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WSU VS. STANFORD: A First Look At The Cardinal

Head Coach: Johnny Dawkins (3rd Year, 44-37)

Record: 10-5 (3-1)

Best Win: 58-56 over #6 Washington at home.

Worst Loss: 55-52 to #133 Murray State on a neutral court.

Offense: 104.1 adjusted  efficiency (111th), 49.2 eFG% (157th), 20.7 TO% (166th), 34.3 OR% (118th), 39.8 FTR (132nd)

Jeremy Green is one of those really good players that I often find myself forgetting about when I think about really good players.  He is the focal point of the offense for Stanford, taking 33.4% of the shots while he is on the floor.  Green is shooting 43% from beyond the arc, but is almost strictly a jump shooter.  He has posted just a 19.2 free throw rate, almost half the national average.

Josh Owens is Stanford's biggest threat inside the arc.  He is shooting 58.4% on the season (hasn't taken a three).  He is also Stanford's best offensive rebounder among major contributors.  Owens will not get defenders into foul trouble, as he doesn't go to the line much for a big man and doesn't draw many fouls.

Someone that does draw a lot of fouls for Stanford is point guard Jarrett Mann.  Mann doesn't use many possessions, doesn't stop him from getting to the line.  He is third in the nation in free throw rate.  Don't look for him to take many shots though, as he takes just 9.9% of them while he is on the floor.

Freshman Dwight Powell has made a nice impact on the offensive end for Johnny Dawkins.  He leads the team in offensive efficiency and has a 69.4 FTR. 

Overall, the Stanford offense isn't great at any one thing, except avoiding block shots and steals.  That tells me they don't take a lot of chances and their 298th ranking in possessions a game says they will make the Cougs play defense for the full 35 seconds.

Defense: 91.0 adjusted efficiency (40th), 47.1 eFG% (101st), 23.7 TO% (43rd), 29.6 OR% (69th), 32.5 FTR (81st)

Defense is Stanford's bread and butter and it is the reason they were able to stun Washington on Thursday.  They are solid in each of the four factors, but their best stat is turnover rate.  What is interesting is that they don't steal the ball much (7.7%, 288th in the country), so most of their turnovers must be coming from bad decisions and mental errors from the opponents.  Some of the turnover rate might be attributed to luck, and it may be headed for regression (especially against a stingy team like WSU), but if they are playing tough man-to-man defense they definitely could be playing a role in those mental errors.  The bad news (if they do regress) is that turnovers are a huge part of their defensive success, with a negative 81 correlation to defensive efficiency (as turnover rate goes up, opponent's offensive efficiency goes down).  They are essentially equally important to the Cardinal as the opponent's eFG%, which is pretty unusual.

To further drive home the point, Stanford's worst two defensive performances came against Butler and Oklahoma State, in which the turnover percentages were just 12.3 and 15.5 (also the lowest TO% of the season).

Stanford's biggest weakness on defense comes from three point shooting.  The Cardinal are allowing opponents to shoot 35.5% from three.  This problem is magnified by the fact that opponents shoot a lot of three pointers (36.2% of shots, well above the national average of 33.0).

Overview:  Stanford is a team that can definitely give the Cougs fits on offense, especially if the Cardinal are able to pass out of double teams the way Cal did.  The good news is that Stanford's bigs won't be a physical mismatch, so doubling may not be as vital.  WSU cannot leave Jeremy Green open and sagging off of Jarrett Mann to prevent dribble penetration is key to that and to protecting Casto and Lodwick from foul trouble.

When WSU has the ball, they need to protect it the same way they have all season.  Stanford is not going to take many chances, so if they don't beat themselves they can be efficient.  Today would be a good day for Faisal Aden to go back to his early season success from the outside, as there will be three points shots available.

The game will likely be close again, Kenpom basically has it as a toss-up.  Will WSU be able to break make the shots and get the stops down the stretch to break through for their first Pac-10 road win?