Shhh. No body mention it but the Pac-12 just got two teams in the Final Four.
Before you get too far, allow me this: SEMANTICS! The Final Four is the Final Four is the Final Four and the Pac will have represented 33% of the available FF spots in post-season play. Hell, both Washington schools are in a Final Four – WSU in the championships!
And now let me back down to earth.
Washington and Stanford made the NIT Final Four while Washington State defeated Oregon State in the CBI Final Four. But I want to focus on Stanford, namely because we know all about UW and I know literally nothing about the CBI.
Stanford put Nevada in their place as a mid-major and has surprisingly rolled their way into NYC. Once in the Big Apple they’ll have another opportunity to put the little guy in his place against UMass. Whodathunkit?
After all, this is the group that jumped out to a 12-2 record and promptly fell on their face during conference play; finishing the season a yawnable 8-8 and raising questions about what it means to be a Johnny Dawkins squad. They were the “biggest loser” in two of the final three Weekend Reviews, including once for an astronomical loss at Utah. But, as we believe here at pachoops, it doesn’t matter how you start or middle, it matters how you finish.
And the Cardinal, apparently, are not ready to return to class contrary to popular Stanford stereotyping.
With Aaron Bright playing like a seasoned veteran (19ppg, 4apg in the NIT); Chasson Randle filling the cup like a Lopez twin (19ppg last eight games); Josh Owens refusing to finish his five-year career quietly (12 & 9 in the NIT); and the rest of the Cardinal faithful filling roles like Oompa Loompas, it’s no wonder Stanford finds itself playing in Madison Square Garden (even the stats agree).
The biggest question around this team has long been where would the offense come from and, of late, they’ve managed. Which is about all you need to do when it comes to win-or-go-home season.
Now in the coming days I plan to present some NIT research proving my hypothesis that NIT finalists carry their successes into the following season (NOTE: this is still a hypothesis for which I plan to exact the scientific method). Examining this Stanford team and assuming my hypothesis, they’re poised to do exactly that. Aaron Bright is a solid play making guard, they have a bevvy of big, athletic, active bodies, and, mark my words: Chasson Randle is a stud.
I’m not going out on any limb here telling you he’s good. It’s been a fact for awhile. But if you’ve ever seen the kid play, you understand he could be special. I’d say he reminds me of Allen Crabbe – big freshman year with high sophomore expectations – but Randle creates far better than Crabbe. He’s [insert scout adjectives here] and then some. I’ll stop before hyperbole sets in.
So say what you will about the Pac, but there’s still a heartbeat. An opportunity to create a shining moment, hoist a trophy on the heralded hardwood of basketball’s Mecca, Madison Square Garden.