Stanford Cardinal (4-1, 0-0 Pac-12)
Houston Cougars (5-0, 0-0 American Athletic)
Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 • 6:30 p.m. PT (approximate)
Brooklyn, N.Y. • Barclays Center
Series History: Houston leads 2-1
Last Meeting: March 13, 1991 (Stanford 93, Houston 86 at Stanford, Calif.)
Radio: KNBR 1050 AM (PBP: Scott Reiss, Analyst: John Platz)
TV: ESPN2 (PBP: Ryan Ruocco, Analyst: Kara Lawson)
The Opening Tip
The Progressive Legends Classic continues on Monday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as Stanford (4-1) squares off against Houston (5-0) at approximately 6:30 p.m. PT. The Cardinal is coming off a 97-71 rout of Texas Southern on Thursday in the tournament’s regional round. The championship game is slated for Tuesday. Stanford is navigating through a stretch that includes seven games in November.
The game can be heard on KNBR 1050 AM, featuring the chemistry-rich tandem of Scott Reiss (play-by-play) and John Platz (analyst). The contest will be televised on ESPN2, with Ryan Ruocco (play-by-play) and Kara Lawson (analyst) on the call. Approximate tip time is 6:30 p.m., following the 4 p.m. game between Pittsburgh and Texas Tech.
Progressive Legends Classic Format
Stanford is participating in the seventh annual Progressive Legends Classic, which got underway last week with Stanford, Houston, Pittsburgh and Texas Tech hosting regional round games. The eight-team event, which also includes Howard, Lehigh, South Dakota State and Texas Southern, will be aired on the ESPN family of networks and wraps up this week with the championship rounds at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Following this week’s games, Stanford will also South Dakota State (Sun., Dec. 1) at Maples Pavilion in a regional round contest.
Barclays Center, Part 2
Stanford will be making a return trip to the Barclays Center next month, squaring off against 2013 NCAA runner-up Michigan to showcase the second annual Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational presented by adidas in a triple-header on Dec. 21. The event also features Long Island facing Temple and Manhattan taking on Buffalo. Michigan matched its best win total (31) in school history during the 2012-13 campaign, advancing to its first national championship game since 1993 in an 82-76 loss to Louisville.
Recent Preseason Tournament History
The Cardinal is participating in its fifth preseason tournament under head coach Johnny Dawkins. Stanford has compiled an 9-7 record in such games, with its best performances coming in the form of runner-up finishes at the 2009 Cancun Challenge and 2011 Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. The Cardinal is searching for its first preseason tournament title since capturing the 2007 Basketball Travelers Classic with a 67-48 victory over UC Santa Barbara at Maples Pavilion.
Houston (4-0) experienced little trouble in its regional round games, cruising past Lehigh (80-66) and Howard (75-62) ... Following a 76-70 win over Texas State in its season opener, Houston has posted double-digit victories over its next four opponents ... Houston is averaging 77.6 points while shooting 49.3 percent overall but only 65.6 percent from the foul line. Opponents are scoring 65.0 points and making 39.7 percent ... Make sure to watch: Danuel House (17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg), TaShawn Thomas (16.8 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 66.0 percent FG), and L.J. Rose (12.2 ppg, 54.5 percent FG, 90.5 percent FT) ... Houston finished 20-13 last year, posting its first 20-win season since the 2008-09 campaign and reaching the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
Stanford All-Time Against Houston
Stanford is 1-2 all-time against Houston, with its only victory coming in the form of a 93-86 decision to ignite the 1991 NIT championship run during the most recent meeting. Houston collected an 87-67 victory in the 1971-72 season opener and 74-68 in 1975.
Two Games In NYC, Same Season, NBA Arena
Travel to New York in November and turn an NBA arena into your personal playground. That’s exactly what the Cardinal will try to do this week, using a pair of trips to Madison Square Garden during the 2011-12 campaign as a blueprint. Aaron Bright, named MVP of the 2012 Postseason NIT, has struggled this year in five games off the bench (5.4 ppg, 35.0 percent FG, 38.5 percent 3FG). However, might returning to NYC be the spark that finally gets him going? Bright's combined numbers in four games at Madison Square Garden during the 2011 Preseason NIT and 2012 Postseason NIT are as follows: 14.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 54.5 percent FG (18-33), 52.9 percent 3FG (9-17), 1.000 percent FT (11-11).
Cardinal Cashing In At The Foul Line
Stanford is converting at a 70.8 percent clip (92-130) from the foul line while averaging 18.4 attempts per game. Chasson Randle (29-36, 80.6 percent) is leading the way, but he’s just one of six different players who have already tallied at least 10 free throw attempts. The aggressive backcourt has done a solid job of driving the lane while the frontcourt is battling on the glass and routinely drawing contact. Also effective from the charity stripe: Anthony Brown (21-26, 80.8 percent), Dwight Powell (11-19, 57.9 percent) and Stefan Nastic (11-16, 68.8 percent). Stanford shot free throws at a 74.3 percent clip last year, good for 35th in the nation and the best mark in school history since the 2005-06 squad made 76.3 percent.
