Monday, August 20, 2007

Welcome to Cardinal Junkie

So are you already fired up for hoops season? Trent and the boys are primed for a huge year, even in the fiercest Pac-10 in recent memory. We've got a team here that could go deep into March. But for the moment, let's get a little nostalgic...

During the 2003-04 season, with the support of the Athletic Dept, we shot hours and hours of video footage of our beloved Cardinal. So now, thanks to the advent of the video blog, I'll be posting a new video every other day or so.

Here's one from the 2004 Arizona game. As you know, this is the game that ended on the unbelievable 35-foot runner by Nick Robinson at the buzzer. What made the win a bigger deal was that both Justin Davis and Matt Haryasz were out with injuries, which is why Pops started at the 4. It also ended a 4-game losing streak to Arizona at Maples and got Stanford to 20-0 for the season.

This next one covers the last 2 minutes of the same game. No announcers or soundtrack. Just raw and real as if you were sitting in the front row at Maples (just like Tiger):

TRIVIA TIDBIT: All five of Arizona's 2003-04 starters were drafted by NBA teams. Four of them are still in The League: Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers), Channing Frye (New York Knicks), Salim Stoudamire (Atlanta Hawks), Mustafa Shakur (Sacramento Kings). Hassan Adams was drafted by the New Jersey Nets, but is no longer on the team. So Arizona brought a little talent to Maples that day. Meanwhile, Stanford was without JD and MH.

Looking Back at 2003-04
It was Monty's swan song as head coach before he took the Warriors head coaching reins. It was Josh Childress' All-American junior year that led to his being picked #6 in the following NBA draft. Chris Hernandez was one of the best PG's in the country as a redshirt soph. We ran off 26 CONSECUTIVE WINS before finally going down at Washington, in the last conference game of the year.

This team, which NO ONE in the media picked to win the Pac-10 that year, swept Arizona (everybody's favorite), UCLA, USC, Cal, Oregon (3 times), OSU, ASU, and WSU (3 times), and took 2 out of 3 from Washington. That's 20-1 in the Pac-10, including the Pac-10 Tournament. A pretty unbelievable achievement.

Additional Highlights: Taking down #1-ranked Kansas (Miles, Langford, Simien) 64-58 at the Wooden Classic without an injured Childress, who could only cheer from the bench...

Upsetting a loaded Gonzaga team (Stepp, Turiaf, Violette, Morrison) 87-80 at the Pete Newell Challenge, still without Childress. Matt Lottich's line that day: 34 pts on 12-17 (6-7 from 3-land) and 7 assists. The other story of the game was our big men, who weren't supposed to be able to stand up to the Zags' bigs, considered the best in the country. But Justin Davis (16 pts on 7-13, 8 rebs, 4 stls) and Rob Little (14 pts on 7-12, 7 rebs, 3 blks, 2 stls) took care of business, owning the paint from the opening tip. Turiaf, Violette, Fox, and Mallon could only muster 22 points combined...

Scratching and clawing in a nailbiter at ASU and then closing the deal 63-62 when Childress slithered past big Ike Diogu for a stunning putback bucket with 9.4 seconds left...

Utter domination over #3 Arizona in an 82-72 victory at a very hostile McKale Center - it wasn't nearly as close as the score with Stanford's tenacious D holding the Cats' high octane offense to only 20 points in the first half...

At a raucous Mac Court, Stanford roared back from a NINETEEN-point deficit in the 2nd half to beat Oregon 83-80 (despite Luke Jackson's 25 for the Ducks). HUGE in the comeback were sophomores, Chris Hernandez and Matt Haryasz. The latter was given his first start ever in place of Justin Davis, who had injured his knee in Corvallis two nights earlier. Chris and MattH combined for 41 points (22 and 19 respectively). Amazingly, 35 of the 41 came in the 2nd half, including all of Chris's 22...

Oh, Those Buzzer Beaters
And best of all, two of the most unthinkable, miraculous, heart-stopping buzzer-beating shots you could ever dream up against Arizona at Maples (Nick Robinson's steal and 35-foot swish on the run made the team 20-0 SEE VIDEOS ABOVE) and WSU up in Pullman (Lotty's impossible 3-pointer from deep kept the Card undefeated at 26-0).

Then, after losing at UW, the Cardinal bounced right back to sweep through the Pac-10 Tournament, including a convincing revenge win over the red-hot Huskies in the finals: 77-66. Stanford headed back up to Seattle for The Big Dance, ranked #1 in the nation.

An Early Exit
As you know all too well, things didn't go as planned in the tourney. In the second-round 70-67 upset loss to 8-seed Bama, the refs were rough on our boys to the tune of 44 free throws for the Tide. Stanford only attempted 11. PF, Justin Davis, was a dominant force that day, in his final game for the Card, but he fouled out after only 22 minutes. Those refs whistled your typically disciplined Cardinal all day long (Childress and Haryasz fouled out as well).

TRIVIA TIDBIT: Interestingly, current Stanford head coach, Trent Johnson, stayed in the tournament longer than Stanford did that year. His 10th-seeded Nevada Wolf Pack schooled 2nd-seeded Gonzaga 91-72. Their game took place right before Stanford-Alabama, on the same floor. I remember seeing Monty, Rev, and Tony Fuller watching Nevada's performance and looking very impressed. Who knew at the time that Trent would be coaching Stanford's next game?

Even without the Hollywood ending we all wanted, there's no forgetting this team and that magical season. Finishing 30-2, they gave us Stanford fans one thrilling ride. So as you root on Stanford football and hoops this year, keep coming back to for a walk down Memory Lane.

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