Stanford Pac-12 Week 5 Hoops Preview
The Stanford Cardinal
2014-15 W/L: 14-5 (5-2 Pac-12)
2014-15 Current Pomeroy Ranking: 31
Adjusted Pac-12 ORtg (Points Per 100 Possessions): 111.3 (3rd)
Adjusted DRtg: 102 (5th)
Adjusted Pace: 65.9 Possessions Per Game (5)
Most frequent lineup used in last 5 games: M. Allen (So.), Randle (Sr.), Brown(Sr.), R. Allen (Jr.), Nastic (Sr.)
The Cardinal heads to Seattle for a Wednesday night match-up with the Huskies, and they seem to be benefiting from addition while the Huskies suffer from subtraction. Center Robert Upshaw, who had been a potent defensive post presence, was dismissed by the team for undisclosed reasons. Meanwhile, it appears Reid Travis may see the floor for the first time in seven games. Nevertheless, the Huskies present a significant challenge to the Cardinal. First off, the UW still features Jernard Jarreau and Shawn Kemp, Jr. Baby Rainman tortured Stanford to the tune of 19 points in 20 min on 77% shooting at Maples in early January.
In looking at the Cardinal's efficiency numbers, one thing we can see right away is that a weekend of 80-point games skewed its numbers in a number of ways. Obviously, the offensive numbers rose. The Cardinal enjoyed a weekend of excellent offense only interrupted by the dry second half stretch last Thursday that ultimately cost it the Arizona game. Defensively, the numbers reflect the success both Arizona and ASU (for a half) had against the Cardinal. Finally, the pace of the games has the Cardinal looking like one of the faster-paced teams in the conference, but note that even at 65.9 the team is still within .7 of the D-1 average. Look for the Cardinal to slow things down as they deal with the size of the Huskies on Wednesday. Now let's get reacquainted with Coach Romar's squad.
The Washington Huskies
2014-15 W/L: 14-5 (3-4 Pac-12)
2014-15 Current Pomeroy Ranking: 65
Adjusted Pac-12 ORtg (Points Per 100 Possessions): 100.5 (5th)
Adjusted DRtg: 103.5 (7th)
Adjusted Pace: 64.3 Possessions Per Game (10th)
Most frequent lineup used in last 5 games: Nigel Williams-Goss (So.), Andrew Andrews (Jr.), Mike Anderson (Sr.), Shawn Kemp (Sr.), Robert Upshaw (Jr.)
The Huskies head into this game in true flux. When the ball goes up to start the game, it will have been about 48 hours since Robert Upshaw was dismissed from the team. Washington will still be formidable up front and certainly a challenge on their home floor. Like Stanford, they prefer a slow pace, so it's not likely that they are going to run away and hide from Stanford even if they play well. In this week's Pac-12 Whiparound, we discussed how Nigel Williams-Goss uses the highest amount of his team's possessions, despite more efficient players like Shawn Kemp on the roster. It's likely that both teams are going to force feed the post, at least at the outset. Foul trouble will be the first issue Stanford must confront if it's going to leave the Emerald City with a win. Individually speaking, that means The Nasty Man and Rosco Allen need to stay on the floor and play clean. Team-wise, Stanford's defense gives up foul line points more frequently than any other team in the conference.
In the game against the Huskies at Maples, Stanford was a +4 at the foul line, and did a decent job of defending cleanly. The Huskies FT rate for the game was 25%. On the season, the Huskies' rate in conference is 33%, good for 7th in the Pac-12. The key to the Cardinal's win on Jan. 4 was the turnover battle. Stanford turned the ball over on only 10% of its possessions, while the Huskies rate was 23%. This translated to a +20 for Stanford in points off turnovers, which all but decided the contest. Stanford doesn't typically force turnovers, so they probably shouldn't expect the same amount of self-inflicted wounds from the Huskies this time around.
Washington will play Wednesday night with only eight scholarship players. Nine players saw action in the first game, so clearly Stanford will see some lineups unfamiliar to both on Wednesday night. Washington is coming off a loss at Utah, which halted a three-game winning streak that was preceded by a three-game losing streak. It's anybody's guess what kind of game the Huskies will be bringing onto the Alaska Airlines Arena. Insert all the cliche's about wounded animals and so on, but Stanford really needs these two games if it's going to seriously threaten Utah and Arizona in the Pac-12, to say nothing of fortifying its NCAA Tournament standing.
