"Center Court" w/ F/C Jack Trotter (#50)
minutes and 45 seconds into
the 2008-2009 season, then-freshman Jack Trotter's mettle was tested. With his Cardinal team clinging on to a
seven-point lead against a pesky Yale team in New Haven, the walk-on forward/center
got fouled going up for a shot in the paint and earned himself a trip to the
line for his first collegiate free throws.
"I was pretty confident, but at the same time, I was really nervous- it was my first game, and it was on the road," reminisces Trotter. And it wasn't just any normal home game for Yale. By visiting the Bulldogs' campus, Stanford became the first Pac-10 school to play at the new John J. Lee Amphitheater. So with the Yale fans out in full force and screaming at the Moraga (Calif.) native as he stepped to the line, these weren't your typical free throws.
Think all of those factors would
faze Trotter? Not at all.
"My hands were probably shaking a little bit, but I made them both, and that was a big confidence-booster right there," Jack says. Neither free throw left any room for doubt, as the big man nailed both and increased the lead to nine en route to Stanford's 75-67 triumph over a highly competitive Ivy League squad.
Trotter, who said he had
experience taking free throws in big spots at Campolindo High School, used his
clutch makes against Yale to propel him to an impressive freshman campaign. Though he only averaged six minutes
of floor time over 21 games played as a reserve, the East Bay youngster made the most of
his opportunities and played well enough to earn a scholarship for the 2009-2010
In addition to holding his own on the defensive end and grabbing rebounds, Trotter showed flashes of offensive brilliance. In a game at the McKale Center against the Arizona Wildcats, Trotter on one play got past two future NBA draft picks in Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger en route to an authoritative slam dunk.
When asked to describe the play, Jack said, "The ball got kicked out to me, and Jordan Hill was right in front of me, but he didn't seem to be taking me seriously as an offensive threat so I gave him an up-fake and he wanted to block my shot, so he flew past me. So I just took one dribble and elevated before [Budinger] could get over and dunked it."
The improvement seen in the play
of Trotter over the course of last season was due in large part to his greatly-improved
footwork. Now a sophomore, the 6-9 post player explained
the progress he made in his footwork over the course of his freshman
"I think it was just repetition of what Coach (Dick) Davey had been teaching me. You do something 1,000 times and you're definitely going to show improvement in that area".
In all practices last season, when the groups would be divided by "littles" and "bigs", Associate Head Coach Davey would take the post players and work on footwork techniques for at least 15 minutes in various game situations with the ball in the low-post, high-post, and short-corner, everywhere a power forward or center would be working on the offensive end. (Note: Coach Davey is so well-known for being a master of footwork that Bill Duffy, a former Bronco himself, brought his client, former UConn star Hasheem Thabeet to learn from the Santa Clara legend before the NBA Draft this last April.)
A little bit on skinny side his
freshman year, Jack used the off-season to hit the weights hard and often. One look at the Campolindo grad and you
can easily see that the hard work paid off.
"During the season I got the experience to know what it's like to play against Pac-10 centers," says Trotter, "And I realized I needed to hit the weights and bulk up. I probably gained 15 or 20 pounds over the summer." The increase in weight will surely help him bang down low with the likes of Michael Dunigan, Drew Gordon, and Eric Boateng on a weekly basis.
Looking forward to the 2009-2010
campaign, Trotter is ready to take on an increased workload.
"Wherever they need me, I'll be there," he says, "I've been working on my defense and running the court and rebounding, so I think I can really contribute in those areas, areas where at times we were a little spotty last year."
If it sounds like Trotter is
uncertain which position (PF or C) he'll play this year, it's because he
is. Standing at six-feet, nine- inches
and weighing in at 220 pounds, Jack is your typical "tweener" in the post. With that type of versatility,
his positioning during the game will change as the five on the floor for the Cardinal
"It depends on whom I play with. Josh Owens is a power forward, not a center, and he had to play the ‘5' last year. If I'm in with him, then I'd probably play at center and let him play at the ‘4'," Trotter states.
The 49er and Giants fan (a serious point of contention between Trotter and this author) was also able to give us some insight on what has been taking place at team workouts so far. On September 15th, the team began preparations for 2009-2010, and defense has been the primary focus. "We've been working mostly, all 13 of us, on defense and recently we just started putting in the offense, a couple of changes from last year, but defense has been a really big focus for this coaching staff and the guys," reports the sophomore.
While the guys have been working
hard on the court, they can't seem to get enough of each other off the
court. Every player interviewed by
The Bootleg so far has raved about the team chemistry, and Jack is no
"We all like each other, we all like having each other around," Trotter states, "People are really good friends and want to hang out every weekend and week nights. Everyone is just the best of friends, and I know it sounds cliché, but that's the way it is."
With his parents both graduating from
Stanford, Trotter has been all Cardinal since the day he was born. A huge football fan, he states that he
has been to at least 50 Stanford Football games over the years. Thus, when he makes a prediction about
the upcoming Stanford-UCLA game, you have to put some stock into it. When asked about
what's going to happen this Saturday and whether it will lead to a national
ranking for the Cardinal if they are successful, Trotter replied:
"We will win; we will win big, and yes, Stanford will be deserving of a Top-25 ranking".
the Card will be as clutch this weekend as Trotter was last November at the
About the Bootleg's Newest Author: Kevin Danna, Stanford '09, started out as a student manager-in-training for the Men's Basketball Team on October 14, 2005, and has lived and breathed Stanford Basketball ever since. From doing laundry to filming practice to working summer camps, he has been involved with many facets of the Men's Basketball program. Upon retirement from his manager position on March 25, 2009 at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season, Kevin took an undeservedly prolonged break from any kind of work and eventually got his degree from The Farm in Spanish. Shaking off the cobwebs of five months of laziness, Kevin has started working as a play-by-play and color broadcaster for gostanford.com, calling home contests (in English) for several Stanford sports. He also hosts a sports talk show on 90.1 FM KZSU from 9-10pm every Tuesday entitled "The Sports Zoo", as well as a music show called "408's Finest" immediately following sports talk from 10pm-Midnight. An alumnus of San Jose's Bellarmine Prep, Kevin proudly admits that he currently lives at home in San Jose with his parents and cat.
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