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Monday, April 19, 2021

Stanford Basketball is Close to Its Dead End

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Watch video of Stanford’s vomit in a California bowl game.

The Blazers of the University of Oregon’s basketball program have spent many hours trying to figure out how to produce better net results than mediocre, sometimes listless teams. So far, they have solved nothing.

By Mike Littwin’s account in Sports Illustrated, the school spent $6 million to build a 4,500-seat arena near the team’s campus in Eugene that it hoped would prove to be a positive catalyst. It even has its own basketball broadcast team. The arena has been the largest benefit to basketball, and every team has played at it. And it never produced the hoped-for results.

If the team and the arena are never enough, then the reason for this is simple: The Portland Trail Blazers are the better team. Their record shows it: The Blazers are 29-10. The 49-8 Cardinal has as many lopsided losses. This week the Blazers will win their fifth straight NBA championship. The Sherwood Division is filled with teams with losing records.

Even the home teams are ahead of the Cardinal this season. Three Bay Area teams, including the men’s-only Santa Clara Broncos, are ahead of Stanford.

The problem in Oregon is threefold. First, none of the coaching hires can approach the success of John Wooden and Tony Perkins. So the program is in flux. Do you go the Archie Miller route (Northern Illinois, Butler) or Steph Curry direction (Loyola, Davidson)?

The other issues: The men’s programs are the school’s sports programs and when they fall, so does the Cardinal. Because Stanford has never won more than 22 games in a season since the early ’90s, this schedule fills two months of non-conference games.

There’s also the quality of the talent. Last year’s Cardinal might have won its first Pac-12 title if it could keep its turnovers under 35 percent. The men’s soccer team is supposed to be good, but this year’s goal differential is minus-18. On the athletic department’s west side, the Valley View High School football team has yet to win a single game. Even two of the best West Coast prep basketball programs don’t compare: the Santa Rosa Christian School lost to Collegiate School on Saturday and it took Valley View three overtimes before it won one game last season.

Ironically, the Stanford men’s basketball team could beat the Stanford football team if the three current members of the team are healthy. The five freshmen that the Cardinal coach Jeremy Jones signed are highly touted. Brandon Williams, the highest-rated player, played well against Connecticut in the N.B.A.’s preseason tournament, but he also got a concussion.

“I don’t know if he’s 100 percent or not,” Jones said on Friday after the game, and some might wonder how much more “healthy” they could be.

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