Stanford pac-12 week 9 hoops preview

Another huge weekend approaches for the boys on The Farm


For a glossary on the advanced metrics used, click here.
 
The Stanford Cardinal

2014-15 W/L:    17-9 (8-6)

2014-15 Current Pomeroy Ranking:  39

Adjusted ORtg (Points Per 100 Possessions): 107.9 (4)

Adjusted DRtg:  103.7 (7)

Adjusted Pace:  Possessions Per Game 66.2 (5)

Most frequent lineup used in last 5 games:  M. Allen (So.), Randle (Sr.), Brown(Sr.), R. Allen (Jr.), Nastic (Sr.)

The Oregon State Beavers

2014-15 W/L:  17-10 (8-7)

2014-15 Current Pomeroy Ranking:  89

Adjusted ORtg (Points Per 100 Possessions):  91.4 (11)

Adjusted DRtg:  93.3 (3)

Adjusted Pace:  Possessions Per Game 60.7 (12)

Most frequent lineup used in last 5 games:    PG Malcolm Duvivier (So.), SG Gary Payton II (Jr.), SF Langston Morris-Walker (Jr.),Olaf Schaftenaar PF  (Jr.), C Daniel Gomis (Jr.)

    Stanford's high-wire run to the NCAA Tournament continues with the final home games of the season.  The Oregon schools come to town bringing games that could not be more dissimilar.  The match-up Thursday night against Wayne Tinkle's rabid Beavers promises to be a low-scoring and physical confrontation.  The strength of this Beaver team is unquestionably its defense and its ability to impose a slogging pace on opponents and fans.  Remember, efficiency numbers are adjusted for pace, so when you see the Beavers' 93.3 defensive efficiency score, that's not just a function of them slowing the game down.  It should come as no surprise that Oregon State under Coach Tinkle is stout defensively, given the man for whom he played (a former coach at Montana and the Golden State Warriors.  His name escapes me.) and the make-up of his team.

    Oregon State gets the job done by giving frequent zone looks and by mastering the art of thievery.  The Beavs, led unsurprisingly by GPII, have the highest defensive turnover percentage in the league at 23.8.  They also have the best block percentage (16%) and the best steal percentage (11.8%).  On the occasions when the opponents are fortunate enough to get shots off, the Beavers have two 6'10" rim protectors in Shaftenaar and Gomis.  As a result, the Beavs have a defensive eFG of 44.6%, good for secon-best in the Pac-12.  No team in the Pac-12 protects the ball better than Stanford, and no team  takes it away more often than Oregon State.  The winner of this strength vs. strength battle will be that much closer to winning the game.

    So how does Stanford break the Beaver Dam?  First off, the Beavers do not do a great job on the boards. Opponents are securing 32.3% of available offensive rebounds.  Stanford did well for themselves against Cal by crashing the offensive boards, and given the Beavers overall defensive proficiency, that's going to have to be a component in their attack Thursday night as well.  Secondly, like themselves, OSU fouls early and they foul often.  The Beavers allow a defensive FT rate of 41.3%, second-worst in the Pac-12 and just ahead of our own Cardinal, who foul at times as if on commission.  Expect many, m any whistles on Thursday night and given the late start, don't make any late dinner reservations.  Whoever takes best advantage of the free throw game probably comes out the winner.  Stanford has been getting to the foul line with increased proficiency (49.6% FT Rate, 3rd-best in the Pac-12) so this could very well be the chink in the Beaver armor that Stanford exploits.

    There's no sugarcoating the other side of the ball for Oregon State.  The Beavers  are terrible.  To put their DRtg of 91.4 in perspective, the D-1 average is about 102.  Oregon State is the worst shooting team in the conference (44.6% eFG), they themselves turn the ball over with regularity (19.4% TO rate, 9th), they don't crash the offensive boards well (25.7% OReb, 11th) despite playing two 6'10" guys regularly, and they are the worst three-point shooting team in the league at 29%.  Stanford, a mediocre defense at best all season, should not struggle to contain Oregon State.  The Cardinal may not be able to exploit the Beaver tendency to turn the ball over, but if they secure their defensive backboard, Oregon State should miss plenty of shots.  The only way to mitigate that is to put them at the line, if the Cardinal does that, they should be fine.

