Luck brings Montana-like assurance to his team


Luck brings Montana-like assurance to his team

Is this the week? Is this the time that all of those withHeisman Trophy votes can put their Andrew Luck selection in ink?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I suppose it depends on yourcriteria, and yes, this is a big stage for Stanford and their quarterback. But I think the very best thing about Luck isthat hes only spectacular when he has to be.And, he hasnt had to be.

True enough, it depends on yourdefinition of spectacular. If itsbloated statistics then Luck would fall into the maybe category. If its how well you play the position andwhat impact do you have on your team its a no-brainer.

The Cardinal play at USC thisSaturday. Not an easy place to play fora visiting team. But one of the things Ireally like about this Stanford team is that they dont seem to care about thevenue. And it starts with thequarterback.

I remember talking to severalmembers of the San Francisco 49ers during the Bill Walsh hey-day and to thenumber they said, When you get in the huddle with Joe Montana you simply knowyoure going to win. Time remaining,score, down and distance, none of that matters. You just know youre going to win. Andrew Luck brings that same kind of assurance to his team.

Stanford will win the game onSaturday. And theyll likely do it inthe same way theyve disassembled everyone else theyve played this year. The first quarter will be close. In the second quarter the difference willbegin to show. In the third quarter theopponent is on the ropes and reeling, and in the final 15 minutes whats leftis a gelatinous mass. The Cardinal beatyou up. They pound on you with anendless array of big bodies, and they take no prisoners. There are no technical knockouts in collegefootball.

Its for that reason that AndrewLuck has not put up numbers that dazzle would be Heisman voters who are quickto judge a players ability on how many touchdown passes he can throw againstPanhandle A&M. The single mostimpressive thing to me about Luck is that he does all he does within thesystem.

With Luck its about nuance --like the difference between a good wine and a great wine. Pocket presence, when to run and when to holdit, check downs, when touch is required and when you really need to spin it,getting in and out of the huddle, knowing where everyone is. And when he really needs to make a play hemakes it.

Enjoy Andrew Luck while youcan. Hes probably not going to be inthe Bay Area after this year. And enjoyhis team. The Cardinal are not perfect. The Shayne Skov loss is a big one, and theywill on occasion give up the big play. USC is capable of the big play.The difference in this game is that they will need a lot of them.

Oregon could be another story but for this week there will still be a national championship to dream of.

Landale leads with double-double in Saint Mary's dominant win


Landale leads with double-double in Saint Mary's dominant win


MALIBU -- Jock Landale had 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead No. 20 Saint Mary's to a 78-49 victory over Pepperdine on Thursday night.

The Gaels (25-3, 15-2 West Coast) continued to roll in winning 10 of their last 11 games. Their only loss in that stretch was to No. 1 Gonzaga.

Lamond Murray Jr. had 17 points for Pepperdine (9-20, 5-12), which lost its third consecutive game.

A power outage caused the lights to go out with 18:41 left in the second half. Pepperdine official Roger Horne said power surges throughout campus caused the 15-minute delay. Players stayed loose by shooting in the dark.

The delay didn't slow down Saint Mary's, which led 41-21 before the lights went out. Landale, the junior center from Australia, had an empathic dunk for the first basket after play resumed and the Gaels cruised from there.


Saint Mary's did what it needed to do in recording another road victory. The Gaels and Landale continued to flex their usual muscles as they dominated in the paint and outrebounded the Waves 47-29.

Pepperdine has weathered the storm of an injury-plagued season and played with its 10th lineup of the season. Chris Reyes (heel) was ruled out for the season on Thursday, but the Waves still suited up nine players.


Saint Mary's returns home to play its regular-season finale against Santa Clara on Saturday, the final tuneup before the WCC Tournament. The Gaels won the last matchup, 72-59.

Pepperdine plays its last home game on Saturday against San Francisco. It's the final game at Firestone Fieldhouse for guard Jeremy Major, who is scheduled to make his 122nd career start, which would become most in school history.

Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State


Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State


STANFORD -- Even though Stanford has been buried in the lower half of the Pac-12 standings all season, Reid Travis isn't so sure his team is an underdog against No. 6 Oregon.

That might be a stretch considering the Ducks are making a run at the conference title but that didn't seem to matter to Travis.

"The way we're playing now is great for this time of year," Travis said following Stanford's 79-66 win over Oregon State on Wednesday. "I feel like we're really taking off. Even though our record doesn't reflect it I really do feel that we're one of the top teams so take that as you want to."

Travis had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead four players in double figures. Marcus Allen also scored 17, Dorian Pickens added 15 and Robert Cartwright had 10 as the Cardinal beat the Beavers for the 21st time in the last 23 games between the two teams at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (14-13, 6-9 Pac-12) led by as many as 25 but had to hold on after Oregon State (5-24, 1-15) pulled within 74-63 with 3:28 left on JaQuori McLaughlin's 3-pointer.

Allen and Pickens scored back-to-back buckets for Stanford, and after Stephen Thompson's putback for Oregon State, Pickens made a 3-pointer.

"We're pointing in the right direction on both ends of the floor," Allen said. "Guys are getting good looks . and on defense we're more active. Hopefully that continues."

Drew Eubanks had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Oregon State. Gligorije Rakocevic added a season-high 16 points for the Beavers, who couldn't follow up after beating Utah last week for their first conference win of the season.

Stanford built a quick double-digit lead despite a strong start by Rakocevic. The 6-foot-11-foot center, averaging 3.8 points going into the game, matched his season high in the first half while scoring 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting.

The Cardinal countered with a more balanced attack after adjusting to the Beavers' zone defense. Travis, Allen, Cartwright and Pickens combined for 32 points in the first half to help Stanford take a 43-33 lead.

The Cardinal also controlled the boards while outscoring the Beavers 46-22 in the paint.

"For us to be at our best we're going to score from the free throw line, like we did in the Cal game, or score around the basket," Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. "Smash-mouth is a football term but if it was a basketball term I think that would be a good word for us."

Travis got Stanford going again after halftime and helped push the Cardinal lead to 69-44.

Eubanks nearly brought Oregon State back. He scored 17 points in the second half, including 13 of the Beavers' first 20.


Oregon State: The Beavers hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time since beating Prairie View A&M and Texas-San Antonio to open the season didn't last long. They didn't play poorly - Oregon State shot close to 47 percent most of the night - but couldn't match Stanford's run coming out of halftime and never recovered.

Stanford: The win pushed the Cardinal into a tie for seventh place in the Pac-12, still nowhere near enough to get a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The outcome was never in doubt, but Haase was concerned about Stanford's mental approach.


Eubanks and Travis were both hit with technical fouls after a heated exchange in the second half. Although no punches were thrown, Eubanks suffered a bloody nose during the incident and had to be treated near the Beavers' bench.

"We're trying to go at each other as hard as possible so of course there's different plays where a lot of contact happens," Travis said. "I like that. That's how competitors act and we just moved on from it. Unfortunately they called a technical on both of us. I'd like to see us play on in that sense."


Oregon State: Plays at California on Friday night.

Stanford: Hosts No. 6 Oregon on Saturday in the final regular season home at Maples Pavilion this year. The Ducks beat the Cardinal 69-52 on Jan. 21.