Ted S. Warren

Stanford Basketball loses to Washington, Splits in the Apple State

Stanford got a split in Washington, but its offense fumbled away a road sweep opportunity in Seattle.

School

Pace

eFG%

TOV%

ORB%

FT/FGA

ORtg

Stanford

62.6

.536

11.4

27.6

.236

114.3

Washington State

62.6

.478

18.4

16.7

.289

88.9

 

School

Pace

eFG%

TOV%

ORB%

FT/FGA

ORtg

Stanford

70.9

.355

24.0

31.6

.255

74.6

Washington

70.9

.439

19.8

25.9

.429

90.1

 

                At a certain point, you are who you are, and Stanford is just a bad offensive team.  That weakness conspired to undermine what was an outstanding weekend of defense from the Cardinal, who played out of character in a couple different ways that left it at the mercy of its own offense.  That side of the ball short-circuited what could have been an invigorating road sweep of the Washington schools.

                In comparing the two tables, a couple factors stand out.  First of all, Stanford cratered offensively in Seattle compared to its performance in Pullman.  That drop-off is not commensurate with the increase in defensive resistance of Saturday’s opponent.  Yes, WSU is the worst defense in the conference, but Washington is not much better.  And yet, Saturday was a massive struggle for Stanford.

                Stanford’s horrendous shooting was partially because it struggled to run half-court offense against the aggressive pressure defense of Washington, but ultimately it was a betrayal of character that undid the Cardinal.  Stanford’s been one of the best teams in the Pac-12 at protecting the ball, but that went out the window Saturday in Seattle.  You can see the huge uptick in turnover rate from Thursday to Saturday.

                The frustrating part is that all of that might have been overcome if Stanford could have converted the numerous turnovers it forced.  Stanford did a great job of playing with active hands and stepping into passing lanes.  The Cardinal forced 17 Husky turnovers and had eight steals, but could only turn those turnovers into 12 points, leaving them at -11 in point off turnovers, a margin they could not overcome.

                Stanford also did a great job all weekend of crashing the offensive boards.   They really hurt Washington in this regard, but again all that hard work didn’t create enough a scoring margin to matter.  In fact, despite gathering 14 offensive rebounds to the Huskies’ eight, Stanford was a -1 in 2nd chance points.  Washington really cashed in its extra opportunities, and that’s what mattered.

                No single player epitomized the drop-off from Thursday to Saturday as much as Michael Humphrey.  After dominating the Cougars to the tune of 26 points on 10-15 shooting, Humphrey was at a loss in Seattle, struggling through a 1-10 shooting night.  He did manage 10 rebounds and two steals, but Stanford wasn’t going to keep up with Washington without scoring from Humphrey, especially on a night when they were without the services of Marcus Sheffield.

                And that brings us to the final four games of the season.  There is still no official word on when or whether Reid Travis will be back.  It’s hard to argue for any kind of acceleration or urgency in terms of his return.  Better to shut him down for the year and have him go into the offseason with a clean and healthy slate.  That goes for Marcus Sheffield, though his injury seems much less severe and it wouldn’t be a big surprise (or a mistake) if he came back to play at some point this year.

                Stanford fought on Saturday, as it has all season long.  Effort certainly hasn’t been an issue, and in a year where injuries conspired to sabotage the implementation of a new offensive system, the nature of Stanford’s struggles isn’t really a surprise.  Doesn’t make it any easier to watch, though.  Stanford made one of its last eight field goal attempts and two of its final ten against the Huskies after makings its final seven against Washington State.

                So the Cardinal moves forward with the L.A. schools coming to town starting Thursday with league darling USC.  After that it’s the disappointing UCLA Bruins, who always play Stanford tough at Maples, so really all possible weekend outcomes are in play.  Stanford still searches for its first weekend sweep in Pac-12 play, and with a trip to the desert looming after this weekend, the Cardinal’s best  remaining shot appears to be this week.   That’s going to require Stanford to shed its season-long offensive shackles.

                Stay tuned. 


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