    Oregon State's two master thieves are GP II (duh) and Malcolm Duvivier, who have combined for 113 steals on the season.  Unfortunately, Duvivier's offense has not caught up with his defense, and his 88 ORtg is not out of step with the rest of the team.  Payton carries an ORtg of 107.2, and he is by far the biggest threat Oregon State offers on offense.

    Given that Stanford has to have this game, is playing at home, and has displayed strengths (drawing fouls/crashing offensive boards) that strike right at Oregon State's deficiencies, the Cardinal should have enough to win this game.  Furthermore, the Beavers have struggled on the road, going 1-7 thus far in Pac-12 play.  Make no mistake, though.  This game should be physical, difficult, and close, and Stanford cannot afford to play carelessly if it wants Sunday to matter at all.

The Oregon Ducks

2014-15 W/L:   20-8 (10-5)

2014-15 Current Pomeroy Ranking:  59

Adjusted ORtg (Points Per 100 Possessions): 110.6 (3)

Adjusted DRtg:  104.6 (8)

Adjusted Pace:  Possessions Per Game 66.7 (4)

Most frequent lineup used in last 5 games: Joseph Young (Sr.), Dillon Brooks (Fr.), Jordan Bell (Fr.), Elgin Cook (Jr.), Jalil Abdul-Bassit (Sr.)

    The Quack Attack is playing some of the best basketball in the Pac-12 at the moment.  The win over Utah was huge, and at 20 wins, it's quite likely that Oregon is an NCAA Tournament qualifier already.  However, their relatively low KenPom rating suggests that they still have work to do.  Certainly they cannot be swept in the Bay are still rest on their laurels headed into the season's final week.  Make no mistake, Stanford may be the more desperate team on Sunday, but the Ducks will have plenty to play for when they trot onto the Maples Pavilion floor.

    In direct contrast to their Corvallis counterparts, Oregon can fill it up, and really only looks at defense as something to do while waiting for possession of the ball.  They push the ball, which will be Stanford's first defensive priority:  transition defense and slowing the game down.  Stanford doesn't need to be afraid of going up and down the court, but it can't let the Ducks run wild.  A game played at a pace of 70 or above is almost certainly going to be a problem for a Stanford team missing Rosco Allen at the moment.  The Ducks attack the paint and get good shots, and their 52.8% on eFG proes it.  They are good inside and outside the three point line.  They also take care of the ball, like Stanford.  Their 16.4% TO rate is 3rd best in the Pac-12.

   That being said, there are two things the Ducks do NOT do particularly well.  One is crash the offensive boards.  Oregon's 28.3% OReb rate is 9th in the league.  They also don't get to the foul line with great frequency, bringing a 30% FT rate into the weekend.  That's 10th in the conference.  So the Ducks rely on shooting and penetration.  The numbers don't suggest that they are an exceptionally physical team.  Neither does their size.  Bell at 6'7" and Cook at 6'6" are the biggest players who get legit minutes for Oregon.  That fact leads us to how Stanford should be attacking Oregon offensively.

    Stanford's frontcourt depth has been a problem due to injury.  Oregon, on the other hand, doesn't really have a front court.  It's really a quintet of wings spaced over the court.  Defensively, that means the Ducks can switch virtually any screening action, but it also means that Stanford should be very active on the boards and in the post.  Chasson, Anthony, and Marcus Allen need to attack off the bounce, as their obviously isn't much in terms of rim protection.  Oregon does have a 10% block shot percentage, which is in the top half of the league (5th).  Regardless, Stanford should not really have trouble scoring.  If Nastic and Humphrey are able to avoid foul trouble chasing the Ducks around, Stanford should be able to generate paint points and free throws, both of which would go a long way in securing a win for the Cardinal.

    Oregon hasn't wowed anybody outside Matt Arena, but they have been able to avoid road sweeps on its last two trips, and that's how they've emerged on top of the middle of the conference.  This weekend should be a legit challenge for the Ducks, and don't overlook their trip to Berkeley on Wednesday.  Stanford's versatility will be put to the test this week.  Can they deal with a stout defensive team on Thursday and then a potent offense on Sunday? The answer is yes they can.  The question of whether they will is ultimately the one that may decide its season.

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