Top-15 Recruiting Class Signed For Next Year
Earlier this week, head coach Johnny Dawkins announced the signing of four incoming student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. The group will join the Cardinal for the 2014-15 campaign. The class is recognized as one of the best in the country, currently ranked as high as No. 13 by ESPN.com, No. 14 by Scout.com and No. 15 by Rivals.com. Robert Cartwright (Pasadena, Calif.), Michael Humphrey (Phoenix, Ariz.), Dorian Pickens (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Reid Travis (Minneapolis, Minn.) are projected as top-100 players and four-star recruits by multiple services. This year’s group represents the second top-15 class for Stanford in five years.
Randle Returns To Form Of Rookie Year
Chasson Randle appears to have put last year’s struggles in the rear view mirror and is performing at a similar level to 2011-12, when he produced one of the best rookie seasons in school history. Randle is averaging 21.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 52.1 percent (37-71) from the field and 80.6 percent (29-36) from the foul line. Randle has scored in double figures all five games, including a career-high 33-point outing against BYU on Nov. 11. Randle has now reached double figures in scoring 59 times in 76 career games.
Brown’s Return Provides Immediate Boost
Returning to action after missing all but four games last year due to a hip injury, Anthony Brown has been a definite factor early on, averaging 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 50.0 percent from both the field and three-point territory. His slashing, attacking style of play has resulted in a 80.8 percent (21-26) clip from the foul line. Brown tallied a double-double against Texas Southern and has reached double-figure scoring in five straight games for the first time in his career. A 2011 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team selection, Brown provides Stanford with added length and athleticism while also serving as a terrific perimeter defender.
Nastic Effective In First Five Starts
Stefan Nastic is averaging 6.6 points and 2.4 rebounds. He finished with 11 points against Bucknell and Northwestern, matching his career-high scoring total. Nastic is shooting 52.4 percent and has totaled almost as many free throw attempts (16) as field goal attempts (21). However, Nastic has also compiled more free throw attempts than rebounds (12).
Powell Displaying A “Do-It-All” Game...
Dwight Powell has picked up where he left off last year, showcasing the type of dynamic all-around game everyone expected when he first arrived on The Farm. In five starts, Powell is averaging 14.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting 52.7 percent (29-55) from the field. Powell’s free throw percentage (57.9 percent) is slightly behind last year’s pace, but he has knocked down 3-7 tries from beyond the arc and his 19 assists and 10 steals lead the team. In 2012-13, Powell averaged a team-best 14.9 points while ranking second on the squad with 8.4 rebounds per game and notching 10 double-doubles. More impressively, he was the only player to earn a spot on both the Pac-12 All-Academic Team and All-Pac-12 First Team.
...While Garnering Preseason Recognition
Dwight Powell has been named to the John R. Wooden Award preseason watch list, comprised of 50 players vying for the sport’s most prestigious honor. Players listed are considered strong candidates for the midseason list and the finalists will be included on the official voting ballot in March. Powell is one of six Pac-12 players selected as a preseason candidate. The national recognition is nothing new for Powell, who three weeks ago was named one of 30 candidates for this year’s Senior CLASS Award, which rewards notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
Huestis’ Strong Defensive Play Continues
A front-runner for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Josh Huestis is averaging 11.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his quest to become the first Cardinal player to average a double-double since Curtis Borchardt (16.9 ppg, 11.4 rpg) in 2001-02. Huestis nearly accomplished the feat last year, averaging 10.5 points and a team-best 9.0 rebounds while compiling nine double-doubles. Huestis has been slowed offensively (42.3 percent FG) through the first five games, but his calling card of stingy defense has been a mainstay. With 12 blocks already this year, Huestis ranks fourth in school history with 133 career swats. Only three players boast career marks of at least 500 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks: Huestis (673, 578, 133), Tim Young (1544, 1070, 167) and Howard Wright (1599, 860, 121).
Starters Seeing Bulk Of Action
Head coach Johnny Dawkins has employed a starting lineup of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, Josh Huestis, Dwight Powell and Stefan Nastic over the first five games. Every starter with the exception of Nastic is averaging at least 30 minutes per game, led by Brown’s 34.2 clip.
Christian Sanders is out for the year with a hip injury and underwent successful surgery prior to the season opener. Rosco Allen is expected back in mid-December due to a stress fracture.
Projected Sixth In Pac-12 Preseason Poll
Stanford has been picked to finish sixth in the 2013-14 Pac-12 preseason media poll. The Cardinal was projected to finish fourth last year but tied for sixth at 9-9.
Non-Conference Schedule Is Stacked
This year’s loaded schedule- one of the best in recent memory- features 17 home games, nine contests against NCAA Tournament teams from last season and a pair of trips to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The challenging non-conference slate includes a neutral-site matchup against 2013 NCAA runner-up Michigan and the start of a home-and-home series against Connecticut. Home games against BYU and Bucknell, along with a potential tournament matchup against Pittsburgh in the Progressive Legends Classic, will provide the Cardinal with an opportunity to quickly establish a high RPI before Pac-12 competition gets underway in January.