Stanford runs one of the nicest little programs in college
basketball. The players show up on the dean's list, not the
police blotter, and the hardworking Cardinal can always be
counted on to win 20 games or so and sneak into the tournament.
In fact, it might just steal a game and reach the second round,
as it has the past two years. But commend the good folks in Palo
Alto on being the sport's inspirational overachievers, and you'd
better be ready to duck.
"Overachieving for us now calls for the Final Four, not just
making it to the second round," says senior point guard Brevin
Knight not unheatedly. "Winning the Pac-10 won't be
overachieving either. We have that kind of people."
Adds coach Mike Montgomery, "One of the things we're always
talking about here is that we have to expect more from ourselves."
Well, this is the year to expect it. Knight is arguably the
nation's finest point guard. Last season he averaged 15.5 ppg
and 7.3 apg but gave a teasing glimpse of what he can really do
when he scored 27 points to go along with nine assists in the
Cardinal's near upset of UMass in the second round of the NCAA
tournament. And as part of USA Basketball's 22-and-Under Select
Team this summer, he barbecued the Dream Team with four steals
in a reputation-making performance.
The 5'10" Knight haunts opposing teams, jamming the passing
lanes on D and relentlessly penetrating the middle on offense.
He is so effective in the paint that he has been reluctant to
take jumpers, but a summer of shooting practice has given him
new confidence in his three-point stroke.
Knight will be even more dangerous on the perimeter because
opponents will have to double-team 7'1" center Tim Young,
healthy again after redshirting last year with a balky back.
Young and Knight will be one of the nation's most potent
inside-outside combinations. The front line will be fortified by
6'9" junior Pete Van Elswyk, a two-year starter at South
Carolina who sat out last year after transferring, and by a pair
of sturdy sophomores, Peter Sauer and Mark Seaton. That trio
gives Stanford one of the most physical frontcourts in the
Pac-10 as well as diverse scoring punch.
The Cardinal will miss the three-point shooting of Dion Cross,
who has graduated, but it has two solid shooters: point guard
Arthur Lee, whose quickness also makes him a defensive threat,
and Kris Weems.
Montgomery has earned a reputation as both a fine coach and a
champion poor-mouther of his team's chances. Having lost four
starters from last season's 20-9 team to graduation, he is
preaching caution about this year's squad. In fact, upon hearing
the news that SI has ranked the Cardinal No. 11, he blurts out,
"What have you guys been drinking back there?" But then,
remembering Stanford's new 'tude, Montgomery says, "Maybe that's
O.K., because we need to feel the pressure to win more than we
have. We do need to learn to think we should win, that we're not
the underdog anymore."
COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER COVER [Varies by region] Knight Time Brevin Knight leads the Cardinal charge
COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER Stanford will rely on the shining Knight. [Brevin Knight]
THE DATA BOX
Coach: Mike Montgomery
Career record: 336-197 (18 seasons)
Record at Stanford: 182-120 (10 seasons)
1995-96 record: 20-9 (final ranking: none)
Pac-10 record: 12-6 (third)
PG *Brevin Knight, 5'10", Sr.
Stanford career steals and assists leader
SG Kris Weems, 6'3", Soph.
Shot 36.8% from beyond the arc
SF Rich Jackson, 6'6", Sr.
Missed last seven games with torn ACL
PF Pete Van Elswyk, 6'9", Jr.
Shot 51.6% in two years at South Carolina
C Tim Young, 7'1", Soph.
Bad back limited him to just five games
Dec. 22 at Seton Hall
Homecoming for East Orange native Brevin Knight
Jan. 4 at Arizona
Stanford swept Wildcats last seaso
Jan. 9 vs. UCLA
Winner gets early leg up in Pac-10 race
Jan. 25 vs. Washington State
Cardinal look to avenge only Pac-10 home loss (68-59)
Feb. 15 vs. Oregon
Knight had 30 against Ducks last season