At full strength and at its best, Stanford was up against it against #25 USC at Galen Center Thursday. Fighting itself and facing the loss of its best players, Stanford’s task was just too tall as they fell to the Trojans 72-56 in their Pac-12 road opener. The Cardinal is now 0-3 to start conference play and 8-7 on the season overall, having dropped four of its past 5 games.
With Travis out, Michael Humphrey had a chance to step up and play a role for the Cardinal, but Humphrey was once more plagued by foul trouble and though he had some good stretches, finished 3-13 from the field for six points and six rebounds. The Cardinal got a season-best 13 points from Marcus Allen, who played a very aggressive game, relentlessly attacking the Trojan basket on his way to 6-9 shooting. Allen also added five rebounds on the night.
After getting blitzed by the Arizona schools at Maples, the Cardinal’s defense did make a strong return to form. The Cardinal actually held USC to 42% shooting and forced 18 USC turnovers. The difference in the game was that USC converted on the 21 (!!) times it turned the Cardinal over to the tune of a 27-9 advantage in points off takeaways. Not coincidentally, that was the margin of victory for the Trojans in the game.
Coach Haase was a very frustrated man on Sunday night, but he did acknowledged that the buy-in and effort was there tonight against USC. The Cardinal gets to rest an extra day before a Sunday night tilt at Pauley Pavilion against UCLA.
The bottom line right now is that Stanford is a frustrated team struggling to find direction on offense and to overcome its lack of outside shooting. On nights where the Cardinal defends, it can compete with Pac-12 teams, but poor shooting and huge turnover numbers are too much for a great team to overcome, and Stanford doesn’t fall into the category right now. After Sunday night, the Cardinal will face teams far more beatable than Arizona, USC, and UCLA, who are arguably three of the four best teams in the league.
Everybody knew this wasn’t gonna be a quick fix, but this Cardinal team right now is far less than the sum of its parts. Travis is likely out for UCLA, so Stanford more than ever is going to need Humphrey and others to circle the wagons. Whether those wagons circle in Westwood or simply get burned to the ground remains to be seen.null