Stanford closed its win over Colorado State with a bad offensive second half, and strung together two more in a 67-53 loss against Miami, it’s first under Coach Jerod Haase. Stanford gets Indiana State tomorrow in the loser’s bracket of the Advocare Invitational.
Stanford enjoyed a 33-25 lead after a Dorian Pickens jumper, but Miami responded with a 19-8 run over 9:08 filled with silly Stanford turnovers, missed shots, and fouls, fouls, fouls. The Cardinal finished with an astounding 25 personal fouls. Miami was a +8 from the stripe and shot 24 free throws compared to Stanford’s 11. Josh Sharma, who came into the game and had an immediate effect with a block, steal, and altered shot in less than two minutes, was one of many Stanford players prohibited from impacting the game due to foul trouble.
Miami enjoyed significant advantages in points off turnovers (+16), points in the paint (+8), and fast break points (+6). Stanford was once more unable to get the ball consistently to Reid Travis, who ended the game with only 9 field goal attempts, and just three in the second half. Michael Humphrey and Marcus Sheffield struggled mightily, shooting a combined 3-14. Only Dorian Pickens was able to consistently produce, with a team-high 15 points on 6-11 shooting.
Tactically, Miami took away Stanford’s Big Man Post Double by spreading the floor and taking advantage of skip passes to open shooters on the weakside. They rarely simply dumped the ball into the post where Stanford could crash hard and force turnovers. The Cardinal chose to defend Miami’s screen/roll with soft hedges from the bigs providing time for its wings to recover onto the ball handler. That tactic didn’t kill Stanford but it also didn’t disrupt Miami’s offense at all.
Coach Jerod Haase is anything but an excuse-maker, and Stanford’s turnovers, deteriorating spacing, patience, and ball movement are all issues for which the players will be taken to task. That being said, the incessant whistles really kept a number of players from getting into any kind of offensive rhythm, and Stanford paid the price in the endgame. The Cardinal ended the game missing its final six shots and going the final 6:15 without making a bucket.
Individually, Marcus Sheffield and Michael Humphrey struggled to the tune of a combined 3-14 effort from the field. Sheffield is also 3-14 from the field over his last three games, and has been guilty of some over-dribbling. As his comfort level increases, Stanford’s offense stands to improve, but until then, it’s likely to be more of the slog we’ve seen the last three halves.
If there’s a takeaway from this game, it’s not that Stanford can’t play with higher levels of competition, it’s that Stanford can’t play poorly and hang with higher levels of competition. That doesn’t make for much of a revelation, but it is still only game five. It’s clear which side of the ball Stanford’s gonna need to improve to beat good teams, clarity gained on a long, ugly Thanksgiving afternoon in Orlando.