Stanford got caught once more in a swampy affair in Orlando, but ended up discovering some encouraging things about themselves in a 65-62 win that ended in thrilling fashion. Indiana State’s Quenton Scott hit a three-pointer to tie the game with six seconds left, and Stanford rushed the ball up the floor and found Dorian Pickens on the left wing. Pickens squared, fired, and drained a three-pointer to put the Cardinal into the 5th Place Game Sunday at the Advocare Invitational.
The game’s close saw a number of swings, as Stanford put together some big plays and some frustrating miscues to keep the outcome in doubt up to Pickens’ gorgeous jumper splashed through. Dorian finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds on 6-11 shooting. He shot an identical 6-11 clip yesterday against Miami. He’s clearly growing into Stanford’s key perimeter scoring option.
Through two games in Orlando, two big areas for improvement have emerged: Turnovers and Fouling. What we are seeing consistently is Stanford perimeter players attacking off the bounce but not finishing effectively, and that’s leading them into awkward shots and bad passing angles. Then, when teams increase on-ball pressure and physicality, the players aren’t reacting by attacking but rather by shying away and that’s making it easier to take post players like Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey out of the way.
Stanford turned the ball over 18 times, most of the time on unforced errors like travels on jump shots and forced passes. That led to a -6 in points off turnovers. Where the Cardinal made it’s money was at the free throw line. They got to the line 27 times and made 22 of them (81%), and they limited Indiana State to only 9 free throw attempts. A day after committing 25 personal fouls, the Cardinal cut that down to only 16 (nine of which were on Michael Humphrey and Grant Verhoeven), which provided a massive +17 advantage from the line.
Humphrey continues to struggle. He fouled out and was only able to play 17 minutes, which was unfortunate as he shot 5-10 and scored 10 points while on the floor. He showcased some good shooting touch, but silly reach-in fouls like his fourth curtailed his contribution. Reid Travis, on the other hand, played with power and purpose once more, scoring 19 points and 12 rebounds. While he only shot 5-14 from the field, he knocked down all nine of his free throw attempts, including a pair down the stretch. If he can be counted on the endgame from the line, Stanford becomes a significantly tougher team to deal with in close games.
Going back to the second half against Colorado State, offense is clearly a work in progress. This is to be expected, as Coach Haase is asking the team to attack defenses in a manner far different than their previous experience. It’s going to take time, but for Stanford to be winning games without guys like Humphrey, Marcus Sheffield, and Marcus Allen really finding their way, is a net positive because those guys are going to figure it out at some point.
Stanford moves on to Sunday, where they will play either Seton Hall or Quinnipiac at 4 PM Pacific. The Cardinal can come home with a 2-1 mark on the trip in advance of its showdown at Maples this week against St. Mary’s.