Stanford played a totally different type of game on Thursday night against Weber State than they did against CSUN on Tuesday night, but the end result was yet another opponent blown clear out of Maples Pavilion. Stanford held Weber State scoreless for a six-minute stretch in the first half and was never seriously challenged in a 67-49 win over the Wildcats.
The individual headliner for the Cardinal was once again Reid Travis, who owned Weber State underneath on his way to scoring 22 points and snatching 15 rebounds. Travis made 7/12 field goals and even more impressively, his new stroke was pure on 8-9 from the foul line. Since shooting 10-19 in the opener, Travis has now made 15-19 in the two games at Maples this week.
Stanford got a big boost from the entrance of Robert Cartwright, who had three steals and three assists. He also got some time on the court with fellow point guard Christian Sanders, who added five assists with no turnovers. He looks like a totally different player than the one who battled injuries all of last season.
One of the keys to Stanford’s defense has been a newfound aggression tactically expressed by a commitment to double teaming the post with a weakside crash not from a wing player, but from another big. That action consistently bothered Weber State, creating turnovers, runouts, and points for a Stanford team more than willing to push the ball up the floor.
Two keys to Stanford’s offense are clear through three games. First, Coach Jerod Haase has improved the team’s ball and player movement, and it’s showing in the box score. Stanford assisted on 16 of its 26 field goals against Weber State, the second time in three games it’s had a percentage greater than 60% in a game. Last year, Stanford assisted on 49.6% of its buckets, 239th in the nation.
Secondly, Stanford is showing smart restraint on hit three point shooting. The Cardinal shot only five threes in the first half, and ended with only 14 of 55 attempts being threes for the game. They only made four in the game, so it was with some sagacity that they eschewed the shot for drives to the basket and often exquisite entries into the post.
The revelation on Thursday night was the defense, which held Weber State to an ORtg of 71 and an overall 30% from the field. The Cardinal enjoyed a +12 advantage in points off turnovers, many of which were forced by aggressive pressure and solid rotations.
The returns are early, but this Stanford team looks utterly removed from last year’s version, which had Rosco Allen. The crowds are still not great so far, but the word’s getting out. Coach Haase and this staff know what they’re doing, and this team has bought into all of it. More encouragingly, they are executing it on the court. After a long eight year’s journey into night, Stanford’s showing its fans signs of daylight.
See you on Sunday.