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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 23, 2011

A healthy Brown is good news for Stanford men's basketball

by Rick Eymer

Anthony Brown feels healthy these days and that's a good sign for the Stanford men's basketball team. The Pac-12 Conference opener is less than a week away and the Cardinal could use another offensive weapon.

UCLA visits Stanford next Thursday for an 8 p.m. tipoff and December has been good to Brown. He's reached double figures in three of the first four games played during the month.

Brown scored a season-high 16 points in helping Stanford win its fifth straight, a 76-56 victory over Bethune-Cookman on Monday night.

Brown has been nursing a sore knee since last season, though he played with the U.S. National Under-19 team over the summer.

"I'm getting a lot more comfortable and things are starting to connect," Brown said. "My right knee bothered me a little bit earlier but I am feeling good now."

The Cardinal basketball program has dealt with several health issues over the past few years, with forward Andy Brown at the top of the list. The 6-7 Brown, now a redshirt junior, has not played in a competitive basketball situation since his junior year at Mater Dei High.

The 6-6 Brown, a guard, is one of a number of current players who are rounding into shape physically.

Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said Brown was "playing more instinctive" after battling injuries all season.

"He's feeling better and getting better results," Dawkins said. "He's rounding into shape and it's showing."

Josh Owens, who missed a year with a medical condition, added 11 points and a game-high seven rebounds for the Cardinal (10-1), which improved to 7-0 at home entering Thursday's contest against Butler.

Dawkins also saw some good things from other players as well.

"I thought Jarrett Mann came in and gave us something," Dawkins said. "His energy and experience showed."

Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright continue to develop as a guard tandem, with plenty of upside. Both are showing adeptness at 3-point shooting. Bright has made 23 of 46 long-range shots as of the win over the Wildcats while Randle is 18 of 43, nearly 42 percent. Brown checks in with 13 3-pointers in 27 attempts.

The two guards have also combined for 60 assists and 51 turnovers.

Brown is knocking on the door to become Stanford's fourth player to average in double figures. He was one point shy of 100 for the season before the Butler contest.

He's also averaging 3.9 rebounds a game, third on the team and is committed to playing defense.

Stanford ranks second in the Pac-12 and 15th in the nation in scoring defense at 56.1. The Cardinal has limited eight of its first 11 opponents to under 60 points.

"From here on out it just gets tougher," Brown said. "We need to step up our defensive effort."

Brown is already ahead of last year's pace after 11 games. He eventually found his way into the starting lineup as a freshman.

Josh Huestis is Stanford's rebounding leader with his 5.6 average. Owens is next at 5.1.

There have been plenty of surprises among Pac-10 teams as well. The Cardinal will take the best nonconference record into its contest against the Bruins, with California, Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona, Washington State and Colorado also assuring itself of bringing a winning record into conference play.

Traditional powers UCLA, Washington and USC will also be factors in the race. Stanford was picked to finish sixth by both the coaches and media.

"There are certainly good teams in our conference," Dawkins said. "I've been watching them grow."

Butler rolled to an 83-50 victory over Stanford in last year's meeting in Indianapolis. The 33-point loss was Stanford's worst in two seasons.

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