November 17, 2006
Growing pains are to be expected
After two straight impressive victories to start off the 2006-07 season, Stanford struggled in game number three, a 79-45 loss to Air Force. That's ok, this is a young Cardinal team and there will be peaks and valleys all season long.
The Air Force game was the valley of all valleys, as Stanford just didn't come ready to play. But with a team that relies on youngsters such as Stanford, that's just going to be the case all season long.
What we need to find out is which Cardinal players are going to be the ones to step up and lead this team. There are several candidates, but we just don't have any guarantees right now.
Anthony Goods got off to a terrific start, scoring 30 points in Stanford's 92-72 victory over Siena. However, since that time, he's shot 6-24 from the field for 18 points in two games.
Highly touted freshman Robin Lopez also started off hot, scoring 14 points with 15 boards against Siena. But he had 12 points with only two boards against San Jose State before bouncing back with 10 points and eight rebounds in the Air Force game.
Lawrence Hill might be the most consistent player for Stanford at this point in the season, averaging 13.3 points and 4.3 boards a game. But "The Law" has put together respectable games of 14, 17 and 9 points.
What can't be questioned is the floor leadership of point guard Mitch Johnson, who has had a terrific start to the season. Johnson is averaging an incredible 7.3 assists to 1.7 turnovers, which is unbelievable considering his youth and the inexperience he has around him.
For much of the season, Stanford will likely be a team that fans don't know what to expect out of. What is important is that the team is given time to grow together, because the core group will be around Palo Alto for quite some time.
No one expected Stanford to compete for the Pac-10 title this season - that's what the next few years after this are for. But the Cardinal need to improve consistently throughout the season, which is what we can expect to see happen.
So far things haven't been terrific, but they haven't been so bad either.
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