On Thursday at 7, Chico State comes to Maples for Stanford’s lone exhibition game of the 2017-18 season. Although it is largely a tuneup game, and the ultimate outcome is mostly immaterial, there are a few key things to be watching.
Odds are we’ll see Dorian Pickens, Reid Travis, and Michael Humphrey take the floor to start the game. Other than them, though, it is unclear who we will see. Verhoeven, Allen, and Sanders combined for fifty three starts last year. Who will Haase trot out in their place?
Robert Cartwright has thirteen career starts under his belt, and is a likely starter at the point. Freshmen Daejon Davis and Isaac White are promising guards, but it will be hard for them to unseat the experienced and tenacious Cartwright this early in the season.
Marcus Sheffield has nine starts in two years, and packs an offensive punch (when he’s on). Kezie Okpala will also fight for minutes at the three, and seems like a natural fit on the perimeter with Pickens. There are other contenders, including Kodye Pugh, but most likely it will come down to the readiness of Okpala versus the improvement of Sheffield.
At what pace will they play?
Coach Haase, in a recent press conference, stressed that this year’s team will play with greater pace. That will be easy to accomplish, considering last season their tempo ranked 171st in the country. He hopes to open up the playbook and have a more free flowing offense this season. With so many returning players and a new crop of guys that fit his mold, the team is brimming with offensive upside. Will this be the year the Cardinal finally break out of their funk on that side of the court?
What types of lineups will Haase utilize?
This roster is one of the more versatile that we’ve seen on the farm in a long time. Incoming freshmen Kezie Okpala and Oscar Da Silva, as well as redshirt Kodye Pugh, give Coach Haase options he didn’t have in his first season. How will he utilize their length, particularly alongside versatile players like Sheffield, Sharma, etc? There could be lineups with extreme length, lots of shooters, quickness, size, etc. Expect to see many iterations on Thursday.
Will Reid have room to operate?
Reid Travis is one of the premier returning college basketball players. It’s logical to assume he’ll eat up Chico State’s interior defense. What will be more interesting, though, is whether the Stanford guards can knock down perimeter shots and keep the defense from collapsing so heavily on Reid. Isaac White has a pure stroke, and Okpala has the capability. Having someone other than Pickens be a consistent outside threat would go a long way.
Another year without a postseason tournament means the men had extra time to work on their games in the offseason. An opponent like Chico State will not provide a perfect barometer for this, but some things may still shine through. Will someone show up with a noticeably improved physique? Will there be a shooting form makeover like Reid’s from last offseason? Is someone’s ball handling a bit tighter?
The game will be streamed live online. Get excited - the new season is finally here!