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 team.
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