No Magic Bullets

Only a few minutes elapsed after Saturday's game ended before questions swarmed from fans and members of the media about where Stanford could find help for their depleted roster. It's hard to swallow the idea of playing with eight bodies going forward, so a number of ideas have been put forth. Unfortunately, few if any are viable...

Bring back Mark Bradford - The 6'2" guard was the first of the two footballers who quit the team, but he is eligible and healthy.  The Stanford backcourt is where most of this year's losses have hit, so he could help handle the ball and add some shooting to the perimeter...  But Bradford left the team for reasons beyond playing time, or his need to focus on football.  He admitted to struggling with his schoolwork while balancing the demands of two sports.  Push all the basketball issues aside, and it's a non-starter to ask a student-athlete in those circumstances to return.

Bring back Evan Moore - There are holes in the backcourt, but those have a ripple effect into the frontcourt.  Foremost, Nick Robinson now has to play a lot more minutes at the wing, which takes away from the significant time he had been playing as a power forward...  But Moore left the team because he was dissatisfied with playing time.  Other than the Michigan State game when Stanford was getting blown out, he could not garner meaningful playing time.  The roster has had several players slashed since December, and there are theoretically better opportunities for him now.  Moore however has been completely out of basketball for more than a month.  It's a skilled game, and he would struggle to return to a skill level that could help this time.

Scour the student body - It was suggested by a local writer at Trent Johnson's Tuesday press conference that the Cardinal should search the campus intramural leagues to find help from the student body...  But Stanford did this five months ago.  At the beginning of the school year, they held open tryouts, which were well attended.  They were also pitiful.  There was a huge gap between freshman Kenny Brown and the rest of the pool, and it was a result of those tryouts that Brown (and Brown alone) was awarded a walk-on spot on the Stanford roster.

Play Kenny Brown - He's healthy.  He's academically eligible.  He's on still on the roster.  Why not play him at this time of drastic need?...  Brown is available and has been practicing with the team all year, which puts him ahead of any of the above options - by a sizable margin.  The freshman walk-on would like to keep his redshirt, which has been preserved by staying on the bench all year, but the next time foul trouble or injury strikes this team, he won't have a choice.  That time may come tonight against USC.  Says Trent Johnson of the 6'1" freshman, who has the skills and quickness of a small forward but the body of a point guard: "I've been impressed with how Kenny has matured.  Physically, it's just not all there."

Hold on until Tim Morris returns - He was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA in early January after he failed two Human Biology Core classes and failed to pass the minimum number of units to play.  That ruling was for winter quarter, as a result of his autumn quarter academic misfire.  Winter quarter is about to end...  While  Morris would regain his eligibility once he posts passing grades for a sufficient number of winter quarter units, the academic calendar is not favorable.  Stanford's winter quarter exams end Friday March 18, and grades must be submitted by professors by Tuesday March 22.  The NCAA Tournament first and second rounds are that weekend (March 17-20).  Stanford would likely have to make it to the Sweet 16 (third round) of the NCAA Tournament to get Morris back, and that would outstrip the postseason performance of every Cardinal team in the last six years, save the 2000-01 Elite Eight team.  Morris has a better chance of returning if Stanford misses the Big Dance and instead plays in the post-season NIT.

Pray for Carlton Weatherby magic healing - He broke his foot in early December, so shouldn't he be back in action about now?  Better than Kenny Brown, he has three years in the program and brings both superior experience and quickness...  But Weatherby is still awaiting medical clearance to join the team.  He was scheduled at the end of this week to get an X-ray of the foot, and only if that X-ray is negative will he be cleared to start some of the activities of a basketball practice.  After that point, it would be several weeks before his conditioning and his skill level could return to a level that could help in practices, much less in games.


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