Well, tough to say I was expecting that. Your Cardinal got their 2015-16 campaign underway against fellow 2015 NIT contenders The UW-Green Bay Phoenix with an overtime win, 93-89. A big question coming into this season was if a team without its three highest scorers (the graduated Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, and Stefan Nastic) -- and its presumed returning leader Marcus Allen sidelined -- could find a way to put the ball in the basket enough times to win consistently. While that's still an open question, they did manage to do that against a decent Green Bay squad tonight. How, you ask? They did it piece meal, as Dawkins's Cardinal had six double-figure scorers for the first time in the same game since a January 7, 2012 bout with Oregon State, when they also had six double-figure scorers.
Granted, this was achieved in overtime, and the victory was only secured with a lot of free throw shooting in the last minute of the game, but hey, a win is a win. They just need to keep their heads above water while weathering the Marcus Allen injury. In a bit of good news, though, his twin brother Malcolm actually did return from a broken wrist injury tonight, netting 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field (and one made free throw).
The Phoenix's resident Swiss army knife, senior 6'1" guard Carrington Love, did not disappoint as his squad's new focal point. His closing stat line: 32 points (going 9-for-17 from the field -- including an insane 6-of-9 from deep -- and 8-of-12 during the free throw shoot-out), 4 steals, 4 dimes, and 3 boards. In the end, though, his teammates were the different. Horrible shooting from 6'7" senior forward Jordan Fouse (1-of-13!) contributed to Green Bay's poor 39% team field goal percentage -- even though they had 17 more looks from the field than did the Cardinal, Stanford actually made more shots (31 to Green Bay's 30) with much more efficient shooting (51.7%). The game was won at the charity stripe, however, where the Cardinal won with sheer quantity (if not quality) -- they took 42 (!) free throws (shooting 59.5% from there), compared to the opposition's paltry-for-an-overtime-game 28 (they converted 67.9% of theirs, though).
Today's big stories from the Stanford side were new starting point guard (taking over from Robert Cartwright, out for the year with a stress fracture) Christian Sanders and forwards Rosco Allen and Michael Humphrey. Sanders got most of his points from the free throw line, getting 15 chances (3 more than anyone else in the game) and connecting on 10 of those, which made up almost half of his 23 points. But he contributed everywhere -- he got 6 boards and 3 assists for good measure. Reid Travis did his part from the free throw line too, making 6 of 12 free throws to contribute to his 16 points and 8 rebounds. Allen and Humphrey (who came off the bench behind Marcus Sheffield) both had double-doubles with 11 rebounds, and Humphrey connected on 5 of his 6 free throws. Humphrey's scoring total was 13, Allen's 15. But Humphrey really made his impact on D, where he had 7 BLOCKS to go along with those 11 rebounds and 1 steal. It's a good thing he stepped up, too, Sheffield was fairly useless.
Bottom line, though -- the right team won, and their scoring leader was the kid who averaged 0.7 points a game last season. It's going to be that type of year.