Stanford Cardinal (8-2, 0-0 Pac-12)
Michigan Wolverines (6-4, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 • 5:30 p.m. PT
Brooklyn, N.Y. • Barclays Center (18,103) • Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational
Series History: Stanford leads 3-1
Last Meeting: Stanford 59, Michigan 52 (Dec. 29, 1959 at Los Angeles, Calif.)
Radio: KNBR 1050 AM (PBP: Scott Reiss)
TV: FS1 (PBP: Gus Johnson, Analyst: Bill Raftery)
The Opening Tip
Stanford (8-2) is one win away from sweeping what could be described as a season-defining East Coast road swing. Standing in the way is a difficult matchup against Michigan (6-4) to headline the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational presented by adidas.
The game can be heard on KNBR 1050 AM, with Scott Reiss handling the broadcast chores. The contest will also be televised on Fox Sports 1, with the chemistry-rich tandem of Gus Johnson (play-by-play) and Bill Raftery (analyst) providing coverage.
Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational presented by adidas
Saturday’s nightcap featuring Stanford and Michigan will showcase the second annual Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational presented by adidas. The triple-header event also pits Manhattan against Buffalo (12 p.m. PT) and Long Island against Temple (2:30 p.m. PT).
Michigan (6-4), which opened the year ranked in both polls, is coming off a 72-70 loss to No. 1 Arizona in which the Wolverines shot 50.0 percent and led 37-28 at halftime ... The Wolverines are averaging 79.3 points while shooting 46.7 percent overall and 74.6 percent from the foul line. Opponents are averaging only 63.1 points and 32.5 rebounds ... Be sure to watch: Nik Stauskas (18.3 ppg, 49.5 percent FG, 77.4 percent FT), Glenn Robinson III (13.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 13 steals), Mitch McGary (9.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 15 steals) ... Michigan matched its best win total (31) in school history in 2012-13, advancing to its first national championship game since 1993 in an 82-76 loss to Louisville.
Stanford All-Time Against Michigan
Stanford is 3-1 all-time against Michigan. However, this is the first meeting since a 59-52 Cardinal victory back on Dec. 29, 1959 at the Pacific Coast Tournament in Los Angeles, Calif.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: Home Away From Home
Stanford is making its second trip in a month to the Barclays Center after a runner-up finish in the Progressive Legends Classic three weeks ago. The Cardinal dropped an 88-67 decision to Pittsburgh in the title game on Nov. 26 after an 86-76 victory over Houston in the semifinals the previous night. Over the two games combined, Stanford shot 50.0 percent (54-108) but struggled from three-point territory (33.3 percent, 12-36) and the foul line (68.8 percent, 33-48).
Stanford has traveled 11,643 miles during non-conference play entering Saturday’s game against Michigan. After playing its first road game at Denver (2,584 miles round trip) on Nov. 17, the Cardinal embarked on the first of two trips to Brooklyn (5,896 miles round trip) one week later. Stanford flew to Hartford (3,043 miles one-way) on Sunday afternoon and arrived in Brooklyn (120 miles one-way) via bus on Thursday evening.
10 Wins Before Pac-12 Play?
With two games remaining in non-conference play, Stanford has an opportunity to reach the 10-win mark prior to Pac-12 action for the second third time in six seasons. The Cardinal most recently accomplished the feat during the 2011-12 campaign, entering the start of Pac-12 competition with a 10-2 record. During head coach Johnny Dawkins’ rookie season in 2008-09, Stanford raced out to a 10-0 start before its first conference game. One year earlier, Stanford registered an 11-1 ledger in non-conference play.
Takeaways From The No. 10/10 Connecticut Game
Stanford used an inspired second-half defensive effort to stun No. 10/10 Connecticut 53-51 on Wednesday night at the XL Center in Hartford. Stanford collected its first win over Connecticut in five attempts as the schools were meeting for the first time since 2003 ... Stanford picked up its first road win over a top-25 club since March 5, 2009 in a 74-64 triumph at No. 21/21 Arizona State. It was Stanford’s first road win over a top-10 team since a 67-65 overtime victory at No. 9/9 Washington State back on Feb. 2, 2008 ... Trailing 38-28 at halftime and 43-30 four minutes into the second half, the Cardinal limited the Huskies to just 5-31 (16.1 percent) shooting over the final 20 minutes. UConn’s 13 second-half points were the fewest in any half by a Stanford opponent since Oregon State was also held to 13 in the second half back on Jan. 21, 2010 ... Connecticut had won 54 straight home games against non-conference foes. The Huskies’ last home loss to a non-league opponent was a 77-73 setback to Indiana on Jan. 20, 2007 ... Chasson Randle poured in a game-high 22 points on 8-16 shooting. Randle did the bulk of his damage from beyond the arc, connecting on four of the Cardinal’s six three-pointers ... Dwight Powell registered a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds, adding to a gaudy stat line that also included five assists and four blocks. Josh Huestis added another double-double, totaling 13 points on 6-8 shooting and 10 rebounds ... Connecticut entered the game leading the nation in three-point shooting at 46.5 percent ... The Huskies made 6-10 in the first half before missing all 12 attempts in the second half ... Stanford shot a season-low 35.0 percent overall, staying within striking distance despite a sluggish first half that featured 30.6 percent shooting. However, the Cardinal owned a 43-41 rebounding advantage and relied on a stingy zone defense to completely stifle the Huskies ... It was Stanford’s lowest scoring output in a victory since beating USC 51-43 on Dec. 31, 2011 ... Since an 0-5 outing from three-point territory against Pittsburgh three weeks ago, Chasson Randle is shooting 12-17 (70.5 percent) from beyond the arc. Also, for the first time in his career, Chasson Randle played all 40 minutes of a regulation game ... The Cardinal has now made at least one three-pointer in 398 consecutive games, dating back to an 0-6 outing against Purdue in the John Wooden Tradition on Nov. 24, 2001.
