By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online
Question of the day: Will New York be Stanford men's basketball team's kind of town? The answer comes in the next installment of "The Johnny Dawkins Story: Burning Bright," on Tuesday, beginning at 8 p.m. and airing on ESPNU.
What has happened so far:
Sophomores Aaron Bright and Josh Huestis are beginning to take a leading role in their second season and ratings are starting to reflect renewed interest.
Bright (21) and Huestis (10) each recorded a career high for points, and Huestis (11) matched his career high for rebounds as the Cardinal beat visiting Fresno State, 75-59, in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Monday night.
Bright and Huestis will be doing their best to help Stanford take its basketball show on the road to The Bug Apple. Madison Square Gardens may not be Broadway, but its the masterpiece of all basketball arenas.
"I can tell you that no one works harder than Josh and Aaron," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "They both committed to working on their skills and you can see the success. For a coach to see that hard work rewarded is something special."
Bright's journey to becoming a confident point guard began in spring, during reruns.
"I studied a lot of tape and watched guys my size," he said. "I tried to resemble my game after them and started feeling comfortable."
So far, he's been a hit.
Huestis recorded his first double-double in a supporting role and received rave reviews.
"I have to say it was confidence for me," Huestis said. "Going into my freshman year, I struggled with it. Now I'm figuring out my role and how I can help the team."
Stanford (2-0) meets Colorado State in the next episode of the Preseason NIT. A win means a trip to New York. A loss would relegate the Cardinal to has-been status in the tournament.
"This is why we wanted to play in the NIT," Dawkins said. "We wanted to play terrific teams. Fresno State was a terrific challenge. They were competitive and physical. The guys can do a lot of growing up in a game like this. They had to withstand runs and stayed poised."
Josh Owens and Jack Trotter also each scored 11. Chasson Randle added 10 as the Cardinal had five players in double figures for the second straight night.