After the season-ending injury sustained by guard Aaron Bright early this season, Stanford found itself without a key piece of the offense as well as a valuable senior leader. Part of the solution to fill the second guard spot was to bring in explosive freshman Marcus Allen to provide meaningful minutes behind Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown.
Now, with just a few games left before the Cardinal's NCAA tournament fate is decided, Marcus also mentioned that the team, seeking their first tournament bid since 2008, has upped the intensity in their practices.
"It can get chippy sometimes, because everyone is competing," said Allen. Especially with seniors Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell set to graduate after this season, the Cardinal's motivation will need to be as high as possible in order to make a run through the Pac-12 tournament and secure a bid in the NCAA tournament.
Allen's Cardinal career up to this point has been building toward this moment - in the midst of a rigorous Pac-12 schedule, Allen has suddenly found himself as a key piece in the Cardinal's guard rotation. Allen notched a career high 11 points against Washington State in January, and his playing time in close games has subsequently increased. Sunday night at #3 Arizona, Allen played a career-high 19 minutes, the highest for any bench player.
Marcus (6'3" and 190 lbs) came to the Farm along with his identical twin brother, guard Malcolm (6'1" and 175) Allen, from Centennial High School in Las Vegas. The pair get their natural athleticism from both sides of the family - their father Carl played free safety on the Vanderbilt football team, while mother Trina was a member of the Stanford Women's Gymnastics Team from 1978-80. Both graduated from prestigious universities and went on to become doctors, and the Allens instilled a high value on academics when it came to college choices. The twins graduated as co-valedictorians with 4.8 weighted GPAs and decided that they would play together at the next level, no matter where they went. Their final list of schools included Stanford, Rice, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale before they whittled it down to the Farm.
Having played with Malcolm all throughout high school, Marcus admits that it has been different without his brother at the point guard spot all the time.
"I'm definitely more comfortable with Malcolm at the point because I know his habits," Allen said Sunday night after the team's loss at #3 Arizona. Marcus and his brother certainly have proved that they have more than innate chemistry together - they led their team to a state championship game and averaged 28 and 22.7 points per game, respectively, during their senior campaign at Centennial High School.
Before the beginning of the Pac-12 season, Allen was able to use his time on the court to adjust to the speed of the college game. When I spoke with him Sunday, Allen said the biggest challenge for him this year has been "getting [his] legs, contributing and playing with the starting lineup, and adjusting to the speed of the game."
As the regular season comes to a close and the Cardinal hope for a successful Pac-12 tournament run and NCAA tournament bid, look for Marcus to continue to contribute valuable minutes off the bench.