This season has already given some strong tests of what kind of team Stanford can be this season. So far all the results look very good with two very impressive wins in very hostile environments. The third and final legit test for awhile is this Texas game at 9AM (yuck) in the United Center. Texas features a very good team, even though their 1-3 record doesnt even close to their potential. Texas features a couple McDonalds All-Americans and a college All-American candidate in their starting lineup. Once again this is going to be a neutral game for Stanford but Chicago is sure to draw a lot more Texas fans than Stanford fans. All of the DePaul fans that will be there will no doubt end up rooting for Texas. Texas has just gotten back from the Great Alaska shootout, which means their still could be a little lag from the long trip home but I wouldnt expect it. It seems teams always find a little extra energy when they face a top-10 team. The starting lineups for both squads are very impressive and filled with many good matchups. Here is what you should see when the teams take the floor early Saturday morning:
PG - Tony Giovacchini Senior 6-2 180 lbs. vs TJ Ford Freshman 5-10 165 lbs.
Ill admit, I have not been the greatest Giovacchini support throughout the years but I really think this matchup is not good for him at all. Even though Ford is a freshmen, he is very quick and very good. He dished out 14 assists in his first college game against Jason Gardner no less. He has been amazing to say the least in his first three games of college. He missed the Oregon State game due to a sprained ankle but he averaged 9 PPG, 11.3 Assists! and six Rebounds a game. He owns two of the top four single-game freshmen assists marks in their history and he has played three games. On top of it all he only has 10 turnovers this season which gives him a 3.4-1 Assist to Turnover ratio. I would be very surprised if Montgomery stayed with this matchup for long, as I could see a triple-double for Ford in this game is Mike sticks with Tony at the point guard slot. Look for Julius to try and combat Ford with his speed and continue to test Fords ankle up and down the court. This is a matchup that could be disasterous for Stanford and I think they absoulutely need to contain Ford. If TJ gets the ball up and down the court quick then Chris Owens their All-American will start to play well and things snowball from there. With Fords success aginst Gardner this really worries me and I hope Ford doesnt have another great game.
SG - Casey Jacobsen Junior 6-6 210 lbs. vs Royal Ivey Sophomore 6-3 192 lbs.
Casey has been great this year like everyone has expected him to be. With all of the great players in this game it is sure to be fairly high scoring and certainly higher scoring than Stanfords previous three games. This means Casey has to light it up from three-point land, which he wasnt able to do in Indianapolis. He had a great game against Purdue but I think he has to get it going from behind the arc if Stanford wants to control this game. Casey has averaged 22 PPG this season, which is great due to the limit number of, shots he gets in the system and the way teams are playing defense on him this year. Ivery came into Texas last year with big expectations as a freshmen, but things never really worked out for him last year. He had his good games but was tremendously inconsistent and couldnt get lots of minutes from Coach Rick Barnes. Now he is a sophomore and is starting to contribute. He is averaging 14.3 PPG to go with 2.3 RPG. He is going to have a tremendous size disadvantage against Casey, but will have a pretty good quickness advantage. He is known as a defense stopper and will really challenge Casey even though his lack of size. He is shooting around 54% this year, which is great for a guard. It is in limited attempts but it shows that he has improved his shooting from last year. He is only behind Owens in scoring this year for the Longhorns.
SF- Josh Childress Freshman 6-8 180 lbs. vs Brandon Mouton Sophomore 6-4 210 lbs.
Mouton has been a pretty good player for the Longhorns despite always playing against players who are taller than him at the three spot. He again will face a taller opponent in Childress who has four inches on him and is just as athletic. I see a very down game for Mouton whom although averaging 13.3 PPG, hasnt seen a player quite like Childress yet. I have been so amazed at Childress this year. Since the first preseason game Childress has conducted himself on the court unlike almost every other freshmen in college basketball. He and TJ Ford have to be the best freshmen outside of DaJuan Wagner in Memphis who is basically a NBA player in the minors for a season. Childress is getting better every game and is becoming a leader on this team. Players now are looking for him to make plays especially defensively and to score key baskets. He had impressed all of his opponents with his strength for such a small frame and his knack of always getting to the rim. He has brought a kind of athletic ability I have never seen or heard of before at Stanford and is looking to be more than anyone could have imagined. I know it has only been three games but this guy seems to be the real deal and could really become a huge college star if he sticks with Montgomerys system for four years. I think he wont duplicate his 23 point performance against Purdue but to have another solid game against a guy he can probably post up against at will. Look for this matchup to be smaller than all the others, but if Childress goes wild again it will become big news.
PF - Justin Davis Sophomore 6-8 230 lbs. vs Chris Owens Senior 6-7 238 lbs.
This is the matchup of the game for Stanford. Justin has been in constant foul trouble this year and Owens isnt going help things. Owens is a preseason All-American candidate and has a very active and physical game. He is averaging 15.7 PPG and 7.7 RPG and is capable of doing much more damage. I see Childress perhaps guarding Owens at times to take the heat of off Davis and prevent another foul-prone game. Owens is also third all-time in Texas blocks history which means he changes shots constantly and throws people off their game. He and TJ Ford have really molded together well, as when I saw their game they really seemed to work well together. Owens should be able to handle Davis and should be able to push around Childress as he has a 50-pound advantage on Josh. He could go for a big game but Curtis is always there on the other side ready to reject everything thrown his way. Justin has to get back in the flow of things after an ugly 14-minutes performance against Purdue. He has been in constant foul trouble and even though a lot of the fouls against him have been questionable he needs to find a way to avoid them as we need him out there!! Hopefully Davis can have a couple spectacular dunks or putbacks and get the Stanford team going.
C - Curtis Borchardt Junior 7-1 240 lbs. vs Brian Boddicker Sophomore 6-8 228 lbs.
This is the other major matchup of the game. Borchardt was absoulutely awesome against Purdue, pulling down 20 boards and blocking six shots to go with his 13 points. He has become a great player this year getting a double-double in every game this year. He needs to continue to do this against an undersized albeit very skilled Boddicker. Curtis needs to once again control the glass and put Texas in a position where they only get one shot per possession, something that definitely hampered Purdue. Boddicker himself was an All-American and is putting together a fine season, averaging 14 PPG to go with 7 boards a game. He is an athletic player who is surprisingly quick. He didnt have a very successful freshmen campaign but is someone who might give Borchardt problems. He will definitely be a much tougher player than John Allison, the Purdue center. Look for Borchardt to get his 4th double-double in as many games.
Overall I feel pretty good about Stanford chances in this game. They are playing fairly well and have had a whole week off for this game. Texas also has a big problem with players off the bench as they have lost four scholarship players to injury for this game. Ford will also still be playing on a sprained ankle but that should be almost healed by now. Even with their 1-3 record I still feel this is the best team Stanford has played yet and will be the 2nd toughest non-conference game on the schedule. Even with some very tough matchups I see a 4-0 Cardinal team after Saturdays game getting ready for the toughest tests of all; The Final Exams next week.
Questions or Comments?