The 2011-2012 season was a successful one for the Stanford Cardinal. At the end of the Pac-12 Tournament, the Cardinal had a winning overall record of 21-11 and a winning conference record of 10-8. They won their first conference tournament game against Arizona State, but lost their next one against California. Even though they finished 7th in the Pac-12 and did not win the conference tournament, they have a lot of momentum to build on from last season.
That is because of what Stanford did after the Pac-12 Conference Tournament. After the conference tournament, the Cardinal did not earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament, but did earn a spot in the NIT. They went on a hot streak from that point and won the 2012 NIT crown. They beat team like Cleveland State, Illinois State, Nevada, UMass, and Minnesota.
Even with a postseason tournament championship, the Cardinal were voted 6th in the preseason polls for the Pac-12. This is the absolute middle of the conference, but there is a silver lining. Every team on the conference preseason poll that is higher than 6th has 255 points. That is a good indication that Stanford could even compete to be a top five team in the conference.
Two players that will be key players this season are Chasson Randle and Josh Huestis.
Last season, Randle led the team in points per game (13.8) and that was as a freshman. Randle is a 6-foot-1 guard from Rock Island, Illinois. He even picked up his game in the NIT Tournament by averaging 14.0 points while shooting 47.9 percent overall and 47.8 percent from three-point land. According to gostanford.com, Randle “produced one of the best rookie seasons in school history.”
On the other hand, Huestis was second on the team in rebounds per game (4.8) and led the team in blocks per game (1.2) last season. As a sophomore last year, he was a Pac-12 Defensive Team Honorable Mention and a Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention honoree. He played in 37 games, but only started five games. During the team’s NIT run, he averaged 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds with team-best seven blocks.
There is no reason why this season should not be as good or even better than last year for Stanford. Their non-conference schedule is not too bad, but does have two big ranked opponents (#17 Missouri and #6 North Carolina State). However, it is the conference portion of the schedule that gains the most interest.
As stated earlier, the Cardinal were voted 6th place on the Pac-12 preseason poll. Upon looking at the preseason poll, there is no reason why they cannot achieve that or even do better. Stanford is good team with players who are growing and developing. There is a pretty good chance that Stanford could be 5th in the Pac-12 at the end of the regular season. Also, if they do not make the NCAA Tournament, they will make the NIT again.
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