CANCUN, Mexico — Kentucky assistant coaches John Robic and Rod Strickland, plus assistant director of basketball operations Tony Delk watched Stanford beat Virginia 57-52 Tuesday night in the Cancun Challenge semifinals.
No doubt Landry Fields figured large in their assessment of Stanford (3-2), UK's foe in Wednesday night's finals.
Fields scored 25 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and made three steals — all game highs.
"He's one of the best players in the country," Stanford Coach Johnny Dawkins said. "I think he showed it tonight."
Fields, a 6-foot-7 wing, is Stanford's lone returning senior starter from a team that went 20-14 last season. He came to Cancun averaging 22.5 points a game.
"He's our captain, our leader and our best player," Dawkins said.
Other than Fields, who hit nine of 16 shots, Stanford struggled for points. The other Cardinal players made 12 of 38 shots.
Stanford's goal to play good defense was met in the victory over Virginia, which made just 37.8 percent of its shots (4-for-18 from three-point range).
"Something we've concentrated on for a few weeks: Just our overall help defense and rotating," Dawkins said.
As for facing Kentucky, Dawkins said he would get his first look at tape of UK later in the evening.
"I know they have terrific talent and a terrific coach," Dawkins said. "So I know they'll be a formidable team."
A former star player and later assistant coach for Duke, Dawkins acknowledged the elite position of Kentucky.
"If we can raise Stanford's level to the program we're going to face tomorrow and to the level of a program like Duke, I think we'd be pretty proud."
Former UK walk-on Dwight Perry is a volunteer student helper for Stanford. He's completing work on his degree at nearby San Jose State.
Asked about Perry's duties, Dawkins said, "Anything from doing laundry to keeping stats ... But nothing on the court."