You learn something new every day. For me and other
followers of Johnny Dawkins, it was that ROOT Sports is carried on Comcast
Channel 413. For the Stanford Cardinal, it was that Gill Coliseum is going to be
one of the toughest places for any visiting team to play at this
And oh yeah, everyone found out just how tough-minded the Farm Boys
are in an instant-classic four-overtime thriller that went the way of the team
from the Bay.
Sixty minutes. 103-101. Un-freaking-believable. I
don’t even know where to begin.
How about this for starters - this was
the best road win of the Johnny Dawkins Era. Arizona State back in 2009 was a
good one, especially since the Sun Devils were ranked. Washington State last
year was solid.
But Arizona State was already a lock for the tournament
and Stanford was in control of both that game and the Cougar one for pretty much
the whole way through.
Oregon State NEEDED this one. From a standings
standpoint, the Beavers needed it more than the Cardinal. Gill Coliseum was
getting BUCK, and Craig Robinson’s side jumped out to a 15-point first half
Previous Dawkins teams wouldn’t have pulled this one out. Previous
Dawkins teams would have seen Roberto Nelson drain two threes without a shoe,
let the lead balloon to 20, make a pretty good comeback in the second half to
cut the lead to single digits, but eventually lose by 12 points or
There was a new script on Saturday night that allowed for extra
mental toughness, intestinal fortitude and true grit to be written in. You don’t
win a game like this without taking punches - or being tackled, as was the case
for Josh Huestis - and fighting through adversity.
Adversity, there was a
ton of. Stanford was looking alright through the first six minutes, trailing by
just a pair. But then came the Beavers Blitzkrieg - an 18-5 run that featured
shoeless Ro’ knocking down consecutive treys. Stanford would push back, only to
see Oregon State extend that lead again.
What might get lost in a
three-hour, eight-minute game that featured six periods of basketball is that
Stanford was down by at least three or four possessions for the majority of the
regulation. The game was so tight for the last 32 minutes that in the heat of
the moment, you almost forgot that Oregon State was in almost total control for
the first 28. This game was played at Oregon State’s pace. At 43-36 at the break
and 60-51 with 12 minutes to play, this one was headed towards the 80s in 40
minutes - just where the Beavs like it.
But then the Stanford D picked it
up, holding the Beavers to just 16 points in the final 12 minutes of regulation,
and 25 points over the 20 minutes’ worth of overtimes. Quick math without using
a calculator - Oregon State was on an 86-point regulation pace through the first
28 minutes; the Beavers were held to a roughly 52-point regulation pace for the
The key for me? Holding Jared Cunningham and Ahmad Starks in
check. Considering how Devoe Joseph did against the Card, I figured that if the
Dannaman Bay Area-to-Chicagoland connection was held to a combined 39 points or
fewer, Stanford would be in it. Mission accomplished as the two totaled 32
(there’s that number again - if it were reversed, Jim Carrey might go on a
More importantly, they were a combined 9-33 from the
field. Every time one of the two brought the ball up the court, I was expecting
him to pull up and rock the Cardinal perimeters to sleep.
almost never happened, as Aaron Bright and company were able to hound those two
off that quick shot. This was especially important in the last couple of
overtimes - before Aaron fouled out, he was as good as he has been all year on
the defensive end, playing for a long time with four fouls and not letting
Starks get that three off. There were some switches with Dwight on the perimeter
that I know some people on the forum weren’t happy with, but I’d rather have
Starks get lay-up than let him get his shot going. And with Aaron having four
fouls, that switch almost had to happen.
Speaking of the man Aaron was
switching with, Dwight came to play. Stanford doesn’t win that game if it wasn’t
for Dwight Powell playing like a grown-ass man. He didn’t get his offense going
until late, but his activity earlier on- getting tough rebounds and being more
involved in the offense - let him build his confidence. By the time he got his
first couple of buckets with the offensive put-backs, Dwight was in the zone. By
the time he caught the ball on the block with Burton on his back, that beautiful
baby hook that Dwight rarely shows off was undoubtedly going through the net.
