The last home game of the season, which comes this Sunday against Utah, is a time to look back on the careers of Stanford’s two seniors. It is also a time to look forward.
Stanford (16-13, 7-9 Pac-12) is ninth in the conference, just above 10th-place Utah (11-15, 3-11). With two games remaining, 9-9 is the best the Cardinal can finish in conference play.
On Wednesday night, Stanford fell to Colorado in the penultimate home game of the season, 65-63. It was the seventh conference loss of the season by fewer than 10 points for head coach Johnny Dawkins’ team.
“I thought we played a good basketball team,” Dawkins said. “I thought we had a chance to win.”
That seems to sum up the 2012-13 campaign. Stanford had more than a fighting chance against almost every opponent, from the highly ranked on down. But the big wins just didn’t come, although a few bad losses did.
The Cardinal will be saying goodbye to redshirt senior Andy Brown, who worked his way into the starting lineup in the late part of this season, and senior Gabriel Harris, who has provided occasional sparks off of the bench throughout his career.
More notable are the players who are not leaving the Farm, barring any unforeseen forays into the NBA Draft.
The top four scorers will return next fall—likewise with rebounds and minutes. The top three assist men will be back too.
Plus, the smooth-shooting junior Anthony Brown will return from injury. He averaged eight points per game last year before being sidelined for all but four games of this season, one in which he was expected to provide a strong scoring presence.
This Sunday, the starting lineup will consist of the double-barreled frontcourt of juniors Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell. The teammates had a combined eight straight games with at least one double-double between them before Wednesday’s loss to Colorado.
The backcourt will showcase a pair of dynamic and confident scoring threats in sophomore Chasson Randle and junior Aaron Bright.
Junior John Gage, the Pac-12’s most accurate 3-point shooter and the Cardinal’s source of instant offense off the bench, will be coming back too.
Next year, Stanford will be a team with a heap of experience to go along with its talent. It will be a team with high expectations put upon it, and more importantly, with the pieces to live up to those expectations.
Of course, this year is not over just yet. There is still the Pac-12 Tournament to be played. There is still a trip to Berkeley with a chance to spoil the party for a red-hot California team.
And of course, there is still senior day. Stanford will try to recapture the form that led the Cardinal to an 87-56 win at Utah last month in a ferocious snowstorm. That form has escaped Stanford during its current 2-5 stretch.
Gage had 19 points in the first Utah game—a career high—Randle added 17 and Powell and Huestis each scored in double digits.
It was a victory that started a three-game winning streak—the Cardinal’s longest of the Pac-12 season—that resulted in Stanford owning a winning record in the conference for a brief period.
Harris had two points and a steal in nine minutes in that game. Andy Brown had seven points and two assists.
Brown, who has become a leader on the team while playing the role of a “glue” guy, is coming off of a signature performance against Colorado in which he scored 17 points on 7-11 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.
“I thought it was one of his best games in a Cardinal uniform,” Dawkins said.
Dawkins can only hope that Brown’s final encore at Maples Pavilion is even better.
Tip-off for Sunday’s game against Utah is at 2 p.m. at Maples Pavilion. The Senior Day ceremony will take place before the game.
Contact David Perez Bradford at davidp3 “at” stanford.edu.