The Washington State Cougars
2014-15 W/L: 9-10 (3-4 Pac-12)
2014-15 Current Pomeroy Ranking: 191
Adjusted Pac-12 ORtg (Points Per 100 Possessions): 98.6 (7th)
Adjusted DRtg: 114.1 (12th)
Adjusted Pace: 67.5 Possessions Per Game (3rd)
Most frequent lineup used in last 5 games: Ny Redding (Fr), Ike Iroegbu (So.), DaVonte Lacy (Sr.), Josh Hawkinson (So.), Jordan Railey (Sr.)
The reeling Cougars await Stanford on Saturday in Pullman. Currently on a three-game losing streak that has gotten progressively worse in terms of margin of defeat, the Cougars do get Cal at home on Thursday night, so it's possible that losing streak will have ended by the time Coach Dawkins leads his crew out onto the floor. Regardless, the state of Cougar Basketball is not great at the moment. As we discussed in this week's whiparound, the Cougars play at a very quick pace, but all that activity has led to very little achievement. WSU is a bottom half offensive team and literally the worse defense in the conference, which should have Stanford's potent offense eager to spend time in the Cougars' Lair.
The first meeting at Maples was a Tale of Two Halves, as both struggled on offense in the first half, until Stanford found its offensive footing in the second half and pulled away from the Cougars, turning a three point halftime advantage into a 15-point victory. Chasson Randle epitomized the Cardinal's day. He went an unrecognizable 0-7 in the first half, before getting some halftime spinach and re-emerging to go 5-6 in the second half. Stanford shot 64% in the second half, turned the ball over on a miniscule 8.4% of its possessions, and kept WSU far off the offensive glass on its way to victory. Interestingly, the one Factor where the Cougs outpaced the Cardinal was FT rate. Washington State earned points at the foul line at a 56% clip, a ridiculous total, especially for a road team. Stanford's penchant for fouling has been part of its DNA since the start of conference play, and it still remains the fatal flaw of its defense.
DaVontae Lacy struggled mightily in the first game against Stanford, going 3-9 from the field, including 0-5 from behind the three point line. In the Cougs' last game against Colorado, Lacy was 4-13. Bottom line is that Washington State has very little chance in general, but without Lacy playing well has no real shot against legit teams. The Cougars do feature a respectable inside presence in Josh Hawkinson, who also struggled against the Buffs. While he did pull down 15 rebounds against the Cardinal, he shot 0-7 from the field on that day. He still managed 11 points, because the foul-prone Cardinal put him on the line 15 times.
Defensively, Stanford faces a team that makes 36% of its field goal attempts three pointers, which translates to 29% of its points. Another 25% of its scoring comes off the foul line, Washington State is fairly adroit at drawing fouls. This is the only real potential threat the Cougar offense poses to Stanford, aside from Lacy going off and having a career day. Look for Anthony Brown to draw the assignment on Lacy as long as the foul situation permits.
Washington's defense played true to form against Colorado, and the Buffs are nowhere near the offense that Stanford is. As in the Arizona game, the Cougars' only real shot is to speed the game up and get Stanford playing faster than it wants. Pullman is always a tough place to play, and Stanford is in the unenviable position of having to win a game that can really only hurt, not help in terms of its resume. Based on KenPom rating, this is a game Stanford cannot give away.
This is a vital swing weekend for Stanford. Out on the road searching for wins 15 and 16, Stanford would be playing downhill if they were able to sweep the Washington schools. We'd be talking about four more wins to 20 with nine to play. A split wouldn't be devastating necessarily, although it would probably put to rest any hope of winning the Pac-12. Getting swept? Trouble. Big Trouble. You'd be talking about needing six wins with nine to go, and that includes games at Utah and at Arizona, venues where the Cardinal will certainly not be favored. That means the squad would be looking for six wins in seven against the rest of the schedule, and while that might be manageble given the five remaining home games, it would leave Stanford with little margin for error. Better to take care of business this week and to not be living that Bubble Life at the dawn of February.