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.
Poly81 - Former Stanford basketball player who has provided many years of his wisdom and witty remarks on The Bootleg
I posed four questions to the panel this week, ranging from their feelings coming out of the first half of the conference slate to what they think Stanford will do to close out the regular season. Here's what they had to say:
p>(1) Stanford sits at 5-4 at the halfway mark, the first time the Cardinal have been above .500 at this juncture under Johnny Dawkins. About where you expected us to be, despite the recent losing streak?
"roscoemaynard" - I thought we would be 6-3, because I thought we'd make some shots on the road. I thought we were better perimeter shooters than we are.
"Poly81" - Starting the season, I figured 5-4 would be a decent first half, but 6-3 would have been great. That said, I'm concerned about the last three games.
Platz - Stanford is within one game of what I expected its first half record to be.
(2) Of the nine games so far in league play, which game impressed you the most and which one really left you scratching your head?
Oregon State impressed me the most. The cal game was a head scratcher,
because we played hard and we played very good half-court defense. But we
made some mind-bogglingly basic errors.
"Poly81" - The Cal game qualifies for both. I thought the 1st half comeback was very impressive - even more so because they had to make free throws during a shooting drought to make up the deficit. I figured the experience of the 4 OT victory at OSU would come into play at the end of the Cal game, but no one really stepped up to will them to victory. I'm not a fan of Gutierrez (his flagrant foul was beyond flagrant), but he won't let his team lose the close ones.
Platz - Most impressive, Colorado. Head scratcher, WSU. Former for the revealing the potential on offense (84 total points), latter for the defensive breakdown (WSU field goal percentage over 70% in 2H).
(3) Do you believe the Cardinal have shown any improvement in the areas you thought they needed to work on since starting conference action?
"roscoemaynard" - I object to this question because it assumes I can remember what I wrote you in an email in December, 2011. Our offensive focus has not improved enough. Owens still does not get the ball nearly enough. And we appear to have entirely given up on fast breaking. Just because you are on the road doesn't mean you stop trying to push tempo. So, No!
"Poly81" - I demand five minutes of my life back since I had to scroll through four pages of Bootleg commentary to find what I wrote a month ago.... The short answer is no. Free throws are still a mystery for this team. I'm still not quite sure about how Coach Dawkins uses his players, but I'm generally OK with the lineup suggestion I made: Bright, Randle, Brown, Huestis & Owens. I wouldn't argue, however, with Randle, Brown, Powell, Huestis & Owens, with Bright and Gage as the first subs (purely coincidental that the Washington guys are lumped together). Nastic seems to be improving, too. That's eight players and probably the right mix for the rest of the season. On offense, I think I'd give Randle the keys to the car and let him drive it up the court - whoever keeps up with him will score. If that doesn't work, then set up the offense and pound it into Owens. Nothing too sophisticated, but perhaps they can get open shots in transition or on passes out from Owens. For the record, I don't think my high school English teacher would be happy with the structure of this paragraph.
Platz - Ballhandling is better; turnovers were not an issue during the recent losing streak. Distance shooting - threes and free throws - as well as perimeter defense can and must be improved.
(4) Finally, what are your
thoughts/expectations/feelings/predictions on how Stanford will do in the rest
of Pac-12 play?
"roscoemaynard" - I think 5-4 is realistic if the shots start falling. But if we don't start shooting the ball better, significantly better, we could easily go 3-6. No one is good enough to shoot 64-196 (32.7%) from behind the arc and consistently win.
"Poly81" - This team is an enigma to me. They have a lot of talent, but I don't sense a lot of chemistry out there (yet, at least). I'm not sure what to expect - I suppose you pencil in Utah and USC as the only "guaranteed" wins but both are on the road. Given how young this team is, there's no way to know how they'll respond. The good news is that there's time to work through their shooting and leadership issues and build momentum for the Pac-12 tournament. Frankly, I won't be surprised if they go 7-2 or 2-7 during the 2nd half of the conference!
Platz - High variability, could be as few as four wins, could be as high as seven or even eight wins. The upcoming homestand versus the Oregon schools may be a particularly revealing weekend. But of course each game is critical, with not much separation in the upper half of the standings. Eight teams, legitimately, could win this year's Pac-12 Tournament. On a neutral court - and particularly THAT neutral court with its quiet and cavernous environs - there will be no favorite.
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