Well, Stanford rolls into The Pit for a little game this evening. Stanford hasn't gotten all the hype that other Pac-10 teams have--but this is a very good team. In their last three games, they swept the Washington schools and beat Virginia in Charlottesville, where Arizona lost earlier this year. They have three outstanding players, and a solid coach in Trent Johnson. Joe Lunardi has them as a tournament team, a 12 seed in the latest Bracketology. This is a very dangerous team, especially if the Ducks come out overconfident as a result of their newfound lofty ranking.
While Stanford has been very good of late, they have struggled with inconsistency at times this season. They have shown times of being really tough defensively, such as when they beat Texas Tech, and have looked absolutely abysmal, such as when they were blown out at home by Air Force. They have shown times of inexperience (this is a very young team), such as when they tried to run with Arizona, and got 89 points hung up on them. But, in the last three, they have been very good, especially in the clutch, gritting out three wins over tough teams by a total of five points. In general, they will try to play a half court game and control the tempo, but if the Ducks can force their pace on them, Stanford will have trouble keeping up.
As I said, the scary thing about this team is their youth. The leading scorer is sophomore Lawrence Hill. He is a very versatile small forward type, shooting 54% from the field, and 38% from three. He'll try to get to the rim, so Malik or Bryce will have a tough job. They'll have to guard the 6'8" Hill in the post, but also go out on the perimeter and deny both the three pointer and dribble penetration. They need to box out, too, as he averages six boards a game.
Anthony Goods, the reigning Pac-10 player of the week, would be their number two scorer, but he has been hot lately. He poured in 30 against Washington State--no small feat against WSU's ball control tempo and pack line defense. His percentages aren't great, but he is tough to guard because he shoots from anywhere with reckless abandon. The vast majority of his attempts are from three.
Finally, there are the Lopez twins. Both 7 feet tall Freshmen, Robin is the more talented of the two, averaging 10 points and seven boards a game. Brother Brook plays a bit less, but still puts up 9.5 and four. Maarty Leunen will have his work cut out for him, and any help that he can get from Adam Zahn will go a long way.
THINGS I'D LIKE TO SEE
- The Ducks really need to try and force this team into an uptempo game like Arizona did. The Lopez twins have 45 blocks between them, and have intimidated many more, so if the Ducks can get easy buckets in transition, they neutralize that threat. If they have to go into the halfcourt, the Lopez twins are much more effective defensively.
- When Oregon is in the halfcourt set, the need to try and draw the Lopez twins away from the basket. If Stanford goes man to man, the high pick and roll should be effective. Either Aaron can go to the basket, or if Lopez collapses on him, he can hit Maarty on the roll, or a free throw jumper.
- Adam Zahn really needs to come up big this game, because Maarty will need the help.
- Stanford has won their last three by a total of five points. However, if the game is close at the end, you have to like Oregon's chances.
- Most of all, don't get caught up in the hype. Rankings in January mean nothing. You have to keep winning to get a great seed come March.