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2011-12 in Review: Stanford Crowned NIT Champions

Winning a school-record seven games during the month of March, Stanford chalked up its best win total since a 28-8 campaign in 2007-08.

Winning a school-record seven games during the month of March, Stanford chalked up its best win total since a 28-8 campaign in 2007-08.

April 16, 2012

2011-12 Final Record: 26-11, 10-8 Pac-12 (7th)

2011-12 Postseason: NIT Champions

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The Opening Tip
Stanford (26-11, 10-8 Pac-12) captured its third championship in school history, closing out the year as 2012 Postseason NIT champions. Winning a school-record seven games during the month of March, Stanford has now claimed three titles overall (1942 NCAA, 1991 Postseason NIT). Appearing in the postseason for the first time in three years, the Cardinal chalked up its best win total since a 28-8 campaign in 2007-08. Despite placing seventh in regular-season conference play, Stanford wrapped up the year as the Pac-12's winningest program and tallied a league-best four victories against the RPI's top-50.

Awards Banquet Concludes 2011-12
Josh Owens walked away with four awards, including the Hank Luisetti Most Valuable Player honor. Owens also claimed statistical award titles with team-high totals in rebounding and field goal percentage. In addition, Owens shared the honor of team captain with fellow seniors Jarrett Mann, Jack Trotter and Andrew Zimmermann. Mann was named the club's Best Defensive Player for the third consecutive year. Zimmermann received the Roy Young Toughness award for the second time in his career. Josh Huestis snagged the Most Improved Player award for the second straight year while Andy Brown captured the Most Inspirational Player honor. Representative of the season's overall success and trademark depth, the entire team was recognized with the Howie Dallmar Coaches award. John Gage was honored for attaining the team's highest GPA (3.66).

2012 Postseason NIT Champions
Stanford claimed its second NIT title in school history, also bringing home the hardware in 1991. One of four Pac-12 schools in the 32-team field, the Cardinal was seeded No. 3 in its region. Stanford defeated Cleveland State 76-65 in the opening round, and after top-seeded Arizona and second-seeded Mississippi were upset in their first games, the Cardinal parlayed its sudden home-court edge into wins over Illinois State (92-88 OT) and Nevada (84-56). After beating Massachusetts 74-64 in the semifinals, Stanford posted its fourth double-digit win of the tourney by hammering Minnesota 75-51 in the final.
March 13, 2012 - Stanford 76, Cleveland State 65 - Stanford, CA - First Round
March 19, 2012 - Stanford 92, Illinois State 88 (OT) - Stanford, CA - Second
March 21, 2012 - Stanford 84, Nevada 56 - Stanford, CA - Quarterfinals
March 27, 2012 - Stanford 74, Massachusetts 64 - New York, NY - Semifinals
March 29, 2012 - Stanford 75, Minnesota 51 - New York, NY - Championship

Three Quick-Hitters From The NIT Run
Aaron Bright was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Providing a spark off the bench in all five NIT games, Bright averaged a team-best 16.8 points during tourney competition and shot 64.1 percent overall, 66.7 percent from three-point territory and 88.0 percent from the foul line during the postseason stretch.
Josh Owens also earned a spot on the NIT's All-Tournament team, averaging 12.0 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game in five starts. Owens led the club in steals (11) and blocks (6) while shooting 54.3 percent overall during the postseason.
Stanford clicked offensively during the NIT run, averaging 80.2 points per game while shooting 48.1 percent overall and 46.1 percent from long distance. Opponents averaged 64.8 points per game and connected on just 38.0 percent from the field. Perhaps most impressive, Stanford's defense generated 9.8 steals per game and forced 18.4 turnovers.

MSG: The East Coast Version Of Maples?
Playing in an atmosphere like Madison Square Garden might seem intimidating to most teams, but Stanford quickly made itself right at home during the 2011-12 campaign.
The Cardinal posted a 3-1 mark in games played at Madison Square Garden. In addition to its Postseason NIT title, Stanford earned a runner-up finish in the Preseason NIT.
Stanford is now 11-4 all-time at Madison Square Garden. The Cardinal was making its eighth appearance at the "world's most famous arena".
In its four games at MSG, Stanford averaged 73.5 points and shot 44.2 percent overall and 40.9 percent from beyond the arc. The Cardinal outrebounded its foes by a +7.8 margin.

