Even with all the pre-season hype surrounding Stanford basketball’s highly-touted freshman class, this is still Reid Travis’ team.
The senior forward reminded everyone just how good he was last year, kicking off his senior season with a 24-point performance as Stanford was able to fight off a scrappy Chico State team in its 91-81 exhibition victory at Maples Pavilion on Thursday.
The teams entered the half locked in a 35-35 tie, but Stanford came out of the locker room with a renewed energy. A more disciplined offensive attack and better shot selection helped the Cardinal pull away.
Travis was dominant for the Cardinal, demonstrating his range of shots in the paint as well as his midrange game. He controlled the interior and was a leader on the court with his physical play and fiery mentality.
Junior guard Marcus Sheffield added 15 points and looked comfortable driving to the rim and drawing fouls. He was eight for 10 from the free throw line.
But while the upperclassmen came to play Thursday night, the Cardinal freshmen also proved that they are as good as advertised. Freshman guard Isaac White led the way with 14 points, including a dagger of a three-pointer midway through the second half that seemed to quiet Chico State for good.
“He’s tremendous. He’s a big time shooter, and he’s really tough. Defensively he has a long way to go, understanding the concepts and getting to the proper spots, but [for] the way he works and the confidence he has in himself, he’s going to get there,” head coach Jerod Haase said. “For a freshman, first time in Maples like that in front of people, I thought he was very poised.”
Highly touted freshman guard Daejon Davis didn’t light up the stat sheet, but he looked calm and controlled at the point, a good sign for Haase and his staff.
Perhaps the most exciting play from a freshman came midway through the first half, when sophomore forward Kodye Pugh went up for a highlight-reel dunk attempt but was called for a charge after barreling over a Wildcat defender. Despite the foul call, Pugh’s dunk attempt was an impressive display of athleticism, and it electrified the Cardinal bench.
After an explosive start in which the Cardinal jumped out to a 10-0 lead, they seemed to lose their edge for a while, letting the Wildcats claw their way back and falling behind by a basket with a minute left in the first half. A combination of sloppy offense — the Cardinal had 10 turnovers in the first half — and weak perimeter defense kept the game close. Whatever was said in the locker room at halftime worked, though, as the Cardinal responded convincingly in the second half.
“We just weren’t taking care of the ball. I think guys had good intentions. We were trying to make the right plays, trying to get in the right spots,” Travis said. “In the future, I know we’ll be better at that, but tonight we just needed to relax.”
Stanford kicks off the regular season against Cal Poly next Friday in Maples Pavilion at 4 p.m. The game will be streamed live on Pac-12 networks.
Contact Gregory Block at gblock ‘at’ stanford.edu.