New Stanford coach Jerod Haase returns to Allen Fieldhouse, where he played for two seasons and coached for four. Haase brings with him a young but talented bunch who is 6-2 with a win over Harvard and a better than you think Seton Hall team.
Offensively, the Cardinal have struggled. They are shooting under 30 percent from three and taking just 24 percent of their field goal attempts from behind the arc. They’re not doing much better from two, at right around 46 percent, which is good for 244th nationally. They also turn it over a lot (21.1 percent of possessions). Ah, youth.
One thing Stanford does have going for it is its height, as the Cardinal can trot out a front line of major contributors standing 7-0, 6-9, 6-9, and 6-8. That’s a big factor as to why Stanford’s defense is much better than its offense. Ranking 23rd in adjusted efficiency, teams are shooting just 44.6 percent on twos and 28 percent on threes against the Cardinal. Of course, the usual caveats apply about 3-point defense not being terribly repeatable. Stanford allows a roughly average number of threes, and it’s worth noting they have played quite a few bad shooting teams thus far. Still, it will be much tougher to score on Stanford than it will be to keep them from scoring.
Players to Watch
Reid Travis, sophomore forward
As a native North Dakotan, I heard a lot about Travis (a Minneapolis, Minnesota native) from my Gopher fan friends. Travis was the hometown kid who was going to save the program. He also played high school ball with a player for the future Big Sky champion and possible Kansas first round NCAA opponent North Dakota Fighting Hawks. But I digress. Travis spurned the hometown team and went to Stanford, and is having quite the sophomore season. He is shooting 54.2 percent, has an offensive rebounding percentage of 13.2 percent (which you know will be an issue) and is drawing 7.3 fouls per 40 minutes. I haven’t watched enough Stanford to let you know about his defense, but offensively he will be a handful.
Dorian Pickens, junior guard/forward
Pickens is actually shooting better than Travis in terms of effective field goal percentage thanks to him shooting 44 percent on threes. He’s also shooting 86 percent from the free throw line but thankfully doesn’t go there often. He’ll probably get Svi or Vick on him a lot of the time, which quite frankly will limit his effectiveness.
Josh Sharma, sophomore forward
Sharma is the aforementioned 7 footer. He’s only playing in 30 percent of the team’s minutes, but has a 12.8 percent block percentage. He has also attempted 11 threes on the year for some reason and only made 2 of them, which might explain some of the playing time issues.
Things to Watch For
- Interior defense - Kansas will need to make people other than Travis beat them, and assuming Lucas gets held out again for health reasons this will be a big test for the remaining interior defenders.
- 3-point shooting - Kansas has shot it great lately. Stanford does an OK job at limiting attempts, but has mostly relied on variance. An outburst from Kansas could knock their D down a peg.
- Turnovers - Kansas has had a bit of a problem lately turning the ball over, and Stanford does a pretty good job of turning teams over. Given that their defense is pretty good, Kansas can’t afford too many possessions where it doesn’t attempt a shot.
Despite the offensive woes, Stanford is a good team. I don’t think they are quite an NCAA tournament team, but Jerod Haase will get them going in the right direction soon enough. This year, however, I don’t see them beating Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse. You notice I didn’t mention Stanford’s guards too much, and that’s because they aren’t very good. KU’s backcourt should have a field day with them, and if they can get Travis in any sort of foul trouble the Jayhawks should cruise. Even if they don’t, I think they will win comfortably. Give me Kansas 79, Stanford 62.