John Hefti/USA Today

Stanford Basketball Beats Harvard in Season Opener

Reid Travis made sure Coach Jerod Haase's tenure would get off to a good start.

Coach Jerod Haase is making me look smart, and that’s just one of the things he was able to do in leading the Cardinal to a season and tenure-opening 80-70 win over the Harvard Crimson at Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, China.

I talked in my season preview about how Haase’s teams share the ball, and in their first effort, the Cardinal assisted on a whopping 64% of its buckets, many of which were layups and dunks off runouts and finishes off drives.

Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey shook off a sluggish 1st half for the Cardinal and overwhelmed Harvard in the second half.  Travis finished with a 24-point, 17 rebound outburst and Humphrey bounced back from early foul trouble to put up a very efficient 15 points in 19 minutes on only eight field goal attempts.

Travis and Humphrey helped the Cardinal to a +14 advantage in points in the paint, and everybody’s clear eagerness to get out, run the floor, and push the ball led to to a 14-2 advantage in fast break points, something rarely seen out of Stanford teams of recent past.

Stanford struggled offensively in the first half on its way to an offensive efficiency rating of .833 (points per possession) but turned it on to the tune of a 1.22 rating in the second half. That combined with a defense that held Harvard to 37% shooting for the game was enough to fight off a scrappy Crimson team led by Head Coach Tommy Amaker.

The best thing we can say about the Cardinal’s perimeter game is that they were smart enough not to take threes. Stanford shot 1-6 from beyond the arc. Humphrey actually got the second half started with the team’s only three-point basket.  Clearly, that won’t be enough moving forward, but Stanford played to its strengths tonight, and it was too much for Harvard.

In 50 combined minutes, Humphrey and Travis were +36.  In a 10-point game, that’s a big, big number.  Marcus Allen chipped in with a very efficient 10-point game and added five rebounds.  Allen shot 5-8 and had a number of blur mode moments.  Grant Verhoeven chipped in with 10 points, eight of which came in his 11 first half minutes while he filled in for the foul plagued Humphrey.

Stanford returns home Tuesday night for a game against Cal-State Northridge, then follows up with Weber State next Thursday. That’s a quick turnaround for a team coming all the way from Shanghai, but the jet lag should be easier to overcome with win number one coming through customs.

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