Stanford won its season opener over the Cal Poly Mustangs, 78-62. The Cardinal were short-handed, missing highly-touted freshmen Daejon Davis and Kezie Okpala, as well as Marcus Sheffield.
Getting the starts in place of the injured players were Robert Cartwright and Australian freshman, Isaac White. Both players took advantage of the opportunity on the offensive side of the court.
The redshirt Junior is one of the premier returning players in the PAC-12, and he was every bit as good as advertised. In a night that showcased his full skill set, Travis put up 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists. Early in the second half, the bruising forward stepped outside and smoothly knocked down the first three of his career.
Travis is a poster child for college athletes staying in school. Each year he has added extra elements to his game and is poised for a big (second) Junior campaign.
The true freshman from Australia has received less attention than Davis and Okpala, but he showed tonight that he is ready to contribute now. White played gutty basketball in his extended minutes, going 5-5 from the outside, the fifth coming off balance. At full strength, he won’t play quite as large a role, but his shooting threat will help space the floor for Travis and the other bigs.
Despite missing three key players, the Stanford depth was on display. The first player off the bench was freshman Oscar Da Silva, who put up 7 points, including a three pointer, and blocked a pair of Mustang shots. Kodye Pugh and Sharma also used their length effectively off the bench. In a starting role, Cartwright notched 10 points and 4 assists. He’ll likely be relegated to the bench, but he should play a big role this year.
It’s hard to complain about perimeter defense in a game where three perimeter players were out, but it’s the continuation of a trend. Last season Stanford had one of the worst three point defenses in the nation. Tonight they allowed Cal Poly to shoot 10-25 from distance. That needs to change before the real opponents come to town.
16-3 Mustang Run
In the second half the Stanford lead was trimmed from 22 to 9 in roughly three minutes. The Stanford offense stalled, including several of the 16 turnovers on the night, and many broken possessions that ended in poor shots. Meanwhile, the defense allowed open outside looks and three point plays. Haase let the players play through it for the most part, but they did not weather it well.
Dorian Pickens’ Shot
While Pickens found ways to contribute, his outside shooting was off all night. He finished 0-5 from three. However, it’s not a real cause for concern, as he’s a more than capable shooter. If anything, it’s encouraging that the rest of the squad cobbled together enough outside shooting without him, which was seldom true a year ago.
The Cardinal will be back in action on Sunday when they play host to Pacific.