Offense Has Been Clicking
Stanford has experienced little trouble offensively through the first 10 games, reaching the 70-point plateau seven times. It’s a sharp contrast to last year’s early-season struggles. The Cardinal is ranked among the nation’s top-50 in scoring (37th) and field goal percentage (13th).
Starting Five Has Been Impressive
Head coach Johnny Dawkins has employed a starting lineup of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, Josh Huestis, Dwight Powell and Stefan Nastic in all 10 games. It’s easy to see why, as Stanford boasts an experienced starting five that is capable of reaching double digits every time out. All four starters with the exception of Nastic (7.1 ppg) are averaging double-figure scoring. That being said, the Cardinal must find a way to jump-start its bench.
Bright Is Latest Injury Casualty
Three players are out for the year, with Aaron Bright (dislocated right shoulder) the most recent addition to a list that already includes Andy Brown (torn right ACL) and Christian Sanders (hip). Bright, who will undergo season-ending surgery in early January, is completing coursework toward an undergraduate degree in science, technology and society and is expected to graduate in June. The MVP of Stanford’s 2012 Postseason NIT championship run, Bright averaged 8.7 points and 3.0 assists in 105 career games while his 316 career assists rank 10th in school history. Meanwhile, Rosco Allen (stress fracture) is expected back in two weeks.
Second-Half Defensive Efforts Paying Off
It’s no secret that Stanford must improve on the defensive end, where opponents are averaging 69.7 points per game and shooting 40.0 percent overall. However, the Cardinal has produced strong second-half defensive performances in six of its eight victories, breaking open games that were either decided by one possessions contests or large deficits at halftime.
Cardinal Cashing In At The Foul Line
Stanford is converting at 68.3 percent from the foul line while averaging 23.0 attempts per game. Chasson Randle (40-51, 78.4 percent) and Anthony Brown (28-36, 77.8 percent) lead the way, as five players have already tallied at least 20 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. Stanford shot free throws at a 74.3 percent clip last year, good for 35th nationally and the best mark in school history since a 76.3 percent clip in 2005-06.
Randle Returns To Form Of Rookie Year
Chasson Randle appears to have put last year’s struggles behind 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 a team-high 18.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 78.4 percent from the foul line. His numbers from beyond the arc are also steadily improving, now up to 44.4 percent after knocking down 4-6 tries against Connecticut on Wednesday. Randle has also scored in double figures in nine contests, including a career-high 33-point outing against BYU on Nov. 11.
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 carried Stanford so far. Reaching double figures in nine games, Brown is averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 55.4 percent from the field. More impressive is Brown’s blistering 57.9 percent clip (22-38) from three-point territory. His slashing, attacking style of play has resulted in an 77.8 percent (28-36) ledger from the foul line. A 2011 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team selection, Brown provides Stanford with added length and athleticism while also serving as its best perimeter defender.
Powell Displays Dynamic All-Around Game
A proven scorer and rebounder, Dwight Powell is averaging 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds although his free throw percentage (60.5) is slightly behind last year’s pace. However, two underrated aspects of his game, which he showed flashes of last year, have looked very impressive early on. For a 6-10 forward, Powell is an excellent passer, dishing out a team-best 42 assists while committing only 29 turnovers. Also, Powell has racked up a team-best 16 steals. Powell ranked third on the squad in those same two categories last year, so his production this year is no fluke. The preseason accolades continue to roll in, as Powell has been named to the John R. Wooden Award watch list and is one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award.
Nastic Anchoring The Frontcourt
Playing regularly for the first time in his career, Stefan Nastic is averaging 7.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Nastic has reached double figures in scoring four times, a feat he had accomplished only twice overall in 53 career games prior to this year. He’s shooting 52.1 percent, scoring the majority of his buckets on high-percentage shots inside the paint. Nastic is a capable free throw shooter (65.6 percent) who has a knack for frustrating his defender and drawing contact. He has totaled almost as many free throw attempts (33) as field goal tries (48).
Huestis’ Strong Defensive Play Continues
A front-runner for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Josh Huestis is averaging 11.9 points and a team-best 7.9 rebounds in his annual 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 9.0 rebounds while compiling nine double-doubles. With 26 swats already this year, Huestis ranks third in school history with 147 career blocks. He’s also shooting 42.9 percent (9-21) from distance. Only three players boast career marks of at least 500 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks: Huestis (736, 618, 147), Tim Young (1544, 1070, 167) and Howard Wright (1599, 860, 121).
Top-15 Recruiting Class Signed For Next Year
Head coach Johnny Dawkins has 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. 9 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.
Nonconference 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 nonconference slate includes a neutral-site matchup against 2013 NCAA runner-up Michigan and the start of a home-and-home series against Connecticut. Matchups against BYU and Pittsburgh provide the Cardinal with an opportunity to quickly establish a high RPI before Pac-12 competition gets underway in January.