For someone who needed to show up in the worst way possible, Dwight came
through. This can be a springboard-type performance for him that propels him to
greater heights throughout the regular season. That’s as big as ten points and
11 rebounds can get.
Without question, Chasson Randle was the MVP of the
game. His career-high 24 was, well, just what all Cardinal fans dreamed of
Chasson being at his peak. He missed some layups in regulation, but I didn’t
mind those at all as they were tough takes to the rack that only furthered my
belief that when Chasson runs the offense, good things happen.
Jarrett Mann fouling out in overtime was maybe the best thing that could have happened
for Stanford. Not because Jarrett Mann had a bad game - in fact, Jarrett was
VERY solid on Saturday night and hit two HUGE free throws late in the second
half, in addition to being a pest on defense and taking it to the hoop with a
purpose - but because that meant more touches for the Rock Island Rookie. And
when it came time for OT número cuatro, número cinco made sure a fifth extra
period wouldn’t be realized.
A three-pointer right off the bat. Then a
layup. When Oregon State had cut it back down to one with a minute to play,
Chasson went back into Greg Jennings mode and gave Stanford what would turn out
to be the game-winning field goal. And he’s just a freshman…
up to the sophomore class, Anthony Brown showed me something last night. He
didn’t have the best shooting night, but he played with an edge, a little bit of
nastiness. He had a mean mug going from start to finish, and it translated into
an aggressive Anthony that didn’t shy away from knocking down the biggest three
of his life to send the game into a fourth overtime. He had a questionable take
to the hoop in transition in that final OT that resulted in two missed free
throws - Stanford was probably better suited bleeding the clock there - but he
tried to make an Ali Farokhmanesh game-winning play instead of a game-conserving
play, and I will always salute going for the dagger.
A couple of other
plays I want to give my two pesos on, the first being the Josh Owens
non-buzzer-beater at the end of regulation. I agreed with the ruling 100
percent. It was a tough call to make, but it looked like the ball was still on
Josh’s fingertips as the red lights lit up behind the backboard. Heck of a play
Josh made there regardless, and he found a way to go for 16 and 11 despite not
getting the ball consistently (a result of good interior Oregon State defense).
It was the right call.
The flagrant foul not given to Roberto Nelson
wasn’t. I mean, dude straight tackled Josh Huestis. Roberto is a good kid who
got frustrated because he lost control of the ball on a potential game-winning
layup, but last I checked, a hard foul without making a play on the ball is
grounds for a flagrant foul. If a Goldberg-esque spear doesn’t fit that
definition, I don’t know what does. I mean, I know Stanford and a Halloween OSU
team played on the gridiron last Monday, but this wasn’t the Fiesta Bowl.
Gill Coliseum doesn’t look anything like the University of Phoenix Stadium, so
I’m not sure what gives. It’s almost as if the referees huddled together and
said “Hey, if we call this a flagrant like we originally signaled, then Oregon
State won’t have a chance to come back and tie or win. This game has been too
good - we don’t want that to happen!”
But again, that non-call should
have been expected because You Know Who was on the officiating crew. I know I
should get over my pointless and immature grudge, but I’m always aware of when
Brill is in the stripes for a Stanford game. He’s certainly not the worst Pac-12
official; refs in this conference as a whole tend to be intimidated by home
crowds in big moments, and Saturday night was the latest example.
end of the day, it didn’t matter, as the Card improved to 4-8 in Brill games
since the LA Screwjob; the fourth being their first win on the road in such
contests. More importantly, Stanford is 3-1 in the Pac-12 and just a half-game
behind the Buffs; a team that hasn’t played a road game in the conference and
will meet the Card in Maples next Saturday.
The split was achieved and
Stanford is still on schedule; it just took three halves instead of
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