Card Level Lobos in Opener

Four starters gone. Defensive question marks. Uncertainty at PG. Lacking a second scorer. Lacking a fistful of seven-footers. Doomsday was supposed to be lurking for the 2001-2002 Cardinal as they traveled to the vaunted Pit in New Mexico, but the Card ruled the roost and handled the Lobos. Simon Sez there was plenty to be pleased with.

Uncertainty was in the air as Stanford entered Saturday’s game with 18,000 hostile hosts. Uncertain if their inexpierianced new starting five could pull together and produce in “The Pit”. Uncertian if Josh Childress, Rob Little, and Chris Hernandez would be able to be effective when they look around and see 18,000 as opposed to the 800 faces they saw in last years games. Well everything was answered in Stanford’s resounding 81-65 victory over the New Mexico Lobos in which could be one of the more difficult road tests of the year.

Stanford ran out of the gates and hit two three’s and a layup by Curtis and led 8-0 before the Lobos supporters could even take their seats. Then New Mexio woke up and went on a huge run of their own and pushed together a lead of 20-12. Montgomery then told his players to slow the pace down and take advantage of a New Mexico defense that tends to overplay. The results worked, Stanford jumped out to a double digit lead and went into the locker room ahead 38-26. Things just got better after that as they pushed the lead to 20 on three Tony Giovacchini treys in a 2:30 span. The lead reached its highest at 22 but then New Mexico went on its final run pulling the lead down to 11 on an 8-0 run keyed by Marlon Palmer, but after that Stanford breezed home to defeat New Mexico 81-66.

This showed that Stanford is a legit top 15 team and should be ranked in the top 10 when the new rankings come out Monday morning. New Mexico has a .811 winning percentage at the Pit and it showed as they play with a lot of energy and hustle. They still have trouble shooting the ball, which was evident last year, and don’t really have a consistent, reliable scorer.

Curtis and Casey shared the scoring lead with 17 points each in which was a very balanced attack by the Card. Every starter was in double figures including an electrifying 5-5 shooting by Justin Davis which included three dunks and one putback which could have been his fourth. Tony had 13 points which included 3 treys which keeps his 3 point percentage for the season at 100% as he hasn’t missed a three in his first eight tries. Josh also started slow but looked great in the second half and finished with 13 points in a very exciting fashion. He will definitely be a great player at Stanford for the years too come as he has dramatically improved his shooting since his display in the McDonald’s All-American game. Eric Chatfield led the Lobos with 17 points, but their offense never seemed to get into a rythmn or have any kind of low post threat.

Overall this is a very encouraging game for Stanford as many people including myself were worried about this one. The schedule doesn’t get easier as they have to play Souther Utah (NCAA Tourney team), Purdue on the road and number 24 Texas on the road. They way this one went though you have to like Stanford’s chances in all three of those games.

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