M. Basketball: Long road trip on tap

Jan. 19, 2012, 1:48 a.m.

This weekend, the Stanford men’s basketball team will travel north to begin its longest road stretch of the season, a two-week trip away from Maples that opens this weekend in Washington and concludes at California on Jan. 29. The Cardinal (13-3, 5-1 Pac-12) looks to overcome its road woes and continue its hot start against a struggling Washington State team (9-8, 1-4) tonight.


“It’s always a tough trip,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins on the upcoming weekend in Washington, “but we view every trip in the Pac-12 as tough. They’re all good teams, they all have terrific coaches. We want to make it difficult on their home floors.”

Freshman guard Chasson Randle (above) has been instrumental in the Cardinal's 15-3 start this season, and leads Stanford on its longest road trip of the season this weekend. (IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily)


Last season, the Cardinal split the series with the Cougars, with each team winning on the road. However, this year’s matchup will look quite different, as both squads’ leading scorers — Stanford’s Jeremy Green and Washington State’s Klay Thompson — left school early to pursue professional careers.


However, one familiar foe will be senior guard Faisal Aden, who put up 20 points in last season’s loss to the Cougars at Maples Pavilion. This season, Aden is averaging 13.1 points per game, second best on his team, and leads the Cougars in steals with 20.


In Thompson’s absence, junior forward Brock Motum has emerged as a threat for the Cougars on both ends of the floor, leading the team in scoring with 15.4 points per game and rebounding with 6.1 per game. In the Cougars’ lone conference win over Oregon State on Dec. 31st, Motum contributed 26 of the team’s 81 points and grabbed eight rebounds.


Freshman guard DaVonte Lacy, the third-leading scorer with 9.8 points per game, will be yet another offensive weapon for Washington State, particularly as the Cougars’ strongest three-point shooter.


The Cardinal, which has traditionally struggled away from its home court, notched an important four-overtime victory at Oregon State in its most recent road game — an experience that Dawkins thinks has made his young team better.


“You can’t practice what we went through that night,” Dawkins said. “To have four overtimes, I mean basically what you had is five end-game situations — you had your regulation end-game and your four overtime end-games. And to put a young man in that kind of environment — first of all, on the road — and then having the opportunity to play through those situations period after period, it can only help you grow.”


For the Cardinal, redshirt senior Josh Owens continues to be a strong low-post presence, leading the team in both points and rebounds, while sophomore forward Josh Huestis has stepped into a bigger role, particularly on the glass, in recent weeks.


Stanford will also look for more dynamic play from its young backcourt of Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright. The two guards lead the team in minutes and closely match each other as the squad’s second and third-leading scorers (Bright with 12.3 points per game, Randle with 12.2).


“I think they do a very good job of complementing each other,” Dawkins said. “Both of these kids are capable scorers, and they’re both capable of handling the basketball as the lead guard. I think it gives us a great balance out there.


“They realize the value of one of them going at any given time to help the team,” he added. “So I’ve been pleased with their development, I’ve been pleased with their chemistry.”


Tip-off against the Cougars is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash.

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