18 December 2009

Better Know an Opponent: Stanford University

The Stanford University Cardinal (5-4) take on NU (8-1) at the Welsh this Saturday December 19 at 1pm Central. The game will be televised on the BTN and radio is available at wgnradio.com/listen.

Stanford Quick Facts:
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Official Nickname: Cardinal (color, not fowl)
Unofficial Nickname: The Tree
Historic Nickname: None prior to 1930, Indians (1930-1972)

Coach: Johnny Dawkins (second year -- previously the top assistant at Duke for many years)
Team Colors: Cardinal Red and White
Conference: PAC-10
Student Population: 15K
Most Famous Alum: Pick a leading Silicon Valley company, look at the corporate history, and odds are a founder or two went to Stanford (e.g., Google, Yahoo, HP, Cisco, Sun Micro)
Most Famous Alum Athletes: Tiger, Elway, McEnroe, Bryan twins, Summer Sanders, Debi Thomas
Most Famous Politician: Pres. Hoover (oops)

Stanford was founded in 1891. Today Stanford is an academic and athletic dynamo. Stanford is exceptional across the academic spectrum and its undergraduate program is currently ranked 4th by US News & World Report. Stanford has won the award for the top ranked collegiate athletic program an astounding 15 years running (the NACDC Director's Cup, fka Sears Cup). Frankly we could go on and on and on about Stanford's academics, athletics, amazing campus which is affectionately known as The Farm, etc... but that's not really the point of this post.

2009-10 Stanford Basketball Intel:
Stanford returns just one starter (Landry Fields) from a team that finished ninth in the Pac-10 last year.

Projected Starting Five:

G Jarett Mann 6'3" 185 #22 So.
G Jeremy Green 6'4" 190 #45 So.
G/F Landry Fields 6'7" 210 #2 Sr.
F Andrew Zimmerman 6'9" 215 #34 So.
F Jack Trotter 6'9" 220 #50 So.

Landry Fields is The Tree's main man (branch?) and stat sheet stuffer extraordinaire. He plays nearly 35 MPG, scoring 22.9 PPG on nearly 50% shooting and pulling down 8.8 RPG. He also has 30 assists, 22 steals, 7 blocks in 9 games -- you do the math. Long-range bomber Jeremy Green provides a nice outside presence with a 15.7 PPG average and shooting 45% from distance on over 7.5 3PA's per game. Drew Shiller is The Tree's sixth man who can also fill it up from distance (48.6% treys made, 8.4 PPG). Jarret Mann can dish the ball (53 assists), but he turns it over a little too often for a point guard in Carmody Court's opinion.

As a team The Tree average 75 PPG and knock down a very respectable 38% of their treys. The Tree are not a great rebounding team (outrebounded by 1 board per game) and are not a great defensive team (Fields is a notable exception with his 22 steals).

In short the defensive game plan seems pretty obvious. Stop Fields and get a hand in the face of Green and Shiller. This is easier said than done especially the former part. It will be interesting to see if The Tree can be forced into turning over the ball by NU's 1-3-1 zone. So far this season The Tree have only turned it over an impressive 11 times per game.

What to expect? In this game between true student-athletes NU hopes to continue its balanced team effort against The Tree. On offense it will be a good sign if NU can get some early backdoor layups to discourage The Tree's penchant for perimeter pressure. If and when that happens it's bombs away from any of NU's starting five (plus super sharpshooter Alex Marcotullio).