Powell and the Cardinal come up just short.
Kevin Danna brings his insights and observations from Stanford's gut-wrenching Preseason NIT loss to Syracuse, 69-63, on Friday afternoon in New York City. Check out what Kevin thinks about their efforts on the floor and how the future looks bright for the young, but maturing, team.
We had it. The NIT Season Tip-Off Championship was
ours for the taking.
Before the tip, you just hoped the Card would be
able to hang around and play respectably. As the first few minutes wore on, you
prayed Stanford would be able to bounce back from an early 6-2 deficit. Then an
8-0 run for the Farm Boys gave one some circumstantial evidence that the Farm
Boys wouldn’t go down easy.
As the first half came to a close, it became
concrete. It was sloppy. It was ugly. A baker's dozen in turnovers and 39
percent shooting from the field. Heck, the Card had more turnovers than made
field goals in the first frame. But somehow, someway, Stanford had one-upped the
fifth-ranked team in the country for the first 20 minutes. 25-24,
As the second half played itself out, hope turned into belief.
Stanford extended their lead to eight. The Farm Boys were playing with
confidence. Big stones John Gage was unconscious from downtown. Chasson Randle
made a nice baseline move for the short-corner finish. He followed that up with
two freebies, and Stanford was up six with less than five minutes to
Then Syracuse decided they wanted to win.
A press like the
Cardinal hadn’t seen since they played the Cardinals in the 2007 NCAA
Tournament, and much like that game five Marches ago, Stanford couldn’t break
Syracuse started to warm up a little more on offense. Although Wells
Fargo had closed a couple of hours earlier, the bank was open for Kris Joseph to
give the Orange the lead, one they wouldn’t give up.
The Card had one
more strike in them - a bank shot right back at the Orange from long range for
Chasson, but that was their final tally. Stanford had a chance to take the lead
back, but two more turnovers sealed the deal.
It felt all too much like
the Kentucky game of two Novembers past. Dawkins had out-coached another
high-profile head honcho, and his boys had outplayed a team with superior talent
for the vast majority of the contest. But in the end, the fifth-ranked team won
out. A program-defining victory just slipped through the fingers.
it’s not fair to compare the two games. This is a whole new squad on The Farm
with a lot more horses. Andrew Zimmermann and Jarrett Mann are the only two that
played in both games.
It’s hurts all the same, but in different
ways. In 2009-10, the Big Dance was pretty much out of the question already by
the time the Kentucky game rolled around thanks to some bad-RPI losses to the
gamblin’ Toreros and Oral Roberts. This year, Stanford has a real shot at the
tournament, and a marquee victory over the Orange in their home away from home
would have earned the Card a Top-25 ranking and put Stanford not just in
at-large consideration, but a potential early-season lock, provided they handle
business in conference play. A victory over the Orange would have been more than
just an upset and quirky win; Andy Katz, Dick Vitale, and Joe Lunardi would be
GUSHING over Stanford and calling them the new pick to win the
The pundits won’t come calling now, but it’s certainly not the
end of the world. Quite the opposite.
Twenty-four turnovers were a sight
for sore eyes, but they won’t play against a defense like that again this year.
They won’t play against a team like Syracuse again, period, until March.
Considering how the rest of the Pac-12 has looked so far, there is no
reason why Stanford shouldn’t finish higher than their pre-season ranking.
Nobody else in the conference has done better than Stanford so far, taking into
account the opponents all 12 teams have faced. Oregon State is a close second
with their win over Texas and hard-fought loss to Vanderbilt and maybe Oregon is
third for hanging tough with the Commodores and winning at
Outside of that though? Cal got absolutely embarrassed by
Missouri in pretty much the same situation Stanford faced in the Garden- playing
a team in a neutral site in their backyard. Arizona has lost to a couple of
teams they would probably beat later in the season. UCLA has gone all 2009-10 on
us. And don’t get me started on the rest of the conference…
September, I said 11-1 was doable and should be the goal in the non-conference
with this exact start in mind. Halfway through the pre-post-Christmas slate, the
Farm Boys are on schedule. Stanford lost out on an opportunity last Friday, but
they showed a lot of heart and promise and earned some respect in the process.
An at-large bid is still very much a possibility.
I like this team. A
The key now is to take care of business. Stanford will be the
favorites in the rest of their non-conference games without question.
Two three-game sets remain, each cluster with two “cupcakes” and one
“big name.” It starts on Monday with Pacific, a 2-2 squad that has yet to beat a
Monday might have “letdown game” written all over
it, but Stanford needs to SLAUGHTER the Tigers. It shouldn’t be close to close.
Our guys need to have a “you don’t belong on the same court as us, and here’s
why” mentality. Go out there and never let the Tigers get a sniff of success.
Take that frustration of the ‘Cuse loss out on another orange-clad
Time to dominate.
Are you fully subscribed to The
Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top
Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today
for the biggest and best in Stanford
sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!