Stanford duo leads team to SF ProAm title

The Bootleg was out in full force last night watching Josh Childress and Rob Little lead their SF City team win the summer ProAm league title. Both sophomores provided shining moments indicative of their off-season progress, as well as their projected abilities in this coming season. Read on for an in-depth look at these two fan favorite Stanford hoopsters.

Josh Childress turned in a fine all-around performance to help lead S.F. City to a 111-101 victory over Bay Pride in the championship game of the San Francisco Bay Area Pro-Am League on Wednesday night. Josh scored 18 points and added 8 rebounds for S.F. City, which took command of the game in the second quarter, maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half and coasted to victory. After the game, Josh received an award for being the league's "most inspirational player".

Josh's entire offensive arsenal was on display at Kezar Pavilion, as he buried three pointers (including one from NBA range), floaters in the lane, and transition layups. Stanford fans should be encouraged by Josh's increasing aggressiveness on offense, an aspect of his game that Josh has focused on during the summer. Particularly impressive were Josh's drives to the basket; he drained three gorgeous floaters over defenders. Josh's increased aggressiveness has been aided by his physical development during the off-season. Josh has added approximately 15 pounds of muscle since his freshman season, and the benefits are readily apparent. Josh is stronger taking the ball to the hole, and is more adept at battling for rebounds under the basket. Despite the added weight, Josh appears to have more stamina than he did during his freshman season, as he played for long stretches in this fast-paced game without appearing winded. (Booties can read in the magazine about the highly effective off-season conditioning program in which most of the players have participated.)

On the defensive end, Josh looks to have improved his ability to defend on the perimeter. Although the Pro-Am League cannot match the Pac-10's level of play, there are a number of quality D-1 players in the league, including ASU's Fontana and Louisville's Luke Whitehead (who led Bay Pride with a quiet 25 points), and there were a number of quick perimeter players on both squads. Josh did a commendable job defending on the perimeter, and he utilized his great length to alter quite a few shots (including one very impressive swat of a layup attempt in transition). It appears that Josh's defense has been aided noticeably by his improved strength and quickness.

One other encouraging aspect of Wednesday's game was the chemistry between Josh and Rob Little. They played the two man game effectively several times, including a gorgeous play where Josh dumped the ball to Rob in the post, then cut baseline where Rob found him for an easy two. On another play, Josh broke out after a missed jumper by the opponents and Rob hit him on a long pass over the half court line for a breakaway layup. The two man game with Josh and Rob will be something to watch for next season.

Overall, Josh's performance was impressive because of the increased versatility and aggressiveness he showed on offense and his improved strength and explosiveness. Josh has obviously worked extremely hard on his game and on his body since the Spring, and he appears to be well-positioned for the upcoming season.

Final stats: 18 points; 7/11 2FG; 1/3 3FG; 1/1 FT; 8 boards (1 O, 7D); 3 fouls; 2 assists; 1 steal; 1 block; countless shots altered

Rob Little contributed 8 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists to a winning effort by S.F. City in the championship game of the San Francisco Bay Area Pro-Am League on Wednesday night. After a tight quarter and a half of play, S.F. City pulled away for a 111-101 victory over Bay Pride.

Rob's play can fairly be described as solid, if unspectacular. After missing his first two field goal attempts, Rob nailed his final four, to finish 4 of 6 from the field. Of his field goal attempts, perhaps the most impressive was a little jump hook that Rob displayed. It's a shot that I've seen him make in practice (with either hand), and it was encouraging to see him willing to utilize it a game situation. Obviously, it's a tough shot to defend.

Rob was solid on the glass, pulling in 5 defensive and 1 offensive rebound. But the most impressive aspect of Rob's game last night was his passing. Rob dished out 4 assists; at least 3 of the baskets that resulted were by Stanford teammate Josh Childress. Rob did a fine job of receiving entry passes in the post and finding the open cutter. Perhaps the most pleasing play to Stanford fans was one that consisted of Josh dumping the ball into the post to Rob, who received the pass and dished the ball back to Josh as the latter cut baseline. After the game, Rob commented on how he likes to look for Josh cutting when he gets the ball in that position. It's worth noting that in Monday night's game, which S.F. City played without the services of Josh, Rob was far less effective and didn't look as comfortable on offense. The chemistry between Rob and Josh yesterday suggested that they are capable of running the two man game effectively; it will be interesting to see whether it shows up in Stanford's offensive repertoire next season.

Rob also did a fine job with his outlet passes last night. After each defensive board, he turned quickly and fired the outlet pass to the right player. On one noteworthy play, Rob grabbed a defensive board and threw a pass half the length of the floor to Josh, who had gotten out ahead of the defense. (Josh laid it in for two.) If Monty decides to run next season (and with guys like Chris, Julius, Josh and Justin, it will be tempting to run), look for Rob to initiate the break very effectively with quick outlet passes.

Stanford fans will also be happy to hear that Rob is in excellent physical shape. His 8% body fat would put most Booties to shame, and his hard work in the weight room is readily apparent. Rob's stamina has also improved, as evidenced by his ability to play significant minutes while running the floor effectively in a fast-paced game.

Although Rob did a number of things well last night, it was also apparent that he still needs to work on a couple of aspects of his game. Rob committed a couple of fouls that were a result of getting out of position away from the basket. At 6'9 ½" and about 265#, Rob sometimes has trouble defending in space. (For that reason, I like him at the 5 rather than the 4.) Rob also missed both of his free throw attempts (although to be fair, the sample size is obviously far too small to draw any broad conclusions).

In the wake of Rob's subpar performance in Monday night's game, I was more encouraged by Rob's play on Wednesday. He did some nice work on the blocks and his passing out of the post and his outlet passes were obvious strengths. Keys for Rob this season will include avoiding foul trouble, playing within himself on offense and overall consistency.

Final stats: 8 points; 4/6 2FG; 0/2 FT; 6 boards (1O, 5 D); 4 fouls; 4 assists; 0 steals; 0 blocks

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