Cal Bears basketball podcast with Michael Duca and Morris Phillips: Bears came close, but Okpala and Cardinal turn it up a notch

californiagoldenblogs.com photo: The Stanford Cardinal and Cal Bears do battle last  Sunday  at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley

On the Cal Bears podcast with Michael and Morris:

#1 Another tough loss for the Cal Bears (5-16) on Sunday afternoon at Haas Pavilion as the Bears lost to the visiting Stanford Cardinal (11-10) 84-81.

#2 The Cardinal’s KZ Okpala led with 30 points and eight rebounds. He was hard to contain for the Bears all afternoon.

#3 Okpala had his 12th game scoring 20 or more points last season. He scored 20 or more points eight times. He’s been a force and had given the Bears fits to contain him.

#4 According to Stanford coach Jerod Haase, Okpala has some more developing to go. He’s working out just fine and provided the nine of the last 19 points of the game that really put a crimp in Cal’s game.

#5 The Bears are in Oregon (13-9) for Wednesday, Feb. 6th. Morris sets up that game.

Morris and Michael do the Cal Bears podcasts each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Stanford falls to #14 Arizona by just two points in close 73-71 loss

Photo: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

PALO ALTO — After beating #16 Arizona State on Wednesday, the Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team took on the #14 Arizona Wildcats, to whom they fell ,73-71, in front of a packed Maples Pavilion Saturday afternoon. With the loss, Stanford’s five-game winning streak was snapped by Arizona.

In a back-and-forth game among two Pac-12 leaders, Stanford failed to exceed Arizona. The Cardinal trailed by a maximum of 10 points at one time in the first period.

The Cardinal stepped up in the second period and even managed to exceed the Wildcats by more than 10 points. This was first facilitated by a jumper from Reid Travis four minutes in, and then the Cardinal were ahead 11 points after Dorian Pickens got a 3-pointer just over 10 minutes in. However, the latter team managed to take the lead again with 38 seconds left in the game, only exceeding them by one point.

It came down to the final shot (Rawle Alkins’ go-ahead layup with 38 seconds left in regulation), but the Cardinal came up just two points short in a 73-71 loss to the Wildcats.

“It was a battle and outside the first six, eight, ten minutes of the game we joined the battle and competed at a high level,” said Stanford head coach Jerod Haase. “There were a lot of positives that we’ll take away. Obviously there a lot of things we can learn from as well but at the end of the day I think we competed at a high level.”

Travis led the Cardinal in points with 20, and Allonzo Trier exceeded the Wildcats with 21 points.

“Winning on the road is hard, and I give Stanford a lot of credit,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. “Stanford’s resiliency was impressive. They scored 42 points on us (in the second half), and they had their starting point guard the entire second half.”

“Stanford’s game plan was good,” Miller added. “They have some big bodies, Humphrey’s a senior, a very good player; Reid Travis is not only one of the better players in our conference, but in college basketball.”

Next: Stanford will take on the USC Trojans in Los Angeles on Wednesday, January 24 at 6:00 pm PT.

Stanford Cardinal faces ASU Sun Devils, outshine them 86-77

Photo: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

PALO ALTO—The Stanford Cardinal Men’s Basketball team (11-8 overall, 5-1 in the Pac-12) returned home from a road trip across the state of Washington with two straight wins (their first road sweep since 2010) under their belt. On Wednesday evening, they faced the Arizona State Sun Devils (14-4 overall, 2-4 in the Pac-12) at Maples Pavilion.

Dorian Pickens made the first basket for the Cardinal and, within minutes, the first three-pointer of the match, both of which helped Stanford hit the ground running. The Cardinal managed to keep a lead over the Sun Devils for the whole the opening period, even within just one or two points.

