John Hefti/USA Today

Stanford Basketball Splits the Weekend Home series vs Oregon and Oregon State

Stanford's consistent inconsistency held to form at Maples this past weekend.

The Week: Lost to Oregon State 62-50, Beat #11 Oregon 76-72

Record:  12-11 (5-7 Pac-12) 6th Place (Tied with UCLA)

Pac-12 ORtg: 98.2 (11th)

Pac-12 DRtg: 107.3 (9th)

School

Pace

eFG%

TOV%

ORB%

FT/FGA

ORtg

Oregon State

62.1

.542

18.0

26.1

.208

100.0

Stanford

62.1

.424

21.9

20.0

.239

80.6

 

School

Pace

eFG%

TOV%

ORB%

FT/FGA

ORtg

Oregon

69.9

.529

16.1

18.2

.353

102.9

Stanford

69.9

.649

21.8

17.4

.319

108.6

 

                This was the week where if you root for Stanford, you had to throw your hands up in the air and give up trying to understand this team.  Those who witnessed that soul-sucking horcrux of a loss to the Beavers last Thursday night could not possibly have been able to process the Cardinal’s thrilling 76-72 win over the first place Oregon Ducks Saturday afternoon.  Nevertheless, both of these events occurred, as once more Stanford netted a split on the week.

                This is, of course, who Stanford’s been all season long, as their record indicates.  It’s how Pac-12 play has unfolded, with the exception of the lost weekend in the Rockies.  Yet given all we’ve seen, it was still jarring to see Stanford look as lethargic and ineffective as it was on Thursday and then energized and efficient in dispatching the Ducks.

                If there’s a lesson to be learned from the past two games, it’s a reminder that the Four Factors are not equal.  Shooting is by far the most significant of the four, and that’s how Stanford could win a game against a top team despite losing three of the four factors.   Stanford shot a blistering 9-13 (69%) from behind the three point line last Saturday and most importantly, they made shots early.  The early success fueled a nice bounceback from the Cardinal’s defense that was the true difference in the game.

                Rosco Allen was magnificent on Saturday, and the fact that his first three shots from beyond the arc went in galvanized both him and his team.  We’ve discussed it before, but offense energizes defense in a way the latter does not exactly reciprocate, so seeing shots go down was crucial for a team mired in the muck of a four-game losing streak.  Many will celebrate Rosco’s great 25 points, but he also clamped down on defense in the endgame, beating Dillon Brooks to the baseline on a crucial drive.  The turnover that ensued on that play was a major step towards winning the game.

                Also take note of the pace numbers in the two games.  I’ve long been advocating a faster tempo for Stanford, and the Cardinal looked much better running up and down against the Go-Go Ducks then they did prodding along against the Beavs.  The game against Oregon ended up being played at a slightly lower pace than Oregon typically enjoys, but I’d argue the Ducks speeding up Stanford helped as much as the Cardinal slightly slowing down the Ducks.

                Yes, tempo stats can be influenced by teams playing the foul game, but the Oregon game was played in a noticeably more full-court fashion, with both teams extending defenses at times and pushing the ball frequently in transition. The astute observer will note that against Oregon, Stanford’s turnover rate was up to 22% compared to its Pac-12 season average of 16%. 

However, note that the Cardinal had the same rate against the Beavers!  And in a game with fewer possessions, turnovers are far more costly.  In a fast-paced game, they can be chalked up as the price of doing business as long as there is offensive efficiency.  Tempo is not a panacea, but there can be no doubt at this point that a faster game favors Stanford.

One of the best things about the win on Saturday was that every single player who played did something to contribute to the win.  Josh Sharma had a spectacular alley oop dunk but as Coach Dawkins noted, he was a presence defensively, erasing a Dillon Brooks drive to the hoop.  Grant Verhoeven continues to make solid contributions, scoring 11 points and outfighting Brooks for a rebound.  I am pointing Brooks out because his energy overwhelmed the Cardinal in Eugene.

Freshmen Cameron Walker and Marcus Sheffield also played well.   Walker grabbed six rebounds, and showed more energy than in recent games.  Sheffield continues to impress with his maturity, and his defense showed up even on a day when his offense was efficient (8 points, 3-5 shooting) if not effusive.

So what to make of the Cardinal as they head to the Northwest this week?  Nobody knows.  I doubt if anybody inside or outside the program could answer with certainty.  Don’t expect the Cardinal’s 69% three point clip from Saturday to follow them to Pullman, but it’s not too much to ask that the 28% they shot against Oregon State not make into their overhead bags either.

Stanford still has a mathematical shot of escaping Play-In day at the Pac-12 Tournament.  That has to be what the Cardinal is playing for at this point, and would be a great achievement for this group given their current standing.  They aren’t going to get there with a lost weekend in Washington, though, so let’s see if they can finally find some elusive consistency, or if Cardinal fans get another mismatched dose of the agonizing and the ecstatic.  


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