Travis, Cardinal Overwhelm Cal State East Bay

By: Ben Leonard

STANFORD, Calif. — Even for basketball players, finals week at Stanford is grueling.

Before overwhelming Division II Cal State East Bay 79-53 Friday night, Stanford had eight players with finals at nine o’clock in the morning, some pulling all-nighters to cram for their exams. The nearly two weeks off from games for finals period didn’t phase the Cardinal and junior forward Reid Travis, who recorded his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in just 22 minutes to pace Stanford.

“There’s definitely a lot of things we can work on, but I’m proud of the way we bounced back this week. We had a tough finals week, so definitely to refocus and have a game like we did tonight,” Travis said. “Defensively, offensively, we’re really starting to get our standards down and do everything we need to do to be successful in conference play.”

Stanford hadn’t played since falling 89-74 to No. 4 Kansas Dec. 3, and certainly showed some rust in the early going against the Pioneers (8-3, 0-0 CCAA). Stanford had been limited to five full practices during that time, taking several days off and only holding shootarounds on many occasions. After a dominant 18-3 run to start the game, the Cardinal (7-3, 0-0 Pac-12) lapsed on defense, allowing Cal State East Bay to cut the lead to 22-16.

But Travis and the Cardinal quickly became too much for the undersized Pioneers to handle. Led by eight points from the 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward, including a clean dish from sophomore guard Robert Cartwright for a thunderous dunk, the former McDonald’s American and the Cardinal surged to on a 15-0 run to take a commanding lead, never looking back.

Travis’ physicality, a product of an unmatched, almost excessive work ethic that ex-Cardinal head coach Johnny Dawkins in part attributed to his missing 22 games last season with a stress reaction in his left leg, paid off Friday, simply too much for the Pioneers to match. Only one of the Pioneers’ top six scorers was above 6-foot-5, presenting huge matchup problems for the lower-division squad.

Although they took just seven 3-point attempts, making one, Stanford dominated in scoring through the post, outscoring the Pioneers 42-20 in the paint and winning the rebound battle 42-30.

“Our identity is a team that gets the ball inside first by dribble or pass, hopefully gets some things in transition and on offensive rebounds, but we have to work from the inside out,” Stanford head coach Jerod Haase said. “Because it was working well and effectively, we didn’t have to go to the second part of that, which is shooting from the perimeter. As time moves on, we are going to have to shoot from the perimeter. We have to be more efficient than we have been from the perimeter.”

The Cardinal’s leader in 3-point scoring percentage, junior guard Dorian Pickens, made Stanford’s lone 3-pointer Friday in his only attempt. He was the only other Cardinal player to score in double-digits, scoring 11 points in 21 minutes on 3-of-5 shooting. The Phoenix native helped buoy a Stanford offense that shot 55.3% from the field (26-of-47 FG’s), even without contributions from one of their key contributors.

After starting all nine of the team’s previous contests, a familiar name was out of the starting lineup Friday: junior forward Michael Humphrey. The Phoenix native had seen his field goal percentage dip from nearly .500 to a meager .429 mark this season and his rebounds per game fall by two, which prompted Hasse to sit Humphrey and play him for just 12 minutes Friday, replacing him with senior center Grant Verhoeven.

“(The goal was) hopefully to light a little fire under Michael,” Haase said. “It’s not a secret, Michael isn’t playing his top performances right now. Grant has earned that right as well. He’s been a consistent performer and played well.”

Humphrey was effective in limited time, matching Verhoeven’s scoring total with seven points on 2-of-3 shooting and grabbing three rebounds.

On the whole, Verhoeven thought it was fairly solid showing for the Cardinal, albeit a work in progress before it takes on a talented SMU squad (8-3, 0-0 AAC) on Monday.

“It’s good to have a game like this where we can just focus on getting better, working on our offense and defense,” Verhoeven said. “There was a lot out there that wasn’t pretty on our end of the court, but we have a lot we can work on in these next couple days before our game against SMU.”

 

 

 

Cover Image: Stanford’s Reid Travis (22) scores against Cal State East Bay during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Huestis King of the Block on the Farm as Stanford Rolls Past USC 80-59

By Matthew Harrington

At the time of the year when teams are piecing together the final bullet points of their March Madness resumes, the Stanford Cardinal did exactly what it needed to do Thursday night; It won. The 80-59 victory over visiting University of Southern California at Maples Pavilion didn’t captivate audiences like North Carolina’s stunner over Duke earlier in the evening, but Stanford still managed to finish just good enough to come out ahead against the Trojans (10-16, 1-12), firmly entrenched in the Pac-12 standings cellar, to continue to roll towards an at-large bid in the big dance.

The Cardinal shooting touch appeared to be more or a flail Thursday, as Stanford (17-8, 8-5 Pac-12) finished 28 of 69 from the floor, including a lackluster 2 of 19 from beyond the three-point line. Stanford turned that negative into a positive however, besting USC in the rebound battle 45-40. Stanford’s tenacious forward Josh Huestis led the boards barrage, picking up almost half (7) of the Cardinal’s 18 offensive rebounds. USC finished with 10 off their own glass. The Cardinal owned the turnover battle, forcing 18 Trojan errors to 7 of its own.

For Huestis, the night proved a memorable one as the senior stalwart notched a double-double with 11 points and while setting a new career-best in rebounds with 18. With his denial of a Strahinja Gavrilovic lay up two minutes into play the Great Falls, Mont. native moved past Tim Young as the Cardinal all-time blocks leader. Huestis finished the night with three rejections for a career total of 169, two more than Young.

Along with Huestis, three of Stanford’s other four starters hit double-digits in scoring, with guards Anthony Brown (13) and Chasson Randle (18) joining forward Dwight Powell (14) on the list of scorers with ten-plus points. USC guard Pe’Shon Howard led the Trojans with 13 points, while Julian Jacobs chipped in 11. The Trojans were without junior guard Byron Wesley, team leader in scoring (17.6) and rebounds (6.9) due to a violation of team rules.

The Cardinal suffered an early scare when USC’s Strahinja Gavrilovic fouled Powell hard in the head at the 5:36 mark of the first. Powell would leave the game but ultimately returned with about seven minutes left in the half sporting a headband wrapped around some stitches and a new number. Powell’s traditional 33 jersey, now blood-soaked, was shed in favor of one with a 32 stitched on back.

The preeminent fear after Powell’s injury was a continuation of dismal first-half shooting display as the Cardinal only hit 10 of 35 field goals in the first 20 minutes. They managed to hold a 32-23 at the half on the strength of their ability to force turnovers, nab offensive rebounds and a six-point outburst from Powell’s injury sub, Robbie Lemons.

The Cardinal finished the final 20 minutes with a much better shooting performance by outscoring the visitors 48-36, including a stretch where the Trojans were limited to one basket and three free throws made. With Stanford leading 51-42 7 minutes in to the half, the Cardinal went on a dominant 21-8 run till Roschon Prince hit a lay up with 4:17 left in regulation. Stanford coasted from there on out for the 80-59 win to sweep the season series against their Southern California rivals.

Next on the schedule is the University of California Los Angeles for a Saturday tilt at Maples, game number two of the remaining four games at home. The Cardinal also have two road games sandwiched between Saturday’s contest and a return home March 5th against Colorado, the final two-game home stretch of the campaign.