Sunday morning I rallied after the Cardinal's Football victory over Washington and made it inside Maples Pavilion for Stanford's Cardinal and White scrimmage. The game itself was pretty much of a non-event, as they played one half and neither Marcus nor Malcolm Allen was available. Grant Verhoeven also sat out, leaving the Cardinal with a bit of a mash unit that included a number of guys without names on their jerseys, always a sign that your team's not at full strength. In terms of play, there really wasn't too much to consider. Rosco Allen is going to be a crucial part of the offense this year, but we already new that. Dorian Pickens had the most energy on both ends, and I expect him to have a solid season. This is an All-Conference talent if he can add enough polish between now and this time in 2016.
I think the freshmen all have a chance to contribute. Marcus Sheffield had a couple nice drives to the basket, (and a couple travels in the interest of full disclosure) but I liked his assertiveness. Cam Walker has a nice stroke, and though he needs to put on some serious weight, Josh Sharma is a pretty exciting athlete to watch get up and down the court.
There was a minor scare as Michael Humphrey had to leave the game early after taking a shot to the chops. Evidently he'd also taken a teeth-chattering blow in practice the day before, so he was wisely removed from the scrimmage pretty early. Most importantly, Coach Johnny Dawkins made some time for a brief media scrum, and here's what we were able to talk about:
Q: Is there an update on Malcolm and Marcus?
"Malcolm's doing well, he's recovering just fine."
"Marcus, still no timetable for his return, but we're encouraged by the fact that he's healing really well, and we think all those guys by the time the season gets going, all those guys will be at the stage of possibly returning."
Q: Which is further along, offense or defense?
"I think right now, our defense is still ahead of the offense, but I was encouraged by what I saw out there today. You know, we didn't have our full compliment of players out there. Michael had to go out with an injury, Marcus, Malcolm, Grant, were still out so we have some guys filling those positions who really don't know our system too well. They walked on the team, they just joined the team a few weeks ago, so it was difficult to have a flow out there offensively or defensively."
Q: How have you guys articulated expectations for this season, outside of just winning as many games as possible?
"A great season for us, you know, we want to be a Tournament team. We want to contend for a championship in our conference, those are things we want to do. And that doesn't change based on personnel we've lost or added. Ours is trying to establish a culture here and a culture of winning. So, with that comes a certain standard, and our guys all believe in that. I wouldn't have those standards if I didn't believe in our guys, but these are also standards that they've taken ownership of, that they want to do. So we don't change from the last two years, whether it's the Sweet Sixteen or an NIT championship, it's to be the best team we can possibly be, to contend for a conference championship, contend for a championship (national)."
Q: Among the returners who's come the farthest in your mind?
"I think Reid came the furthest because you didn't get to see the Reid you saw today last season, with all the injuries he had. I thought he's made a big jump. I thought Rosco Allen really made a big jump as well, I mean really playing with a lot of confidence, really shooting the ball and doing a great job of leading as well as a third guy I'd say would be Marcus Allen who you didn't see play tonight of course but he played really well for us overseas, he led us in scoring, playing with a lot of confidence. So those are three guys that really stand out for us and three guys we'll really be leaning on a lot once the season starts.
Q: Who's stepped up to fill that vocal leadership role?
We have Tri-Captains, and those three are Rosco Allen, Reid Travis, and Marcus Allen. Those guys have done a great job, the best job, of all of our guys through the summer and thus far through the fall. But we tell our guys just because you're not named the captain doesn't mean you can't lead and Christian Sanders, I think has done a terrific job with that.
Q: He (Christian Sanders) had a tough year last year in terms of injuries and just never being able to get on track. Do you have more expectations for him this year?
"Absolutely and I think Christian can really help us, his maturity, he has a very good understanding of the game, I love his game and his basketball IQ, so he's someone I think can help us, so looking forward to seeing him continue to grow and develop but he understands that he has an important role for us."
Q: On Josh Sharma looking like Stefan Nastic:
(Laughs) "I planned that. No, Sharma we're really excited about him, he's really mobile, he can move well and I think he's gonna be a terrific player in the program for a long time. He has to get a little stronger that's for sure, but I think what he lacks in weight he makes up for with his athleticism. He's very athletic, he's long armed, I think he'll defend the post well for us as we move into conference play."
Q: Thoughts on Marcus or Cameron in terms of chances of them becoming rotation players during the course of this year:
"Well that's what they're competing for now is those opportunities. We have a good nucleus of players, those guys competing for those opportunities and I'm liking what I'm seeing with those players. They're both competing, I think they're both getting better and that's something that's very exciting and all of our players it's not set in stone. We want guys who can contribute, guys who can help, and those guys have shown at different times that they can do that. You look at the scrimmage today. They (The team with the Frosh) won. They won today and that's another notch in their belt in terms of things they want to accomplish, and it gives us confidence in them."
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