Sunday Game Provides Unusual Roadie

As out of sorts as this Sunday Pac-10 road game may seem to you as a Cardinalmaniac, consider the impact on your beloved Stanford hoopsters. They are in the very middle of their tough winter quarter schedule, with papers and midterms piling up, yet have almost 70 hours between tip-offs on a road trip that has them in hotels for four straight nights. Read on for the reactions of the players and coaches to this scenario, as well as a look at the Oregon State team that hosts Stanford.

Did your Saturday seem empty this weekend?  After two full months of Stanford Saturday games, the Card spent an idle game up in Oregon yesterday in the middle of an unusual and untimely trip on the road.  The last time Stanford did not play on a Saturday would be the 14th of December, when they were on break for their autumn quarter finals, but the meager excuse for this Saturday respite is the conference's TV scheduling machinations.  Stanford will play after an extended two-plus days of rest today at Corvallis against a game Oregon State squad, and the Cardinal aren't happy about it.

"I'm not a proponent of playing on Sunday, and have felt that way for a long time," comments an irritated Mike Montgomery.  "We've said that we don't want to play on Sunday, so I don't know how this happened to our schedule."

The consternation arises from the fact that in the midst of the toughest quarter of the year for his student athletes, the Stanford basketball team has to spend an extra day away from home, well outside the norm for conference scheduling.  The team has an established pattern of playing a Thursday evening game, then spending Friday on the road with a schedule of practice and study, then the Saturday game.  In this trip, Stanford played its earliest Thursday game of the season with a ridiculous 5:30pm tip in the Pacific time zone, which has been followed by two completely open days in the hotel.  The players find themselves spending four nights in hotels from Wednesday evening through Saturday night, and that on the heels of last weekend's road trip to the Arizona schools.  This at a time when papers and midterms are piling up for these college students.

"It's a disadvantage to be away from class this long," notes senior sociology major Julius Barnes, who has been singled out by Montgomery as an important leader on this trip to remind his young teammates how to remain disciplined for this extended road trip.  The Stanford head coach doled out a warning message to his players as early as last weekend, in the Maples parking lot Saturday evening after returning from Tempe.  "I told them all that they really have to buckle down right now and plan ahead with school," the coach explains.  "I told the seniors that they have to give guidance to the younger guys.  Everyone has to take books with them - we're not on vacation."

Barnes notes that the atmosphere on road trips has matured during the four years he has been in the program.  "It's all about time management," he states.  "If you look at it the right way, you can find a silver lining.  There is more time to do work on a long trip like this, and you have a chance for better focus when you aren't around all your friends.  Nobody takes video games with them like they used to.  There's only so much TV you can watch, and nobody wants to step up and pay for movies (laughter).  The best thing to do is to get everybody into a study room for a few hours at a time.  I like to read on the plane and on while on the bus - the time is there."

But Barnes and many of his teammates bemoan the loss of Sunday, which is a key day of transition for these student-athletes during a tough winter quarter.  "Sunday is such a great day to have off," says freshman Matt Haryasz.  "You can do a lot of work, and you can physically relax after a tough few days.  If you manage your time well, you can even sleep in.  This is tough, but we'll have some mandatory study time on the trip that will help keep us focused.  But this is a grinding couple of weeks, and having a game on Sunday will be a lot different.  I like Saturdays a lot better."

Haryasz had a Spanish midterm on Friday, which is a little problematic when on the road, plus a load of Humanities (I-Hum) reading coming with him.  "After your first quarter here at Stanford, you learn to stay on top of things," he adds.  The senior Barnes knows the routine, and will join his fellow upperclassmen to help the freshmen with several of the same classes they took in prior years.  Still, Barnes has his own workload of papers to write and upcoming midterms this week for which to prepare.

The last time Stanford played four games in consecutive Pac-10 road trip weekends?  You have to go back thirteen years to the 1989-90 season when Stanford played at the Arizonas and at the Oregons in back-to-back weekends.  And in those games, they were swept with four fat losses.  Since then, the Pac-10 schedule has certainly given the Card consecutive weekends away from Maples, but one of those weeks had always included the one-game bus ride across the Bay to Berkeley.  In two of those years, Stanford added a fourth away game in the two-week span by an out of conference foe: 1991-92 (at Notre Dame) and 1997-98 (at UConn).  In both instances, the Card dropped that extra road game.

