Pre-Italy Scrimmage Report

Before Stanford Men's Basketball boarded their flight to Italy last week, they held an intrasquad scrimmage in Maples Pavilion with Pac-10 officials. The Cardinal played four quarters with international rules, and we saw several different lineups that moved players around. The first half play was sluggish, but several standouts took control after halftime. Here is our box score plus observations.

  FG 3FG FT Reb Ass Pts
Robin Lopez 9-12 0-0 5-8 5 0 18
Brook Lopez 13-22 2-3 2-2 6 0 28
Lawrence Hill 7-11 2-4 4-5 7 3 16
Anthony Goods 4-10 2-5 1-1 3 4 10
Mitch Johnson 3-3 2-2 0-0 3 3 8
Peter Prowitt 2-8 0-0 0-0 4 1 4
Will Paul 3-7 0-1 1-2 4 2 6
Landry Fields 4-12 1-6 4-4 6 1 9
Kenny Brown 2-7 1-5 2-2 2 1 5
Drew Shiller 1-3 1-3 0-0 2 6 3
Da'Veed Dildy 2-7 0-2 0-0 4 4 4

International rules:
Four eight-minute quarters, with a 24-second shot clock and eight seconds to bring the ball across halfcourt.  Trapezoidal lane.  Three-point arc is 20'6".

First quarter: (gray) RL, BL, LH, AG, MJ; (red) PP, WP, LF, KB, DS(DD sub)
Second quarter: (gray) RL, BL, LH, LF, AG; (red) PP, WP, DD, KB, DS(MJ sub)
Third quarter: (gray) RL, BL(KB sub), LH, AG, DS; (red) PP(BL sub), WP, LF, DD, MJ
Fourth quarter: (gray) RL, LH, AG, KB, DS; (red) BL, WP, LF, DD, MJ

Substitutions occurred roughly midway through the quarter at the four-minute mark.  The third-quarter mid-period substitution had Brook Lopez reverse his jersey and switch teams.

(scores reset at the start of each quarter)
First quarter: gray 18, red 11
Second quarter: gray 15, red 9
Third quarter: gray 20, red 16
Fourth quarter: gray 19, red 22

The offensive flow of the scrimmage clearly picked up after halftime, across the board.  All players combined for 19-of-46 shooting in the first half, while hitting 31-of-56 in the second half.  It is noteworthy that the only quarter won by the red team was the final period, which saw Brook Lopez, Landry Fields and Mitch Johnson together.

In addition to the new two-guard offense which Stanford installed during these pre-Italy practices, there is also a new "early offense" for the Cardinal when they start running on the break.  One of the least understood parts of basketball for fans is how a team runs the floor in transition.  It moves at a high speed and may seem like instinctive or simple basketball, but the primary break and secondary break is an important part of the Xs and Os run in practice and taught in the film room.  Stanford's transition basketball will have a new look this year, if they continue what was installed in August and taken to Italy.

Both Lopez twins played with visible frustration, particularly in response to foul calls, in the first half.  Their second-half play was dominant, however.  Robin Lopez opened the second half with 5-of-5 shooting and finished 6-of-7.  Brook Lopez attempted 15 (fifteen!) shots in the second half and missed just four.  All three of his three-point attempts came during his groove in the second half, including one from 25 feet that just beat the shot clock buzzer.  The big fella was feeling it.  One huge gaffe for him in the scrimmage, however, came on a steal and fast break dunk opportunity, which he hammered off the back rim when he tried for a little too many style points.  Lopez did have another uncontested dunk opportunity later, which he put down with notably less panache.

Landry Fields is the most physically changed player on the roster, having grown an inch since a year ago while also greatly maturing his body.  Even if he has not added a lot of weight, you can see the much improved muscle tone.  A baby no more, Fields looks like a college athlete.  With these physical improvements, he has also grown in confidence and playmaking ability.  I saw a very active Fields throughout the scrimmage in all facets of the game, though it was surprising and disappointing to see his outside shot falter (1-of-6 three-pointers).

Peter Prowitt substituted out of the scrimmage midway through the third quarter and did not return.  All of his stats in the box score came from his first-half play.  He had three of those field goal attempts all in one series, where he was at the basket and tried thrice to score in traffic.  To his credit, he did come up with two offensive rebounds to keep it alive.  His best play of the day evening came in the paint against both Lopez twins - he used a pivot and step-through to ultimately split the towering defenders and score.

It was a somewhat underwhelming scrimmage for Anthony Goods, who I would have expected to take command in the backcourt this year.  His shooting was middling at best, and his shot selection jumped around.  Goods hoisted strictly three-pointers in the first half, and then he only attempted two-point field goals after halftime.  Streaky scoring may be in the offing again this year from him.

Mitch Johnson showed good shot selection and played within himself, hitting both of his three-point attempts and his one field goal inside the arc (a pull-up jumper).  I wondered how he would handle the change to a two-guard offense, and this scrimmage was a pleasant surprise.

Lawrence Hill was Stanford's most valuable player and most versatile scorer last year, at least in the eyes of this writer.  He was one of the players who worked the hardest this off-season, and my expectations for Hill as a junior in 2007-08 are very high.  To see him so unassertive and uninvolved in the first half offensively of this scrimmage was disappointing.  Like a number of his teammates, though, a fire was lit in the second half.  After halftime, he took eight attempts from the field (versus three in the first half), and he attacked the basket.  That got Hill to the free throw line several times.  He also became more active on the boards in the second half as well.

I expected to see Drew Shiller's primary contributions to come in his outside sharpshooting, but he attempted just three triples in the entire scrimmage.  After his make in the first half, he did not score again.  Shiller's ability to make his teammates better and to find them in scoring positions was impressive, though.

Kenny Brown may have done more on defense than on offense in this scrimmage.  He has good athleticism and is very active in the passing lanes and on the boards.  Brown played a role in a few steals and deflected some other balls out of bounds.  That three-pointer was a signature strength of his game late last season, though, and he struggled in this scrimmage to find the bottom of the net.

In the big picture, I see a Stanford team that looks like they can probably rebound better and defend better than a year ago.  It remains to be seen whether the ballhandling and scoring are significantly improved.  The depth of this squad, if healthy, is obviously superior to a year ago.  And this scrimmage did not have Fred Washington (knee), Taj Finger (mono) or Josh Owens (freshman) on the floor.

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