An aggressive block from Stanford’s Josh Sharma kept ASU from tying the score with just over two minutes left in the first half, though he was later fouled, allowing ASU’s Romello White to score two free throws and tie the game 32-32. Reid Travis put up a three-pointer for Stanford, then Remy Martin for ASU, tying the score again. With 39 seconds left, Daejon Davis made a jumper to give the Cardinal a two-point lead (37-35) at halftime.

At the end of the first half, Pickens led the Cardinal with 10 points, and Travis had nine points and five rebounds. Oscar da Silva had six points, comprised of two three-pointers. White put up 10 points for the Sun Devils, leading the team after 20 minutes, and Martin added nine.

The Sun Devils caught up within two minutes, trailing only by two points (40-38), before Travis brought the Cardinal up to a seven-point lead with a three-pointer and a layup. Pickens chimed in and added a three-pointer, and Sharma dunked twice, and then the Cardinal exceeded the Sun Devils by the double digits (56-43). Sharma also dunked one of Pickens’ missed jumpers, eliciting an explosively enthusiastic reaction from both the bench and the stands.

ASU began trailing Stanford by single digits once again with 6:21 left in the match, when Mickey Mitchell got a layup. They trailed only by two points with four minutes remaining, courtesy of the Sun Devils’ leader in points, Tra Holder, who put up a three for his team.

After a nerve-wracking final four minutes, Stanford regained their multi-point lead and upset the #16-ranked ASU by nine points (86-77).

Pickens led the Cardinal in points with 19, and Travis in rebounds with 10. White put up 19 points to lead the Sun Devils, and Mitchell made the most rebounds with seven.

The Stanford Cardinal are back at Maples Pavilion on Saturday to face the Arizona Wildcats at 1:00 p.m.

Stanford Cardinal Podcast with Alexandra Evans: Pickens returns from foot injury; Okpala’s defense good looking forward to tuning up on offense

Photo credit: @StanfordMBB

On the Stanford Men’s Basketball Podcast with Alexandra:

Stanford Cardinal head coach Jerod Haase has expressed his concerns about the defense particularly after dropping a home game against Cal on their home floor at Maples Pavilion last weekend. The Cardinal held a 17-point only to see it dissolve in 7.5 minutes of the first half. Haase was also concerned about their 6-8 record and how to pull out of it but laying defense as a big factor.

The return of Dorian Pickens is key for the Cardinal, Pickens was out after missing seven weeks due to a foot injury, and Kezie Okpala, who missed the first 12 games of the season due to improving his academics and made his first appearance at Sacramento for the neutral site game against the Kansas Jayhawks. It was a game that Okpala remembered with mostly Jayhawks fans, but Okpala–despite losing the game by 21–pushed hard throughout the game.

Alexandra Evans is Stanford Cardinal beat writer for http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

 

Stanford Cardinal defeated 77-74 by archival Cal Bears in Pac-12 opener

Photo: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

PALO ALTO—The Stanford Cardinal Men’s Basketball team faced their first Pac-12 opponent of the season and cross-Bay Area rivals, the California Golden Bears, at Maples Pavillion two days before the new year.

Don Coleman, Marcus Lee, Justice Sueing, Nick Hamilton, and Darius McNeill started for the visiting Golden Bears. Kezie Okpala, Daejon Davis, Reid Travis, Michael Humphrey, and Dorian Pickens (who was out with an injury earlier this season) started for the Cardinal.

Cal’s Marcus Lee made the first basket of the game 17 seconds in, and Stanford’s Michael Humphrey made the second basket 13 seconds later. Cal made another two baskets over the course of 24 seconds and exceeded Stanford by four points at the 1:25 mark, until Reid Travis got a layup 15 seconds later at the 1:40 mark and Dorian Pickens made a three-pointer at 2:16, commencing Stanford’s lead over Cal, which would gradually increase throughout the first half.

Stanford’s Michael Humphrey more than doubled the lead just over 4 minutes in (13-6), and Stanford upped their lead to 10 points at the halfway point of the first 20 minutes. The score more than doubled again at the 12-minute mark (25-12) when Kezie Okpala made a jumper, assisted by Robert Cartwright.

