Tag: Stefan Nastic

Ty Wallace (AP Photo)

The top 15 most improved players in college basketball

Ty Wallace (AP Photo)

 MORE: The rest of our New Year’s Resolutions | Midseason catchups

Ty Wallace, Cal: I’m firmly entrenched on the Ty Wallace bandwagon, having said repeatedly that there is no player in the country as underrated as Cal’s star point guard. Look at this stat line: 19.3 points, 8.8 boards, 4.2 assists and 46.9 percent shooting from three.

Justin Anderson, Virginia: Anderson’s emergence into Virginia’s leading scorer has been the biggest surprise of the season for me. Always known as a great athlete and teammate, Anderson is now averaging 15.1 points and shooting 60.0 percent from three. He’s not a go-to guy, but he’s been Tony Bennett’s most valuable weapon thus far.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Cauley-Stein is starting to live up to his potential this season, becoming the nation’s most versatile defender while anchoring on college basketball’s best defense. A 7-foot-1 center, he can switch ball-screens and has been tasked with stopping an opponent’s best wing scorer at times this season.

source: Getty Images
Robert Upshaw (Getty Images)

Robert Upshaw, Washington: Washington’s emergence as a top three team in the Pac-12 can almost entirely be credited to Upshaw, who has become the nation’s premiere shot-blocking presence. He’s averaging 4.6 blocks in just 20 minutes and has completely changed the way that Washington is able to defend. I’d argue he’s one of the ten most valuable players in the country right now.

Christian Wood, UNLV: Wood is playing like a first round draft pick, averaging 13.9 points, 9.6 boards and 3.0 blocks for the Rebels. He had 24 points and 10 boards in UNLV’s win over No. 3 Arizona on Tuesday night.

Terry Rozier, Louisville: Rozier has done much of what was expected of him this season. His scoring is up to 16.5 points from 7.0 as a freshman, and while he’s not shooting quite as well from the perimeter this season, his percentages are up overhaul and he’s turned into one of the nation’s best, and most important, secondary options.

Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse: Someone had to become a scorer for Syracuse this season, and thus far in the year it’s been the senior big man that’s done it. He’s averaging 16.5 points and 8.7 boards, a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating season for the Orange.

Zach Auguste, Notre Dame: Auguste has always had the potential to be a big-time scorer in the paint for the Irish, and he’s finally reaching it this year. Auguste’s averaging 14.8 points through the first month, although it will be interesting to see what happens when the Irish start to play some tougher competition.

Levi Randolph, Alabama: Randolph has become a go-to guy for Alabama as a senior, as he’s now posting some impressive numbers: 16.5 points, 4.9 boards and 3.1 assists for the 8-3 Tide.

Dylan Ennis, Villanova: Who saw this coming from Ennis? He’s Villanova’s leading scorer, their most dangerous three-point shooter and one of the best defenders on the roster.

Stefan Nastic, Stanford: With so much of Stanford’s front line graduating, Nastic’s role has been dramatically increased this year, and it’s paying off. Nastic is averaging 14.5 points and has become one of the better low-post scorers on the west coast.

Justin Moss, Buffalo: As a sophomore, Moss averaged 3.8 points and 3.2 boards playing behind Javon McCrea. As a junior, those numbers have bumped up to 17.3 points and 10.2 boards. Oh, and he did this.

Malcolm Hill, Illinois: Hill started a handful of games as a freshman, but as a sophomore he’s moved into a major role for John Groce. His scoring has bumped up to 12.8 points this year, as the Illini look like they could contend for a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Damian Jones, Vanderbilt: Jones has developed into the star we expected him to be as a sophomore, averaging 16.5 points and 7.1 boards.

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: The Spartans have been a disappointment through the season’s first month, but Valentine has been terrific. These numbers are nothing to joke about: 14.5 points, 5.5 boards, 4.3 assists, 50.0 percent from three.

Top 25 Countdown: No. 25 Stanford Cardinal

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2014-2015 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day. Today, we start off our Top 25 countdown with the No. 25 Stanford Cardinal.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | NBCSports Preseason Top 25 | Preview Schedule

source: Getty Images
Johnny Dawkins and Chasson Randle, Getty Images

Last Season: 23-13, 10-8 Pac-12 (t-3rd), lost in the Sweet 16

Head Coach: Johnny Dawkins

Key Losses: Dwight Powell (14.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.1 apg), Josh Huestis (11.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg)

Newcomers: Reid Travis, Michael Humphrey, Robert Cartwright, Dorian Pickens

Projected Lineup

G: Chasson Randle, Sr.
G: Anthony Brown, Sr.
– F: Rosco Allen, So.
– F: Reid Travis, Fr.
– C: Stefan Nastic, Sr.
– Bench: Grant Verhoeven, Jr.; Marcus Allen, So.; Malcolm Allen, So.; Robert Cartwright, Fr.; Michael Humphrey, Fr.; Christian Sanders, So.