MSG and NYC: Been There, Done That
Stanford became just the fourth team to play at New York's Madison Square Garden in both the Preseason and Postseason NIT during the same season, joining Notre Dame (1999-00), Syracuse (2001-02) and Ohio State (2007-08).

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Unchartered Territory
When Stanford faced off against Minnesota in the NIT championship, it represented the first time in school history Stanford had played a game on March 29. Stanford's previous longest season wrapped up on March 28, with the Cardinal falling to Texas on that date in the 2008 NCAA Sweet 16 and losing to Kentucky on that same day in the 1998 Final Four. Additionally, Stanford's 37 games in a single season also represented a school record.

Eight Pac-12 All-Academic Picks A School Record
Stanford was represented with a conference-best eight players named to the Pac-12 All-Academic team. For the third season in a row, Stanford had more honorees than any Pac-12 school. Stanford's four selections among the first and second teams were the program's most since 2004-05, when five Cardinal players accounted for the top 10 spots. Jack Trotter and John Gage were named to the first team, Josh Owens and Andrew Zimmermann were appointed to the second team while Anthony Brown, Josh Huestis, Stefan Nastic and Dwight Powell earned honorable mention accolades. To be eligible for selection, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average and be either a starter or significant contributor.

Owens, Randle, Huestis Represented Among All-Pac-12 Selections
Josh Owens was named to the All-Pac-12 Team, earning Second Team accolades to highlight Stanford's award winners. Chasson Randle was honored as one of five picks for the All-Freshmen Team, while Josh Huestis nabbed Honorable Mention status as a member of the All-Defensive Team. Owens' selection as an all-conference pick is the second of his career, as he also earned Honorable Mention status last year. Randle is the fourth player to earn All-Freshman Team status during head coach Johnny Dawkins' tenure after a six-year period in which only two Cardinal rookies were honored.

17 Home Wins Establish School Record
Stanford's 84-56 rout of Nevada in the Postseason NIT quarterfinals was also its school-record 17th home win of the year. The previous best win total at Maples Pavilion (16) was achieved four years ago. Stanford is 68-19 over its last 87 home games dating back to the start of the 2007-08 campaign that ended in an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. This is the 19th consecutive year Stanford has reached the 10-win mark in games played at Maples Pavilion.

70 A Key Number For Stanford
Stanford improved to 20-1 when scoring at least 70 points in a game following a 75-51 victory over Minnesota in the Postseason NIT championship game. The Cardinal is now 30-3 combined over the last two years when reaching the 70-point plateau.

Season Scoring
For the 11th straight year, a different player led Stanford in scoring. Chasson Randle closed out the year with a team-best 13.8 points per game, following Jeremy Green (16.7 ppg in 2010-11), Landry Fields (22.0 ppg in 2009-10), Anthony Goods (16.2 ppg in 2008-09), Brook Lopez (19.3 ppg in 2007-08), Lawrence Hill (15.7 ppg in 2006-07), Matt Haryasz (16.2 ppg in 2005-06), Dan Grunfeld (17.9 ppg in 2004-05), Josh Childress (15.7 ppg in 2003-04), Julius Barnes (16.0 ppg in 2002-03) and Casey Jacobsen (21.9 ppg in 2001-02).

Lineups Based On Matchups
Head coach Johnny Dawkins employed 15 different starting lineups this year. Ten Cardinal players received at least one starting nod this year. The starting combination of Chasson Randle, Jarrett Mann, Anthony Brown, Andrew Zimmermann and Josh Owens, used for the final eight games of the year, produced a team-best 7-1 record. In contrast, Dawkins used seven different lineups in 2010-11, and six combinations in both 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Winning The Rebound Battle
Stanford owned an edge on the glass, averaging 37.2 rebounds per game compared to a 32.5 clip by its opponents. Stanford's rebounding margin (+4.7) ranked 40th in the country. Five different players averaged at least 3.0 rebounds per game, led by Josh Owens' 5.9 clip.

