FACTS & STATS: Site: Oracle Arena (19,050) -- Oakland, California. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: San Francisco 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Away Record: San Francisco 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Neutral Record: San Francisco 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Conference Record: San Francisco 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Series Record: Stanford leads, 44-21.
GAMES NOTES: The defending NIT Champion Stanford Cardinal get set for a regular season opener at Oracle Arena in Oakland against fellow Bay Are squad San Francisco.
A largely new looking squad will take the floor for San Francisco. The Dons were a solid 20-14 overall last year but lost six players eligible to return for the coming campaign. Now Rex Walter will be trying to replace 70 percent of his team's offensive output in hopes of keeping the Dons competitive. In his tenure Walter has improved on the win total of the previous season in each of his four seasons. The Dons earned a postseason berth, albeit not a coveted NCAA Tournament invite, to the College Basketball Invitational where they fell to Washington State in the first round.
Due to its surge in the NIT, Stanford ended up with the most total wins in the Pac-12 last season with 26 when all was said and done. The last time the Cardinal were on the court they steam-rolled Minnesota 75-51 in the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden. Now that Johnny Dawkins has gotten the team to its first 25-win season since 2008 his next task will be getting it back to the NCAA Tournament. With the same core of last season, led primarily by backcourt contributors Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle, that won't be too tall a task this season.
It has been a little while since these two Bay Area squads have faced each other on the hardwood with the last occurrence coming in 2005. In that matchup Stanford came away with a 71-56 victory. That was the fifth win in the last six contests in the series which Stanford has dominated, 44-21.
San Francisco had four different double figure scorers last season which helped the team scored at a 75.4 points-per-game clip. All four of those scorers are gone now, leaving Walter to rebuild. The best holdover from last season in terms of scoring is Cody Doolin. The junior guard (9.3 ppg, 3.8 apg) produced at a relatively high level while being one of three players to start in 34 games for the Dons. Cole Dickerson (7.1 ppg) is the only other player that was a consistent contributor, as the 6-7 forward played in all 34 games. His 4.0 rebounds per game are the top mark returning to the team. After that San Francisco has little in terms of known commodities. UCLA-transfer De'End Park will get plenty of opportunities to excel, as well juco-transfer Frank Rogers, a sophomore forward that will add size up front (6-9).
Elevated backcourt play should not be a problem for Stanford this season especially if Bright keeps at the level he was playing at in the NIT. Bright earned the tournament's Most Valuable Player award by scoring 16.8 points and dishing out 4.8 assists per game. Bright's regular season numbers were also strong (11.7 ppg, 3.7 apg) but much is expected in his junior year. Randle may have been overshadowed in the NIT but he certainly shouldn't be overlooked by opposing coaches. Randle (13.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg) was the team's leading scorer last season and was just a solid player in all phases. Randle and Bright are both extremely dangerous from beyond the arc, with each hitting on more than 43 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. Stanford will certainly be trying to get points from the three-point line after leading the Pac-12 in the category (.379) last season. John Huestis (5.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Dwight Powell (5.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg) will be the primary contributors up front.
Expectations are high for Stanford this season after its run in the NIT last season. San Francisco would have had somewhat similar levels of hype if not for the loss of so many contributors. San Francisco is filled with question marks, while Stanford has two answers in Bright and Randle.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stanford 74, San Francisco 62
11/09 10:35:00 ET
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