The Stanford Cardinal return to the court this weekend to face Central Arkansas in their 2011-12 non-conference opener. The Cardinal are coming off an up and down 2010-11 season in which they finished 15-16 and lost their Pac-10 tournament opener to Oregon State.
Stanford returns all but one player on their roster, but that one player is a big absence. The team's leading scorer and All-Pac-10 member, Jeremy Green, elected to forego his senior season and remain in the NBA Draft, but the rest of the roster returns. They are led by senior Josh Owens who was the team's second leading scorer and their leading rebounder. Their most significant newcomer is guard Chasson Randle who ranked nationally as one of the best combo guards available.
Stanford used a six game trip to Spain as an opportunity to build some camaraderie amongst the players. The Cardinal played all six games against teams in the ACB League. The freshman Randle led the team with 11.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. You can read more about Stanford's road trip through Spain at GoStanford.com.
Stanford's 2011 schedule opens with Central Arkansas but immediately takes a step up in difficulty as they take part in the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. Stanford is guaranteed a minimum of three games depending on how they perform through the first two days. They open hosting Fresno State and then the winner/loser of Colorado State/SMU depending on how the Cardinal fair in the first round.
The rest of Stanford's non-conference schedule features two big name teams in NC State out of the ACC and the national runner-up Butler Bulldogs. The Cardinal will face plenty of challenges as they prepare for a full slate of Pac-12 games beginning December 29 at home against the UCLA Bruins.
We'll have plenty of coverage throughout the season, but for more in-depth discussion, head over to Rule Of Tree.