No words needed to be expressed following Stanford’s recent loss to Long Beach State; the players’ faces told it all. They sat in their locker room in silence just staring at their lockers. No one moved a muscle. No one grinned. They were upset and angry, but above all, they were shocked.
The men’s basketball season is not supposed to be unfolding like this. After returning four starters, the team had high expectations. However, the team is currently 4-6, which includes losses versus Eastern Washington, Portland State, and now Long Beach State, but still, it’s not time to start panicking.
Against the Long Beach State 49ers, the Cardinal used only seven players. Point guard Robert Cartwright played the entire game, and both Reid Travis and Isaac White almost never left the floor. By the end of the game, Stanford was fatigued as they watched the 49ers slip away with a 76-68 victory.
Injuries continue to devastate Stanford, especially at the guard position. They’re missing Kezie Okpala and Kodye Pugh, two talented freshman, but they are mostly hurting without Marcus Sheffield and Dorian Pickens. Sheffield, a projected starter, has been dealing with a foot injury all season and has still not suited up, and Pickens, a senior team captain and another starter, has missed most of the season. Both guards were top contributors last season, and the team clearly misses their presence as their replacement, sophomore walk-on Blake Pagon, continues to be a non-factor in games. Fortunately, both Sheffield and Pickens are nearing their return.
“Right now it’s game to game,” Pickens said. “Once the pain goes away, I’ll start looking at different progressions. Progress has been a little quicker than expected.”
Pickens also mentioned that Sheffield is in a similar position health wise.
The team, though, doesn’t want to blame their woes on injured players.
Point guard Robert Cartwright mentioned, “The one thing we are not going to do is make excuses. Hopefully, we’ll be a better team when everybody is healthy, but right now, we need to focus on anyone who is healthy, and today, we didn’t do a good enough job as a team.”
Specifically, Stanford had 17 turnovers, and the 49ers capitalized with 17 points off the Stanford miscues. However, there were a few bright spots.
Coach Haase preaches hustle and determination to his players, and his team showed it last Sunday. They outrebounded the 49ers 37 to 24, giving them plenty of second chance points.
Specifically, when Reid Travis missed his shot, freshman Oscar da Silva came out of nowhere for the putback. In another instance, Michael Humphrey was blocked at the rim, grabbed his rebound, missed again, and fought for the ball before finally scoring on his third try.
Another bright spot was Isaac White, who shot 50 percent from behind the arch and finished with 17 points, and he gives Reid Travis a three point threat to pass out to when he gets doubled in the post.
In the second half, Stanford depended more on Reid Travis, and the plan worked. Travis bullied defenders and muscled his way to 18 of his 26 points. Frankly, Travis seemed unstoppable, and Long Beach State was forced to double team him.
This team is angry. They are motivated, and with Travis leading the way, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic ahead of conference play. For now, the team is injured, and both the team and fans just need to be patient for key players to return.