The energy on the court and in the stands amped up significantly in the remaining five minutes of the first half, during which Stanford did not let their lead drop below 11 points. Humphrey made a dunk at 18:06 which put the Cardinal at a 14-point lead over the Bears, followed by a three-pointer from Dorian Pickens, bringing the lead to 17 points and then down to 15 after Cal’s Justice Sueing made two free throws following a foul on Oscar da Silva. Coleman made a three-pointer for the Bears with 30 seconds left in the half, and the Cardinal exceeded the Bears 37-24 at halftime.

Cal would slowly catch up to Stanford throughout the second half, and eventually exceed them. Coleman made the first basket, cutting Stanford’s lead over Cal to 11 points, and then by 10 points at the 3:18 mark when Lee got a jumper. Humphrey scored for Stanford, then Sueing for Cal, and the Cardinal’s lead was once again a point away from the single digits. Every time Stanford’s lead was cut to 10 points, they would score again to keep their lead above it through the first 10 minutes of the second half. Lee dunked for Cal, and less than a minute later, Josh Sharma made a jumper followed by a layup from Travis, giving Stanford a 15-point lead (55-40) at 6:43. The score was 60-45 just after the 10-minute mark, courtesy of Humphrey’s layup. 20 seconds later, McNeill got a 3-pointer for Cal. Stanford attained a 17 point lead after a 3-pointer from Davis with 9:28 remaining in the half.

Stanford’s lead was cut to single-digits when Cal’s Kingsley Okoroh got a layup with 6:12 left; they only led Cal by nine points. Coleman got a layup almost a minute after Okoroh, bringing the score to 66-59. Humphrey dunked for the Cardinal, inching the way back to a double-digit lead. He made a jumper one minute after his dunk and brought Stanford’s lead to 11 points once again. However, McNeill made a three-pointer for Cal directly after, followed by two layups and a free-throw from Sueing; Cal trailed by only three points. Travis quickly retaliated for Stanford with a layup and a free throw, bringing their lead up to six points. With 1:17 left in the game, Grant Anticevich made a three-pointer for Cal, making the score 73-72, giving Cardinal fans a “sudden death” feeling. Sueing got a layup and a free throw, and the Bears led the Cardinal for the first time since the beginning of the match (73-75). Travis was given two free throw opportunities with 20 seconds left in the match, only one of which he made. Davis was then fouled for Stanford, and Coleman, with two free-throw opportunities, made both for Cal with 17 seconds remaining. Travis had a chance at a three-pointer in the final seconds, but could not make it past Cal’s defense.

The Bears took home a 77-74 win.

“You go into every game confident that you’re going to win,” Humphrey said after being asked about the expectations of facing an identically ranked team. “We were all fired up to play [a rivalry game]. We wanted to start off Pac-12 play the right way, but we didn’t do that.”

Stanford struggled to make a majority of their free throws, which could have been the “make or break” of the overall score.

“I’ve probably worked more with free throws and shot more with [Stanford] than any other team I’ve ever had,” said Coach Jerod Haase. “To miss 16 free throws is going to be a problem. Ideally, you don’t get into that situation if the lead [in points] is a little bit bigger.”

Haase continued, “The experience and the cohesion of playing together is still growing, as is the execution of everything we are doing. But at the end of the day, you find ways to get stops at the end of a game… this game is going to sting, it’s going to hurt, but I feel as though we are building a foundation of something special.”

Both Stanford and Cal were 6-7 going into the match; one could argue that the outcome was going to be unpredictable. Stanford’s leader in points, Travis, averages 21.4 points per game (almost double that of his runner-up, Michael Humphrey, who has an average of 11.6 points per game). Cal’s point leader, Coleman, averages 20.5 points per game.

