By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford grad and former NBA player Brevin Knight was in town to serve as analyst for the Pac-12 Networks broadcast of Stanford's 69-51 victory over visiting Alcorn State on Thursday night. It made for some happy Cardinal coaches and players.
Considered the best point guard to ever don a Cardinal uniform, Knight was probably happy about the result but not so much about about the shooting totals.
Still, it was a great experience for guys like Josh Huestis and Johnny Dawkins. Huestis because of the Stanford connection and Dawkins because, well, put two of the top collegiate point guards together in one room and it's like listening to a couple of geniuses.
"It's always good to see him," Dawkins said. "He's a great guy and a great leader. It was fun watching him play. It's always good to see the interaction between him and the players. People just gravitate toward him, which says a lot about who he is."
There was no formal team meeting involving Knight, but Huestis said he had a chance to talk to him a couple of times.
"He knows what it takes to get to the top," Huestis said after scoring a career-high 18 points and matching his season high with nine rebounds. "He has advice that could help us get there and you always listen to that."
With guards Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle suffering through a below-average night (they combined to shoot a miserable .222 percentage from the field) Huestis took charge, hitting 8 of 10 shots.
"We're a tough team," Huestis said. "It was one of those nights when shots weren't falling. Our biggest asset is our defense. That's something we can play every night."
Stanford (3-0) hosts Belmont on Sunday (6 p.m.) before leaving to meet Missouri in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving Day.
"This was a good test to find out if we could rely on our defense," Dawkins said. "Tonight was an indication we can do that. Another point of contention was who will step up on the boards? We have guys who have stepped up."
Stanford outrebounded Alcorn State, 51-29, including a 23-5 edge on the offensive boards. Dwight Powell added 10 rebounds to the total.
Bright and Randle did combine for 19 points, making 11 of 13 foul shots to salvage something.
Knight worked the game with California grad Roxy Bernstein, who attended Pinewood School before transferring after his sophomore year.
Top-ranked Stanford suffered its first Pac-12 loss of the season, 25-19, 25-20, 27-29, 25-21, Thursday night to host USC.
While it will likely affect the national poll, the loss, which ended a 22-match Cardinal winning streak, doesn't do too much damage to Stanford's conference title hopes.
The Cardinal (16-1, 24-3) remain two games up on second-place Oregon (13-3, with a match at Washington on Friday night) with three matches remaining and three games up on both USC (13-4) and UCLA (13-4).
Stanford plays at UCLA at 7 p.m. Friday night.
Freshmen Brittany Howard and Jordan Burgess each had 15 kills for the Cardinal, while Inky Ijanaku had 11. Howard added 22 digs and Burgess had 25.
Setters Madi Bugg and Karissa Cook, each recording a double-double, combined for 48 assists and 30 digs. Kyle Gilbert had a match-high 32 digs.
Stanford posted five wins in as many events to open the Arena Invitational on Thursday at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach. Three individual victories and a pair of first-place relay finishes gave Stanford 630.5 points to lead the field while sitting comfortably ahead of second-place Hawaii (391).
"The swims tonight were indicative of what we are capable of doing," said new head coach Ted Knapp. "We need to be more ready tomorrow morning than we were this morning."
The Cardinal resumes the Arena Invitational Friday morning while the Stanford divers christen the Arizona Diving Invite Friday afternoon in Tucson, Ariz.
David Nolan, Aaron Wayne, Andrew Saeta and Jake Hartely teamed to go 1:18.94 in the 200 free relay to open the meet for the Cardinal.
Danny Thompson's 4:19.54 in the 500 free paced the field as the freshman was the fastest of five Stanford swimmers to claim the top five spots. Drew Cosgarea (4:19.62), Bryan Offutt (4:20.81), Robert Hommel (4:23.27) and Mitch Stoehr (4:27.32) rounded out the top five.
Nolan, who set the meet record in the 200 individual medley (1:44.69) in 2011, tied for second with Sacred Heart Prep grad Tom Kremer (1:46.62) in Friday's race. Not to be outdone by the fine racing behind him, Matt Thompson (1:45.89) touched first.
Saeta and Wayne each finished the 50 free in a meet-best 19.91.
Wayne had plenty left in the tank to help anchor the 400 medley relay to a win in 3:14.66. Thompson, Nolan and Kremer also contributed to the first-place showing.