For a team that is picked to finish ninth in the conference, lost its best player to the NBA, and won 14 games while missing the postseason for the first time since 1993, Stanford has a good reason to be optimistic about the coming season. Six good reasons in fact.
While there isn’t a senior on the roster for the first time in school history, third-year head coach Johnny Dawkins welcomes a talented recruiting class that is widely regarded as one of the best in the country. Dwight Powell, who was rated a top-5 center by ESPNU, and wing Anthony Brown headline the six-man class, which will bring some much needed depth to the program. As Stanford prepares to open its season tonight against San Diego, here's a preview to prepare you for what should be an interesting season.
Landry Fields: The New York Knicks' second-round draft pick led Stanford in nearly every important category last season, including points (22.0 per game) and rebounds (8.8 per game).
Drew Shiller (sort of): After averaging 7.5 points per game off the bench as a senior last year, Shiller will serve as the color commentator for Stanford men's basketball broadcasts on XTRA Sports 860 AM alongside new play-by-play man John Platz.
Jeremy Green: Stanford's leading returning scorer averaged 16.6 points per game and shot 38 percent from 3-point range last season. Green, who set the school record for 3-pointers in a season with 93, poured in 26 points, including five 3-pointers, in Stanford's exhibition win over Cal State Monterey Bay last week.
Josh Owens: Owens returns to the court after missing all of last season with an undisclosed medical condition. The junior started 28 games as a sophomore, averaging 6.9 points while shooting better than 56 percent from the field.
Jack Trotter: Trotter could be a key contributor in the frontcourt after averaging 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season.
New Names to Know
Dwight Powell: The 6-foot-10 Powell is the most heralded of Stanford's recruits and is expected to make a difference right away. Here are some highlights of Powell at IMG Academy.
Anthony Brown: Dawkins expects the 6-foot-6 and sleek shooting Brown, who starred at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach, to contribute at all three perimeter positions.
Aaron Bright: Bright, a 5-foot-11 freshman from Washington, will likely share point guard duties with Jarrett Mann and Gabriel Harris.
Circle the Dates
Stanford's schedule includes nine games against teams that qualified for the postseason last year, including plenty of nonconference tests. Here are three games to watch before the Cardinal enters the conference portion of its schedule:
Nov. 18 vs. Virginia: Former Washington State head coach Tony Bennett leads the Cavaliers into Maples Pavilion for a showdown between two teams short on experience. Virginia opened the season with seven freshmen and five healthy upperclassmen on the roster.
Nov. 25 vs. Murray State: The Racers were 31-5 last season and perennial contenders for the Ohio Valley Conference title. Murray State, which lost by five points at Cal in last year's season opener, defeated Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA tournament before falling to eventual NCAA runner-up Butler by two points in the second round.
- Dec. 18 at Butler: Speaking of Butler, Stanford visits historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for a game against the Bulldogs.
- The Cardinal prepares for life without Landry.
- Stanford and Cal are set to embark on similar rebuilding projects.
- Despite being picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10, Johnny Dawkins says Stanford's players have high expectations for themselves.
- Stanford is looking to turn heads this season.
- SB Nation's Oregon State blog Building the Dam compiled a Pac-10 preview with insight from school-specific bloggers within the SB Nation network. Parts of this preview are excerpted from my contribution.