By Jose Saldana
It wasn’t always pretty, but Stanford men’s basketball (2-0) started its season with a 78-62 victory over Cal Poly (0-2) and a 89-80 win over Pacific (0-1) at home over the weekend.
The Cardinal looked dominant at times in both games, but sloppy and unmotivated play made the games closer in the second halves than they should have been.
“In the first half …we were competing,” Stanford head coach Jerod Haase said of his team performance against Pacific. “In the second half, we weren’t the hardest-playing team, and I think that was the root of the troubles that we had.”
Not the root of the troubles has been senior forward Reid Travis’ performances to open the season. Through two games, Travis is averaging 24.5 points per game and nine rebounds per game, including shooting 16-of-20 from the free throw line.
Travis has averaged 57.3 percent for his career on free throws.
The heralded recruiting class has already made its mark this season. Freshman guard Isaac White got the start alongside senior guard Robert Cartwright in the backcourt against Cal Poly.
White, who is known for his elite shooting, did not disappoint as he dropped 17 points on 5-5 from the three-point line. His 17 points are second only to Mark Pitchford’s ’77 28 points for the most points in a freshman debut. He received high praise from his teammates.
“I don’t necessarily consider [White] a freshman,” Travis praised of his teammate. “Just because of the approach he has on the game. This is what I expected out of him.”
However, his outside shooting against Pacific regressed as White only made 1-6 from three, but even with all that, he is still shooting a blazing 54.5 percent from three.
Another freshman made his debut against Cal Poly, forward Oscar Da Silva was the first substitution off the bench. He is already making his presence felt on the team by averaging 7.0 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game and 2.0 blocks per game.
The last freshman to make his debut was guard Daejon Davis. He, along with White, started against Pacific and was trusted to make defensive plays with the game in balance. His statline doesn’t stand out — four points and five assists — but Haase believes that Davis will adjust as he gets more minutes.
“[Davis] tried to over penetrate a couple times,” Haase said of Davis’ debut. “That game is under his belt now, and I think we’ll see progress moving forward.”
While Travis and White were the story of the first game for the Cardinal, senior center Michael Humphrey was the difference in the second match. After going scoreless against Cal Poly, Humphrey scored a game-high 26 points on six-of-12 shooting and an impressive 12-of-14 from the free throw line and grabbed 18 rebounds.
Cartwright was also a bright spot for the Cardinal as his vision was on full display in both games. He is averaging 4.5 assists and has shot three-of-seven from the three-point line. His shooting so far has been a threat when Travis or Humphrey have been doubled team in the post.
Even with some good play from the Cardinal players, some of the mistakes from last year reared its ugly head. Stanford couldn’t defend the three-point shot last season and gave up 10 threes — six in the second half — against Cal Poly.
Mustangs guard Donovan Fields made life difficult for the Cardinal guards as he scored 21 points with drives to the paints and kick outs for open three-pointers.
Pacific guard Miles Reynolds continued Stanford’s penetration woes as he scored 14 points in the second half to almost rally the Tigers from a 22-point halftime deficit.
The Cardinal will need to shore up their second half defensive miscues quickly as No. 9-ranked and reigning National Champion UNC comes to Stanford on Nov. 20.
Stanford, however, will first have to face Eastern Washington and Northeastern on Tuesday and Friday in Maples Pavilion, respectively.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.