Demonstrating an impressive blend of athleticism, versatility, depth and shooting, the Stanford men’s basketball team proved Thursday evening in the annual Cardinal-White scrimmage why they are worthy of an NCAA tournament appearance this season.
The team played two 12-minute intrasquad scrimmages, with players switching rosters for each half. Juniors Elliot Bullock and Jack Ryan and all three sophomores on the team—Christian Sanders, Rosco Allen and Grant Verhoeven—were kept inactive for the scrimmage.
The biggest development of the evening was the return of junior guard/forward Anthony Brown, who missed most of last season due to a hip injury. Brown—a Pac-10 All-Freshman Team selection during the 2010-11 season—looked better than ever in his 21 minutes of action. With a total of 14 points and a perfect 6-of-6 shooting, Brown displayed a variety of skills—hitting two threes and a step-back jumper from the left baseline, making a lay-up while drawing contact and throwing down a vicious one-handed dunk on a fast break.
“It felt good, man,” said Brown about being back. “I’ve been waiting almost a year for this moment, just trying to come back to do whatever I can to help the team.”
Although Brown displayed his full offensive abilities during the scrimmage, he sees himself taking on a more defensive role during the season.
“A big part of my role [this year] would be defensive stopper,” he said. “Last year, at times, there were a lot of guards in the Pac-12 that had career nights against us.”
Brown will be crucial for the Cardinal this upcoming season, considering the Cardinal lacked a natural ‘3’ following his injury and, as he mentioned, struggled at times to defend some of the more talented guards in the conference.
Brown was not, however, the only member of Stanford’s backcourt to impress on Thursday. Junior Chasson Randle was one of just three Cardinal players whose team won both games last night—along with senior Stefan Nastic and freshman Marcus Allen—and it was Randle’s play that largely secured the outcome of the second scrimmage.
Paired with a unit of reserves that were defeated 30-7 in the first game by Randle’s White squad, the junior took over halfway through the second period, willing his Cardinal squad to a 24-23 victory. Randle finished the night as the lead scorer, with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Senior forward Josh Huestis also looked to be in midseason form for the Cardinal, completing the night with an efficient performance of nine points, seven rebounds and three loud blocks. Huestis, along with fellow senior forward Dwight Powell, will look to give Stanford an important edge on the interior this season.
All four of Stanford’s freshmen made their public debuts last night. Marcus Allen, twin of fellow guard Malcolm, was the most visible of the four, tallying six points, three rebounds and three steals in 21 minutes.
If Allen can learn to rein in his energy to avoid committing careless fouls 30 feet from the basket, he, along with Brown, could be a large contributor to improving Stanford’s perimeter defense this season.
Freshman center Schuyler Rimmer also showed considerable promise during the scrimmage—with four rebounds and two blocks—and will look to provide good depth for the Cardinal off the bench this season.
Malcolm Allen, twin of Marcus, collected two rebounds in 13 minutes, and walk-on Scott Woods was also active on the glass, registering four boards in seven minutes.
Coach Johnny Dawkins spoke to the fans after the scrimmage, and he continued to emphasize the need for selflessness and a collective mindset that he has mentioned during the offseason.
“A journey by yourself is pretty lonely,” said Dawkins. “These guys have been as committed as any group I’ve ever coached. This is going to be a terrific season.”
After five consecutive seasons without an NCAA tournament appearance, the Cardinal hopes to return to the table in the 2013-14 season. If they don’t, much bigger changes could occur than just Dawkins’ coaching philosophy.
Contact Daniel Lupin at delupin‘at’stanford.edu.