If there is value in performing an autopsy on Stanford’s lifeless, dispiriting 62-50 home loss at Maples Pavilion on Thursday night, it eludes me. Over the past eight seasons, the Beavers have been a consistent respite for Coach Johnny Dawkins’ teams, an oasis in a sea of disappointing losses to the upper echelon of Pac-12 teams. So has Cal, for that matter.
Oregon State came into Maples Pavilion and never trailed. The game was tied for a grand total of 27 seconds. Stanford straggled into the locker room down six, and when they came out, six was the number again. As in six baskets made the entire second half. Stanford’s ORtg (points per 100 possessions) for the second half was 60. The D-1 average on the season is 103. This was a hate crime perpetrated against the concept of offense.
Adding to the shooting woes came an uncharacteristically sloppy performance protecting the ball. Stanford turned the ball over on nearly 25% of its possessions for the game. Rosco Allen, unquestionably the team’s best shooter, is shooting 30% from behind the arc since the Cardinal took the floor against Arizona on Jan. 21. During the four-game losing streak he’s 7-25, but the team is an awful 26% overall, and that’s with last night’s 40% performance included.
Whoops. I’m doing it again. Sorry.
The best thing Stanford can do is flush this one and move on to the next game Saturday against an Oregon Duck team smarting from a trip to Cal’s Haas Woodshed last night. Oregon only projects as a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament, so what? Me worry?
Stanford did start the game with the lineup I advocated earlier this week: Rosco, the Marcuses, Humphrey, and Dorian Pickens. Of course, that plan was short-circuited when Dorian picked up two early fouls. Humphrey continues to look like he’s still afflicted. In 20 minutes he had more turnovers (four) then rebounds (two) and mustered but six points on the evening. He is not himself physically, we know that, but his slide is still a reason for concern.
We will never know what Stanford’s new offensive system would have looked like with Robert Cartwright handling the ball and Reid Travis anchoring the post. Certainly those two couldn’t have hurt. What we do know is that the promise of increased player and ball movement as well as up tempo preference has not made it onto the court for any kind of measurable interval. Add to that the inevitable drop in confidence, and, well, this is what you get.
Stanford at the moment appears to have flatlined. Sports and college basketball are very volatile worlds, which means that if Stanford stunned society with a win on Saturday, things would feel very, very differently than they do now. However, if the Cardinal loses and loses in the manner in which it did Saturday, the Cardinal may be forced to confront some very, very inconvenient truths about the state of its program.