Plenty on His Plate

Lawrence Hill is producing with exciting consistency. Brook Lopez is scoring bigger numbers. Stanford stands just a half-game out of second place in the Pac-10. Life is pretty good for this young Cardinal squad, but sophomore Anthony Goods is wrestling with his expanded role in playing point guard. While distributing the ball and keeping down turnovers, Goods has not been great of late scoring.

After lighting up several performances earlier in the season, it has been a stagnant last several games for sophomore Anthony Goods.  Last Saturday against Cal, he was 0-of-5 on his three-point attempts, scored two points in the first 25 minutes and crept past double figures on the back of free throws in the final seconds of the game.

Stanford ran away with the road affair, but the previous game against Gonzaga was a double-overtime loss hard to swallow.  Goods was again oh-fer behind the arc for 40 minutes - and then some - hitting his first three-pointer with 17 seconds left in the first overtime on a deep desperation shot.  The sophomore guard totaled two points of scoring until his five points in the final 30 seconds of that overtime, followed by a scoreless four-plus minutes in the second overtime that saw Stanford buried by a 10-point deficit.  Goods hit three inconsequential three-pointers in the final seconds of the loss.

Even in the grand win over UCLA, Goods had a difficult start.  He shot 1-of-5 in the first half before scoring 16 points in the second half.  Three days earlier against USC, Goods shot free throws to reach 10 points in the final minute of a game his team already led by 13.

The offense has not come easy for Goods, who grabbed our attention earlier in the season with his scoring.  The yoke of his new point guard position has added demands.

"I try not to go out and force everything every game, like I'm going to hit 30 points every game.  Especially from the point," he explains.  "I try to get everybody involved, first, and try to take what the defense gives me."

Goods is manning the point guard duties on a team that has twin seven-foot towers to feed.  He is handling the ball on a team that has the worst turnover margin in the conference.  Decision-making and ball security are now paramount in his thinking.  Goods says that this has particularly slowed his ability to score early in games.

"Out the gates, you want to get everybody's feel and just run what we need to run," he describes.  "A lot of times in the first half, I get caught being not as aggressive as I should be, as far as driving to the basket.  Hopefully, I could find a balance, but it's tough...  But usually in the second half I kind of figure it out and start attacking."

"It's different," Goods says of his responsibilities in his new position.  "I don't think it's a change from the middle of the season to this part of the season.  It's just a whole of different things I'm out there trying to do."

Some might say that Goods has hit a bit of a wall at this point in the season in his scoring and shooting.  Head coach Trent Johnson disagrees.

"Not whatsoever.  I think teams are doing a good job of trying to take him away," the coach comments.  "I don't worry about Anthony in terms of his percentages, as long as he is aggressive and takes good shots.  He was doing that for the most part against Cal; the ball just didn't go down for him.  You have to attribute Cal for making sure that he wasn't the one guy to beat them."

Goods may not have score the ball or shot well at Cal, but he played a role (and 38 minutes) in the team's best turnover performance in months.  For only the second time this season, Stanford had single-digit turnovers.  Of the nine turnovers at Cal, only one came in the second half.  It was in the final seconds by freshman Da'Veed Dildy, playing his first action since December 16.  Goods had three assists and no turnovers in Berkeley.

"I'm just focused on not turning the ball over," the sophomore says.  "Last time we played Washington State, we turned the ball over way too much.  That's going to be key because they don't turn the ball over hardly at all ever.  That's going to be a key emphasis, as well as defending [Derrick] Low on the other end.  It will be a tough game.  It will be a grinder.  But that's Washington State."

"That's good that he is saying that because that is something he has to concentrate on early in games - establish the inside-out presence," comments Trent Johnson on Goods' ballhandling emphasis.

"It is a real challenge, and it's a tribute to him that he understands that," the coach continues.  "That is where Mitch [Johnson] is so vital.  With Anthony, we don't want him out there handling the ball against pressure all of the time.  You can get Mitch in, let Mitch handle the ballhandling responsibilities, let Anthony go over and play the 'two' and search his shot within the framework of the offense."

Playing in Pullman is always a challenge, but against this best Washington State team in decades, the untelevised tilt tonight will be all the more difficult.  The Cougars are the polar opposite of the Cardinal, with a conference-best +4.52 turnover margin.  Goods will have his work cut out for him.

Here is one wild card to consider, however.  Goods exploded for a career-high 30 points when these two teams last met, shooting 11-of-16 from the field and 5-of-8 from deep.  Granted, 11 of those points came before halftime, and he did have an overtime period to reach the hallowed 30-point plateau.  But an encore this evening anywhere approaching that day would be a big lift for the scoring part of Goods' game that has been lagging of late.

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