Historically speaking, if Stanford can pull out this fourth and final game of this long road trip, they will have exceeded all expectations this year and matched the best precedent in recent years  (3-1 in '97-98).  Given that these two pairs of teams are a particularly tall order, placing their teams in the top six in the conference entering this week (as opposed to the bottom-feeding Washington and LA schools), a 3-1 finish to this road trip would be cause for serious celebration.  A win against the Beavers would also go a long way toward solidifying Stanford's place in the upper echelon of the conference for the final dash to the finish line.  Arizona and Cal, currently #1 and #2 in the league, just completed weekend sweeps yesterday with hard-fought wins at Washington State and Oregon.  If Stanford wins Sunday, they hold just one game back of Cal and two games behind Arizona, with both of them still to play at Maples.  The Cardinal would also hold one- and two-game leads over Arizona State and Oregon respectively.  Should Stanford drop this Rodent Rumble, they would drop back into a tie with Arizona State and find themselves with a lot of ground to make up and a slim prayer to catch the Wildcats and Bears.

Winning that game will be a plenty tall order.  Oregon State through the midpoint in the conference schedule has been one of the real surprises, going 11-9 overall and 4-5 in Pac-10 play.  The skeptics will rebut that the Beavs enjoyed a very favorable schedule to that point, picking up wins only from those cellar dwellar opponents in the conference (both Washingtons and both LA schools).  The non-conference schedule smelled of richly frosted cupcakes, to boot, with the most fearful opponents among the ranks of Coppin State, Portland and Kansas State.  Still, this is a program in the right direction under first-year head coach Jay John, who Cardinalmaniacs best know as a recent assistant in Tucson under Lute Olsen.  John inherited a respectable cadre of talent from former Big Beaver Ritchie McKay, including a trio of standout seniors in Philip Ricci, Stanford Saturday games, the Card spent an idle game up in Oregon yesterday in\r\nthe middle of an unusual and untimely trip on the road.  The last time\r\nStanford did not play on a Saturday would be the 14th of December, when they\r\nwere on break for their autumn quarter finals, but the meager excuse for this\r\nSaturday respite is the conference's TV scheduling machinations.  Stanford\r\nwill play after an extended two-plus days of rest today at Corvallis against a\r\ngame Oregon State squad, and the Cardinal aren't happy about it.

\r\n

\"I'm not a proponent of playing on Sunday, and have felt that way for a\r\nlong time,\" comments an irritated Mike Montgomery.  \"We've said\r\nthat we don't want to play on Sunday, so I don't know how this happened to our\r\nschedule.\"

\r\n

The consternation arises from the fact that in the midst of the toughest\r\nquarter of the year for his student athletes, the Stanford basketball team has\r\nto spend an extra day away from home, well outside the norm for conference\r\nscheduling.  The team has an established pattern of playing a Thursday\r\nevening game, then spending Friday on the road with a schedule of practice and\r\nstudy, then the Saturday game.  In this trip, Stanford played its earliest\r\nThursday game of the season with a ridiculous 5:30pm tip in the Pacific time\r\nzone, which has been followed by two completely open days in the hotel. \r\nThe players find themselves spending four nights in hotels from Wednesday\r\nevening through Saturday night, and that on the heels of last weekend's road\r\ntrip to the Arizona schools.  This at a time when papers and midterms are\r\npiling up for these college students.

\r\n

\"It's a disadvantage to be away from class this long,\" notes senior\r\nsociology major Julius Barnes, who has been singled out by Montgomery as an\r\nimportant leader on this trip to remind his young teammates how to remain\r\ndisciplined for this extended road trip.  The Stanford head coach doled out\r\na warning message to his players as early as last weekend, in the Maples parking\r\nlot Saturday evening after returning from Tempe.  \"I told them all\r\nthat they really have to buckle down right now and plan ahead with\r\nschool,\" the coach explains.  \"I told the seniors that they have\r\nto give guidance to the younger guys.  Everyone has to take books with them\r\n- we're not on vacation.\"

