Sports

Nastic the driving force in Stanford's hoops victory

 

Stefan Nastic was wide awake and playing like he owned the paint. Then again, he was the tallest player on the court and hitting shots from 15 feet in despite the latest tip-off in 16 years.

Nastic, who scored a career high 26 points in Stanford's 74-59 season-opening over visiting Wofford on Friday night, showed his final half of last season was no fluke.

"I'm always thinking about improving," Nastic said. "I know what my role is and I'm focused on being a two-way player and staying aggressive."

He's developed into a leader and was named one of three tri-captains with Anthony Brown and Chasson Randle and says he wants the responsibility of bringing the younger players along.

"I feel a responsibility and the better they are, the better we are," Nastic said. "With a new lineup we need to get as comfortable was we possibly can."

Nastic and freshman post Reid Travis appeared to have already meshed their games, as they combined to shoot 60.7 percent from the field and score 40 points.

"Those guys have the potential to do good things together," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "They've communicated well."

The game was played as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Sunday's 3 p.m. game against visiting South Dakota is the second game of the series before it continues in Brooklyn.

Brown added 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting and Randle had 12. Travis scored 14 points.

"We always want to be balanced but our emphasis was to find Stefan and feed him," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We wanted to take advantage of the height difference and I think he did a good job of that."

Nastic had the attention of Wofford coach Mike Young.

"He looked like Dave Cowens down there," Young said. "Watching their two NCAA tournament games, I was really worried about him. His length, how physical he plays, his long arms. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that coach Dawkins is going to go right to him and see what we can do with him. He was awfully good tonight."

The Cardinal opened the second half by outscoring the Terriers, 18-7, and grabbing a 20-point advantage.

"We had some great defensive stretches," Nastic said. "We were feeding off each other's energy and we got into a rhythm."

Stanford was used to having Dwight Powell and Josh Heustis sweep up the boards last year, and that was something noticeably different about Friday. Brown and Randle shared the team lead, each with six rebounds. Nastic had five.

"This is a different team," Nastic said. "Our mindset is the same though: we set the highest of standards for each other."

Randle, who was 4 of 13 from the floor, moved into a 10th-place tie (547) with Casey Jacobsen on Stanford's all-time field goals made list. It just so happened Jacobsen was the analyst for Pac-12 Networks.

Randle enters the year in fifth place on the Cardinal all-time scoring list. He's 51 points shy of matching Brevin Knight's 1,714 points for fourth all-time. Jacobsen is third with 1,723.

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