It wasn't the best of times, it wasn't the worst of times, but it certainly turned out to be winning time for the Stanford Cardinal in their match-up versus the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday. Here's a rundown of how things played out:
Pre-Game: Once again, thanks to The Bootleg for hooking me up with a ticket for this crucial match-up.
Pre-Game: With six minutes before tip-off, Maples is about half-full. Maybe more folks will come in as the game gets started. (When all was said and done, official attendance was listed as a sell-out of 7,502) I expect a lot more people to show up, as this version of the Cardinal revolution will not be televised. We'll soon find out if that broadcast decision was a good thing or not.
Pre-Game: The marketing department has handed out Robin Lopez wigs to the Sixth Man Club tonight. They don't look quite like his old hairdo, but hopefully the show of support by the student body will help him get off the schnide and boost his confidence.
19:45 left in the 1st Half: After another lost opening tip, ASU goes inside to Jeff Pendergraph, who does a turnaround jumper in the paint for a nice opening deuce from the visitors. If he gets hot early, watch out…
19:12: Freshman Robin Lopez attempts the Cardinal's first shot of the game, but gets it swatted cleanly by Pendergraph. However, Lopez hustles up the court and strips it from Christian Polk, leading to a pass back to senior Fred Washington for a lay-up.
18:33: Derek Glasser fumbles the ball in the paint for the Sun Devils, leading to a Mitch Johnson recovery. The sophomore then fires a 20-yard pass over the middle to a wide-open freshman Brook Lopez who goes in for the lay-in and foul, giving the Cardinal a 4-2 lead after Lopez' subsequent missed free throw.
17:33: Johnson grabs a rebound and pushes the action up the court. He finds sophomore Lawrence Hill open on the right wing for a three-pointer which goes in for the Glendale, Arizona product.
14:14: Hill and Johnson come off the floor, replaced by redshirt sophomore "Downtown" Kenny Brown and freshman Landry Fields, leaving the Cardinal with a lineup of Brown, Fields, Washington, junior Taj Finger, and Brook Lopez. Let's see what these folks can do.
13:18: Finger does one of his signature spin moves inside the paint, leading to a short made shot and giving Stanford a 10-2 lead. It sure has been a long time since the Sun Devils made a shot…
11:42: Pendergraph is usually spot on from the right side with his jumper. This time, he misses over the basket by a good foot or so. The crowd obviously lets him have it after that one.
10:59: Antwi Antuahene hits a three-pointer for the Solar Satans, bringing their 8:46 scoreless drought to an end and the visitors to within 12-5.
10:10: After utter chaos on another ASU possession, Serge Angounou launches a bit of a desperation long ball and hits, bringing Arizona State within four at 12-8. The Cardinal had a few chances to widen the gap before these two long-range bombs, but missing 11 of 12 and looking stagnant on offensive (due to the match-up zone) after making three of their first four shots hurt their momentum.
9:32: After Stanford's own drought that lasted 3:44, Johnson hits a long jumper to right the Cardinal course, making it 14-8.
7:50: So far, the referees have for the most part put their whistles away and are letting the boys get physical inside and outside the paint. We'll see how long that lasts.
5:14: After another nice-looking jump shot by Finger, Johnson finds Hill wide open in the left corner after a zone breakdown for a three-pointer, giving Stanford back a nine-point lead and forcing Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek to use a 30-second timeout. The crowd roars their approval!
4:02: An attempt at a trap by ASU is unsuccessful in cornering Washington, as he breaks it down and makes a sweet lay-up, giving Stanford a 21-13 advantage.
2:51: When Johnson has his confidence, he can make any open shot, and he just proved that point with a right wing three-pointer which was nothing but net, helping Stanford double up the Sun Devils, 26-13.
1:03: Johnson goes inside with some penetration and spots Hill open inside for a lay-up. During his prolonged mid-season slump, Johnson would have tried to shoot that ball, but this time he makes a nice decision for the easy score.
0:04.9: Washington attempts a wild-shot in the lane, but gets bailed out by this puzzling crew. He hits both free throws to give Stanford a 30-16 lead.
0:00: Fifth-year senior Carlton Weatherby, who was brought in during the free throw section, and junior Peter Prowitt tag-team and harasses Antuahene just enough so he can't get off a shot before the halftime buzzer.
