Where does one start with this game? After hearing the surprise news that Curtis Borchardt wasn't going to play with a pulled stomach muscle, things didn't look very good. It was more than just Borchardt's presence that was missed, as Stanford's big men once again got into big foul trouble. But the story of the day was Stanford's inability to break the USC press. For about the first ten minutes of the game, USC didn't press, and Stanford sans Borchardt controlled the game. At this point USC, had a meager 14 points, and it looked Stanford was going to find a way to win. Then Bibby made a great decision and hounded Stanford into many bad passes that were puzzling, to say the least. It looked like Stanford didn't even have a press break, as Barnes was often expected to dribble through the entire USC squad, and Tony was often stuck right before the midline looking for help. Stanford amazingly was able to stay in this game but eventually fell 90-82 in a truly ugly game. USC scored 60 points in the second half and 76 points in the final 30 minutes. It was an ugly performance that fans should try and forget, but the players should do the opposite. A press break needs to be put in place because today was just embarrassing. 27 turnovers should never happen in a college game.
As expected, Sam Clancy led USC with 24 points and 13 rebounds. He also forced Stanford into many bad passes as he was the first man on the press break. He ended up with four steals as well and really gave Stanford headaches. Freshman Errick Craven, a player once recruited by Stanford, also hurt them badly. He finished with 18 points and on 6-12 shooting and also showed off his quickness in hounding Barnes and Tony. Unexpected performances were put in by Rory O'Neil and Desmon Farmer. They combined for 29 points on 13-16 shooting. They were the difference in the game, often hitting big shots for USC when the game was close. USC also ended up with 16 steals; Craven and Clancy led the way with a combined nine. Bluthenthal was the only USC starter that wasn't much of a factor, as he only had one point and was never heard from in the game.
Casey Jacobsen was the reason Stanford even had a chance in this game, as he scored 21 points and also had seven rebounds and six assists. Jacobsen unfortunately had a tough time with the constant pressure and also led the Cardinal with seven turnovers. Joe Kirchofer took advantage of his newfound playing time and chipped in with 10 points and nine rebounds. He looked very aggressive on the glass and this was by far his best game in his career at Stanford. Josh Childress also had a decent game and finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
Overall many things went wrong in this game. I thought Montgomery was outcoached big time, as I thought many of his substitution patterns were suspect at best. This team was obviously not ready for the press and it definitely showed. They should get ready for the press now - every Pac-10 team will see this tape and no doubt try to duplicate what USC did. Barnes looks like the best option, but he needs to have help. True, he did have six turnovers, but that was due to just having the other four players on the court watching. It was very sad to watch and something that needs to be fixed immediately. How Stanford stayed in this game as long as they did was amazing I thought when they actually broke the USC press, it was a big accomplishment. The last big glaring problem is Stanford's big men staying in the game. Davis and Teyo are both extremely foul prone; Teyo today fouled out in nine minutes. That's got to make Dan Gadzuric impressed. Not having Borchardt is a big factor in this, but they need to figure out how to stay in the game. If people on the HoopsBoard look back at the five losses this year for Stanford, Curtis has been in foul trouble in all of them, which has hurt his minutes in those games. He is the glue to this team's success, as defensively they are very weak without him. All those drives by Farmer would have been altered with him in there and the game would have changed. He definitely needs to get back on the court Thursday against ASU.
This game is really depressing, but this is the year in the Pac-10 to have a downyear. It is a great race this year and should make for many important games as the season winds down. This will be a learning expierance for the team and I think it will help them. Stanford, even with the turnovers, was still in this game for 35 minutes on the road against a nationally ranked team. I think this team has gone a long way since the BYU debacle and is improving considerably. Two more tough tests next week at Maples with the Sun Devils coming in on Thursday and then the showdown on Saturday with the Wildcats of Arizona.