November 25, 2014

Amber named to preseason Wooden and Wade lists


Congratulations Amber!

Amber is one of the women’s basketball players named to the John R. Wooden Award Women’s Preseason Top 30 it was announced Monday.

And today she was named to the 25-player Wade Watch list.

For more information about Amber and the awards, see:

November 24, 2014

Cardinal escapes wolf pack

The Cardinal wore their black road warrier uniforms in the Pit, where they found a much tougher battle than was anticipated.

Before the game, Lobos' junior point guard Bryce Owens said, "We’ll just play as hard as we can and see what happens." What happened is they came thisclose to winning.

The Lobos pulled ahead by one point with just 46 seconds left to play, but the Cardinal sank all six of their ensuing free throws and won the battle 70-65.

The Cardinal won the battle at the free-throw line, but came perilously close to losing it there too. Before those last six, they made only 11 of 23 attempts — yes, an abysmal 48%. That's going to have to be corrected soon.

It was a game of streaks.

Stanford dominated the first quarter with strong defense inside and great shooting from the outside. They led by as much as 16, largely thanks to Karlie, who sank four three-pointers in the first six minutes. She sank two more later and led all scorers at the end with a career-high 23 points.

The momentum changed in the second quarter. The Lobos began taking – and making – their shots from beyond the arc and gradually cut into the Cardinal lead. They tied the score with five minutes left in the half and were ahead by three with five seconds left. Amber, the buzzer-beater, sank a three-pointer to tie the score 35-35. She scored a total of 23 points tonight and became the 35th member of the Stanford 1000-point club.

The Cardinal started the second half with a 14-2 run, but the Lobos weren't anywhere near giving up. They kept whittling away at the lead and took it again with 46 seconds left to play.

Then:

    Kaylee was fouled on a rebound and made two free throws;
    Amber inexpicably fouled Antiesha Brown, who missed both of her free throws;
    Bonnie & Amber iced the win with two free throws apiece.

The game really was decided by free throws. The Cardinal had a huge rebounding advantage (50-31), but their inside scoring was poor. Both teams scored 26 points in the paint. And the Lobos made eight three-pointers to the Cardinal's seven. That adds up to a final "field goal score" of 50-47, advantage Lobos. Although the Cardinal missed 12 free throws, they took 13 more than the Lobos and made 10 more.

That huge rebounding advantage was largely due to Kaylee's near-record-setting performance. She grabbed 22 of the Cardinal's 50 rebounds. Chiney holds the Stanford single-game record with 24 and Nneka had 23 once. Kaylee also drew the most fouls and made enough of her free throws to tally her first double-double (the only one tonight) — 22-10.

Where was Lili? She was not feeling well and did not play tonight.

Here are game reports and commentary:

And the box score and play-by-play.

November 23, 2014

Lili is espnW national player of the week

Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel have voted Lili as espnW's first national player of the week for the 2014-15 season.

Michelle Smith characterizes Lili as "poised, fearless and aggressive" in her report of the award: Lili Thompson is player of the week.

This rather weird photo used to illustrate the report:

was taken as the final buzzer sounded at Maples on Monday. Lili, who had been guarding Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (#23) for 2.6 seconds, is dropping to the floor in jubilation.

This shot was taken about one second earlier:

November 22, 2014

Up next: The New Mexico Lobos

The Cardinal are away on their first road trip next week. They'll be in the Pit in Albuquerque at 6:00 on Monday to play the New Mexico Lobos.

The game won't be televised, but it will be streamed live by the Mountain West Conference and broadcast by KZSU. Live stats will be shown here.

The Lobos came to Maples last year and six years ago, but the Cardinal haven't played in the Pit since 2007.

I went to that game and remember it well — primarily for the Lobos' awesome fan support. The Pit (a below ground level arena) was filled with almost 9,000 incredibly supportive fans. They greeted every Lobo point with thunderous cheers. They all boo-ed every foul called against the Lobos, not just the questionable ones. And when they weren't cheering or booing, they howled.

The Lobos were in the top tier of the Mountain West Conference (MWC) for many seasons under 17-year head coach Don Flanagan, during which they won six Mountain West Conference titles and made eight appearances in the NCAA Women's basketball tournament. He retired in 2011 and Yvonne Sanchez, his assistant for eleven years, took over.

The Lobos have been hard-hit by serious injuries the past three seasons and have dropped down in the conference standings. They went 11-19 last season and stood #9 (of 11) in the MWC. They've been picked to finish ninth again this season.

But, win or lose, the Lobos' devoted fans have stuck with them. The average attendance at The Pit for the past three seasons has been just over 6,000 per game. The Lobos ranked 12th in the nation in home attendance last season.

The game on Monday may be a sell-out for a couple of reasons — it will be the Lobos' first home game of the season, and it's being featured as a game against the #1 team in the nation (read more in Cardinal to bring spotlight, No. 1 ranking to the Pit).

The Lobos will be happy to be back home. They had a very tough start this season at the Maggie Dixon Classic in Chicago, where they lost three games — to No. 5 Texas A&M, to No. 18 DePaul and to UTPA (University of Texas Pan-American).

