The View From Press Row: Santa Clara

Men's Hoops Editor Ray Salloom brings you his insights from Stanford's 77-69 win at Santa Clara. Check out his look at key plays, stats, and important notes from this vital road win, helping the Cardinal move to 8-0 on the 2008-09 season!

Pregame – I finally get into the arena at 7:20pm and take a seat in their walkway/loge area, about the three-point line behind Santa Clara's bench. I set up my laptop and try in vain to see if I can get on the Internet, but none seemed to be available. Dagnabit! No chat then tonight, but I do hope that this rundown helps fill in the gaps like I do during one of those sessions during the game.

Pregame – As Stanford takes to the floor, the Public Address Announcer mentions the name Dick Davey to the Santa Clara Broncos crowd as he walks onto the floor. Davey gets a very nice ovation from what should easily be their biggest crowd of the year (Final announced attendance: 3,147).

Starting Lineups – The usual starting five are on the floor for Stanford: Mitch Johnson, Landry Fields, Anthony Goods, Lawrence Hill, and Josh Owens. Santa Clara starts Decensae White, Perry Petty, Michael Santos, Kevin Foster, and "Big" John Bryant.

First Half:
19:12 – Goods drives inside the paint, but gets called for the charge. Wonder if this will continue throughout the game as he needs to do some work inside the paint to help his outside game.
18:32 – Mitch hits a long two-pointer from the left wing, keeping up his hot outside shooting from the last game vs. Northwestern.
17:55 – Josh Owens draws ooohs and aaahs from everyone as he launches into full flight for another high-flying dunk!
17:13 – Landry drives from left to right, around the big guys, for the layup inside the paint.
15:22 – After a steal by SCU, Stanford plays good D for 25+ seconds, but Kevin Foster hits a long three from the right wing.
14:37Kenny Brown looking a bit more relaxed as the PG after a couple of decent performances against NAU and Northwestern. After Mitch goes out early, taking a tumble onto the floor, Brown comes in the game and drives the lane, gets the hoop and the harm as we go into the first media timeout with the Cardinal up 10-6, Cardinal.
13:50 – A nice give and go hurts Stanford as the Broncos cut the lead down to one, 10-9.
13:31 – Welcome Will Paul back to the land outside the arc as he hits his first open three-pointer of the season from the right wing.
11:50 – Stanford is now up 15-9 and looking pretty good so far through the second media timeout. They've been able to disrupt the Broncos on the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Bryant has not been taking it up strong against the smaller Stanford frontline, which is something he needs to do time and time again for him to be successful against the Cardinal.
10:48 – Landry hits a wide open three from right wing! We here at The Bootleg hope those shooting woes we saw last week will slowly go away here as the night progresses.
9:56 – Goods continues to drive inside looking for free throws. He hits his third of four to give Stanford a 23-13 advantage.
7:33 – Lots of back and forth on both ends of the court, but not many shots going in as both teams are taking early shots with time on the clock. The overall pace of play favors Stanford, but the overall pace of scoring is in Santa Clara's advantage. It's now 23-15, Stanford, after the third media timeout of the half.
7:19 – Owens was thinking of dunking, but Bryant was in the way. No problem as he lays it in over the big man for a 25-16 lead. That's a very nice move for the big man from Georgia to add to his arsenal as he gets ready to face some talented big men in the Pac-10 Conference.
5:33 – Hill hits a wide open three as the Broncos forget to switch on him on the right wing.
5:12 – A turnover leads to a fast break for Stanford. Law passes off to Goods who misses the layin, but Landry cleans it up with a two-hand flush. 30-sec timeout, Broncos, as the Cardinal extend their lead back to nine.
3:30 – Bryant gets an offensive rebound, but as he is about to get up for a second shot, Johnson strips him of the ball. This leads to Fields going up strong on Bryant after some play set up. Bryant is afraid to pick up foul number two, so Fields gets the relatively easy hoop. Stanford is now up again by 10, 33-23.
2:48 – Brilliant play for the Cardinal! After a rebound of an SCU miss by Hill, Johnson gets the pass from Law and runs up the court, looking to find Owens for an alley-oop. Owens, however, is too far away from the hoop to make that happen, but he sees Goods streaking along the left baseline and makes the pass without landing. Goods hits the wide open three, leading to another 30-second time out for the Broncos and Stanford is now up 13, 36-23.
1:26 – Bryant abuses Paul inside for an easy hook over the Corpus Christi native who doesn't look too comfortable inside the paint as of yet during this, his third year on the farm.
0:32 – Hill receives a pass inside the post and shoots it right over Bryant as the big man still isn't playing aggressive defense inside the paint for the Broncos.
0:00 – Petty hits a long, pull-up three from the right wing. Stanford quickly passes the ball in to Mitch. He races back to get a shot off, but his path to the basket is blocked. He instead passes to Da'Veed Dildy, who launches a three-pointer which is just off the mark. Stanford goes into the half with a 38-28 lead, having led by as many as 13 in the first 20 minutes of play.

