About a week after practice began Stanford junior forward Josh
Childress sought out media-relations director Bob Vazquez and
informed him that there was a mistake in his listed height. "I'm
not 6'8"," Childress said. Did he want Vazquez to factor in his
Afro, which easily adds three to four inches? Just the opposite.
"I'm really only 6'7"," he told Vazquez.
Just as he's loath to pad his size, the humble Childress doesn't
think he deserves all the credit heaped on him by teammates.
"Josh does everything for us," says junior center Rob Little.
"He's not just a scorer. He blocks shots, he rebounds, and he is
so long that he creates a presence on the floor that is really
unusual and difficult to guard."
The limber Childress isn't buying it--totally, anyway. "I've had
games where I've played really well," he concedes. "I've also had
games where I've played really poorly. And that's something I
can't do anymore."
Stanford coach Mike Montgomery compares Childress's graceful,
sliding, gliding and elastic style with that of NBA Hall of Famer
George Gervin. Childress's all-around play--14.1 points and 8.1
rebounds per game, and 46 blocked shots--was a big reason the
Cardinal exceeded modest expectations in 2002-03. This season,
after a summer spent working on his outside shot and playing on
the U.S. team at the Pan Am Games, Childress will be an even
tougher matchup for opponents. "If Josh consistently shoots the
ball well, he'll be very, very hard to guard because that opens
up his drives," says Montgomery.
The Cardinal, which brings back every key player from last season
except point guard Julius Barnes, is motivated, forward Justin
Davis says, by the 85-74 "butt-kicking" Stanford received from
Connecticut in the South Regional last March. "It was the second
year in a row that we got bumped out in the second round of the
NCAAs," says Childress. "I think we're a lot better than that,
and it's time to prove it."
It may be March before we'll know the true measure of this
2002-03 RECORD: 24-9 (14-4, 2nd in Pac-10)
TOURNAMENT: Lost to Connecticut in 2nd round
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF Josh Childress 6'7" Jr. 14.1 ppg
PF Justin Davis 6'9" Sr. 7.8 rpg
C Rob Little 6'10" Jr. 8.8 ppg
SG Matt Lottich 6'4" Sr. 11.3 ppg
PG Chris Hernandez 6'2" Soph. 2.5 apg
an opposing coach's view
"Josh Childress is as good as any wing in the country. If he's
hitting jumpers, he's a tough matchup because he's big enough to
take smaller defenders into the post. The only question has been
his toughness.... Getting back point guard CHRIS HERNANDEZ, who
missed all but two games of last season with a stress fracture in
his left foot, is really going to help them. He's not a great
athlete, but he makes good decisions.... JUSTIN DAVIS is a good
rebounder and shot blocker. Now they need him to be more than a
garbage man on the offensive end.... They're well-coached, but
defensively they've had problems containing the ball. Our team
will try to spread them out and get some penetration."
Consecutive NCAA tournament opening-round wins for Stanford. Only
Kansas (14) and Kentucky (12) have longer active streaks.