The starters in each of the Lobos' first three games were:

  • #13, 6'0" junior forward Khadijah Shumpert is a strong, physical presence in the paint on both ends and ls co-leader of the team in scoring with 12.7 points per game. She was named to the Maggie Dixon Classic all-tournament lteam last week.

  • #15, 5'10" redshirt senior guard Antiesha Brown makes the game look easy even though she is one of the hardest-working players on the team. She started in all 30 games last season and was the top scorer with 14.3 points per game. She, like Shumpert, has averaged 12.7 points per game this season.

  • #12, 5'4" junior guard Bryce Owens is a quick, durable point guard who displays a good burst to the basket on drives ... and also likes to take the long shots. She led the team in 3-pointers last season — taking half of her shots from beyond the arc and making 32% of them.

  • #0, 5'10" freshman guard Cherise Beynon is a sharp-shooter with a nose for defense, who should earn considerable playing time her first year. Her averages thus far are 22 minutes, 6.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.

  • #03, 5'11" sophomore forward Josie Greenwood is a fundamentally sound player who does the little things right for the Lobos. She's averaged 2.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Here are New Mexico's 2014-15 statistics and roster.

November 20, 2014

Cardinal hooked by the 'Horns

Updated Nov 21, 8:40 am: Added Daily News and Stanford Daily articles.

The Texas Longhorns played a great game tonight and won 87-81 in overtime.

The Cardinal fought hard for 45 minutes, but just couldn't match the Longhorns on offense or defense.

The Longhorns led for most of the game, by as much as 10 points. The Cardinal finally took its first lead (since the first four minutes) with 1:43 minutes left to play but couldn't hold on to it. The Longhorns made three of six field goals in the overtime period, and the Cardinal made just one of seven, and that was that.

There were some bright spots in an otherwise disappointing evening for Cardinal fans.

Lili led all scorers with 28 points (her career high). This was her third consecutive 20+ point game. She's the first Stanford guard to do that in a long time. I don't know when a Stanford guard last scored 20+ points in three consecutive games — maybe never. I'll wait for goStanford to research that statistic.

Kaylee led all rebounders again with 13 again — a repeat of Monday night. She has grabbed 30 rebounds so far in her collegiate career, an average of 10.0 per game. Some other great Cardinal rebounders — Chiney, Kayla and Nicole — averaged 8.0, 8.4 and 8.5 rpg respectively in their freshman year.

Bri, who is proving to be a valuable backup at the point, matched her career-high points in a single game by sinking the first eight of her ten free throws (we can only hope that it's contagious).

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

A gallery of photos by Karen Ambrose Hickey (Stanford Photo),

And photos by Beck Diefenbach (Associated Press):

Alex in a battle with Brianna Taylor for possession of the ball
Bonnie on defense against Brianna Taylor
Taylor and Bird impede Kelsey Lang's drive to the basket
Lili celebrates an opportunity for a couple of free throws

How Stanford women reached the top

Ann Killion (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on Stanford's jump to No. 1 in the AP top 25:

How Stanford women reached the top

There's nothing in her report that an attentive Cardinal fan doesn't already know, but still it's good to be getting attention from the media.

November 19, 2014

Up next: The Texas Longhorns

It's not going to get much easier for the Cardinal this week. The Texas Longhorns come to Maples on Thursday at 6:00 pm.

The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network, with Ros Gold-Onwude as the color analyst. KZSU will broadcast the game, and live stats will be here.

This will be the fourth meeting of the Cardinal and the Longhorns in the past four years. The Cardinal won the prior three games, but they were all tough defensive contests.


Amber snags a loose ball in Austin last season

The Longhorns finished third in the Big 12 last season behind Baylor and West Virginia. They went to the NCAAs, where they lost to Maryland in the second round. They're expected to be better this season.

Mechelle Voepel (espnW) says, "The Longhorns have subtly been on the rise since Karen Aston took over as coach in 2012, and this could be the season when the dividends of the rebuild begin to pay off. "

Others share that opinion. The Longhorns began the season ranked #9/12 in the national polls and they were selected as the favorite to win the 2014-15 Big 12 regular season title in a preseason vote of the league's head coaches.

If you want to hear more about the Longhorns' expectations for this season, watch coach Aston's preseason press conference.

The Longhorns are returning 82 percent of their scoring and 82 percent of their minutes played from last season's squad. They lost their three-season leading scorer (guard Chassidy Fussell) to graduation. They've also lost junior center Imani McGee-Stafford for an indefinite period — she had surgery in September to reinforce the tibia in her left leg.

They've added four freshmen – Aston's first recruiting class – which was ranked as #11 by espnW HoopGurlz. With added depth in the guard position, coach Aston expects that the Longhorns will change their style a bit and run more.