The Stanford Men’s Basketball team will commence the new year with a home match against the UCLA Bruins on January 4, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

Stanford Cardinal defeat Denver Pioneers 75-62 at home

Photo: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

PALO ALTO–The Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team returned home from Southern California (after getting defeated by Long Beach State 76-68 on Sunday, December 3) to face, and defeat, the University of Denver Pioneers.

Stanford, who recently endured four consecutive defeats before winning two of the three most recent matches, kept a lead over Denver the entire match, even though the Pioneers trailed close at various moments.

In addition to the Cardinal’s 75-62 win, this match also marked freshman Daejon Davis’ career-peaking game to date as his first college quarter comes to a close. The stars of the game were and Davis and Reid Travis, who each put up 20 points.

”With the long [5 day] stretch off, coach [Haase] really held us accountable on everything,” Davis said. ”The level of focus on the little things helped us.”

Even the Pioneers’ coach, Rodney Billups, had to acknowledge Davis’ acceleration.

“Davis got hot. We didn’t anticipate him making so many shots. If you look at his season stats from behind the arc, we would have bet that he would not make so many tonight. But good players make plays,” Billups said.

Isaac White was the runner-up for Stanford. He put up 17 points and contended that being under .500 is “unacceptable.” Losing teams do not make NCAA tournaments, White explained, clearly wanting to compensate for the Cardinal’s recent streak of losses.

”We got a win. That was the number one thing,” Jerod Haase, Stanford’s coach, said following the match, also noting that the team was much stronger offensively tonight.

The Cardinal will face the University of San Francisco Dons this Sunday, December 17, at 3:00 p.m.

OSU Buckeyes overthrow Cardinal 79-70 in 2nd round of PK80

Ohio State University forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) tries to dribble around Stanford University forward Michael Humphrey (10) in a college basketball game during the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational between the Stanford Cardinal and Ohio State Buckeyes on November 24, 2017, at Moda Center in Portland, OR. (Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

By Alexandra Evans

The Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team returned to the court at the Moda Center to face the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the PK80 Invitational tournament in Portland but it was all for not as the Buckeyes got a nine point victory over the Cardinal at 79-70.

OSU exceeded Stanford for the first eight minutes until Reid Travis took a shot to give them a 7-6 lead. The Cardinal would keep their lead over the Buckeyes for the remainder of the half, until the last 45 seconds when OSU made a three pointer to tie the score 32-32.

The Buckeyes then managed to come back and keep a lead over the Cardinal, which gradually increased as the second half progressed. The closest Stanford came to catching OSU was after Oscar da Silva jumped to make a basket, putting the score at 70-65 with 45 seconds left.

OSU, now 5-1, put up a 79-71 win and will go on to face Butler University in the finals.

Stanford freshman Daejon Davis put up a career-high 15 points before fouling out of the match in the second half; Travis (who also fouled out) and da Silva tied for second with 14 points each.

“One thing I liked best, when I looked into their eyes, I didn’t feel a sense of defeat at any point. There was a belief and a confidence that we were going to find a way to get it done,” Jerod Haase, Stanford’s coach, said following the match.

Stanford is now 3-4 and prepared to make a comeback this Sunday (their opponent is TBD).

Stanford Cardinal fall to #7 Florida Gators by 21 points in PK80 opener 108-87

Photo: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

The Stanford Cardinal are one of the 16 collegiate basketball teams participating in the PK80 (Phil Knight Invitational) men’s basketball tournament at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, held in honor of Nike founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday.

Among the tournament invitees are Stanford, University of Florida, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, Butler University, University of Connecticut, DePaul University, Gonzaga University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, University of Portland, Portland State University, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas at Austin, Gonzaga University, and University of Oregon.

Tonight, Stanford fell to the No. 7 Florida Gators 108-87.

