So I'm spending my Thursday afternoons dissecting fruit flies this quarter (entirely by my choice, I can assure you), which means that we're live from the Old Pro and not live from Corvallis. But hey, there are probably more people in this bar than in Corvallis - their Halloween-colored building looks one-third full, and the TV cameras are careful to take only narrow angles, which likely means there's no one in the entire upper bowl.
The few Beaver faithful in attendance probably leave pretty early too, as Anthony Goods uncorks two early threes, and after talking about how he desperately he wanted to get on-track offensively in my last piece, Lawrence Hill does just that with a beautiful reverse right-handed dunk. Stanford jumps out to a 15-2 lead five minutes in and stretches it to 24-8 with 11:00 left in the first half.
This kind of reminds me of Stanford's last visit to Corvallis - the good guys jumped ahead 11-2, I think, but visibly let off the gas pedal, only for Oregon State to actually lead by five in the second half, until we started trying again and pulled away. We can't afford a similar lapse in intensity this time, because Oregon State's RPI is so low (260, I think) that a loss would singlehandedly drop us three spots in NCAA Tournament seeding. Plus, Oregon State led Arizona at the half, I believe by five. That doesn't mean as much as in previous seasons, but they're good enough (and we're still maddeningly inconsistent enough) that this one needs to be out-of-touch early.
6:31pm: Back on the court, Brook Lopez coverts the high-low end of the low, and we go the under-8:00 timeout with Stanford ahead 26-11.
6:35pm: Robin Lopez misses a pair from the line, keeping the score at 26-11. 45 minutes south on I-5, Oregon leads Cal 34-28. Go Ducks!
6:37pm: Johnson has learned from his last time up in Corvallis and is keeping in the A-Team - Fred, Mitch, Anthony, Brook and Robin are on the court as we type. That's great for anyone who bet on Stanford in this game, and I think it's the right move because we really can't afford a loss, as I said, but that's a bad sign for the future of this team. If Coach doesn't feel comfortable going to Landry or Kenny now, when will he?
6:39pm: 28-16 with five minutes left in the half. We're shooting 48 per cent and Oregon State's at 30. As John Platz mentioned on the radio during my drive over from campus, we're purposefully taking much shorter, higher-percentage shots this game, in the wake of our historic offensive ineptitude against the Trojans.
6:44pm: Brook earns a trip to the line, and the margin's 30-16 with three minutes left in the half. Oregon State gets two loose-ball rebounds (think Coach might show that sequence in the film room once or twice?) as Stanford forgets Boxing Out 101, but the Beavers still, somehow, can't put the ball down the bottom of the net and Stanford escapes. Yeah, the defense is solid, especially inside, but it's more just not giving the opponents anything easy down low - and letting teams without the horses, like Harvard or Oregon State, bomb away from the perimeter.
I think our defensive nightmare is a team with multiple outside shooters - the prototypical low-seeded NCAA team we'll face in the first round, by the way - which would largely negate our defensive prowess in the paint, which is really all that's separating us from Oregon or Arizona right now.
Guy buddy: "Roeland Schaftenaar looks like he's 12." Girlfriend: "But he's so cute." What? Guess that's why she's dating me. I probably shouldn't be putting this out on the Internet.
Fresh back from my first trip to Vegas, I offer you this second-half over-under: letters in Schaftenaar, or second-half Oregon State points. Your pick.
6:48pm: Beautiful, beautiful Mitch Johnson no-look pass to Robin, who coverts for an easy lay-up, as the Stanford lead nears 20 with the first half winding down. Stanford now holds a 15-12 edge in the paint, which is a much smaller edge than you'd like as one of the conference's most touted frontcourts against, at least to my eyes, the worst frontcourt in the league.
6:50pm: Doesn't matter as Mitch Johnson, possibly the most effective guard thus far this season, strips it and goes the distance for an uncontested lay-in. It's now 38-18 with one minute left in the half. If Oregon State keeps up this pace (and they'll probably score more with less Robin Lopez in the second half), Stanford will allow the fewest points since that 39-37 classic two seasons ago up in Pullman.
6:51pm: It's 39-20 Stanford at the half, as a nice Kenny Brown strip of the Beavers in transition goes all for naught as a buzzer-beating three from the corner falls short. I know Stanford-Oregon State on Thursday nights doesn't get the A-crew from FSN, and I know firsthand that calling a game is harder than it looks, but these guys are awful. Fox Sports: one call and you have a soon-to-be-Stanford dropout ready for action?
What does it say about Oregon State's basketball when the halftime interview is of a football player and the baseball coach? At least their hoopers look better than their cheerleaders. Oregon's lead was 12, but Cal has caught up to within four.
The halftime stats must bring a smile even to Trent Johnson's face (and nice job by the cameraman to capture Mitch's smile after finding Robin for the lay-up - it's the first smile I've seen from the junior floor leader on the court). Hill leads all scorers with 11, Brook has 10 and no Beaver has more than six. (Incidentally the six belong to Omari Johnson, who Trent went out of his way to praise in the Tuesday presser.) We're outshooting Oregon State 46 percent to 29 percent, have committed only six turnovers, and are 5-of-9 deep, while Oregon State is 0-of-4. Cal and Oregon are now tied at 54 with just under eight minutes left. The Weenies at the next table are so happy - but I have a feeling they're going to leave disappointed. (You know it's time to sell when you overhear the Cal fans saying 'Maybe Braun's not so bad after all. What do you think?')
7:09pm: Second half starts much the same way as the first: Anthony Goods puts up an open three… but this one somehow doesn't go in. Looked good the whole way, go figure. Let's hope it doesn't set a tone for this second stanza.
