defeat weren't hard to
point out on this late Saturday afternoon: rebounding and Tony Wroten.
While Stanford did a very good job defensively against the
Huskies in the first half, they were unable to finish off defensive stops with a
snag off the glass. Aziz N'Diaye was one giant pest who forced the Farm Boys to
defend longer than they had hoped, but Darnell Gant was another dude who was
equally hard to keep away from the basket when the ball rimmed out. Four
offensive rebounds for the senior from Crenshaw High (and 17 points, too. He
really got it going in the second half).
Nothing kills the spirit of a
defense like a good ole' fashioned offensive rebound. It completely wore out the
Cougars against Washington the Sunday before - Washington State's zone
absolutely flustered Washington in the first half, but they gave up more than 20
offensive rebounds and allowed the Huskies to hang around. Eventually, UW
overtook the Cougars and pummeled them in to submission.
A similar thing
happened to the Cardinal. Good first half defense, but Husky boards off missed
shots (11 of ‘em in all in the first half) would tire the defense out. In all,
the Cardinal were outrebounded by 15, the worst rebounding margin for Stanford
all year. In that way, it was sort of reminiscent of the Stanford-Washington
game in Seattle in 2009, where offensive rebounds were a killer and a Jon Brockman offensive rebound and put back did Stanford in (one of the toughest
losses I went through as a manager). On Saturday, the Huskies' oh-rebbin' led to
a hyper-productive second period for the home team (more on that later).
It also helps to wear a team out when you got the athletes to run the
floor like the Huskies do, especially when you have a 6'5", 205-pound guard
running the show like Tony Wroten. The kid was straight-up unstoppable. He
was by far the fastest one on the floor and had his way all game long. There
isn't a guy in the conference who is better at getting to the hoop than Nate Robinson's little cuzzo right now. The major way to stop him from getting to the
rack is to get him going right, but that rarely happened on Saturday. Wroten was
able to go to his strong hand (southpaw) at will, and the result was 21 points
for the one who looks to be the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and potentially the
Pac-12 Player of the Year.
When Wroten was forced to go right, as Aaron Bright made sure he did on one late second half possession, he couldn't get to
the hoop and had to dish it off the Terrence Ross in the corner, who missed a
three. That last possession is probably something Coach Dawkins has shown or
will show his team as a reminder on how to stop the guy, but it won't come in
handy unless these two teams meet again at the Staples Center.
stop was just one possession in a second half that was filled with pure Husky
domination on the offensive end. Sixty-nine percent shooting, 18-26, for
U-Dub in the final frame. Terrence Ross, after being held in check by the Card
in the first 20, exploded for 16 in the second half. As noted before, Tony
Wroten did his thing. Darnell Gant went absolutely crazy. Second game in a
row now where an opposing team went wild on the Farm Boys in the second
And, for the second straight game, it was a prolonged second half
run that did the Cardinal in. This was a game. Stanford came out of the halftime
locker and jumped on the Huskies for a 6-2 run to cut the lead to three.
Stanford was getting stops and the offense was running efficiently. With
just under 15 minutes to play, the lead was only at five for
Bobby Knight always says that the first five minutes of the
second half are the most important minutes of the game. Well on Saturday, Coach
Knight's philosophy had a footnote added to it that read "an exception to this
rule would be the Stanford-Washington game on January 21, 2012".
run ensued for the guys in white and purple. Down 22 with nine minutes left,
Stanford was all but six underground with the Sneaker Pimps.
Cardinal's credit, the team could have caved in there, thrown their hands up and
said "F it, we'll just wait for the Cal game" and get completely run out of the
gym. But no, Stanford continued to fight and eventually cut the lead down to 11,
with a shot late in the game to get it to single digits. And, while Stanford was
never really the better team on the court, the Dawkins Squad more or less hung
with the Huskies outside of that one five-and-a-half minute stretch in the
second half in which Washington built up a three touchdown lead (and Austin Seferian-Jenkins didn't even have to touch paydirt; he just needed to rebound,
foul hard, and get himself DQ'ed as quickly as possible). At the very least,
this wasn't a redux of the January 2010 game in Seattle in which the Huskies won
Josh Owens continued to impress; 14 points scored for the most
part against a seven-footer who isn't a total stiff was a pretty good
showing. Dwight Powell earned a starting spot and played like he belonged
in the lineup. He really is starting to put together a nice string of games,
even if the stats aren't where they were expected to be at this juncture. I
continue to enjoy watching Stefan Nastic getting in there and mixing it up with
the opposing bigs. He really did frustrate N'Diaye on a couple of
15-5, 5-3. A tough weekend to swallow; another tough one lies
ahead with the daunting trip to Haas on the horizon.
But face it, 0-2
weekends on the road happen in the Pac-12, even to the cream of the crop. Last
year's regular season champion, Arizona, took a couple of L's in LA for the
Bruin-Trojan swing. One 0-fer is no reason to give up on the season; even
two, provided Stanford continues to win at home and can get one road sweep. And
if the Card can pull off the W in Berkeley, they are right back near the top and
halfway to a dozen conference wins.
Six in one, half a dozen in the
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And 1: Washington 76, Stanford 63
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