Thursday January 17 - 7:00 pm Pacific - KRON Channel 4
This has been a season of firsts for the Stanford Cardinal. A couple weeks ago they encountered their first loss to California in its last ten tries. Then last Sunday marked the first time Stanford has lost a game to Oregon, also in ten tries. Finally, this is also the first year Stanford does not have a point guard that can be relied on consistently. We have thought throughout the years that this problem was going to occur. Who was going to replace Brevin Knight? In steps Arthur Lee. Who is then going to replace Lee? In steps Mike McDonald, who had big question marks swirling around him when he stepped into a starters role after two injury-filled freshman and sophomore seasons. Now the big question is who will replace Mike McDonald? First potential answer was Tony Giovacchini, which has not turned out as planned. Now it seems like the answer is Chris Hernandez, who played the final four minutes against Oregon. Even though he is not a starter, Chris has started to play more minutes than Tony, which gives the impression that a switch in the lineup may be in place. While Stanford problems this year haven't ended at the point guard position, it is a really disheartening one that needs to go away. When the conference games and tournament games come, the point guard play is most important to a team's success. Until Stanford can right its ship at the point guard slot, it could be a long season. Luckily the Washington's come into town, which look to be perhaps the only two weak teams in the Pac-10 this year. It looks like two victories, but with this Stanford team, one never knows. Here are the matchups when the two teams take the floor on Thursday:
PG -Tony Giovacchini 3.9 PPG vs Marcus Moore 6-6 182 lbs 14.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG
This matchup is potentially a bad one for Stanford. Moore had his way last year with Mike McDonald, and now he is a year older facing three potential defenders that do not have the skill of McDonald. Moore has been a playmaker this year for Washington State and can get out of control at times. He is, though, a very talented player and should cause trouble for any Stanford point guard who tries to defend. Look for this position to be a problem for Stanford every game due to the uncertainty surrounding the three players for the job. Barnes has shined but not as a point guard, and Hernandez and Giovacchini haven't exactly had stellar campaigns either. Hopefully one will emerge, which is very possible with Hernandez being only a freshmen.
SG - Julius Barnes 10. 1 PPG vs Thomas Kelati 6-5 172 lbs 2.8 PPG
Barnes has been a bright spot off and on this year, and everyone really thought he was coming around consistently after his breakout Cal performance. But since his 27-point outburst he has been silenced for three games, and is looking again to regain his shooting form. He faces a freshmen in Kelati is who starts but sometimes doesn't even get the majority of the minutes at the shooting guard spot. Look for Paul Graham to shuffle many players into this spot such as Jerry McNair (12.0 PPG) who destroyed Stanford last year to the tune of 27 points on 14 shots. Barnes has been much better at home than on the road, so hopefully he will come around Thursday and put in a nice showing. Look for Kelati to not do much towards the outcome of this game and for Barnes to shine again on the home court.
SF - Casey Jacobsen 19.9 PPG 4.5 RPG vs Mike Bush 6-6 200 lbs 11.5 PPG 5.0 RPG
This is the marquee matchup of the night. Bush, who just walked off the football field, is still trying to regain his basketball form. Even rusty, he has still been able to put up 12 points and 5 boards per game. He has had his way against Stanford as well, going for 23 points in the matchup last year in Pullman against Mendez and Jacobsen. He is a fantastic athlete and should become a NFL wide receiver when he is done at Washington State. Casey finally broke out in a big way in Eugene, going off for 32 points and making all of his three-point shots. Casey looked very confident taking his shots and was actually getting open looks, something he has not been used to over the entire season. Unfortunately for Stanford, no one else besides Borchardt showed up on the offensive end, and Casey's points weren't enough. Look for Casey to put up more points, but I don't think anyone can expect consistent performances like his last game. I see him having a good game but Bush should have a good one as well, especially if Moore can drive the lane.
PF - Justin Davis 6.5 PPG vs Shaminder Gill 6-7 222 lbs 2.2 PPG 2.4 RPG
Another enigma on the Stanford roster. Can be spectacular, but is looking for more consistent performances. His back-to-the-basket moves have gotten better but is still not a good compliment to Curtis in the low post. Gill has been an interesting player for Washington State, developing a reputation as a scrappy player Paul Graham. This, because of being constantly undersized in every game in the post. Davis needs to take advantage of his height in the lane and attack the offensive glass. I think this is a matchup he can excel in and I think he will turn in a better performance Thursday night.
C - Curtis Borchardt 16 PPG 10.1 RPG vs J Locklier 6-9 240 lbs 13.7 PPG 6.4 RPG
As usually the case with Curtis, he has a huge height advantage in the post. He has been great this season, and last game in Eugene was no different. Locklier has been a good player with a nice lefty hook in the lane that he likes to use. He should struggle for rebounds with Curtis in the lane but Locklier did hold his own against Gadzuric, another 7-footer. Look for Curtis to take advantage of this matchup and put in a double-double (again).
Stanford desperately needs a sweep this weekend heading into the TWO showdowns in Los Angeles. I think we all would take a 6-3 halfway point mark after the way this season is playing out. This is the type of game Stanford needs to take care of, and that means pounding it in down low and shutting down Marcus Moore. Washington State last season at Stanford led at halftime by eight, so overconfidence would not be good. Look for this game to potentially stay close for a little, but Stanford should take care of the Cougs by 15-20 points.