Overall Rank: #17
Conference Rank: #4 Pac-10
2006-07: 18-13, 10-8, 6th
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Stanford had a few problems last year, most notably turnovers, but this was an extremely young team that managed to stick around a very tough Pac-10 conference and squeeze its way into the NCAA Tournament. Of course, once there the Cardinal were exposed as inexperienced turnover machines, but there are plenty of positives the team will look at instead.
And the biggest positive is the fact that Stanford only lost one player. Carlton Weatherby only averaged 5.9 minutes per game, so the loss is not a big one. If Weatherby could not find the floor with the troubles and lack of depth that Stanford had last year on the perimeter, he would have seen even less floor action this year.
Drew Shiller did not exactly take the West Coast Conference by storm his freshman season at San Francisco, averaging 4.4 points and 1.3 assists per game. However, the 6-0 sophomore is a decent ballhandler and will be a valuable contributor off the bench. Forward Josh Owens is the lone incoming freshman. He has some post scoring moves and is a decent rebounder and shot blocker, but he will have some time to develop his game before Stanford will need him to be a major contributor.
Who to Watch:
The Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, will lead the Cardinal back to the NCAA Tournament. By the numbers, Brook, the power forward version of the seven-footers, was the more productive of the duo last season, averaging 12.6 points and 6.0 rebounds. Robin started all 31 games and was a huge asset on the defensive end of the floor and developed into a decent offensive threat last season. Brook is ineligible for the first semester, but that means he will miss just nine games. (Ed: Lopez has now been suspended indefinitely, so me might be out for more than 9 games.) By the time Stanford needs him, Brook will be ready to roll and dominate the paint against just about anybody. Lost amongst the hype of the Lopez twins is the fact that Lawrence Hill was an All-Pac-10 player last year. As a sophomore the 6-8 forward led the team with 15.7 points per game and added 6.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. What makes Hill so dangerous, especially with a couple seven-footers by his side, is that he can consistently hit the three-point shot. Hill knocked down 41 percent of his attempts from long range and turned into the team’s most reliable shooter. Having a 6-8 guy that can do that will once again play a big part in how successful the team can be. Fred Washington started 31 games last year, but he may lose that job once Brook is eligible. The senior is a good rebounder and has his moments in the scoring column as well, finishing up last year averaging 8.2 points per game. Few teams in the nation will have such a capable and experienced player coming off the bench. At 6-5 Washington is a little undersized for a power forward, but when Coach Trent Johnson needs to go big off the bench he will call on 6-8, 200 pound senior Taj Finger.
The frontcourt will keep the team in every game, but the backcourt is going to have to pull their weight to win some of those…especially in March. Mitch Johnson, Anthony Goods and Landry Fields are expected to be stronger this year, but they will have to be much wiser too. Johnson lost his starting job 20 games into last season, but now that he is an upperclassmen, Coach Johnson hopes he can be a more effective floor leader. The turnovers were not all his fault, considering the team turned the ball over nearly 15 times a game, but it will be up to Johnson to keep the offense running smoothly and not put his teammates in difficult situations. Goods is a decent long range shooter, but he is more effective getting to the basket and doing his damage. He averaged 12.8 points per game and will continue to be an effective scorer, but getting some more stable ballhandling out of the shooting guard would go a long way to help the team’s turnover woes. Goods spent nearly 34 minutes per game on the floor and Stanford lacks an effective shooter off the bench to come in and spell the shooter of the backcourt. Shiller will help, but Fields and Kenny Brown could develop into bigger contributors off the bench with more consistent shooting. This is a team that should win at least a game in the tournament, but if Johnson and Goods and the rest of the backcourt cannot keep the turnovers down and effectively run the show, one win might be all the Stanford Cardinal get in March.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Mitch Johnson, Junior, Guard, 4.3 points per game
Anthony Goods, Junior, Guard, 12.8 points per game
Lawrence Hill, Junior, Forward, 15.7 points per game
Brook Lopez, Sophomore, Forward, 12.6 points per game
Robin Lopez, Sophomore, Center, 7.5 points per game