To play Connecticut on the road in November in the week before Thanksgiving is less about winning than information gathering for Stanford.
But, and that’s a big but, winning would be good too.
Winning would mean you are farther than you thought you were, matching up with a team that could very well again be the best team in the nation by the time the season’s over.
Winning could mean that you’ve executed well the things you’ve been practicing over the last month and a half.
Winning would have been cool.
Stanford will have to leave Connecticut this morning with the consolation prize that Monday night’s 68-58 loss to UConn was a winnable game.
The Cardinal could have silenced the crowd at the XL Center, could have knocked the Huskies back. Could have. But they didn’t.
And maybe the valuable lessons on Monday night are ultimately more valuable.
Lesson No. 1 – Turnovers will cost you. Should be an obvious one, and there was a portend for this in Stanford’s game against Gonzaga more than a week ago when the Cardinal struggled to take care of the ball in the first half against the Zags, but did a better job in the second.
But 16 turnovers against the Huskies translated into 16 lost opportunities to score. Can’t do that against Geno’s team.
It was a rough night for guard Toni Kokenis, who had three turnovers. It was even rougher for Chiney Ogwumike, who turned the ball over five times. And neither could make up for mistakes with offense, combining to shoot 5 of 25 from the floor.
Lesson No. 2 – Foul trouble will cost you too. Grouse about the officiating if you’d like, but Nneka picking up her second foul trying to take a charge was a high risk choice on her part and it led to her spending 14 minutes on the bench in the first half. Minutes that Stanford needed her on the floor.
Lesson No. 3 – Defense needs some shoring up. Connecticut missed a lot of shots, but they weren’t bad shots. The Huskies might not have taken advantage of every opportunity, but there were a lot of them. It would sound like holding the Huskies to 35.7 percent shooting would be a win. But it’s a deceiving number.
Ok on the positive side…
Bright spots – Sarah Boothe. Boothe had her best game in a very long time. She was 4 of 5 for eight points in 19 minutes on the floor and did good, physical defensive work on Connecticut’s Stefanie Dolson, who ended up hitting just two shots from the floor.
Jasmine Camp. The freshman guard was the Cardinal’s most productive backcourt player. She scored 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting and dished out three assists with no turnovers. She was poised and played well under pressure.
Next up is a Xavier team that is frankly a shell of its former self with the departure of coach Kevin McGuff and the graduation of Ta’Shia Phillips and Amber Harris.
Time to start applying lessons.