Florida put up an 18-7 run just five minutes into the first half. Less than two minutes later, Stanford’s Daejon Davis capped an “and-one” and brought the score to 22-14. Nearly 10 minutes into the match, Florida exceeded Stanford by 12 points until Reid Travis (who is ranked fifth in the Pac-12 conference in scoring; 21 points per game) made a left-handed jam to put the Cardinal in a 10-point trail.

Just after the clock hit the 18-minute mark, the Gators were ahead by 25 points and 19 at halftime. Travis exceeded his teammates with 12 points.

Florida maintained their plus-20 lead over Stanford through the entire second half, eventually exceeding them by over 30 points, just after the 10-minute mark. In the final three minutes, the Cardinal were down 105-69, though they managed to bring their score up by 18 points before the buzzer sounded. However, the Card still took the loss. The final score was 108-87.

Travis, who ended the game with 23 points, kept his lead in points over the rest of the Cardinal roster for his fifth 20-point game this season. Robert Cartwright and Michael Humphrey were Travis’ runner-ups with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Cartwright tallied 10 points for the third time this season.

Stanford will face the No. 17 Gonzaga Bulldogs tomorrow in the second round of PK80

Northeastern Trails Close Throughout, Stanford Comes Out With 73-59 Win

Photo credit: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

PALO ALTO — The Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team faced the Northeastern Huskies this afternoon, who traveled to the Golden State from chilly Boston.

Both teams were strong on offense and defense in the first half; almost no rebounds were missed on both sides. Stanford managed to exceed Northeastern in points by nine after the first 20 minutes. With Stanford’s six team fouls (compared to Northeastern’s four), Northeastern had three opportunities for free throws, all of which were missed. Northeastern’s Donnell Gresham Jr. made a three-pointer from the center of the court in the last three seconds. The ending score was 33-24 Stanford, who managed to keep a lead over the Huskies throughout the first half.

The second half commenced with fast-paced back-and-forth action. After a Stanford foul 18 seconds in, both teams took turns making each attempted basket in the first five minutes, bringing each of their scores up by more than 10 points.

Northeastern made numerous three-pointer attempts in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but none were successful until Huskies’ Bolden Brace notched one just after the 10-minute mark. Northeastern would then score three more three-pointers in the remainder (comprising part of their 59 points at the end of the match). Stanford only had two three-point shots, but managed to overthrow Northeastern with numerous two-pointers.

Almost three-quarters of the way into the second half (nearing the 14-minute mark), the Huskies only trailed the Cardinal by four points, and then only by two points at 14:30. Isaac White then made a three-pointer to bring the score to 60-55 Stanford at 14:45, then Michael Humphrey made both free throws after Brace was fouled.

A great block by (#13 S) prevented the Huskies’ Devon Begley from making a shot-clock beating basket. #13 then made a three-pointer with just under a minute left in the match, barely beating the shot clock.

The final score was 73-59 Stanford. Both teams finished with 36 rebounds (the only even statistic of the game).

Stanford forward Michael Humphrey and guard Daejon Davis shared their thoughts on the match in a post-game conference. Despite the win, both believed there is substantial room for overall improvement.

“In the middle of the second half [the whole team] got caught up in the emotions of the game,” Humphrey noted. “But all of us calmed down and ended the game strong, which is what we needed to do.”

“Northeastern is a great offensive rebounding team, but we can’t give up that many offensive boards. Especially with a team our size and our athleticism…If we don’t make the boards, we have a really good chance of winning.”

Davis added, “Any time we come out with a win, I’m always up, no matter who contributed and how we got it done. A win makes everyone feel good, but we, as a team, definitely have so many things to improve on. We can’t have that dip we had in the second half; we need to keep our energy up for 40 minutes. I am just waiting for us to put together a full game on both the offensive and defensive ends all the way through, with energy and effort.”

Coach Jerod Haase expressed excitement when Northeastern managed to score a buzzer-beating three pointer before halftime. Haase was curious as to how much effort the team would put into bouncing back and cultivating a lead in the double digits again. To him, this was the biggest testament.

