With an important Arizona road trip looming for Stanford men’s basketball this week, Stanford head coach Jerod Haase addressed the media on Tuesday to discuss the status of the team and the game against Arizona on Thursday.
Stanford is currently the third seed in the Pac-12 with a conference record of 10-6. The top four teams earn a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament
The Cardinal are coming off a sweep of the Washington schools, but Stanford struggled to put away Washington State, which had a chance to win with a three-point shot at the buzzer.
“We are definitely looking forward as opposed to [backward] as of now,” Coach Haase reflected on the matchup with the Cougars. “The Washington State game, there [were] certainly lots of teachable moments, but at this point in the season, it’s full speed to the desert to see what we can do down there.”
Stanford had a couple of its best performances when the Arizona schools came to the Farm earlier in the season. The Cardinal defeated Arizona State and they were a minute away from defeating Arizona. However, the team has played much better at home than on the road.
“Playing on the road is always a challenge, but I look back to when I was I a player and I really enjoyed playing in great environments,” Coach Haase said. “One of my goals as a coach is to make sure our guys feed off that.”
The topic shifted to the state of Arizona’s team, which is currently without its second leading scorer in junior Allonzo Trier and its head coach Sean Miller.
“[Trier] is one of the best players in the country,” Coach Haase said of Arizona missing Trier. “His shooting ability impacts the game in a lot of different ways. When he is not out there it changes the scope of the game.”
Trier was ruled ineligible last week by the NCAA for failing a PED test. This was the second time he has been caught with PEDs in his system. Trier is tied for second in the Pac-12 in scoring (19.6 points per game) and is third in three-point shooting (43 percent).
However, another scandal rocked Arizona last week, when a report by ESPN alleged that Coach Miller was caught on a wiretap discussing a payment to freshman Deandre Ayton with ASM’s Christian Dawkins. Arizona withheld Coach Miller from the game against Oregon, but his status is still in the air for Thursday’s clash.
Coach Haase was asked how much a team misses its head coach.
“I don’t know,” he chuckled. “I’m hoping my team doesn’t have to find that out, but there are challenges for every program and those questions will be answered this week.”
Ayton, the conference’s leading scorer (19.9) and rebounder (11.2) and likely Pac-12 Player of the Year, had one of his worst performances against the Cardinal, scoring nine points on 4-10 shooting. Senior forward Reid Travis made him work on defense (14 first half points), but senior forward Michael Humphrey really hunkered down defensively on Ayton.
“[Humphrey] played fearless,” Coach Haase said. “He was working hard to front the low post and competed on every possession.”
Coach Haase then talked about the scandals plaguing schools such as Arizona and Louisville and the possible solutions to fix the problems with players receiving impermissible benefits.
“I don’t know what the best solution is,” he confessed. “But I will say this, I think it’s a mistake to minimize the value of a degree. I do think that we need to make sure we understand there is some value [in being in college], and if you ask our guys, they are gaining valuable things while they are here at Stanford.”
The Cardinal head to Tucson on Thursday to play No. 19 Arizona at 7 p.m. Then, they make the trip to Tempe to battle Arizona State on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. The games will be broadcast by FS1 and the Pac-12 Networks, respectively.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.