January 18, 2007
Stanford vs. Oregon: Keys to victory
Stanford has its biggest game of the season as the Cardinal travel to Oregon to take on a team that may be the front runner for the conference championship. In order to win the game, Stanford is going to have to do numerous things both offensively and defensively.Anthony Goods has been the most surprising player on the team this season and he will need another big performance if the Cardinal are going to come out with the win. Stanford may not need another 30-point effort from Goods, but a solid performance in which he does not turn the ball over would be just what the team is looking for.
As important as he is on offense, he may be even more important on defense. Aaron Brooks is currently the front runner for the Pac-10 Player of the Year award and if the Cardinal can contain him they will be in great shape. Goods may need some help defensively because of Brooks' speed, thus the team needs to be ready to help him.
The Lopez twins are going to need to really make their presence known in the paint. Brook and Robin will need to keep Brooks and company out of the lane. Oregon is a shooting team, but there should be no reason for easy baskets. It will be difficult to play a zone because the twins could get caught out of position numerous times if the team does so.
On offense, the twins should focus on getting Maarty Leunen in foul trouble. He is easily the Ducks' best post threat, thus the team will be missing a big piece if he is on the bench. If the twins can make sure that he is on the bench just as long as he is in the game, Oregon will be left as a team that truly has to rely on its jump shooting.
The Cardinal need to make sure they do not let Oregon get in a rhythm. As shown against Arizona, the team is fully capable of getting hot from three point range. If Stanford sees this happening, the team must make the necessary adjustments before it is too late.
For better or for worse, Trent Johnson is going to play a big roll in this game. He needs to recognize what Oregon is doing and show an ability to adapt to it. Stanford has the personnel to really keep Oregon in check, but the transition defense and switching off of screens needs to be crisp if the Cardinal is going to win.
Stanford would be best served by getting out to an early lead. As we have learned over the years, Oregon has a major home court advantage. If the Cardinal could somehow jump out to an early lead, it would be huge for the team morale and the possibilities of winning.
It sounds simple enough, but the Ducks will surely be ready to play. The fact is that Stanford has a legitimate shot of making a big impact on the conference race this season. The team is going to need any help it can get and that includes the possibility of a quieter crowd.
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