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11 Days ‘Till OSU Basketball: Stanford Cardinal Preview

A rebuilding year for the trees.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 Cal at Stanford Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Stanford Cardinal

  • Head Coach: Jerod Haase (4th Season) | Overall: 48-49
  • Last Season: 15-16 (8-10) | Post-Season: None
  • Pac-12 Preseason Poll: 10th (84 Points)

Projected Starters

  • Tyrell Terry (Guard - Freshman)
  • Daejon Davis (Guard - Junior)
  • Bryce Wills (Wing - Sophomore)
  • Oscar Da Silva (Forward - Junior)
  • Lukas Kisunas (Forward - Sophomore)

The Skinny

The Stanford basketball program has gone through major changes year in and year out of head coach Jerod Haase’s three year tenancy.

With solid recruiting classes coming in every year, you’d think that Haase was building a conference contender at this point. But the problem is those solid recruits aren’t sticking around long enough to give the Cardinal consistent depth — and that didn’t change going into this season.

The Cardinal come into 2019 with three talented freshman poised for playing time in point guard, Tyrell Terry, and two forwards, Spencer Jones and James Keefe. Adding those three players to last year’s decently solid rotation would make the Cardinal a serious threat in the conference this season — the problem is, some of the most important parts of that rotation are not returning to Stanford this season.

These key losses include forward, Josh Sharma, who used up all of his college eligibility. Sharma was a pretty big contributor in all four of his years at Stanford. Promising guard Cormac Ryan decided to transfer despite the possibility of entering the starting lineup this season or at least becoming the first man off the bench. But the biggest loss for Stanford comes from the surprising decision of standout Sophomore wing, KZ Okpala, to forgo his last two years of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft. I was impressed to Okpala’s athleticism last season but felt he could have benefited from at least another season in college ball to help polish up his offensive game. Okpala was the 32nd overall pick in last years NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns, but was soon traded to the Miami Heat who have now signed him.

Sophomore Bryce Wills will need to grow into a larger role in year two.
Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Going into this season, I think the starting five is going to be just fine for the Cardinal. Daejon Davis is poised for a big leap with the departure of Okpala making him the main guy on offense. It also can only help to bring back a prototypical “do-it-all” guy in Oscar Da Silva — someone who is very much like Oregon State’s own Tres Tinkle, a leader who the young guys can model their own efforts after.

Tyrell Terry, the one freshman I think will be entered into the starting lineup at the beginning of the season, will have to play the toughest position in the game, point guard. Terry was rated as one of the best point guards coming out of high school, and will have to lean quickly how to play the position at the college ranks. I think he will be able to score the basketball right from the get go, but focusing on cutting down turnovers and getting back on defense will be key obstacles that many freshman have trouble getting over in their first season.

It’s the bench that I feel will be the downfall of Stanford this season. There isn’t really a standout player there that I feel can come in and impact the game as much as any of the starters. That will become a problem if Stanford faces any injury issues or if a starter gets into foul trouble.

The highest leading scorer last season coming off the bench this year for the Cardinal is wing, Jaiden Delaire. Delaire averaged 12.7 minutes per game last year to go along with 3.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.4 assists. His 6-9 frame makes him an asset, but he must become more efficient shooting the basketball if he wants to become a key contributor — he finished shooting just 34% from the field last season.

This definitely feels more like a rebuilding year for the Cardinal. A very young team, who if everyone comes back next season, can be a more dangerous threat.

The non-conference schedule isn’t too bad for the Cardinal, they only play four games away from home before conference play starts. The premier game of the season for Stanford however, comes in their final non-conference game at home against Kansas. The Jay hawks come into this season as one of the best teams in the country and are a near consensus pick to be a number one seed in many early bracketology sources. If Stanford could win that game, it would surely be one of the upsets of the season in college basketball.

I see the Cardinal winning around 4-8 conference games, with most of those being at home. Stanford has to play three of the four top teams in the Pac-12 media day preseason rankings twice this season which doesn’t fare well for their conference record. This might ultimately lead to them finishing around 10th in the conference, where coaches put them in the preseason poll.

Four Non-Conference Games to Watch

  • 11/25 v. Oklahoma* (Hall of Fame Classic)
  • 11/26 v. Butler/Missouri* (Hall of Fame Classic)
  • 12/21 v. San Diego State* (Al Attles Classic)
  • 12/29 v. Kansas