Aziz N'Diaye (left) and Darnell Gant must control the boards against Josh Huestis and co.
The Huskies face a must-win test against the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday afternoon. UW is coming off a huge loss to the Cal Bears, blowing many opportunities and missing shots that could easily have brought them back in the game. Stanford and the Dawgs are among five teams in the Pac-12 with only two losses, with the Cardinal reeling from a double digit upset loss to the Washington State Cougars in Pullman.
3 p.m. PST. Alaska Airlines Arena. ROOT Sports. 950 KJR.
Washington Huskies (11-7; 4-2) Stanford University (15-4; 5-2)
Breaking Down Stanford
The Cardinal entered the week as the only team in the conference receiving any national attention. Stanford was ninth in “Others Receiving Votes” this week and has been in that section for over a month now without cracking the Top 25. Pundits have predicted the Cardinal to win the Pac-12 this year due to their depth, as they have 10 players averaging at least 12 minutes per game. MORE ANALYSIS AND A PICK AFTER THE JUMP!
The Cardinal have a balanced scoring attack led by Josh Owens, Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright, who average 13.1, 12.3 and 12.1 points, respectively. Owens, an undersized forward, has been very effective this season. He converts 61.4 percent of his field goals, ranking second in the conference in that regard.
Freshman guard Randle has provided a big spark for the Cardinal, taking five threes per game and shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Josh Huestis is the sixth man for the Cardinal, averaging nearly 21 minutes per game.
Stanford ranks third in the conference in scoring with 73.2 points per game and ranks just behind UW at the top of the rebounding charts, pulling down 42.7 boards per game. The Cardinal’s Achilles heel--like that of the Huskies--has been free throw shooting, hitting on only 66 percent of their opportunities from the stripe. The Cardinal also have been turning the ball over 14.4 times per game, good for second-worst in the conference.
The Starting Five: Keys to the Game
Rebounding: Stanford does not excel in any specific aspect of the game besides rebounding. The Dawgs have not been consistent in any area of the game this year besides their controlling the glass. If either team holds a large rebounding advantage in the game, that team will come out on top.
The First Half: The Huskies have come out flat in all three of their games during this home stand. Seattle U and Washington State were not good enough to hold off the Dawgs, but California exposed UW and showed what can happen when you start slow against a competent basketball team. Stanford isn’t anything special, but they are a competent team. If UW puts two halves together this game will not be close.
Terrence Ross vs Tony Wroten: Who is “the guy” on this team? Ross’ recent emergence has come with a decline in Wroten’s activity on the offensive end. This is a much larger deal than I can explain in a small paragraph, but the bottom line is this: someone needs to take control.
Easy Buckets: California exposed the Huskies transition defense and was able to come away with numerous easy layups. The Cardinal are willing to run and are third in the conference in scoring, meaning the Dawgs will need to limit easy chances for Stanford.
Big Guards: UW has a huge size advantage with Gaddy and Wroten against Randle and Bright. Expect Wroten to go down to the block frequently, as he did against Cal. Gaddy has also had some success against shorter guards when getting into the lane. If Abdul shows some assertiveness offensively—including showing more confidence in his shot—he could easily reach double digits.
I haven’t watched Stanford very much this season, but they seem to have benefitted from a weak non-conference schedule. Their claim to fame this season was a six-point loss on the road against undefeated Syracuse. The Cardinal don’t do anything especially well besides rebounding, which the Dawgs also excel in. Both teams look to bounce back from tough losses, but the Dawgs will use the home court advantage to lead them to a 79-70 victory.