Balanced Scoring A Trademark
Jarrett Mann became the 12th player to register a double-digit scoring effort with his season-high 10-point performance against Arizona State on March 7 in the Pac-12 Tournament. That surpasses last year's total when 10 players reached double digits in scoring at least once.

Randle's Rookie Season Among The Best
It would not be a stretch to describe Chasson Randle's rookie year as perhaps the best overall freshman season in school history. Randle averaged a team-best 13.8 points per game while shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from three-point territory. He was also solid from the free throw line (76.1 percent). So how does Randle's debut season stack up among the best in school history? Here is where Randle's season totals ranked all-time: points (2nd), scoring average (3rd), field goals made (2nd), field goals attempted (1st), three-pointers made (1st), assists (4th), steals (4th), minutes (1st) and games started (1st).

Randle's Career-High Night
It wasn't quite Kobe Bryant taking over a game on his Staples Center floor, but not too far off. Chasson Randle's performance in an 85-65 victory over Arizona State on March 7 in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 Tournament was one for the school record books.
Poured in a career-high 30 points (7-11 field goals, 6-8 three-pointers, 10-12 free throws)
First player to score at least 30 points since Josh Owens tallied 31 at Oregon (Feb. 26, 2011)
27 first-half points were the most by any player in conference tournament history
27 first-half points were the most for a Stanford player in a half since Casey Jacobsen totaled 31 second-half points in a 90-81 victory over Arizona State on Jan. 31, 2002
First Stanford player to reach the 20-point plateau in a half since Chris Hernandez, who finished with 22 first-half points on 8-13 shooting against UCLA on Feb. 20, 2005

Owens Performing At High Level
Josh Owens anchored Stanford's frontline, ranking third on the club in scoring (11.6 ppg) and first in rebounding (5.8 rpg) while starting all 37 games. Active at both ends of the floor, Owens also led the team in steals (45) and ranked second in blocks (26). Owens surpassed the 1,000-point career mark in a 92-88 overtime win over Illinois State on March 19 and finished with 1,044 to become the 40th player in school history to reach the prestigious scoring mark. Even more impressive, Owens was the 21st player in school history to compile at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career, ending with 564 total boards.

Bright, Huestis Take Steps Forward
Stanford's improvement could be traced to the accelerated development of sophomores Aaron Bright and Josh Huestis. Bright's 136 assists and 3.7 assists per game led the team. Huestis led the club with 43 blocked shots. While it's a modest total, Huestis' 43 swats were the most by any Cardinal player since Robin Lopez (83) and Brook Lopez (56) in 2008.

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A Four-Overtime Victory? Please Explain...
Oregon State built a 43-36 halftime lead on the strength of 58.1 percent shooting, taking its largest lead at 32-17 with six minutes left before intermission. Trailing 58-48 with 13:11 left in regulation, Stanford produced a 13-2 run that was punctuated by a Chasson Randle three-pointer at the 8:29 mark to give the Cardinal its first lead at 62-61. Tied at 76-76, Josh Owens appeared to convert a game-winning put-back as time expired, but officials reviewed the play and waved off the basket. Stanford's 103-101 win featured 171 field goal attempts, 48 three-point tries, 54 fouls, 41 assists, 14 ties, 13 lead changes, 108 rebounds and lasted a marathon-like three hours, eight minutes.

Preseason NIT Runner-Up Finish Fuels Hot Start
Stanford fell just short of upsetting then-No. 5/5 Syracuse on Nov. 25 in the title game of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off, falling 69-63. Leading 25-24 at halftime and 55-47 with 6:47 left in the game, Stanford was poised to take down its highest-ranked foe since shocking No. 3/2 UCLA 75-68 on Jan. 28, 2007. But Syracuse iced the game on a 15-3 run to escape and avoid the upset.

