Stanford men's basketball prepares for long road


Dorian Pickens played a few basketball games in Australia over the summer and he's getting ready for a game in China, along with the rest of his Stanford teammates.

By the time Pickens, who also took a team trip to Italy a few years back, returns from Shangai, he'll have traveled roughly 27,108 miles, or a trip around the world and then some, for a few exhibition games and a nonconference game, since the end of last season.

Dorian Pickens
Those upcoming in-season treks to Orlando, Dallas and Lawrence? The problems of three little trips don't amount to hill of beans in this crazy world.

The Cardinal (15-15, 8-10 Pac-12 last season) can call itself the road warriors, but only if it pays off in wins. Stanford won two of nine road games last year, a big reason it didn't make it to the postseason.

Of course, the real beginning of Pickens' year-long journey began when Jerod Haase was officially announced as Stanford's men's basketball coach on March 25, two days after former coach Johnny Dawkins was hired at Central Florida.

"By now, he's been here long enough that we're able to get comfortable and acclimated with him," Pickens said. "I'm excited to be back. I can't wait for the season to get rolling and the games to get going."

Haase inherits a program that returns everyone, with the exception of Rosco Allen, who is playing pro ball in Spain, that ever touched a basketball for the Cardinal last year. There's even a few players coming back from injury-riddled years.

Robert Cartwright, who was penciled as the starting point guard before sustaining a compound fracture of his right forearm during practice, returns to give Stanford another good option in the backcourt, and Reid Travis, a starting forward, comes back after missing the final 22 games of the season with an injury to his left leg.

Travis, who also made 12 starts as a freshman, led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring at the time of his injury.

In all, 75 percent of last year's offensive production is back, along with a highly-regarded group of newcomers, five freshmen in all.

"There's a tremendous amount of buy-in. I feel like this team is learning something every day," Haase said. "The attitude of the staff is to go slow and build a program that comes with a foundation. We'll be taking baby steps every day, building a strong foundation."

Part of that foundation was taking part in a Navy Seals Training style leadership course in Haase's hometown of South Lake Tahoe, CA. (elevation 6,217 feet)

"It was extremely difficult but a great experience," Pickens said. "We learned a lot about leadership and communication."

From the beginning, the Cardinal has also been working out their team values and identifying three core values that bond them together. They came up with invested, toughness and selfless.

"Those are the things we embrace," Pickens said. "They are at the core of our program. It's like a road map to kick off the year and identify what is important to take ownership of the team."

Senior Marcus Allen pointed out the values are not limited to basketball, but are to be ingrained into everyday life. The leadership program kick-started those values.

"It was challenging and took willpower," Allen said. "It was a mental and physical grind. It was great to have an experience like that."

Haase hopes it all translates into tough-mindedness on the basketball court. The core values cake out of extended conversations and were ultimately whittled down to a few words.

"The idea of selfless you'll see on offense," Haase said. "We'll move the basketball, we'll move ourselves and we'll push the ball within reason. Defensively, I hope to evolve into a tough-minded mentality. The two stats I look for are defensive field goal percentage and rebounding. Those are things you really look for, things that take passion."

Stanford and Harvard are scheduled to meet in Shanghai on Nov. 11. The Cardinal opens at home with three games the week of Nov. 14-20.

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