M. Basketball: Defense key for Card’s roadtrip

Feb. 10, 2011, 1:45 a.m.

After collecting two wins and two losses during four consecutive games on the Farm, Stanford men’s basketball heads north to face the Washington teams as the second half of the Pac-10 season continues.

Tonight the Cardinal (12-10, 5-6 Pac-10) will take another shot at Washington State (16-7, 6-5), hoping to avenge last month’s 61-58 loss to the Cougars. The upset sent Stanford back to earth after a clutch win over Washington and marked the first loss of a four-game losing streak, so the Cardinal intends to alter its approach this time around to enter the concluding portion of the season on strong footing.

“We’re seeing teams the second time around now,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins. “We have to make our adjustments and get back to the basics.”

Defense, for example, is a fundamental that the Cardinal displayed strongly in the beginning of the season and hopes to revive in time for tonight’s game. Surprisingly, Stanford dominated on the offensive end and faltered defensively in last weekend’s win over Arizona State. Dawkins recognized the need for his squad to step it up and focus on the defensive energy his team previously demonstrated.

M. Basketball: Defense key for Card’s roadtrip
Freshman Anthony Brown and the Stanford men’s basketball team will look for more consistency, particularly on defense, when they take the road to take on Washington State tonight. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

“We have to keep guys in front of us and try to contest all the shots,” he said. “We didn’t do a great job of that this weekend, so we have to get back to playing sound defense and take pride in getting stops.”

The second half of this matchup will be particularly important, according to Dawkins. He noticed that the team tends to become stagnant toward the end of a given game.

“You can’t just settle, and I think we did a good job during the first half of mixing up what we were doing offensively,” Dawkins said of the last time Stanford faced Washington State. “In the second half, the ball didn’t go inside as much. We have to be disciplined enough to know when to take the shot and when to drive it.”

This is especially necessary against the Cougars, as 11 of the last 13 games between the two teams have been decided by 10 points or less. In fact, the last time the Card beat the Cougars in Pullman was a 67-65 overtime thriller in 2008.

But Washington State has been on a decline recently, especially in comparison with its solid 10-1 start. The team claimed early victories over Gonzaga and Baylor, but is just 6-6 since then, coming off a road split with the Oregon schools.

Offensive aggression should be Washington State’s biggest weapon against the Cardinal, with players like Klay Thompson (21.2 points per game), Faisal Aden (13.6 ppg) and DeAngelo Casto (10.6 ppg) putting up big numbers this season.

Still, Dawkins expects junior guards Jeremy Green and Jarrett Mann to match the Cougars’ top talents.

“They’re our leaders in the backcourt,” Dawkins said of Green and Mann. “We go as they go.”

Dawkins was especially impressed with the duo’s showing against ASU last weekend, and expects them to generate a similar offensive output—Green and Mann, along with forward Josh Owens, combined for 53 of Stanford’s 83 points.

“When those guys are playing that well, I think we are difficult to beat,” Dawkins said. “We need to learn from the last game and bottle that up, because they can potentially play that well in a number of games from here on out.”

Though road matchups have been tough for the Cardinal this season, the team hopes its recent momentum will be enough to compensate for Washington State’s home-court advantage.

“We have the ability to bounce back, and we understand the importance of going to the next play with the mindset that we have to get a win,” Dawkins said about facing Washington State the second time around. “The coaching staff is doing a great job of preparation. We already have a good idea of who they are and what we need to do to compete against them.”

Tipoff between Stanford and Washington State is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Pullman, Wash.

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