Girlfriend's riding the bull, think I missed a possession. Holy smokes, she stayed on for a good 75 seconds, or about five times my personal best. (Guy buddy: "Better find yourself a cowboy hat.")
7:16pm: On the court, things aren't going as well as Stanford's back to USC-level shooting. Oregon State's still scoring a point per minute, so we're okay, but the Beerzookas are looking increasingly attractive with every back iron that we hit. 41-24 now, with 16 minutes to go. 7:19pm: There's the athleticism of CJ Giles on display, as the Kansas transfer blocks Robin Lopez's baseline spin-move floater out of the building. I don't know who had 41 in bingo, but we've been stuck on that number for a mighty long time. Oregon State hits a pair of free throws, about the only way they're scoring, and now it's 41-26. Like the USC game, guess we get to see both our strengths and our flaws at their most salient today.
7:21pm: Hey, there we go! Robin Lopez puts in a six-incher and now it's 43-26 with 15 minutes to go.
7:22pm: Coach, why are you sitting Brook with two fouls? It's the second half. I also just discovered the fact that the men's bathroom mirror in the Old Pro is one-way, no joke. Everyone in the bar can see into the bathroom, but someone zipping up at the urinal just sees their reflection. I couldn't make this up if I tried. And I know the owners are Irish, but no jokes please.
7:24pm: Kenny Brown misses an open three - I would really love for the streaky shooter to knock that down and start some momentum, but great box-out and hustle by Taj Finger, who else, for the O-board. Mitch and Taj are our most improved players this season, and you could make a serious argument they're our most consistent players. Raise your hands if you would have guessed this pregame.
7:27pm: A wide-open Giles knocks down a three, and now Oregon State's outscoring their point-per-minute pace - it's 47-30 with 12 to go. A Seth Tarver offensive rebound two feet from the hoop leaves Brook Lopez no real choice but to commit foul number three, but the guard somehow misses the pair from the line. Don't think too many clips from this game are going on the season-ending banquet tape. Those of you with actual lives didn't miss much tonight.
7:30pm: But you did miss that play! As I type, there's our highlight of the game: from out of nowhere comes Taj Finger with a midair, right-handed tip-in, and just a possession later it's downtown Kenny Brown lighting up from NBA range. Anthony Goods split a pair in there, and now it's 53-30 with nine minutes left, Stanford's biggest lead of the night.
7:32pm: Oregon State continues to do nothing offensively (called it!) and Brook Lopez makes a beautiful pass of a defensive rebound off the baseline around two would-be offensive rebounders to kick-start the Stanford transition game. The ball's swung to Goods in the corner, who fakes the three to get his defender in the air, and then drives the lane for a six-foot scoop that grazes the front rim and trickles down. Beautiful.
7:35pm: Guess this is why I'm a Stanford student. 55-32 with eight minutes left, and I'm the only guy in the building still watching intently, as I want to see if we can hold the Beavers under 37, which would have to be good for an all-time record. The Beavers draw a shooting foul after Anthony Goods misses a pull-up heading into the eight-minute timeout, so it's looking unlikely, though not impossible.
7:36pm: People with more basketball experience, feel free to chime in, but I wonder what effect knowing we have a knockout defense has on our shooters. I would expect they'd feel less pressure and hit more, but maybe a little pressure to drive the lane and make something happen is exactly what these guys need. Maybe they've become complacent lobbing it down low on offense, and knowing that those twins are there to bail them out defensively, because my sense is we're playing at a much lower level offensively than last year, even though our roster is identical (and everyone has an additional year of experience). And yes, I'm that fan complaining after a 20-point win.
7:41pm: Brook is sitting with foul number four, and Oregon State hits a free throw to inch up to 55-36 with 6:40 left. But all of that was worth seeing Robin Lopez race the ball up court into a Beaver triple-team. He got bailed out with a foul, but the "what the heck do I do now" look on his face was priceless. Fred misses another free throw: in November, he was promising people preseason he'd shoot 80 percent this season - and Oregon State hits a nice pull-up on the other end to close to 57-38 with five to go. Now that 37 is eclipsed, my interest is seriously waning. Fred misses another front end of a one-and-one - we're going to have to pull him in late-game situations where we have a narrow lead, but the Beavers do what they do best and turn it right back over.
7:47pm: Two Goods free throws at the four-minute timeout - we won't have to pull him late in games. Guess this is exactly what you want out of tonight - an easy win never in question where everyone gets out healthy, but, my goodness, that doesn't mean it was fun to watch. Washington's knotted with UCLA at 10 early - it's not going to hold up I wouldn't think, but my goodness would that be a shocker.
7:50pm: Sporting the Rip Hamilton facemask, Omari Johnson, throws one off the high, high avoid-the-Lopez-twins glass that somehow drops. Even with that prayer, Stanford now leads 33-20 in the paint, much better.
7:52pm: It's Drew Schiller and Peter Prowitt time. They're playing really hard - think they want to impress Coach in their few minutes? - so hard it looks like everyone else is running at half-speed. The final few minutes play out to form and Stanford walks away with a solid 66-46 victory. I think Stanford's held five of their last seven opponents under 50, which is just ridiculous. I guess the biggest takeaway from today is that we have yet another reason to believe this defense is as dominant as we hoped it would be. (But why is the offense still stagnating? Maybe it gets fewer possessions because our D forces opponents deeper into the clock?)
That's all for today, folks. I'll do my best to do something similar for the Oregon game, so be sure to check-in then.
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