Halftime: Welcome to the floor, Andre Bobo's Hip Hop PE Class! Where was the Macarena class when I was attending school? For that matter, if there had been a disco class, I may have actually decided to get a PE credit at Stanford before all was said and done. In any case, the performance was reasonably well choreographed and the crowd shows their approval with applause.
Halftime: A few stats come across the scoreboard and they are a bit surprising. ASU holds an 19-17 edge on the boards and has two blocks to Stanford's one. Stanford has a 7-5 assists lead, but an even more surprising 6-5 steals advantage, something we definitely haven't seen in a long time from this group.
18:41 left in the 2nd Half: After 33 seconds of great defense, Polk hits a desperation three-pointer as the shot clock buzzer goes off. Surprisingly, it's only his second shot of the game.
18:04: And just like that, Polk hits a second three-pointer to pull the Sun Devils within eight. Looks like it'll be another grinder after all for Stanford.
16:34: Johnson finds himself open for a three-pointer from the right side which goes in, stemming the Sun Devils tide and pushing the lead back to 12 at 34-22. The Sun Devils had not given Stanford much of an open look until that point, as their defensive intensity was turned up a notch after the break.
15:40: It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Super Washington! After Hill missed a jumper, Washington leaped high for the offensive rebound and put in an acrobatic reverse lay-up over his head to give the Cardinal back a double-digit lead of 11.
14:53: Polk continues to streak here in the second stanza, hitting an open jumper to bring the Sun Devils within seven at 36-29.
14:31: Hill finds Johnson for another wide-open long ball, which falls for the sophomore. Confidence can be such a tremendous booster, and it certainly seems to be helping Johnson today!
11:42: About a minute ago, Fields had a three-point shot from the right wing which went halfway down before coming out. That would have given Stanford a 45-29 lead. Glasser, after a near steal by Stanford, hits a three-pointer; then Pendergraph gets fouled on a lay-up on their next possession, just before the media timeout. His subsequent free thrown gets ASU back within, seven when it could have easily been 16. I call that a nine-point swing. Let's see how the Cardinal respond, now up 42-35.
8:23: After a Hill jumper (which is part in the sequence is described below), ASU calls a 30-second timeout. Both teams head towards their benches, but Angounou runs smack into Robin Lopez as the paths of the two teams criss-cross the floor. It sure didn't seem accidental, but cooler heads prevail and emotions are held in check before things could escalate further
8:00: The Cardinal respond to the misfortune with some authority. A Brook Lopez lay-up, countered by two Pendergraph free throws, is followed by a tough inside jumper by Hill, getting Stanford back up 46-37. Brown then delivers a three-pointer against the zone; Hill hits a jumper; and Washington finishes off the 11-2 run with two free throws to give Stanford that once hoped-for 16-point lead at 53-37.
7:38: Brown shows off his defensive skills as he plays tight defense on Antuahene, forcing the turnover.
6:57: After the media timeout, ASU launches into a 1-2-2 defense, designed to pick up Stanford at three-quarters court. The first time down, Brown misses a three-pointer, and Glasser comes back with a three-pointer to pull Arizona State within 13 at 53-40.
6:07: A pretty pass opened up Brown for a lay-up, but it rims out. However, Robin Lopez is there for a two-handed jam! His first points of the night get a rise of the folks at Maples.
3:51: Robin Lopez collects his customary block of the night, this time on Allen Morill, which is grabbed by Weatherby. Hill finds himself for an open three-pointer, giving Stanford its biggest lead of the night at 19, 61-42. This brings Hill to a total of 18 points, tying Washington for game-high honors.
2:00: Robin Lopez gets his second hoop of the game. Perhaps this gives the big guy a little bit of momentum going into the game on Saturday…
0:00: Despite an 11-2 run to end the game, Arizona State falls to the Cardinal, 63-53. The only sad part at the end is that the crowd's chants of "Bobel, Bobel" went unanswered, as senior walk-on Chris Bobel did not make it into the game.
Post-Game: Arizona State shot 60% in the 2nd half, but they never got closer than seven points the entire 20-minute stanza. While the Cardinal weren't able to defend quite as well as they did in the first half (25% on 6-of-24 shooting), their offense scored in spurts and they were able to fight off an improved Sun Devils team in the end. ASU certainly could be a team to reckon with in a couple of years, provided Pendergraph sticks around, Sendek gets his type of recruits in Tempe soon, and they continue to master the match-up zone.
Stanford closes out its 2006-07 regular season with the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday at Maples Pavilion. Tip is scheduled for 12:30pm.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!