Oregon State threatens to hand men’s basketball fourth consecutive loss

Feb. 11, 2016, 12:02 p.m.

When the Stanford men’s basketball team arrived back at Maples Pavilion on Monday for practice after losing three straight road games, they knew that there was work to be done.

Marcus Sheffield 14
In his second start of his career, Marcus Sheffield (left) recorded 7 points in the Cardinal’s final game of its season series against Cal, a 76-61 loss. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

“We got after it,” senior center Grant Verhoeven said. “We needed to get a lot better defensively and get back to the basics.”

Having lost four of their last five games and currently sitting at third-to-last in the conference, the Cardinal (11-10, 4-6 Pac-12) certainly feel a sense of urgency. They’ll have a chance to get back on track as the Oregon State Beavers (14-8, 5-6) come to town on Thursday night.

Stanford locked down one of its quality wins earlier this season in Corvallis against the Beavers, winning 78-72 on Jan. 6. It was a physically dominant performance for the Cardinal, as the team out-rebounded Oregon State by a 46-29 margin and led for roughly 88 percent of the game.

“We were very active as a team on the offensive boards,” head coach Johnny Dawkins said of the team’s performance. “That’s something that I thought we did as well as any other game we’ve played this year, creating second and third opportunities. That’s something we’ll have to focus on.”

But Stanford is aware that the Oregon State team it will be facing on Thursday is not the same one as before. And the biggest difference between the Beavers from a month ago and now? The team’s talented freshmen.

“Their young freshmen are playing like upperclassmen,” Dawkins said. “That gives them a big boost and gives them a lot of firepower on their team. It’s helped the overall program.”

While the team certainly runs through senior guard Gary Payton II, a trio of freshmen have provided the team with a big boost. Forwards Drew Eubanks and Tres Tinkle and guard Stephen Thompson Jr. have all significantly impacted the Beavers offense in different ways.

Eubanks has been a starter for almost the entire season, providing solid defense in the paint for a team that allows 68.6 points per game. Tinkle has earned a starting spot as well, starting each of the last six games and playing the role with aplomb, averaging 12.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Thompson Jr. is a bit more unique than his freshmen counterparts, coming off the bench as Oregon State’s de facto sixth man and shining in units with Payton resting.

So while Stanford edged out the Beavers earlier this year, there’s reason to believe that it won’t be as easy the second time around. The Cardinal will certainly need a better defensive performance than the ones they have been producing as of late, and much of that will depend on how bigs Verhoeven, Michael Humphrey and Josh Sharma can rebound and stay out of foul trouble.

On the offensive end, Dawkins expects that Stanford’s own star freshman, Marcus Sheffield, will continue to step up. Sheffield started in Stanford’s loss to Cal, and Dawkins said that he will start again.

“We’re pleased with our young freshmen, especially Marcus,” Dawkins said. “He’s really sustained a certain level that we want.”

Regardless of who it is that gets the job done for Stanford, one thing is clear: After three losses among a string of underwhelming performances, this two-game homestand is about as important as it gets. Playing at home provides a spark and intensity for the Cardinal, and they’ll have to channel that against Oregon State.

“We just like protecting our home court,” Verhoeven said. “We’ve already given up a few, and we can’t let that happen again.”

Tip-off against the Beavers is at 8 p.m. on Thursday night at Maples Pavilion.


Contact Sandip Srinivas at sandips ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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' stanford.edu.

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