ST. LOUIS- After arriving in St. Louis last night, Stanford made its first appearance at Scottrade Center on Thursday afternoon to participate in a media interview session followed by open practice at the second and third rounds of the NCAA Tournament South Regional.
Head coach Johnny Dawkins and players spent the first hour conducting interviews before the Cardinal was the first team to take the court for its scheduled practice, which was open to media and the public.
Back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, at-large entrant Stanford (21-12, 10-8 Pac-12) is the No. 10 seed and will face No. 7 seed New Mexico.
Despite losing missing four key players to injuries, Stanford reached the 20-win plateau for the 22nd time in school history and third during head coach Johnny Dawkins’ six-year tenure. Of Stanford’s 33 games to date, 16 came against NCAA Tournament teams. In addition to finishing tied for third in the highly-competitive Pac-12, Stanford’s six road victories ranked second in the conference behind Arizona’s eight. Stanford finished 3-2 against top-25 opponents and navigated through a challenging non-conference slate that featured matchups against BYU, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Michigan.
After meeting with the media, Cardinal hit the court for open practice. Then back to hotel to finish up final exams. pic.twitter.com/7OgNLzd1vc— Stanford Men's Hoops (@stanfordbball) March 20, 2014
Ranked No. 17 nationally in both polls, New Mexico (27-6, 15-3 Mountain West) is one of the country’s hottest teams, having won nine of its last 10 games overall. Included in New Mexico’s finishing kick was a 64-58 win over San Diego State in the Mountain West Tournament final. It was the Lobos’ second victory over the Aztecs.
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins watches his team warm up at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, 24 hours before tipoff. pic.twitter.com/0PU13a8ejy— Jeff Faraudo (@JeffFaraudo) March 20, 2014
Stanford sports a 2-1 record against New Mexico in the all-time series. The teams last met on Nov. 17, 2001 in Albuquerque, with the Cardinal prevailing 81-66. One year earlier, it was Stanford cruising in a 75-44 rout at Maples Pavilion. New Mexico’s only victory was a 78-63 decision on Dec. 28, 1974.
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“I think definitely one of the focuses is staying in the moment. That comes from staying with our guys. We are going to be spending all of our time with each other in the hotel and are not going to really try to get too distracted by anything going on outside of our immediate group. Just staying in the moment, staying present and being focused on the task at hand. And the game we have coming up and now focus on the practice we have.”
“Bairstow is a great player. In watching the scout, he can shoot and is physical, a great low-post scorer. As far as someone in the Pac-12 that resembles him, he has a similar low-post game to Tony Parker in ways, but he can also shoot the ball pretty well from midrange. So he's a really good all-around player. It will be a good match-up.”
“I wouldn't say necessarily concerns me most. I would say more excites me is the challenge we are going to face with how physical they are and how relentless they are. Using their bodies to get positions and rebounds and things of that nature. And they run the floor pretty well for their size and pretty mobile. It's going to be exciting. We're looking forward to the challenge and are preparing all year for this type of game and hopefully will be able to come out successful.”
“Well, I know I have, about 30 people coming from home. But as far as plans, I am not really sure. I am just happy to be here, you know, and excited for the opportunity to have my family see me so close.”
“I think every single minute will be important. Every single possession, especially being on this type of stage. We are all excited for the opportunity. The best thing is doing it for each other and talking to each other as much as we can to keep each other pumped up and calm and focused.”
“I remember them being very good players and we've been watching a lot of film on them. And same thing, they had great years this year and they wouldn't be here if they -- the team wouldn't be here if they hadn't. But they are great players. Kendall is very good at getting in the paint, finding guys. And he can also shoot the basketball and score in different ways. And I remember Kirk inside just being really physical and tough. So we're going to have to do a good job tomorrow.”
Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins
“Well, I am excited to be here, of course. Excited to still be playing. I look at our seniors who've had an incredible journey to get here with the expectations that they had. I am thinking of Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis, John Gage, Robbie Lemons, all those guys that started with me and see the journey end with them having an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament is a moment that I think will last them for the rest of their lives.”
“I think Bairstow is one of the best big men we have seen all year. He's a great player. Tremendous improvement over the course of his career, which means he's a hard worker. What jumps out is his versatility with his size. Not only is he a very physical low-post player, but a very capable shooter on the perimeter from 15 to 17 feet as well. So he's a very good player and like I said, very physical player.”
“Our keys are pretty straightforward. We have to defend well. I mean we have to defend their ability to score in the low post. You know, we also need to make sure that we compliment that defense with good offensive execution. I don't think we can have our offense hurting our defense. And those are the couple of things that we have to do.”