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Stanford Men’s Basketball: Breaking Down the AdvoCare Invitational

AdvoCare Invitational Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Welcome back basketball fans! Jerod Haase has his new team off to a 6-1 start, and looking solid so far this season. With a 5th place finish in the AdvoCare Invitational Tournament, I want to breakdown the good and the bad I saw from Stanford, and analyze how it will carry over to future games moving forward.

I was very impressed with the play of Dorian Pickens. The junior guard showed some clutch gene with his game winning shot against Indiana State. He is certainly not afraid to step up in big moments for this team which could prove beneficial during conference play. Pickens averaged 18.3 points and five rebounds through the three games, and set the tone offensively for the Cardinal.

Off of a set in-bounds play against Miami, we see Pickens come off of a staggered screen on the weak side from Marcus Sheffield and Reid Travis. Pickens’s defender loses track of him, and Pickens knocks down a wide open 3-pointer.

Pickens also showed that he can effectively put the ball on the floor and finish strong at the rim. In this sequence against Seton Hall, Stanford is looking to reset the offense after an offensive rebound. Christian Sanders moves to the left wing to receive a ball screen from Grant Verhoeven. The ball is then swung from Verhoeven to Pickens where he catches, takes two hard dribbles, and finishes through contact with his left hand.

While Pickens was being effective from the perimeter, Reid Travis continued to make his presence felt down low. Going into this tournament Travis was averaging 19 points and almost 11 rebounds. In 2 out of the 3 tournament games Travis recorded a double-double. Here we see Travis doing what he does best, which is rebounding the basketball. After a hard drive by Pickens, which was probably was a foul, Travis grabs the offensive rebound. He gets the first put back attempt blocked, stays with it, shoots again, and gets fouled.

In the loss against Miami, Travis scored just 11 points with 10 rebounds, but credit the Miami defense for making it tough for him as he went 5-9 from the field with only two free-throw attempts. In Stanford’s first offensive possession of the game, we see them run a nice offensive set. On the final ball screen, Christian Sanders misses Michael Humphrey for an open shot, but ultimately it leads to Travis getting deep post up position. Watch how the Miami big men swarm in for a double team causing Travis to turn the ball over.

This leads me to my biggest concern of the tournament. Outside of not being a consistent perimeter shooting team, Stanford really seemed to struggle taking care of the basketball. The Cardinal averaged 17 turnovers in the three tournament games, and have had at least 15 turnovers over the past five games. As deep as the Pac-12 is this season, and upcoming non-conference games against two top 25 teams, Stanford can’t expect to compete consistently with that many turnovers.

Against Miami, Stanford committed 18 turnovers which led to 20 points. We jump to the end of the 2nd half where Stanford is only down two. Coach Haase calls a set play to get Reid Travis a touch in the low post. With Travis in good position, Pickens makes the post pass from a poor angle and it goes out of bounds. Pickens should have taken at least one more dribble, and passed the ball with his left hand to improve his angle.

After giving up a wide open shot which could have iced the game, Stanford still has a small chance to make the game interesting down the stretch down seven points. Robert Cartwright pushes the ball up the floor, receives a high ball screen from Travis, and tries to drive into the paint. Cartwright sees Travis rolling, but commits one of the cardinal sins of basketball…leaving your feet to make a pass. There are four white jerseys in the area and the ball gets stolen. Cartwright had options. He could have kicked it out to Pickens at the top of the key, or could have taken one more dribble towards the baseline and hit Michael Humphrey in the corner for a chance to make play. Nonetheless the turnover was part of a 17-4 run by Miami to end the game which started at the 8:06 mark in the 2nd half when the game was tied at 49.

Overall Stanford is a good team that is well coached. Through seven games, this team has established itself as a team that wants to be physical on the boards and defensively, and play inside out offensively. Stanford was projected as the 11th best team in the Pac-12 this preseason. The Pac-12 had seven teams invited to the dance last year, and more is expected this year.

It’s a long way until March, but if Stanford wants to have any chance of getting into the tournament it must clean up the turnovers, maintain the defensive energy, and get more consistent guard play from Robert Cartwright, Christian Sanders, and Marcus Allen who were a combined 8 for 32 from the field over the weekend. These three must take care of the ball, and make perimeter shots for Stanford to exceed conference expectations. As the season moves forward, Reid Travis will command more double teams which will leave plenty of open shots on the perimeter. Travis must trust his teammates, and not force the issue. We have seen Dorian Pickens step up and knock down shots. The others will have to follow suit.

Stanford will have its work cut out for them with upcoming games at home against #12 St. Mary’s and on the road against #4 Kansas. Stay tuned…

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