Monday, February 4, 2013
By Matt Giles
We have written extensively about Stanford this season. At first, Johnny Dawkins' squad struggled mightily, and there were some who felt that Stanford's pick for the Pac-12 title might be a bit premature. However, in the past several weeks, the Cardinal has been one of the conference's hottest teams, absolutely crushing opponents on the offensive side of the ball.
During Stanford's last three games -- Oregon, Oregon State, and Utah -- the squad had used 213 possessions and is scoring 1.14 points per possession. What keyed the offensive turnaround? Josh Huestis has been crucial on the defensive glass, limiting opponents to just one possession and jump starting Stanford's transition game -- during this stretch, the team is using roughly 71 possessions per game, a significant uptick from the 67 or so possessions Stanford had previously used in conference play. However, perhaps the most telling statistic about Stanford's rise is their three-point shooting: 57 percent from deep in the trio of wins. Stanford is simply unconscious from the perimeter right now, and while they may cool off, their ability to stretch opposing defenses for threes has opened up lanes for Stanford's guards, specifically Chasson Randle.
The sophomore guard has also been hot from three, making 64 percent of his long-range tries, but more importantly, he has been extremely efficient when on the court. His true shooting percentage since January 27th -- the win over Utah -- is 71.3 percent. However, upcoming matchups against UCLA and Arizona could prove interesting, and crucial, in determining whether Stanford will be a contender in the Pac-12 tournament. Under Sean Miller, Arizona is known for their pack-line defense, and will try to force Stanford to take hurried and untimely threes rather than penetrate the paint.