They’ll be good because …: Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown will give the Cardinal one of the best back courts in the country. Randle is a supremely underrated lead guard, a big-time scorer that will have to take on more of a playmaking role this season. Brown is a 6-foot-6 marksman that has a reputation for being one of the better perimeter defenders out west.

The combination of Randle and Brown will be the anchor for Stanford as they try to repeat last season’s run to the Sweet 16, but there will be a solid supporting cast around them as well. Stefan Nastic isn’t anything special, but he’s a fifth-year senior and a capable low-post scorer that stands 6-foot-11. He’s not going to be intimidated by anyone he goes up against in league play. He’ll be joined up front by talented freshmen Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey, redshirt sophomore Rosco Allen and junior Grant Verhoeven. Travis, an undersized power forward that is a monster on the glass, should step into the starting lineup from day one and replace the production provided by Josh Huestis last season.

The back court is not as deep, but freshman Robert Cartwright should provide minutes at to spell Randle and give him a chance to play off the ball as well. There’s a chance that Cartwright could end up taking over the starting point guard role by the end of the season. Sophomore twins Marcus and Malcolm Allen will both be available as well, and Dorian Pickens should be able to provide a scoring pop when he sees the floor. The x-factor will be Christian Sanders, who started four times as a freshman in 2012-2013 but is coming off of an injury that kept him out all of last season.

Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown, AP Photo

But they might disappoint because …: We know how good Randle and Brown are, but beyond that, there are a lot of question marks. That’s not to say Dawkins hasn’t accumulated talent — he has recruited well — it’s just that the supporting cast he has on his roster is quite unproven.

Nastic is solid, but he was the third option in Stanford’s front court last year, behind Dwight Powell and Huestis. Freshmen Travis, Humphrey and Cartwright are all four-star recruits, but it is hard to know just how effective freshmen are going to be in their first season on campus. Rosco Allen was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and started seven games as a freshman in 2012-2013, but he missed all of last season with an injury. Verhoeven and the Allen twins have never played major roles.

Outlook: The irony of last season’s run to the Sweet 16 is that before the season — and even entering the NCAA tournament, to a certain extent — there was a concern that Johnny Dawkins’ job could be on the line if he wasn’t able to make some noise. Last year was the most talented team that he has had in his tenure, and the Cardinal only managed a 10 seed in the dance.

While his job is no longer in jeopardy, it doesn’t change the fact that Dawkins has had a number of teams that have, for one reason or another, under-performed. On paper, the Cardinal look like a top five team in the Pac-12, but games aren’t played on paper. Are we pinning too much expectation on one weekend where Stanford played well last March? Maybe, but we’re willing to risk it knowing how good Randle is and assuming that Travis, as well as Cartwright and Humphrey, will be able to make major contributions immediately.

Defense lets down No. 10 Stanford in Sweet 16 loss


Prior to the start of the NCAA tournament last week few people gave No. 10 Stanford a chance of advancing out of the Round of 64. With No. 7 New Mexico having won the Mountain West tournament and No. 2 Kansas without the services of Joel Embiid, much of the Sweet 16 talk centered on the Lobos prior to their matchup with the Cardinal. But it would be Stanford who emerged from St. Louis, and their defense in both games was a major reason as to why.

After limiting New Mexico to 36.5% shooting from the field the Cardinal were even better against Kansas, as the Jayhawks shot just 32.8% from the field and committed 14 turnovers. With their interior tandem of Stefan Nastic and Dwight Powell and a talented combo guard in Chasson Randle, Johnny Dawkins’ team seemed to have the pieces needed to make life difficult for No. 11 Dayton.

However things didn’t work out that way for Stanford, as Dayton used quality ball movement to find open shots throughout the night in their 82-72 victory.

MORE: Dayton earns first Elite Eight appearance in 30 years

Stanford tried the 2-3 zone look that gave Kansas fits on Sunday, and Dayton responded by making six three-pointers in the first half and scoring 42 points. And in the second half with Stanford going back to its man-to-man the Flyers were able to break the Cardinal down off the dribble, resulting in multiple opportunities at the basket. Dayton scored 22 points in the paint in the second half, and for the game the Flyers made 48.3% of its field goal attempts.

Stanford didn’t defend at the level they did against either New Mexico or Kansas, and the disadvantageous match-ups certainly factored into that. But the defense wasn’t the only reason why Stanford fell short of reaching the Elite Eight, as Randle was anything but efficient offensively.

Randle scored a team-high 21 points but did so on 21 field goal attempts, making eight. Add in his three assists and five turnovers, and the player entrusted with running the show since Aaron Bright was lost early in the season due to injury struggled at the worst possible time. Add in Stefan Nastic picking up his fourth foul just over six minutes into the second half after taking advantage of his size against Dayton’s front court, and the Cardinal found themselves fighting uphill the rest of the way.

While the finish to the season was a disappointing one for Stanford, that shouldn’t take away from what they were able to accomplish last week in St. Louis. But this time of year one off night leads to doom on most occasions, and that proved to be the case for the Cardinal.