Tag Archives: Maples Pavilion

WANE: Live Cats and a Beaver Exploration

Spencer and I took to Maples and Haas last week. Live sports are great. We actually don’t delve deep into those experiences but rather turn our attention to how the Utes responded this weekend after being called soft by Titus; we explore 1-seed scenarios for the Wildcats; we postulate on any seeding options for the Beavers; and go on zero tangents about first-floor restrooms.

WANE (and on SoundCloud):

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How Very Stanford: Navigating the Circle of Suck

By: Spencer Smith

The Pac-12 this year is Utah, Arizona and the field. And while pretty much no one expects the other 10 programs to challenge the Utes and Wildcats for a conference crown, there is still plenty to be played for.

There’s an amoeba of mediocrity in the middle (say that five times fast), one that starts after the aforementioned front-runners and ends at a much more uncertain place. Stanford, UCLA, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State are in there. Washington State is making a case for being in there. Washington, Cal and Arizona State are desperately trying to convince you they are still there. USC plays basketball. Continue reading

Gross Conclusions and 1.26 Points Per Cougar Possession

And how much fun is this? We’re but a few days deep and now hours into a tip off marathon where I was watching hoops deep into the night and now once again peripherally at Tucson International. We have just begun and I’m making irrational snap judgments like Carrie Mathison (i.e. Gabe York:Russ Smith::Russ Smith:Gabe York; POY trophy as the Ty Wallace Cup; Joseph Young receiving an additional year’s eligibility; lodging in Arlington; instituting a coach swap where Johnny Dawkins and Craig Robinson just switch teams – like Dawk moves to Corvallis for the year and Rob to Palo Alto just to see why the hell not; replacing WSU with Coppin State). In reality, we know very little about the teams we’ve seen play but our expectations are being teased, not tempered.

To the point at which I’d like to elaborate on the Stanford Cardinal.

Against much of my better judgment (what’s that?) I’ve ignored those trying to temper my expectations of Dawkins’ squad. I’ve thought so highly of Dwight Powell and Chasson Randle for so long now that I foresaw no way in which a team led by those two could sustain back-to-back disappointing seasons. Their talents, after all, were supplemented by Josh Huestis, Aaron Bright, and a deep cast of formidable role players. They returned oodles of experience (80% of their minutes played) and isn’t experience one thing you can’t teach? The crux of the matter, however, might not be about what you can’t teach so much as whether you can teach at all.

This comes to the forefront as Stanford – a perennial top-100 defensive unit under Dawkins – yielded 112 points at home to the WCC’s Brigham Young Cougars. That’s 1.26 points per possession. Matt Carlino just scored agai — Tyler Haws, too. Oh sure the Cards dropped 100+ themselves but who damn cares? This is a major violation of early optimism. We were promised a “different way of thinking” by Coach Dawkins and crew. To which I ask: What are you guys thinking?

Watching the latter parts of that BYU thing, Seth Greenberg yelled on and on about how Stanford had many nice pieces – the same toys I’ve mentioned above. He’d then, inevitably, arrive at his caveat (of which I paraphrase), “But Stanford has really got to find its identity. What kind of team are they going to be?” Indeed what the hell type of team are they going to be because they could be so good. Or can they?

This was one man’s proposal to which I can’t completely disagree. A 19-15 (9-9) season is being fixed by thinking differently?

It might be time for me to start thinking differently about Stanford.

A Trip To Palo Alto: Ducks and Beers Crushed

I don’t navigate Palo Alto too well so we were a few minutes late to meeting my pals at The Old Pro. But once we arrived, we crushed a couple pitchers, a sampler platter, and some chicken nachos that tasted a lot more like shredded pork and headed out.

En route to Maples we saw no scalpers.

Our Box Office purchase was little more than entry into the stadium as we wound up sitting darn well wherever we please which reads a lot more assertive than our bleachers-behind-the-shot-clock choice would suggest.

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We caught the middle of the Cardinal introductions and were acutely aware of the high school vibe Maples seems to propagate. This isn’t a bad thing. By many accounts Cameron Indoor successfully accomplishes the same, there’s nothing wrong with intimacy. It just makes it somewhat easier to overlook that one of the teams on the floor is the tenth rated team in the nation. Because the crowd certainly did not indicate such.

