Head coach Johnny Dawkins' assessment of his team after Saturday's 83-50 loss at Butler was fairly simple: "We have to get better across the board."
That shouldn't be too difficult, even if a win tonight at Oklahoma State in the final game in the illustrious history of the discontinued Big 12/Pac-10 challenge would seem unlikely. Leaving Stillwater with a team free throw percentage above 65% would be an improvement. Baby steps for the baby Cardinal, right?
In every Stanford game I've watched on TV/ESPN3 this season, the Cardinal has struggled through at least one maddening offensive dry spell. Stanford seems prone to these droughts because it lacks a point guard with the ability to steady the offense when it gets out of sync. Jarrett Mann could still emerge as that player, but the junior has been inconsistent and has finished with more assists than turnovers in only two of the Cardinal's first nine games. Aaron Bright flahsed his potential in the win against Virginia, but the freshman has been up and down ever since. Bright suffered a shoulder injury against Butler, but is expected to play tonight.
Oklahoma State (10-1) is no slouch. While the Cowboys have played a relatively weak nonconference schedule, they're beating the teams they're supposed to beat. Stanford (6-3) qualifies as one of those teams. OSU went 2-1 at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, where Stanford went 1-2. The Cowboys defeated DePaul and Murray State, and suffered its only loss of the season to Virginia Tech. OSU also beat Tulsa by 17, while Stanford lost to the Golden Hurricane by 12.
Here are few other notes to get you ready for tonight's game, which tips off at 6 p.m. PST and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
- The Cowboys are led by senior forward Marshall Moses, who averages 17.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Moses, who didn't score in last year's 71-70 win at Stanford, made great strides during the offseason and has been drawing double and triple teams near the basket.
- Junior guard Keiton Page has averaged 19.2 points during Oklahoma State's last six games
- Tonight's game could be a defensive struggle. Stanford is allowing 60.1 points per game; Oklahoma State is allowing 61.5.