Ray Lewis Delivers Fiery Pregame Speech
Prior to Stanford's NIT semifinal against UMass, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis delivered an inspirational pregame speech inside the Cardinal locker room. The two-minute pep talk, organized as a surprise for the team, instantly became a YouTube phenomenon. By the time Stanford had blown out Minnesota in the title game three days later, the video had logged over 410,000 views. Prior to each game, Cardinal players watched a montage of Lewis' highlights as part of their pregame preparation. So, you could imagine the shock when the 13-time Pro Bowler and 2000 Super Bowl MVP walked into the room. Some lasting messages from Lewis' speech:
"If tomorrow wasn't promised, what would you give for today?"
"Whatever legacy you are going to leave, leave your legacy."
"Effort is between you and you."
"Every day is a new day. Every moment is a new moment."
"Because I'm pissed off ... for greatness."

Davey Retires From Coaching
The 2011-12 campaign represented the final season of associate head coach Dick Davey's memorable coaching career. Highly-regarded as a teacher of the game and well-respected veteran of West Coast basketball, Davey served four seasons as Stanford's associate head coach. No stranger to the Bay Area hoops scene, Davey previously spent 30 years at Santa Clara, serving as head coach for 15 seasons.

Three Sign Letters Of Intent For 2012-13
Head coach Johnny Dawkins signed three incoming student-athletes to National Letters of Intent: Rosco Allen (Las Vegas, NV, 6-9, 205, forward), Christian Sanders (Houston, TX, 6-4, 185, guard), Grant Verhoeven (Visalia, CA, 6-9, 220, center).

Spain Trip Provides Head Start
Stanford embarked on a six-game, 11-day tour of Spain in early September, touring Madrid, Alicante and Barcelona. Stanford played six games against teams from the ACB League, known as the second-best league in the world behind the NBA. Among the opponents: Real Madrid, 30-time Spanish League and eight-time Euroleague champ, and FC Barcelona Regal, which beat the Los Angeles Lakers in an exhibition game and was playing its first-ever game against a college team. Leading Stanford in Spain were Chasson Randle (11.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg) and Josh Owens (8.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 52.6 percent FG).

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"It kind of became a symbol of toughness. Giving everything you have and not caring what people think. The team has fed off it."
- Andrew Zimmermann describing his beard, which he started growing right before the team's trip to Spain in September.

"I don't think the guys noticed. We came here to play basketball, not climb mountains."
- Dwight Powell when asked about Colorado's elevation and home court advantage. Stanford handed Colorado its only home loss in Pac-12 play, thrashing the Buffaloes 74-50 in Boulder.

"I loved math coming in, but I realized there is math, and then there is Stanford math."
- John Gage on his decision to pursue a major in economics.

"I wanted to bring a student-athlete perspective to student government because that really had not been done before."
- Jack Trotter on his decision to run for office. Trotter is one of four senior class presidents.

"I consider it one of the hardest years of my life ... But at the same time, it's something I wouldn't trade anything for."
- Josh Owens on redshirting the 2009-10 season due to a medical condition.

"It was a feeling I had not experienced in a long time. I felt like a basketball player again."
- Andy Brown after finally making his collegiate debut on Nov. 23 following three ACL tears to his left knee in each of his first three seasons.

"Being smaller, you have to have that edge and a chip on your shoulder. You have to be the aggressor."
- Aaron Bright describing how his style of play offsets his 5-11 stature at the point guard spot.

"Honestly, I was just playing basketball. I was focused on trying to make complete plays."
- Chasson Randle after his tournament-record 27-point first half against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament. Randle finished with a career-high 30 points as Stanford won 85-65.

"I was just shooting my bullets like Coach Dawkins always tells us."
- Anthony Brown talking about his season-high 18-point performance (7-12 FG, 3-6 3FG) against Massachusetts in the NIT semifinals.

"To show we have grown, we would have to win this tournament."
- Head coach Johnny Dawkins after Stanford claimed the 2012 NIT title, also referring to the Cardinal's runner-up 2011 Preseason NIT finish.



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