“[Responses as such are] a very, very important step, when [the team] can believe that when things go a bit south, we can respond to that,” Haase contended.

Next up, Stanford will face the North Carolina Tar Heels on Monday, November 20 at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford Cardinal Men’s Basketball Resist Claws of Chico State Wildcats, Win 91-81

Photo: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

PALO ALTO–With eight days remaining until the regular season, the Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team commenced with an exhibition match against the Chico State Wildcats on Thursday, November 2.

The Cardinal welcomes five new additions to the team this year:

Kezie Okpala of Los Angeles, CA (6’8”, 195 pounds)
Daejon Davis of Seattle, WA (6’3”, 175 pounds)
Isaac White of Adelaide, Australia (6’1”, 185 pounds)
Kodye Pugh of Baltimore, MD (6’8”, 205 pounds)
Oscar Da Silva of Munich, Germany (6’9”, 210 pounds)

The first half started off smoothly for the Cardinal as forward Reid Travis made a shot less than a minute in. Just before the 10 minute mark, the Wildcats trailed the Cardinal by 11 points.

Chico began to step up their game about 15 minutes into the first half; the Wildcats trailed the Cardinal by seven points. Keith Datu, a Chico forward, then made a three-pointer and the Wildcats were only down by four with 3:33 remaining.

The score was tied at 17:00 exactly, when Marcus Sheffield made both free throws after a foul just over 10 seconds later.

Just before the 18:00 mark, two Chico players tried to tip the ball from the rim into the hoop, but Stanford’s Josh Sharma got the defensive rebound, keeping the score tied.

Chico’s Nate Ambrosini shot a three pointer, giving the Wildcats a 33-31 lead.

The score was tied 35-35 at halftime, signifying a decline in Stanford’s defensive plays.

A slam dunk just under 30 seconds into the second half by Travis gave Stanford a 37-36 lead. Minimal, but a step in the right direction. Travis then made one free throw, one basket, and another free throw to give Stanford a 41-36 lead.
The first eight minutes of the second half were a scoring frenzy. Stanford kept the lead, though there were very few moments where Chico trailed by more than five points. Envision a lion (predator) chasing a gazelle (prey). Chico’s score represents the lion’s movement and Stanford’s score represents the gazelle’s. Over the course of these eight minutes, the lion got close enough to nip the gazelle’s tail off. After the eight minute mark, the gazelle uses every single ounce of energy in its system to outrun the lion, which it eventually escapes.

In sports terminology, Stanford kicked things into overdrive after the eight minute “no more than five points ahead” stint and stepped up their game substantially about nine minutes in. They brought the score to 63-48 in the blink of an eye. They eventually exceeded Chico by 23 points (86-63), Travis making a majority of the baskets. Stanford kept the lead, which never dropped below 10 points the entire last half of the second period.

The final score was 91-81.

Travis was, undoubtedly, the stars of the game. He and fellow Marcus Sheffield sat down with the media after the match.

“I like the way we attacked,” Travis said. “I felt that on offense we tried to do the right thing as far as getting to the paint, getting to the buckets. I did not like the way we did not distribute that in the first half. That was a big emphasis on the offseason.”

“I think it just clicked for us,” Sheffield said of the eventual 23-point lead. “We had a few guys step up and play hard, get a few stops, and we were able to run out and get some easy baskets.”

Head Coach Jerod Haase then stepped into the conference room.

“I like the way the guys responded in the variety of times that I challenged them,” Haase remarked. “Competing on the defensive end, sharing the basketball on the offensive end, they responded to the things I said, I liked that. Defensively, there were certainly a lot of teachable moments out there. The energy was not consistent. Chico State has good defense, we weren’t ready for it. It is definitely something we can work on.”

Expected growing pains are present among the team, especially with a number of rookies and with a few absences, such as Cameron Walker who is dealing with injuries off the court. However, if the team continues to work in tandem as they had in the second half, the season should progress smoothly.