Halftime Notes, Part One – Stanford has played a pretty solid half of basketball, limiting their turnovers and taking advantage of the ones Santa Clara is making. Whether or not they keep it up in the 2nd half is anyone's guess, but if the trend from the past two games at Maples holds (up 12 versus Northern Arizona and up 13 versus Northwestern), the Cardinal will lose part of this lead due to better play from their opponent and some costly turnovers of their own, but should still get the win they need on the road.

Halftime Notes, Part Two – At this point, let's hope Broncos head coach Kerry Keating does not light a fire under big man John Bryant because the senior from San Pablo, California has shown few strong moves inside and he needs to be on his game if they hope to pull off the mild upset at the Leavey Center. What's amazing is that Bryant has 11 to lead the Broncos, but they have been a very quiet 11 points so far considering Santa Clara runs plays for him more than half the time.

Second Half:
19:04 – The first two possessions of the half make me look like an amateur Nostradamus as Santa Clara runs a nice play for an easy two and Hill travels, giving the ball right back to the Broncos.
18:35 – Owens misses an alley-oop, but Law cleans up and finds Mitch wide open for a left-wing three that is perfect!
17:44 – The Cardinal provides no help to one another after their full court pressure doesn't work against the Broncos. Petty goes right down the lane for an uncontested layin for Santa Clara. Owens could have picked him up, but Bryant would have been wide open for the dunk.
15:56 – Johnson makes another run at the basket after a miss by Santa Clara and draws the foul. He'll shoot free throws after the media timeout where Stanford is up 11, 46-35.
14:28 – Mitch Johnson is hotter than a pistol as he hits from the left baseline with ease after the inbounds pass from the baseline.
14:07 – After Stanford gets a steal, Mitch misses the layup. The rebound bounces high off the hardwood and Foster is there to grab the ball as it comes out of orbit. Foster takes the ball and zooms a passes to Bryant streaking alone down the middle of the court. He gets up for the one-handed dunk to make it 50-39.
13:29 – It's not pretty, but an underhand hook from Bryant over Paul gets Santa Clara to within single digits again. He's beginning to show a few of the moves we expected to see throughout this contest.
13:07 – Brown hits a wide open three from the right wing to stem the tide, getting Stanford back up 12.
12:36 – We are now witnessing the December 2008 Foul-a-thon sponsored by Dave Libbey as the 11th foul of the half was just called after a Mitch Johnson steal.
11:44 – Stanford is up 55-41 at the second media timeout. "Celebrity Free Throw" comes up on the video board which ironically has shown nary a video tonight. Santa Claus is the celebrity de jour and he makes his free throw and the crowd goes…silent. Don't look for this on FOX's 2009 Spring TV lineup.
10:03 – Santa Clara is causing some disruption inside the paint for the Cardinal, converting a turnover into free throws. They are on a 8-2 run, making the lead just eight, 57-49.
8:41 – After another bad Stanford shot, the Broncos find a wide open three on the left wing which is nothing but net. The lead is now down to five as the Cardinal faithful are getting a little nervous and the Broncos fans are getting louder in an arena which has been mostly quiet this evening.
8:00 – Brown gets his pocket picked by Perry Petty (say that three times quick!) who leads the break for SCU. Petty finds the freshman James Rahon who is money from the right wing beyond the arc. Santa Clara takes a surprise 30-second timeout just after cutting the lead to four and right before the media timeout. It's interesting to see a former Trojan coach take a page out of Bruin Ben Howland's playbook. Let's see how it plays out as we head down the stretch and with the Broncos down to just two timeouts.
7:27 – This may be the most critical sequence of the game. After a block on one end by Bronco freshman Marc Trasolini, Fields steals a pass at the top of the Santa Clara key and goes coast-to-coast for a much contested layin which didn't draw a whistle from this crew. Stanford goes up 61-55.
6:34 – Owens will go to the line after drawing a foul on the possession after Santa Clara got a non-contested layup on their end. It looked like both Johnson and Owens backed off the shooter, perhaps afraid to draw the contract. Maybe the whistles are now in everyone's heads?
6:00 – Downtown Kenny Brown hits a huge three from the right corner after Santa Clara misses an easier layup than expected. Stanford is now up seven, 64-57.
5:20 – Goods gobbles up a miss by Johnson from the right side of the paint and in one motion puts it back up and in to get the lead back to seven after Bryant had made two free throws for Santa Clara.
3:43 – Stanford is getting beat on the glass by the Broncos on a constant basis as Bryant gets another offensive rebound and draws the foul inside. He'll go to the line for a chance to cut the lead back to five after the media timeout.
3:22 – Fields dribble-drives into the lane on the shorter Rahon. The double-team comes too late from Bryant and Landry is able to hit the shot in the paint. That gets the lead back up to seven after Bryant had sliced the lead again after making both free throws after the timeout.
2:45 – After a Broncos travel, Dawkins exploits the mismatch inside again and Fields gets two shots at the charity stripe. He makes one of two, even after getting a second chance on the latter shot due to a lane violation. Stanford's now up eight, 71-63.
1:48 – Hill draws a controversial foul on Bryant, who bumps him from behind just outside the paint with the shot clock winding down. From the replay I am barely able to see from someone's monitor downstairs seems to confirm that it was a no-call at best. The Cardinal doesn't really care as Hill makes one of two from the line, raising the lead back up to seven, 72-65.
1:15 – Bryant bulls his way into the lane, but his low shot, something we've seen him throw up at the rim all night, can't seem to fall in. Michael Santos commits the foul on the rebound. Hill makes one of two, but Bryant picks up his own rebound twice to pull Santa Clara to within two possessions, 73-67, with 75 seconds remaining.
1:13 – Tired legs are showing and hurting Stanford at the line as Goods makes only one of his two free throws, but it does give Stanford a seven-point lead.
0:28.9 – Santa Clara had an attempt to cut the lead to four, but couldn't get off a clean shot. Stanford is able to get the ball back and dribble and pass away precious seconds before the Broncos can foul Fields. Landry makes both free throws (his form looks much, much better this season) to get Stanford up nine.
0:16.5 – Does Coach Dawkins not teach his players to let a layup go when up by what seems to be a comfortable margin? Apparently not as the Cardinal foul Bryant who shoots another two free throws. The freebies are both successful, giving Bryant 27 on the night. However, time is running out for the Broncos, now down seven, 76-69.