They more embodied the home team – understandably – as a group with great potential (I’m always curious the earning potential of the Stanford student section) not yet achieved. Nonetheless, the stage was set for a big night as Musburger and Walton had the nationally televised call.

Is it just me or is that a remarkably power tandem for a Wednesday night 11pm EST ESPNU tip?

Alas, the ball was tipped and before possession was even acquired, Oregon had a turnover. I suppose that was going to be the case in this Dominic Artis-less offense but don’t let that be the rationale for the transpiring 40-minutes. What Stanford did was impose their defensive will and contest every shot, force uncomfortable runners, and for Oregon so far out of its comfort zone that they stood little to no chance.

It was a defensive masterpiece that happened to coincide with quite the shooting night. The Cardinal shot a cool 52% from the field and 57% from deep, which is to say they got theirs inside and out. Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis asserted themselves basically everywhere while Aaron Bright was unquestionably in control of the game at all times.

And here was my favorite sequence. With 15:16 remaining in the game and some semblance of an Oregon chance still lingering, the following occurred:

Huestis block, Randle three, Emory foul, Bright three, Austin offensive foul, Oregon Time out.

Time elapsed? Twenty seconds to jump that lead to a devastating 22-points. And had Andy Brown’s three fallen coming out of that Oregon timeout it literally would have been my all-time favorite back breaking sequence.

Oregon played poorly, they did, but Wednesday was Stanford’s night. Now I will be curious to observe  exceptions and rules. I don’t think 35% shooting and 20 turnovers is the rule for Oregon. The same applies for Stanford.

But this could be the Cardinal’s tipping point; the moment they remember they are a deep, tough, and talented team.

For Oregon, I see this game as a heat check. They’ve played some terrific basketball but also an unsustainable model. They’d been squeaking past opponents, meddling about the middle of the conference in scoring margin. So like a said, a heat check, perhaps an opportunity to straighten their collar and tighten their tie because the Ducks still have a stranglehold on this conference.

As for me? It was so great to get into that live atmosphere again. It goes without saying but being there is a completely different experience than the television. You’re reminded of the size of these players and the quickness it requires to go three-point line to rim; the explosiveness of a flatfooted dunk; how physical an off-ball screen is.

I love getting to tell these stories because there’s so much going on in that 94×50 foot rectangle of hardwood that I just can’t get enough.

Hooray Sports!

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in Maples Pavilion

The Stanford Cardinal are coming off an NIT championship which, as you’ll learn below, is a good thing heading into 2012-13. Read on…

    1. Points – There are two very good point guards manning the backcourt for Johnny Dawkins. The tandem of Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle lit it up in the NIT, putting up a combined 31ppg in that run. I don’t expect them to slow. At all.
    2. Confidence – Dwight Powell has got it. He’s had talent but now he’s got the all-empowering confidence according to Bright. To be talented and know it can often lead to big seasons. Stay tuned.
    3. Greatness – They’re pissed off for it.
    4. Knitting – Last year they won the NIT! In my unscientific study of NIT success and how it translates into future success (or otherwise) I found that, over the past five seasons, 70% of NIT champions made it to the NCAA tournament the following season. Auspicious start to 2012-13!
    5. Quintessential – Brevin Knight, Chris Hernandez, Arthur Lee, Mitch Johnson. No, I’m not listing pests – well, I am but they’re the good kind. Stanford has had no shortage of very solid point play over the years and this year is no difference. Aaron Bright should handle the bulk of the true point duties and he’ll be aided by POY candidate, Chasson Randle. That what we call a backcourt.
    6. Smiles – Johnny Dawkins doesn’t do a lot of it and so I imagine – beyond lots of basketball IQ – they brough this guy on staff:
    7. Hype – There’s some intrigue and hype around this team and hopefully that translates into two things, 1) wins, 2) butts in Maples. That place was rocking when those Monty teams were great. Its intimate atmosphere is conducive to only one audience and that’s a raucous one. Otherwise Maples just looks like a sorry high school gym and no one likes that. Endowment or otherwise.