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Stanford Men’s Basketball: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A heartbreaking yet hopeful performance by the Cardinal

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, Stanford Men’s basketball lost a heartbreaker to the #6 team in the country and conference leader Oregon Ducks 75-73. Personally sitting on the floor, I was taking it all in from what a year with new Stanford basketball coach Jerod Haase would look like.

Stanford came into the game 14-13 and the majority of those wins were against teams they should beat and the majority of those losses were to tournament teams who should beat Stanford. Oregon is a national-championship caliber team and was coming off of a close win at Cal where they were dominated for the majority of the game. They needed to show up and really put a hurting on Stanford.

Stanford men’s basketball showed a tremendous amount of heart against Oregon:

The game was close for the first 10 minutes and with a little over 8 minutes to go in the first half, Oregon went up by 12 points. You could sense that Oregon was starting to show its dominance and the crowd was beginning to get silent as they could feel another big loss similar to the one Stanford received one month prior in Eugene. Stanford didn’t take a lead in that first half nor did they even tie Oregon at any point in those final 8 minutes but they showed something that has been lacking from this program for a while now and that’s heart.

Stanford men’s basketball as a whole was going through the process live. The basketball team was finally playing good basketball, the coaching was very good and the crowd was starting to get into it. Down 6 at halftime almost felt like a lead.

This felt like it was going to be the game Stanford finally put it all together:

Fast forward about 6 minutes into the second half and you could see Oregon was getting frustrated. The 6th ranked Ducks started to show negative emotions, fighting between each other, missing easy shots. Stanford knew they just had to hold on and this game could finally be the one where they put it all together. Remember, Stanford had a lead at half on St. Mary’s and was only down 3 to Arizona on the road but came up short in both games.

Then, the bad kicked in as Stanford had 2 free throws down one and missed both. You got that bad feeling again that has been a part of Stanford basketball for a few years now and the crowd lost a little steam. The game stayed close but Stanford couldn’t get that big stop and pop until Pickens hit a 3 with 7:53 left to play to tie the game 61-61 and Maples Pavilion felt like it did during the Montgomery era. As R.J. Abeytia said, “Haase is LIT” and so was the entire student section.

Stanford just needed to create one more clutch break to knock off Oregon:

The game would go back and forth and with 2:56 to go, Stanford’s best player who better not leave or should I beg him not to, Reid Travis put the Cardinal on top for the first time all game. While Oregon would quickly tie the score, the bad kicked in for the final time and is why this loss hurts more than the previous losses. Oregon kept possession for over a minute and even though they missed shot after shot, Stanford couldn’t get the big rebound and Oregon scored in the worst way possible which was a tipped score after two terrible shots.

Stanford’s season would be summed up as with 9 seconds left and a chance to tie or win, they didn’t even get a shot attempt. To be that close and not even get a chance to storm the court was brutal.

The good and the bad from Saturday’s game against Oregon:

Now, there were good signs and bad signs from this game that will have lasting impressions. First off, Christian Sanders struggled mightily with turnovers on Saturday. Sanders had seven turnovers for the game. To put this in perspective Oregon’s entire team only had 8. Stanford had 15 turnovers total to the Ducks’ 8. If any one of those 7 extra turnovers turn into points the outcome obviously changes dramatically.

Conversely Stanford won on the boards. The Cardinal had 37 total rebounds to Oregon’s 25. Stanford particularly dominated rebounds while on defense with 22 to the Ducks 15. Those defensive stops provided extra possessions for Stanford and it really helped keep them in the the game.

Here is why the future looks bright for Stanford men’s basketball:

While this loss hurts now, it gives the program hope that Haase may be the right guy for the job. If Oregon and Arizona are two of the best teams in the conference and the country, Stanford might be closer than it appears. Stanford is also a young team and if Reid Travis returns, this team could be a dark horse next year.

Now the season isn’t over and Stanford still has two regular season games and the conference tourney and will most likely be at home during postseason play but this game showed promise for the program. Stanford was in the Final Four less than 20 years ago and had one of the best home courts in AMERICA. It may seem like a long time but remember, if the football team can go from 1-11 in 2006 to 93-38 since then, the basketball team can absolutely be a tournament team again.