STANFORD -- When a coach uses 11 players in a half, you probably figure hes either got a big lead or that he has too many good players.In the case of Johnny Dawkins and Stanford on Tuesday night, it was neither. Not for the first 20 minutes anyway.Stanford put aside a rough first half -- one that many players contributed to -- before making enough plays in the second to beat Colorado State 64-52 in the preseason NIT tournament at Maples Pavilion.The depth is something were excited about, Dawkins said. We kind of have a feeling about the strengths and weaknesses of those kids and which games would fit their style of play. When we see that we try to prepare appropriately."Against the small-ish and guard-oriented Rams, Dawkins tried a bunch of first half different lineups. Not only did he use 11 players, he used 11 players in the first 11 minutes.In the second half, Dawkins settled down some, whittling his rotation down to eight players and going small for long stretches.We would like to narrow it down if we possibly could, Dawkins said. We have depth this year. Theres not great separation, and I think you can see that by the stat sheet. You have different guys stepping up and that provides us with flexibility and allows us to play a little unorthodox.Stanford (3-0) was down 31-20 with less than five minutes remaining in the first half, then made a push and capped off the run when Gabe Harris hit a shot from beyond halfcourt to get the Cardinal within 33-31.In the second half, Josh Owens went to work inside, Aaron Bright made a couple of big shots beyond the arc and Harris did his work with the in-between game.I think its something were used to, Owens said about the frequent first-half substitutions. Were a deep team and have a lot of guys who can contribute.
But heres the question: Is it possible that by using too many players it makes it more difficult for players to get into a rhythm?Weve thought about that, Dawkins said. What we anticipate happening throughout the season is our players will create their own separation. Aaron for an example, hes starting to create separation. In practice, before Dwight went down he was starting to create separation. And J.O. (Owens) has separation. You have guys creating that. Its about the players being worthy enough to be out there and the competition has been healthy for them.
Stanford advances to the semifinal round against the winner of Oklahoma State-University of Texas-San Antonio. Before that, the Cardinal has a Friday game against UC Davis.