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The Ultimate 2016-17 Stanford Basketball Preview

Everything you need to know about the Stanford Cardinal before the season begins!

Stanford v Washington Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The need for a new coaching staff

At the end of the 2015-16 season, Stanford Hoops was in dire need a face lift.

Many think that fans booing the home team is the worst thing that can happen to a sports organization. It isn’t great. However, there is something worse.

Apathy. Apathy is far more damaging than booing fans. At least booing fans still care about what is happening with the team.

Slowly the season after season attrition of Johnny Dawkins’ lack of adjustments, proclivity to win games he had no business winning and then lose games he had no earthly reason to lose beat the frustration, angry, and sadness out of fans in Maples Pavilion. It resulted in apathy. The worst possible result for a fanbase.

In the end, it was this general indifference and numbness about Cardinal basketball that led to the firing of Johnny Dawkins.

The point is that it won’t come as a major revelation that Johnny Dawkins did a poor job in Palo Alto. Everyone already knows that. But as I've went pretty in-depth through the numbers and watching games from last season to put together the player profiles on Rule of Tree; I just keep coming back to the same thought. Man, did Johnny Dawkins suck.

Generally, in every metric where it is about the player simply making a play, Stanford’s personnel tended to be pretty adept. In every metric where it is about the player being put in a position to make a play, they tend to really struggle. Nearly everyone on the Stanford roster is a good to excellent transition player by the numbers, however Dawkins had the Cardinal get out and run on only 13% of the total Cardinal offensive possessions. That's the 312th lowest rate of transition possessions of all the 351 NCAA Division 1 teams! Meanwhile, they were statistically the 28th best transition team in the country!

It was as if the former coaching staff was actively avoiding playing to the strengths of his players. Instead of playing a fun, uptempo style that would showcase the athleticism and talents of the Nerd Nation ballers, they opted for a more plodding, methodical half court set that nearly everyone was unable to execute with their skill sets.

Think about it, a team that is dynamic when they are on the fast break, but is actively told to hold up the dribble to execute a terrible half court offense sounds like a boring and confounding team to watch.

Stanford were a poor team at half court offense. In particular, it was the team being so slow at getting a shot off. Stanford took shots with less than 4 seconds less on the shot clock on 6.1% of all possessions. That's one of the highest rates in the NCAA last season.

The issue here is that it resulted in a ton of forced, rushed shots and the Cardinal as a result shot 30.4% from the field with not much time on the shot clock. As a result, Stanford were getting 0.7 points per possession when shooting with under 4 seconds on the shot clock.

Essentially, they were forcing shots to beat the shot clock 4 times a game.

Combine this with Stanford's turnovers on 14.1% of their average 67 possessions per game-- and as a result Stanford averaged 2.8 points over those 13.5 possessions or an aggregate of a 8 minute stretch in every single game getting 0.207 points per possession. That's horrendous. And this is how 13 of Stanford's 15 losses resulted in getting beat by 10 points or more.

It isn’t fun to lose. When it is almost always a blowout, you get fan, booster, student, program apathy.

Stanford was a wonderfully average defensive team. In man defense they struggled -- allowing opponents to shoot 48.2%. In zone they were very good -- allowing opponents to shoot 39.1%. So... guess which defense Johnny Dawkins employed 65% of the time?

The point of going over this once again is to simply show that the data supports the emotional response in fans.

On the positive, I think the Cardinal players are pretty good. The majority of them were 4-star and 5-star recruits. They have a load of talent and potential. Given what we’ve seen, I think the Cardinal basketball roster were ineffective due to the poor coaching.

As such, I think new head coach Jerod Haase has the kids to make this a quick turnaround. If Haase is able to get his players to buy in and play in a similar way to how he had his teams play at UAB, it could be a fun season. One that rips the apathy away and gets some passion back into Stanford Cardinal basketball.

Player Profiles

Want to learn more about this season’s players, what to expect from them, and the key to their success in this campaign? Good. I’ve written nearly 15,000 words to help get you up to speed!


Sophomore point guard Robert Cartwright is healthy again! How many minutes will he command under Jerod Haase?

Stanford senior Christian Sanders provides leadership and savvy, but his struggles shooting the basketball have hindered the Cardinal in the past.

Junior Malcolm Allen struggled mightily with his ball security. Can he solve his turnover-prone tendencies?

Junior Josh Hanson may have been having a crisis of faith with garbage time last season.

Will freshman walk-on Rodney Herenton perform during halftime this season?

Is the leap between Division IV Arizona High School basketball and Division I Pac-12 Conference basketball too much to overcome for freshman walk-on Andrew Ekmark?

Get to know freshman walk-on Blake Pagon through the exclusive interview that I conducted with his tweets.


Can Jerod Haase find ways to showcase junior Dorian Pickens on offense while hiding him on defense? Also, Dorian Pickens loves shoes.

Sophomore Marcus Sheffield had a very promising freshman year. What did Sheffield do in his first year that should have Stanford fans excited for his next 3 seasons?

A high profile recruit, can sophomore Cameron Walker find a role and specialty in the Cardinal hoops program?


Junior power forward Reid Travis is so physically impressive that he could be used as a mold in HBO’s Westworld. Can his body be durable in 2016-17?

Junior forward Michael Humphrey had a breakout season last year. The next step to stardom is relentless night-after-night consistency.

You can’t teach height, but you can teach discipline to stay out for foul trouble. Sophmore Josh Sharma’s ability to protect the rim without fouling will determine how much we will see the 7-footer this season.

The future of basketball is found in players that are positionless due to their skill and versatility. Meet freshman 4-star recruit Kodye Pugh.

Another big time 4-star recruit makes his debut on the Farm this season. The velocity that freshman Trevor Stanback get his game up to the speed and ability of the college game will be the key to how much he will contribute to Jerod Haase’s squad.

Non-conference schedule preview

Stanford’s non-conference slate is challenging. Take a look at how difficult it will be as I ranked the opponents in terms of the toughest games for Stanford to win.