tampabay.com

Double dribble: Men

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published February 5, 2005


Stanford flying through Pac-10

Folks in the Pac-10 might not be surprised by Stanford's recent resurgence, but in most other time zones, well, that's another story and proof why VCRs are a good thing.

Conventional wisdom suggested that the Cardinal wouldn't be among the elite, certainly not No. 1, where it finished the regular season in 2003-04. Not when a team loses its best player early to the NBA ( Josh Childress), two other key starters ( Matt Lottich and Justin Davis, both of whom averaged double figures) and a coach ( Mike Montgomery) to the NBA.

Getting back on track takes time.

Just not very long for this program.

The Cardinal (12-8) rebounded from an 0-3 start in the league and sub-.500 record overall by winning six in a row before Thursday's loss at Arizona State. Stanford is tied for third in the league with UCLA entering today's game at No. 14 Arizona.

"It's a combination of things," said first-year coach Trent Johnson, a former Stanford assistant who had been at Nevada. "No. 1 is confidence and (then) the guys becoming more comfortable with their roles. I said it early in the year before we started playing that I thought it was going to take a while for certain guys to adjust to their new roles."

Junior small forward Dan Grunfeld averaged 3.4 points in 11.2 minutes a year ago and is now averaging a team-high 17.8 points while playing 33.3 minutes.

Junior forward Matt Haryasz, another role player last season, has increased his scoring and rebounding averages from 6.9 and 4.1 to 10.3 and 8.8, respectively.

Then there's junior point guard Chris Hernandez who had to be more than a distributor; he had to score. The co-captain averages 14.5 points, up from 10, and scored 23 in a win against Arizona on Jan. 8.

"The reason for their rough start was Chris Hernandez was not completely healthy," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "In my opinion, Hernandez is the best point guard in the country despite what some of the Easterners say. You take a look at his numbers, his competitiveness. . . . If you take a look at what he has done in the second half of games, he's a winner, he's a clutch guy. If it came down to my starting with him or starting with some of the other really high-profile guards in the country, I'd take Chris in a second."

OFF BEAT

Halftime of tonight's South Florida basketball game against Tulane won't feature your usual entertainment and you may want to hold off on the trip to the concession stand.

Jillian Black, 24, a USF senior majoring in mass communications, and Dr. Charles Wright, the medical director for LifeLink Florida, will deliver a powerful, sobering message about organ donation as part of a nationwide "Get Game - Give Life" tour.

"It can be a wakeup call; (they may think) I'm young and healthy now but (realize) some of my peers may not have been," Wright said.

Black is an example.

The Plant High graduate had a congenital heart problem, born with a single ventricle, and received not one, but two heart transplants in August 2001. She's doing fine today, taking a full class load, leading an active life and speaking at functions.

"It's pretty exciting," she said, working a LifeLink booth at the Tampa Convention Center in conjunction with Gasparilla. "I go to school with these students every day. ... I get to share my story with all of them and tell them things they need to think about, not just because it could occur to them or someone in their family but for the fact they can help another life in the end."

BY THE NUMBERS

5 - North Carolina players averaging in double figures.

14 - Double doubles this season by Utah sophomore Andrew Bogut, tied for first in the nation.

17.8 - Scoring average of Pierre Pierce, who was dismissed from the Iowa team.

26 - Oklahoma State's home winning streak, longest in the nation. Its next home game is Monday against Oklahoma.

999 - Wins in program history for Houston, which hosts C-USA rival Memphis today.

MUST-SEE TV

No. 11 Alabama at Florida, 3 p.m. today, Ch. 38: The Gators have won eight of 11 but lack an eye-catching win. The Crimson Tide has rolled off six straight wins and, sorry Kentucky, might be the team to beat in the SEC.

No. 18 Cincinnati at Charlotte, 4 p.m. today, ESPN: The Bearcats need to bounce back from Wednesday's loss at Louisville. The 49ers need to bounce back from an upset at East Carolina last weekend.