Men’s basketball notches pair of wins to open season

Nov. 17, 2014, 12:48 a.m.

It was an eventful weekend for the Stanford men’s basketball team, as the Cardinal celebrated the beginning of the 2014-2015 regular season with a pair of victories at Maples Pavilion.

On Friday night, the Cardinal recorded a decisive 74-59 win over the Wofford Terriers. It was a career night for fifth-year senior center Stefan Nastic, who scored a career-high 26 points. Fellow captain Anthony Brown and freshman Reid Travis, making his Stanford debut, added 16 and 14 points, respectively.

(LAUREN DYER/The Stanford Daily)
Junior forward Rosco Allen (above) had 17 points in the Cardinal’s Sunday victory over South Dakota. Teammate Chasson Randle called him the team’s “X factor.” (LAUREN DYER/The Stanford Daily)

The game against Wofford was the first for Stanford in the Northwestern Mutual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, a tournament that will take the Cardinal to New York later this month.

The Cardinal’s second victory came on Sunday afternoon against the South Dakota Coyotes. While the 84-73 contest proved to be slightly closer than the first, it was still a strong showing by the Cardinal. Head coach Johnny Dawkins conceded that South Dakota played a strong game.

“They made it a 40-minute game,” Dawkins said. “They were able to spread the floor with a lot of good shooters. I think we learned a lot about ourselves as a team facing this type of an opponent. I’m just happy we were able to win it, and we can get better from this experience.”

It was a peculiar game for the Cardinal in terms of scoring. Stanford shot an astounding 46 free throws in response to South Dakota’s 31 personal fouls. Dawkins expressed his satisfaction with his team’s 82.6-percent clip from the line, and especially among the team’s younger players.

“Some of our guys who haven’t had much experience in game situations are getting that experience now right in front of our eyes,” Dawkins said. “I have all the confidence in the world that they’re going to be very good free throw shooters. I think it’s evident by how they shot it tonight.”

If there’s one thing that can be taken away from the Cardinal’s performance in the first two games, it’s that anyone has the potential to be the game changer for this team. While it was Nastic who made the difference on Friday, it was Chasson Randle and Rosco Allen who helped fill that role on Sunday.

Randle led the team with 23 points while making all 12 of his free-throw attempts. The fifth-year senior played aggressively and with high energy the whole night. However, the unexpected performance came from Allen at forward, who Randle dubbed as the team’s “X factor.” Allen contributed 17 points, including 9 of the Cardinal’s first 13 of the game.

“He came out ready to go from the gate, and that’s something we need him to do going forward,” Randle said of Allen. “He’s a great player with a lot of great potential, and he can play like that night in night out if he wants to.”

Allen noted that he came into the game with an aggressive mindset that propelled him to set the tone right away.

“I wanted to be aggressive and go after guys, both offensively and defensively,” Allen said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me and I got a lot of easy opportunities early and that fueled me.”

The Cardinal headed into the locker room at the half with a 14-point lead. Although they never gave up that lead, they showed some signs of slowing down in the middle of the second half. South Dakota’s use of the full-court press seemed to interfere with Stanford’s offensive rhythm. Dawkins noted that this was an area for improvement going forward.

“We have to get better at attacking once we get the ball across half-court,” Dawkins said. “Whenever a team is pressing, I want to try and make them pay by getting aggressive in the half court. I thought at times we were satisfied with just getting it across half-court.”

While Stanford looked impressive in both games, there are some areas that need attention. Aside from the full-court press, the Cardinal appeared to break down on a few defensive sets as South Dakota began to spread the floor more in the second half.

However, for now, Stanford looks strong with two wins under its belt. The Cardinal will head to New York next week for two more games to end the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. With strong performances from its star players, an impressively balanced sharing of the ball and solid minutes from the bench, Stanford has many reasons to be optimistic as the full swing of the season approaches.

Contact Sandip Srinivas at sandips ‘at’

Sandip Srinivas '18 is the Football Editor, a sports desk editor and a beat writer for men's basketball and football at The Stanford Daily. Sandip is a sophomore from Belmont, California that roots for the San Francisco Giants during even years and roots for Steph Curry year-round. He is majoring in Symbolic Systems and can be contacted via email at sandips 'at'

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