Final Score: Stanford 77, Santa Clara 69

Final Stats – Stanford narrowly outshot the Broncos, 43.9% to 43.4%, however only shot 36% from beyond the arc, while Santa Clara hit an uncharacteristic 46% from the three-point line. One big fear coming in was rebounding and the fears came to fruition as Stanford was beat on the glass by a 43-27 margin, something unthinkable just a season ago. However, Stanford did a much better job holding onto the ball this time out, committing just 10 turnovers, while Santa Clara committed both forced and unforced errors, totaling 22 turnovers at the end of the night. Individually, Bryant came out and dominated the paint for the Broncos, scoring 27 points and grabbing 22 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass. This definitely is a not a good sign of things to come for Stanford with other talented centers and forwards probably licking their chops as they watch film on the Cardinal. Petty was the only other player in double figures for Santa Clara, netting 17 for the home team. For Stanford, Fields led the way 18, while Goods and Johnson combined for 30 points on 9/20 shooting from the field and 9/12 from the free throw line. Brown came off the bench to get 10 for Stanford.

Final Thoughts, Part One – Well, Stanford did again let a second-half lead almost disappear, but they also found another way to finish off an opponent that threatened to give them their first loss of the season. Santa Clara got within four and had the ball at one point, but a critical turnover hurt the Broncos' last serious threat to Stanford. The Cardinal may not be able to live this dangerously in Pac-10 play, however, they do get to start the season at home where they should have a lively crowd on-hand for the Arizona schools.

Final Thoughts, Part Two – Stanford moves its record to 8-0 heading into the Christmas break. The Cardinal will host four games in eight days as they take on Texas Tech (12/28), Hartford (12/30), Arizona State (1/2), and Arizona (1/4) to finish off their latest stint in the Bay Area. If the Cardinal can somehow win all of these games, you can be sure they'll be getting a lot more votes and potentially be a Top 25 team, a thought some fans thought unthinkable just a few short months ago. Of course, that's still a long way away, but listening to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" here at the Leavey Center has a way of making a grown man think this team has a shot at surprising some folks down the road and perhaps create a little noise in conference play and maybe beyond…

Happy Holidays!

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