The Stanford men's basketball team is reeling after three consecutive losses, two by double-digits. The Cardinal has been embarrassed at home twice already, but has also recovered to win three straight at home before the setback to Oregon State.
UCLA and the Beavers had torrid shooting games against Stanford (3-6, 13-6), which fell into last place in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shot a sizzling .485 on the season.
Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins also learned over the weekend that his only recruit for next year, small forward Andy Brown of Mater Dei High, tore an ACL in his knee and won't be ready to participate in basketball activities until September at the earliest.
"The goal of this team is still there," Dawkins said on the eve of Stanford's game against visiting Washington State (4-5, 12-9) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. "We never had a numerical goal. We have regressed defensively and that is disappointing. It was a point of emphasis in practice this week."
Stanford still ranks among the upper echelon of the Pac-10 in scoring defense but after giving up 97 points to the Bruins, the Cardinal fell into eighth in scoring defense.
Washington State comes in ranked first in scoring defense and last in scoring offense. The Cougars beat Stanford in their last meeting with a basket in the final seconds, one of three one-point road losses in conference play.
"We've been in some terrific games and came up short," Dawkins said. "That can take a toll, especially on a team developing its identity. UCLA made us play bad. But you can't carry over how you've played. Whether it's one or 10 points, we still lost."
Stanford senior forward Lawrence Hill, 15th in the Pac-10 with a 13.6 scoring average, thinks there is still time to create a successful run in conference play.
"We're confident we can compete in this conference," he said. "We have to get back to basics. Losing is a habit just as much as winning. We need to keep playing harder all the time."
Part of Stanford's game is to create turnovers, something that hasn't happened during its season-long three-game losing streak. The Cardinal still ranks second in the conference in turnover margin and third in steals.
"We have to get better defensively," Dawkins said. "We have to be more coordinated in what we're doing. The guys are capable and we're building our foundation on defense all over again."
Washington (7-2, 18-5) started the week in a first-place tie with UCLA and visits fourth-place Cal before coming to Stanford for a 2:30 p.m. game Sunday. Cal beat the Huskies earlier in the season in Seattle.
The Cardinal also hosts Cal State Bakersfield in a nonconference game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. before playing five of its final seven regular-season games on the road.
Seventh-ranked Stanford (8-1, 17-4) hopes to take care of business on the road this weekend in Pac-10 play, visiting Washington State (2-7, 9-11) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Washington on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
The Cardinal can't expect to dominate either team like it did at Maples Pavilion four weeks ago with a pair of 100-plus offensive games.
The Cougars, for example, are coming off a victory over Arizona and no longer occupy the conference basement.
Washington (1-8, 5-14) has lost eight straight entering its home date with No. 3 California on Friday.
The Cardinal has won all 47 previous meetings with Washington State, including 14 of the past 15 by at least 13 points. Stanford has scored 100 or more points in two pof the past three meetings.
The Cardinal has a six-game winning streak against the Huskies, and has won 10 of the past 11.