It’s never too early to look at what’s to come. Over the next few weeks, we will give you a peek at what is ahead for teams in the Power 5 conferences and some other teams expected to be players on the national scene. Next up: Stanford.
The route to Stanford’s campus just south of San Francisco careens through tidy neighborhoods, past chain restaurants and around lush, green space. It’s a gem of a university tucked into a corner of Stanford, California. It looks the part of a prestigious, private college.
The athletic facilities also feature the attributes expected with elite programs. From Maples Pavilion, a quick trip through a tunnel leads to the Arrillaga Gymnasium and Weight Room, which Stanford utilizes as its men’s basketball practice facility. The operation is equipped with multiple cameras that track every player’s movements and recreate scenarios through virtual-reality simulators.
Last season, Reid Travis worked on his free throws — he made just 46 percent of his attempts in 2014-15 and 48 percent last season — by donning virtual-reality goggles that simulated each free throw he took throughout the season.
A few months ago, Jerod Haase accepted the Stanford gig, replacing Johnny Dawkins, following his best regular season as a head coach at UAB. The Blazers finished 26-7 a year after reaching the NCAA tournament and eliminating Iowa State in the opening round in 2014-15.
Haase, a former assistant under Roy Williams at Kansas and North Carolina, has the infrastructure to succeed in this high-major opportunity. That’s clear. The facilities at Stanford are excellent. It’s a Pac-12 school with a great academic and athletic reputation. It’s located near the San Francisco Bay. Everything you’d imagine an elite recruit would covet.
“One of the key things I want to make sure people understand … I believe this is a natural transition for me,” Haase said during his introductory news conference. “One thing I tried to emphasize in this process was I believe I’m a good fit for Stanford, and the fit is so important. It’s one of the things we always talk about in recruiting is that the fit is a key, key part of it, and I hope to prove that I’m a good fit here for Stanford, and I believe it is going to be a good situation.”
But Stanford has lured just four top-100 recruits, per RecruitingNation’s rankings, to campus after signing its 2011 recruiting class. So, how will Haase identify and secure the top talent necessary to compete in the Pac-12 at a school that has reached the NCAA tournament once (2014) since 2008? That’s the question Dawkins couldn’t answer. Not consistently, at least.
That’s why 2016-17 is such a significant endeavor for Haase and the program he intends to build. And next season, he’ll have promising pieces … and one giant void.
When Rosco Allen (15.6 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game), the team’s leading scorer last season and an All-Pac 12 first-team selection, decided to test the NBA waters, few thought he’d seriously consider leaving school to go pro. And then the school released a statement on May 25, the official deadline for collegiate players to withdraw from the NBA draft, announcing Allen’s decision to stay in the draft.
“These past four years at Stanford I have created many wonderful memories, grown as a person, and built strong relationships that will last a lifetime,” Allen said in the school’s statement. “I am extremely thankful and appreciative of the Stanford coaches and staff, Bob and Pam Reed, and my family for the opportunity to attend Stanford University. Playing the sport I love professionally has always been a dream of mine, and I am excited for the opportunity to make it a reality.”
That’s heartwarming but devastating for Haase, who lost the opportunity to field a frontcourt that would have featured the 6-foot-9 Allen and Travis, who missed all but eight games last season with a foot injury.
Now, he’ll rely on a healthy Travis (12.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG in 2015-16) to elevate Stanford. He’s not alone, though. Dorian Pickens (12.3 PPG), Marcus Allen (11.1 PPG), and Michael Humphrey (10.3 PPG) return, too. And Robert Cartwright is back from a bad arm injury.
Although Stanford didn’t have Travis for the bulk of the season, it still secured wins over Cal, Utah, USC and Oregon. But it also had Allen in those games. And even with him, the team won just 15 games and lost seven of 10 during its worst stretch of the season.
His departure affects the potential of Haase’s first Stanford squad. It’s not, however, a dry cupboard.
And that’s something Haase can build on.
Stanford could see immediate gains under Haase in his first season.