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NIT Special, Episode 2: Monday's Events In NYC
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 03/27/2012

March 27, 2012


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The 1991 NIT: Five Pieces To A Championship

NIT Special, Episode 1: Arrival in NYC

NEW YORK- Josh Owens and Chasson Randle joined head coach Johnny Dawkins at an introductory press conference Monday morning, kicking off the day's events.

With the New York Jets holding Tim Tebow's introductory press conference at the same exact time, media attendance was on the lighter side but still robust enough to create a frenzied environment on the eighth floor of the Marriott Marquis.

After breakfast and a meeting, the team headed over to NYU for its practice session. Former Cardinal standout Peter Sauer stopped by to watch practice and spoke briefly to the team.

Later that evening, players and coaches attended a formal banquet at The Boathouse on East 72nd and Central Park Drive. All four teams in attendance were recognized for their accomplishments.

Stay tuned to www.gostanford.com for continued coverage.

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Entering the year, expectations were heightened for this year's six-member sophomore class, which arrived on The Farm last fall as a top-20 national recruiting class.

Rightfully so, with Anthony Brown and Dwight Powell leading the way after earning spots on last year's Pac-10 All-Freshman Team. Fellow newcomers Aaron Bright, John Gage, Josh Huestis and Stefan Nastic also displayed flashes of potential at various times. Stanford's heralded rookie class had also made the most starts combined (47) of any team in the conference and accounted for the highest percentage of team scoring (40.3).

Things were obviously looking up.

But the 2011-12 campaign hasn't always gone according to script. Injuries and inconsistent outings have resulted in a slight decrease in overall production at times. Simply put, the kids are still growing up.

However, it should be noted that without the recent performances of several Stanford sophomores, the Cardinal's season would have ended two weeks ago. Instead, the group is playing at its best in the exact type of do-or-die situation in which results matter the most.

Anthony Brown notched his first double-double of the year in Stanford's first-round win over Cleveland State, scoring 15 points and pulling down a career-high 12 boards. In three NIT games, Brown is averaging 9.7 points and his trademark smooth stroke appears to be back. Stanford's best rebounder during NIT play? That would be Brown, grabbing 7.0 rebounds per game. His scoring punch is a bonus: Stanford is 10-1 when Brown scores in double figure this year.

Against Illinois State in the second round, Aaron Bright enjoyed his best collegiate game, pouring in a career-high 29 points on 11-13 shooting while establishing a school postseason record with six three-pointers. He's absolutely caught fire in the postseason, averaging 18.7 points while shooting 75.0 percent from both the field and three-point territory. Bright has come off the bench in all three games and appears comfortable in such a role.

Dwight Powell added a season-high 18 points on 8-11 shooting in the win over Illinois State, also grabbing nine rebounds in the process. Slowed by injuries earlier in the year, Powell is healthy once again and presenting a matchup nightmare for opponents. Active on both ends of the floor, Powell is averaging 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while making 14-18 (77.8 percent) from the field during Stanford's NIT run.

Josh Huestis shined in Stanford's rout of Nevada, chipping in with 12 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. One of the conference's most improved players, Huestis' double-digit performance against the Wolf Pack was his first in two months. Huestis is averaging 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in postseason action, and his team-leading 40 blocks are the most swats by any Cardinal player since Robin Lopez (83) and Brook Lopez (56) in 2008.

John Gage and Stefan Nastic provide additional depth in the frontcourt.

Bottom line: Cardinal fans should be encouraged.

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The following nugget comes from former Stanford guard (and defacto program historian) John Platz, who is in his second season as the Cardinal's radio play-by-play voice following 21 years as the team's color analyst.

Three of Stanford's all-time greatest players hail from the metropolitan New York area. All-American guard Brevin Knight '97 (East Orange, NJ/Seton Hall Prep) is Stanford's all-time leader in career assists (780) and steals (298) in addition to ranking fourth in points (1,714). Three-time all-conference forward Kimberly Belton '80 (Bronx, NY/Horance Mann HS) ranks third in career rebounds (955) and sixth in points (1,615). Knight currently is a television analyst with the Memphis Grizzlies while Belton is a longtime producer with ABC Sports. Meanwhile, forward/center John Revelli '84 (Scarsdale, NY/Scarsdale HS) was a teammate of Platz and ranks eighth all-time in points (1,592), seventh in rebounds (798) and third in field goal percentage (59.1). Ironically enough, none of the three ever played at Madison Square Garden.

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The thought of playing in an environment like Madison Square Garden might seem intimidating to most, but Stanford should be just fine if November's Preseason NIT showing was any indication.

Granted, two games makes for a small sample size, but the Cardinal adjusted quickly to the arena's nuances with several players enjoying solid shooting performances.

  • As a team, Stanford averaged 72.5 points per game while shooting 45.3 percent overall and 43.2 percent from beyond the arc.
  • Chasson Randle averaged 14.5 points per game while shooting 50.0 percent (9-18) overall, 55.6 percent (5-9) from three-point territory and 75.0 percent (6-8) from the foul line.
  • Aaron Bright averaged 14.0 points per game while shooting 61.1 percent (11-18) overall and 54.5 percent (6-11) from long distance.
  • Josh Owens averaged 12.5 points per game while shooting 63.2 percent (12-19) overall.
  • Andrew Zimmermann (71.4 percent, 5-7), John Gage (50.0 percent, 3-6) and Josh Huestis (50.0 percent, 5-10) were also over 50.0 percent from the field.

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