Some programs reload and some programs rebuild. This season we will find out which category Stanford falls in. True, they have been able to sustain big success for nearly a decade now, but this season seems to be one of the biggest tests in recent memory. On top of having four new starters, they start a point guard with rather limited experience and a true freshmen (albeit a McDonalds All-American). This season is going to call for some big contributions from freshmen, which hasnt been the case in the past. Over the years, Stanford has had some rather strong post players, but this year look to Curtis and Justin, who have great potential but have been injury prone and have little-to-no tournament experience.
The first game of the season will be a stiff test for the new cast of characters as they enter The Pit." It should be a very hostile environment but shouldnt be the worst Pit Stanford has had to play in. The one in Eugene is probably a tougher crowd. It should be a very good test with an athletic team that gave Stanford a lot of trouble last season, even though the score doesnt show it. For the first time this season, this is what Stanford as well New Mexico should look like when they take the floor:
PG - Marlon Palmer/Senque Carey vs Tony Giovacchini
This is potentially a very big mismatch for New Mexico. Tony hasnt shown that he can guard quick guards as well as run an offensive around them. Maybe Tony has improved greatly as a floor leader and defender but until we see that this is a very tough matchup for Stanford. Senque Carey talentwise should start for Mew Mexico but he has played little for them in their two-preseason games. He is probably still learning the system and should start at point guard for them in the near future. Look for Barnes and Hernandez to matchup with these quick quards if Tony struggles.
SG - Ruben Douglas vs Casey Jacobsen
This will be the key matchup of the game. Douglas is the teams main scorer and will be the number one option this season for them. He has averaged 17 a game in the preseason and has been picked WAC all-conference 1st team by many voters. As everyone on the HoopsBoard knows, this Stanford team will go as far as Jake can take them. He will need to set the tempo and get his points against a tough New Mexico defense. Look for Casey to have a big game, as Douglas concentrates on his offense at the expense of his defense.
SF - Eric Chatfield vs Josh Childress
This is a potentially pivotal matchup in the game. Chatfield gave Stanford trouble with his great quickness last year. This of course was against Ryan Mendez and that advantage should decrease against Childress. Chatfield though is a senior against a freshman and will most likely try to use his experience to his advantage. Childress needs to step up this game, as it can be certain Mew Mexico will key its defense on Jacobsen. This will be a great test for Childress, and I am sure he has never played in a gym quite like the Pit. Even with all this against him, I expect him to hold his own against Chatfield and have a solid game.
PF - Patrick Denehy vs Justin Davis
Denehy in the last meeting was overmatched and picked up early fouls, and as a result didnt become much of a factor. That was against the Collins twins, though, so expect Denehy to be a bigger factor in this game. This matchup is a bit of an unknown commodity as Davis has never played starters minutes and Denehy, hasnt played much himself. Both probably wont be much of a factor in the game, but Stanford needs a few putbacks or transition dunks by Davis to help them in this game. Davis also has to watch his fouls, as until January this team is very thin at the post positions, when Teyo can return. Expect this matchup not to be a deciding one in the game.
C - Moustapha Diagne vs Curtis Borchardt
From what I have heard this big (71) junior transfer will likely start to combat Borchardts height. This is a matchup Stanford must take advantage of, as Diagne hasnt played a minute of college ball in his life. Look for him to use his post moves on Diagne. This is probably a matchup where I expect Stanford to have an advantage.
Look for Stanford to win this game, but while in the past, the spread of this type of game would be 20+, look for this game to be within 10 points. An opening night victory, nonetheless.