NIT champion Stanford regroups after losing key scorers
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Johnny Dawkins can list all of the key players Stanford lost from a team that won the NIT title for the second time in four years and were part of the program's run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament the previous season.
Do-everything guard and Stanford career scoring leader Chasson Randle is gone, and so are big man Stefan Nastic and guard Anthony Brown after these three co-captains not only led the way on the court but also off it after they spent last season also working on master's degrees.
Dawkins should have a more balanced attack as everybody looks to contribute to fill the scoring voids.
''We've lost a lot from last year, but that's an opportunity for our younger guys to step up and establish themselves,'' Dawkins said. ''I always tell our players, it's about your opportunities. It's about not looking at who's missing, but you guys, it's time for you guys to step up in those roles and start establishing yourselves, and I think our guys really believe in that.''
Stanford returns nine letter-winners and starters Rosco Allen and Marcus Allen, who is currently injured, on a team picked ninth in the Pac-12 preseason poll.
''Each year I've stepped into a bigger and bigger role and I feel like I'm going to do the same thing this coming year,'' Rosco Allen said. ''There are a lot of other guys on our team, too, that are ready to step up into bigger roles as well as leadership roles.''
Here are some things to watch for with Stanford, which gained valuable experience during a preseason tour in Italy:
TOUGH PRESEASON: Stanford returns to New York where it won the NIT nearly seven months ago - going to Brooklyn this time - for two games in the NIT Season Tip-Off over Thanksgiving then returns home to host Dartmouth, DePaul and Texas in an eight-day span at Maples Pavilion in a tough preseason stretch.
NIT MOMENTUM: Dawkins and his staff are counting on those who made the NIT run leading the way as Stanford tries to surprise in the Pac-12.
''We had a chance to transition from the team that we had that won the NIT to a team that was looking to gain some experience, and guys have stepped up for us, like Rosco Allen and Reid Travis and Marcus Allen,'' Dawkins said.
KEY FACES: Sophomore forward Travis Reid quickly emerged as a rebounding force during his freshman season before a stress fracture in his upper left leg sidelined him for a stretch of the conference season. He still played in 28 games with 12 starts, but looks forward to staying healthy and helping lead the Cardinal. Reid averaged 6.2 points and 5.6 rebounds as a freshman.
Travis had double-doubles in four of Stanford's games during the team's Italian tour in August.
''Last year he was out with a number of different things that happened to him, unfortunately. He could never find a rhythm because of that,'' Dawkins said. ''To see him 100 percent healthy this summer and to see how he played over in Italy, it was very exciting because we knew he was the young man we recruited, and I think his production really showed this August versus the European competition.''
BUONGIORNO: The trip to Italy was important for three freshmen to get a head start with their new teammates in game situations.
Josh Sharma is a 7-foot center who can be an imposing presence in the middle and also run the floor well. He is joined by fellow newcomers, 6-7 forward Cameron Walker and 6-5 swingman Marcus Sheffield.
''Each of them can contribute right away,'' Rosco Allen said.
ALLEN INJURY: Junior guard Marcus Allen is nursing a stress fracture in his right foot that has sidelined him so far with no timetable for his return.
He started 23 games last season and averaged 6.4 points and 3.5 rebounds, then scored 11.4 points and grabbed 5.4 rebounds during the run to the NIT championship.
''In seeing him at every practice, he's in good spirits, he's healing, and he's getting better every day,'' Dawkins said.