Before Thursday night’s home match-up against Stanford, we reached out to our friend Grant Avalon over at Rule of Tree, SB Nation’s Stanford site, to learn more about the Beavers upcoming opponent. We thank Grant again for taking the time to answer our questions!
1. Regardless of preseason expectations, Stanford is 11-10 this season overall and 4-5 in the Pac-12. What has been missing from this Cardinal group all season that hasn’t gotten them over the edge?
This Stanford team lacks experience. The roster features 11 underclassmen, and only one upperclassmen sees consistent action. Reid Travis’ decision to transfer greatly magnified this. A lot of the younger guys are looking better and better, but not without significant growing pains.
In many of the post-game pressers this year, the Stanford guys have commented on their lack of focus. They’ve trailed at nearly every under-16 timeout, which has been chalked up to not following Coach Haase’s gameplan. Haase has tried everything he can, including switching up the lineup and bringing key guys off the bench. Maybe it’s youth, but regardless, this team has way too many underwhelming stretches.
2. Oregon State forward Tres Tinkle is making a solid case to be considered as a potential player of the year in the conference. How has Stanford done so far this season in controlling some of the more elite individual talents in the league?
Stanford has generally done well against elite individual talents, with the exception of post players like Nick Rakocevic, Ethan Happ, and Dedric Lawson. Still, I think Tres Tinkle will have a strong outing. Justice Sueing of Cal just went off against this team, and Cal got him the ball in a similar way to how the Beavers feed Tinkle. The same was true for (Lucas) Siewert of Colorado the week prior. Stanford has been allowing players to catch the ball and attack the teeth of their defense, which spells disaster against a crafty player like Tinkle.
3. Even for the casual basketball fan, KZ Okpala and Daejon Davis are known commodities on Stanford’s roster. Who are some key players on this Cardinal team who might factor into Stanford’s game-plan on Thursday night?
There hasn’t been a consistent third scorer for this team, which has been a big reason for their frequent offensive woes. Oscar da Silva is perhaps the biggest x-factor for the Cardinal, as they’re 6-2 when he goes for double figures. Josh Sharma was Conference Player of the Week earlier this year and is capable of changing the game, but he’s also capable of fouling out in 10 minutes. Cormac Ryan is back from a lengthy ankle injury, and averages 2.3 made threes per game. Bryce Wills has gone for 8+ in four straight games after starting the year playing abysmally on offense.
4. Finally, could you give your prediction for the game.
I expect the Beavers to come out on top. Stanford is 3-6 on the road this year, with their wins coming against WSU, Cal, and UNC-Wilmington. Of course, they did nearly win at Kansas and they’re capable of beating most anyone on the right day, but Oregon State is definitely playing better basketball. For Stanford to keep things interesting, they’ll need to play well out of the gate.