Huestis and the Cardinal soared over the Trojans.
The Bootleg's newest contributor, David Lombardi, was down in Los Angeles to watch and broadcast Stanford's trip against the Bruins and Trojans. He checks in with a look Stanford's win at USC, including the future of the Trojans next season and what lies ahead for the Cardinal in 2011-12.
Take Stanford’s 59-47 win over USC Sunday night with
a grain of salt. Sill, the Cardinal’s first victory as a visiting team in the
City of Angels since 2005 was a badly needed step back in the right direction
for Johnny Dawkins’ squad, even if it was like feeding on a badly wounded
To begin, the 2012 installment of USC basketball is absolutely
atrocious. To clarify: unfathomably bad. An apocalyptic rash of injuries has
decimated the Trojans. Walk-ons who don’t hustle (thought that was an oxymoron
until watching this USC team) see significant playing time. The team is 1-12.
The offense looks like it’s stuck in a perpetual around-the-horn passing drill.
The posh Galen Center is empty. Coach Kevin O’Neill is red; athletic director
Pat Haden is also angry.
But mark my words: with an influx of talent,
including touted Wake Forest transfers J.T. Terrell and Ari Stewart, O’Neill’s
2013 squad will be one of the most improved teams in college basketball history.
Only one starter from the roster that Stanford faced Sunday will get significant
minutes for the Trojans next year.
For the sake of the game of
basketball, that’s a positive development.
For the second time this year,
USC’s basketball team failed to match the amount of points their football team
scored against Stanford in the Cardinal’s epic 56-48 win at the Coliseum in
The Trojans’ hoops squad can’t penetrate, they can’t rebound,
and they certainly can’t shoot the basketball. Heck, the only reason that
they’re “good” defensively is because the offense takes the air out of the ball
and sucks away more than 30 seconds of clock per possession, thereby severely
shortening the game.
But, a physical lashing is a physical lashing, and
Stanford was finally able to put the hammer down Sunday. Regardless of how poor
this Trojans team is, the Cardinal badly needed to bully an opponent.
After a 15-3 start in which only two foes had out-rebounded them, the
situation had soured in Palo Alto. Stanford had lost five of six, and they were
losing because they weren’t tough enough. Teams like Washington and Cal, in
particular, bruised Dawkins’ young squad on the glass, and the evidence was
found in the embarrassing rebounding total of those games (93-56, advantage: bad
With their physical confidence eroded, Stanford’s offensive
presence and swagger also vanished. No player was asserting himself offensively
against better, more physical competition. The Cardinal, who had shot 82-163
(50.3%) against weaker teams from Utah, Colorado, and Arizona State, saw their
field goal percentage plummet to 81-235 (34.5%) against the more talented likes
of Washington, Cal, Arizona, and UCLA.
So an opportunity to blow off
some steam and bludgeon reeling USC to the tune of 44-18 rebounding domination
was just the medicine that Stanford needed. The Trojans only mustered one
offensive board for the entire game. With the Cardinal’s physical dominance, a
rare phenomenon occurred: a Stanford player actually took over the basketball
game offensively. Enter Chasson Randle. The bulk of his 16-point, 4-5 downtown
shooting exhibition was on display in the second half.
Even if the 2012
edition of USC basketball is not a worthy opponent, Sunday’s victory can teach
important lessons and allow Stanford to regain lost early-season mojo. Fortune
favors the bold, much like physical dominance on the glass usually translates
into healthy aggressiveness on the offensive end of the floor. See if Stanford
can maintain that advantage against better Oregon competition coming to Maples
Pavilion this weekend.
About the Author: David Lombardi is a Stanford and Pac-12 Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on KZSU for several years and is currently contributing to the Cardinal Channel. You can check several of his Stanford calls out at www.davidmatthewlombardi.com, where you can also read his West Coast-oriented blog via this direct link.
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