Colorado vs. Stanford
Stanford enters its trip to Boulder with a 7-1 record, including a loss at Siena. The Cardinal are coming off a disappointing end to their season last year, as they were blown out by Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after squeaking in as an 11-seed. Looking to be led by the Lopez twins, Stanford was dealt a blow when it found out if would be without NBA prospect Brook Lopez for the first semester of the season. Despite his absence, the Cardinal have played tough and persevered.
Brook’s brother, Robin, has been a force at times for the Cardinal, averaging 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds/game. However, Coach Johnson is still seeking consistency from his big man. Junior guard Anthony Goods has been steady for Stanford, leading the team in scoring thus far in the young season. As a team, the Cardinal play methodically and strive to play smart basketball. They are more athletic than some of the past Stanford teams, and are shooting just over fifty percent on the year. Turnovers have plagued them, a problem that will surely be worsened playing against some of the tough defensive teams in their conference.
For the Colorado Buffaloes, 2007-2008 is set to be an adjustment season. Jeff Bzdelik comes over from Air Force, taking over a program that has been seemingly on the cusp of big things for years. In the present, guard Richard Roby leads the Buffs at 14.6 points/game. With a smooth, versatile floor game, Roby provides Colorado with a go-to player and a clear leader. Senior guard Marcus Hall and sophomore guard Xavier Silas also average double-figures in scoring. A tough loss in the season opener to New Mexico set the Buffs back, as did their loss in the final of the America’s Youth Classic Tournament to host Wisconsin.
For Colorado to turn things around, it must rebound the basketball better and limit turnovers. A rebounding deficit in non-conference play will translate to major problems in the Big 12, especially with the solid post players in this league. As this squad continues to adjust to Coach Bzdelik’s new style, they will surely grow and become a contender in the Big 12; unfortunately, it will probably not be this season.
Big Picture: Stanford has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament this season. The Cardinal have built-in schedule strength by playing in the Pac-10, which is convenient since they only have one more major conference foe prior to entering Pac-10 play (Texas Tech in the finale of this event). It would be helpful for the Cardinal to win both of their games versus Big 12 opponents, as that would make a .500 or so record in the Pac-10 digestible for the NCAA selection committee. Furthermore, for Stanford to be adequately prepared for its tough road in conference play and perhaps in the NCAA Tournament, beating quality teams from major conferences is a must.
In the case of Colorado, the Buffs should look to the old adage of “taking it one game at a time.” Instead of looking ahead and worrying about the big picture, Colorado should look only to grow in each game it plays. Win a few games against good opponents and then we’ll discuss the post-season. This matchup should favor Stanford, especially on the glass. Lopez could have a field day in the post, and easy shots usually lead to easy victories. Look for the Cardinal to prevail on the road.