And 1: Stanford 59, Oregon State 35

Men's Basketball Writer Kevin "Kevo" Danna provides the Bootleg faithful a look at the game flow, stats, facts, and his keen observations after Stanford rebounded from a tough trip to the Washington schools with a 59-35 win over the Oregon State Beavers Thursday night at Maples Pavilion.

Anytime the Beavers are involved, you never know what is going to happen.  They could beat the Los Angeles Lakers one night and then lose to a 6th Grade AAU team the next.  Alright, that might be a bit of a hyperbole, but Oregon State is by far the most enigmatic team in the Pac-10.  And despite their very disappointing non-conference performance, they still were giving conference foes plenty to worry about.  Moreover, this team gave Stanford more than they could ask for 75% of the time in 2008-2009, so this one was sure to be a tough battle for the Farm Boys…

…Or so we thought.  What figured to be a slug-it-out contest turned into the Cardinal's most lopsided victory this season with a 59-35 triumph over the Oregon State Beavers.  How did it happen?

It all goes back to the solid start that the Card got off to.  After a turnover and stop on the defensive end, Jeremy Green hit a three from the left wing to turn in the first points of the game.  That bucket by Jeremy already ensured that the Cardinal would get off to a better start at home this year than they did at Maples in January of 2009, when Oregon State sprinted out of the gates with a 16-2 advantage.  The Green basket allowed the Cardinal to get comfortable and settle nicely into the game.  When Oregon State went on their lone run of the game to make it 8-5 Beavers, there was no hint of panic from the Cardinal and they scored quickly thereafter and never gave up the lead once they regained it.  In the "Who Are You" article, the first key to the game for Stanford was to at least be close when Oregon State had 16 points.  Well on Thursday night, Stanford was the first to 16 as they held a 16-10 lead and by the time Oregon State got to 17 on a Calvin Haynes layup, Stanford was already at 22.

The Cardinal only held a marginal 28-22 lead at the half, but it never felt like the Beavers would make a huge push.  Why?  REBOUNDING.  Stanford was terrific on the defensive glass for the first 20 minutes (and the whole game for that matter), only giving up one offensive rebound in the first half.  That, combined with Oregon State's cold touch (9-24 shooting by the intermission), made Stanford's two possession halftime lead seem larger.  When you can't shoot and can't corral your misses, it makes for a tough combination to overcome.   The rebounding effort only got better in the second half for Stanford, as they ended the game with a 38-22 rebounding edge over Oregon State.  Now the Beavers aren't the best rebounding team by any stretch of the imagination, but to out-board them by 16?  With a bigger lineup last year, Stanford did not outrebound Oregon State in either regular season game; on the other hand, Oregon State is just as big, if not bigger than they were last season.  That smells like one hell of an effort from the Cardinal tonight.

It really was a team effort rebounding the basketball, too.  Sure, Landry had his usual near double-double that included nine rebounds and Jack Trotter added six, but just about everyone else got into the mix.  Check this out- every Cardinal player that entered the game (with the exception of Emmanuel Igbinosa, who only played one minute) secured at least one missed shot off the glass.  Eight Farm Boys recorded at least two boards, and seven had at least three.  How about that for team rebounding?  Even Peter Abraham, who played just four minutes, got a couple of boards.  Also, Chris Ebersole was able to get an offensive rebound!  What really impressed me with Chris in the three minutes that he was out there was that he played those minutes very smartly.  When he got that offensive rebound, he didn't try to take a quick shot at the hoop just to get his name in the book.  Rather, he pulled it out and ran clock.  Such poise from the former Kevo-underling!

Back to the rebounding.  Elliott Bullock was huge off the bench for the Cardinal in getting five rebounds.  In the past, Bullock would sometimes let the ball get slapped away from him after coming down with the board, but that wasn't the case at all on Thursday night.  Elliott was very strong with the basketball and had a tight grip on it after getting the rebound.  His shot wasn't there tonight, but trust me on this: with the form he has, Elliott will start making those shots soon.  In fact, I'm going to make a bold prediction- expect E-Bull to hit at least one short corner jumper on Saturday night against the Ducks.  I feel it in my bones.

Of course, I haven't yet mentioned the play of Matei Daian.  All this guy does is get into the game and produce.  Six points on 3-3 shooting, three rebounds and at least one charge taken on the defensive end.  How can you NOT love this guy?  He just gets it done every time he steps onto the court.  Yet again on Thursday night, Matei showed a very nice touch around the basket and a spidey-sense for offensive rebounds.  That lefty put-back he had in the second half was nothing short of superb postal work on the half of Daian.  Coach Davey said at the beginning of this season that he had never seen one guy improve so much over the course of a season as Matei did last year, and if he keeps this growth rate up, he is going to have a very solid Stanford career.  If he played starter's minutes tonight, he would have had around 12 points and six rebounds if he kept along the same production rate.  How many Pac-10 posts average 12 and six?  Just two - USC's Nikola Vucevic and Arizona's Derrick Williams.

We have been talking so much about the post players for Stanford, so let's shift gears a bit and head out to the perimeter, where Jarrett Mann had a splendid passing day.  It wasn't just the six assists-to-two turnover-night that was so impressive, it was how Jarrett got his six dimes that was so eye-popping.  A 23-foot bounce pass through the lane to Jeremy Green for a reverse layup?  You're kidding me.  Wrap-around passes and more bouncers in the paint for easy finishes for Trotter and Daian?  Please.  This guy was absolutely stupendous with the ball in his hands and even hit a nice left-elbow jumper in the second half.  The jump shot and free throws are slowly-but-steadily improving, and he's getting more confident with his shot.

Despite all of the nice individual games guys had for Stanford, this win was earned on the defensive end.  Coach Dawkins switched up strategies nicely in-game and the team executed the game plan to a "T."  Help-and-recover was very solid for the Cardinal tonight around the perimeter.  No matter how much Oregon State swung the ball around the arc, they were really unable to get off many clean looks due to great close-outs from the Cardinal defenders.  Even Elliott got into the close-out mix in the second-half, as he made a Beaver put it on the floor before eventually having his pocket picked by a Card coming over to help.  The Beavers were sloppy in their own right, but the Cardinal definitely helped them to that 19-turnover, 36.6% shooting night.  In the second half, the Beavers were stuck on 30 points for exactly nine minutes of game action: from the 11:27 mark when it was 41-30 to 2:27 when Jared Cunningham finally hit a three to make it 55-33.  In just one week, the Cardinal went from giving up the most points in a Pac-10 conference game this season to allowing the fewest points in a Pac-10 tilt in 2009-2010.  Sure, OSU doesn't have Quincy Pondexter or Isaiah Thomas, but it still says something.  I don't care how bad the Beavers are at times, holding a conference opponent to 35 points is pretty darn impressive.

But the job is only half-done this weekend.  The Ducks come into town Saturday for a 5pm tipoff at Maples, and expect Ernie Kent's squad to be very hungry after getting pasted by 32 points in Berkeley on Thursday night.  This same Saturday last year was the game everyone expected Stanford to win and get above .500.  The result? A 77-62 loss at the hands of the Beavs.  Can the Cardinal reverse their 4th-Saturday-in-January fortunes in 2010?  Come out to Maples Pavilion on Saturday afternoon to find out, and stay logged onto beforehand to catch a preview of the Oregon Ducks from yours truly.

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