\r\n

Barnes notes that the atmosphere on road trips has matured during the four\r\nyears he has been in the program.  \"It's all about time\r\nmanagement,\" he states.  \"If you look at it the right way, you\r\ncan find a silver lining.  There is more time to do work on a long trip\r\nlike this, and you have a chance for better focus when you aren't around all\r\nyour friends.  Nobody takes video games with them like they used to. \r\nThere's only so much TV you can watch, and nobody wants to step up and pay for\r\nmovies (laughter).  The best thing to do is to get everybody into a\r\nstudy room for a few hours at a time.  I like to read on the plane and on\r\nwhile on the bus - the time is there.\"

\r\n

But Barnes and many of his teammates bemoan the loss of Sunday, which is a\r\nkey day of transition for these student-athletes during a tough winter\r\nquarter.  \"Sunday is such a great day to have off,\" says freshman\r\nMatt Haryasz.  \"You can do a lot of work, and you can physically relax\r\nafter a tough few days.  If you manage your time well, you can even sleep\r\nin.  This is tough, but we'll have some mandatory study time on the trip\r\nthat will help keep us focused.  But this is a grinding couple of weeks,\r\nand having a game on Sunday will be a lot different.  I like Saturdays a\r\nlot better.\"

\r\n

Haryasz had a Spanish midterm on Friday, which is a little problematic when\r\non the road, plus a load of Humanities (I-Hum) reading coming with him. \r\n\"After your first quarter here at Stanford, you learn to stay on top of\r\nthings,\" he adds.  The senior Barnes knows the routine, and will join\r\nhis fellow upperclassmen to help the freshmen with several of the same classes\r\nthey took in prior years.  Still, Barnes has his own workload of papers to\r\nwrite and upcoming midterms this week for which to prepare.

\r\n

The last time Stanford played four games in consecutive Pac-10 road trip\r\nweekends?  You have to go back thirteen years to the 1989-90 season when\r\nStanford played at the Arizonas and at the Oregons in back-to-back\r\nweekends.  And in those games, they were swept with four fat losses. \r\nSince then, the Pac-10 schedule has certainly given the Card consecutive\r\nweekends away from Maples, but one of those weeks had always included the\r\none-game bus ride across the Bay to Berkeley.  In two of those years,\r\nStanford added a fourth away game in the two-week span by an out of conference\r\nfoe: 1991-92 (at Notre Dame) and 1997-98 (at UConn).  In both instances,\r\nthe Card dropped that extra road game.

\r\n

Historically speaking, if Stanford can pull out this fourth and final game of\r\nthis long road trip, they will have exceeded all expectations this year and\r\nmatched the best precedent in recent years  (3-1 in '97-98).  Given\r\nthat these two pairs of teams are a particularly tall order, placing their teams\r\nin the top six in the conference entering this week (as opposed to the\r\nbottom-feeding Washington and LA schools), a 3-1 finish to this road trip would\r\nbe cause for serious celebration.  A win against the Beavers would also go\r\na long way toward solidifying Stanford's place in the upper echelon of the\r\nconference for the final dash to the finish line.  Arizona and Cal,\r\ncurrently #1 and #2 in the league, just completed weekend sweeps yesterday with\r\nhard-fought wins at Washington State and Oregon.  If Stanford wins Sunday,\r\nthey hold just one game back of Cal and two games behind Arizona, with both of\r\nthem still to play at Maples.  The Cardinal would also hold one- and\r\ntwo-game leads over Arizona State and Oregon respectively.  Should Stanford\r\ndrop this Rodent Rumble, they would drop back into a tie with Arizona State and\r\nfind themselves with a lot of ground to make up and a slim prayer to catch the\r\nWildcats and Bears.

\r\n

Winning that game will be a plenty tall order.  Oregon State through the\r\nmidpoint in the conference schedule has been one of the real surprises, going\r\n11-9 overall and 4-5 in Pac-10 play.  The skeptics will rebut that the\r\nBeavs enjoyed a very favorable schedule to that point, picking up wins only from\r\nthose cellar dwellar opponents in the conference (both Washingtons and both LA\r\nschools).  The non-conference schedule smelled of richly frosted cupcakes,\r\nto boot, with the most fearful opponents among the ranks of Coppin State,\r\nPortland and Kansas State.  Still, this is a program in the right direction\r\nunder first-year head coach Jay John, who Cardinalmaniacs best know as a recent\r\nassistant in Tucson under Lute Olsen.  John inherited a respectable cadre\r\nof talent from former Big Beaver Ritchie McKay, including a trio of standout\r\nseniors in Philip Ricci,