Coach Aston and her staff haven't settled on a starting lineup yet. These are three returning starters, an important post player and the most promising freshman:

  • #3, 6'1" senior forward Nneka Enemkpali enters her senior year as an All-American candidate with a level of athleticism rarely seen in the women’s game. She led UT in total points the last two seasons and averaged a team-best 8.6 rebounds per game last season. ESPN has selected her as #21 of their Top-25 Players of the Year: "The last two seasons, Enemkpali has made steady progress, and this year should be her best yet. "

  • #32, 5'11" junior guard Brady Sanders played an average of 25 minutes per game last season (second on the team) and started 28 of 34 games. She averaged 7.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. She was second to Chassidy Fussell in perimeter shooting. She took just under half her shots from beyond the arc and made 37.5% of them.

  • #2, 5'8" junior guard Celina Rodrigo runs the point for the Longhorns. She started 24 of their last 25 games last season. She led the team in assists (3.7 per game) and had a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. She also tallied 3.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.

  • #40, 6'5" sophomore center Kelsey Lang averaged 5.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in her freshman season. Coach Aston reports that Kelsey trained hard in the summer and fall and is leaner, stronger, and runs the floor better. With McGee-Stafford absent, Kelsey will be the Longhorns' major front-court player. She was the Longhorns' leading scorer (12 points) in their first game this season and also tallied six rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

  • #24, 5'11" freshman guard Ariel Atkins was the Texas High School Player of the Year and a McDonald's All-American and was selected as the preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year. She started in the Longhorns' first game of the season and played the most minutes (27). Although she makes freshman mistakes, coach Alston thinks that she's capable of being a game changer.
Here is coach Aston talking about the upcoming game against Stanford:

Here are the Longhorns' roster and 2013-14 statistics.

November 18, 2014

Can anyone beat UConn? YES-S-S-S!!!

Tara expected to be proud of her young team's performance against two-time national champion UConn. I'll bet that even she didn't expect to be this proud.

The Huskies had the lead for most of the game, but never by more than 10, and that for just 30 seconds well into the second half.

The Cardinal took a one-point lead on a three-pointer by Bonnie with two minutes left in the first half. They took the lead again, by four, on a three-pointer by Karlie two minutes into the second half.

This is what happened at the end of regulation, with just over one minute to play:

Time Score Action
01:19 68-71 Bonnie makes a FT, reduces UConn lead to 3.
00:47 70-71 Lili makes 2 FTs
00:37 70-73 Breanna Stewart makes 2 FTs
00:26 72-73 Amber drives to the basket and lays it in
00:24 72-75 Mosqueda-Lewis makes 2 FTs
00:16 74-75 Amber drives to the basket and lays it in
00:12 74-77 Morgan Tuck makes 2 FTs
00:04 77-77 Amber sinks a 3-ptr
00:01 77-77 Mosqueda-Lewis heaves inbound to Stewart at half court, who launches a shot that falls just short of the rim

The Huskies scored first in overtime and held a one- to three-point lead until:

Time Score Action
01:39 85-84 Amber sinks a jumper
00:20 87-84 Bonnie makes 2 FTs
00:03 87-86 Saniya Chong makes a layup
00:02 88-86 Karlie makes a FT
00:02.6 88-86 Mosqueda-Lewis inbounds to Kiah Stokes, who passes it back to M-L, who dribbles 4 times. The buzzer sounds. Game over!


Video by Dave Cortesi

The victory was a great total team effort by the Cardinal.

Before the game, coach Tempie Brown said that the game plan was to avoid mistakes. The players were advised to control their own efforts — don't foul, don't turn the ball over, get the rebounds.

They did a pretty good job of that. Each team committed 24 fouls (and made about two-thirds of their free throws). The Cardinal committed 15 turn-overs, to the Huskies' 13. The Cardinal out-rebounded the Huskies, 41-37.

The Cardinal defense was outstanding. Everyone was assigned to guard the Huskies' top scorer, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis — when defense was needed elsewhere, Karlie was to be responsible. KML was so closely guarded that she took only six shots and made none in the first 30 minutes of the game. She ended with just 12 points: two three-pointers, one jumper and four free throws.

In total, the Huskies made only 40.6% of their field goals — 10% less than their 2013-14 average.

Kaylee did an outstanding job in the post. She didn't score a lot, but she led all rebounders (Cardinal & Huskies) with 13.

Lili was so full of energy that she was a bit out of control at times and managed to make only seven of her 12 free throws, but she ended as the top scorer (Cardinal & Huskies) with 24 points.

The Cardinal shot well from beyond the arc — Bonnie sank two three-pointers and Taylor, Lili, Amber, Briana, and Karlie each sank one.

And Bonnie, on a night when the Cardinal's free-throw shooting was making fans very anxious, swished in all six of hers.

Amber was a great leader of this great team effort. She tallied 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Most important, she took charge and was most effective when it was needed most — in that last critical minute of regulation and to turn the tide in overtime.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The Stanford game highlights video,

The PAC-12 game highlights video,

The Connecticut press conference audio,

The Stanford press conference audio,

A gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (Stanford Photo),

A gallery of photos by Kyle Terada (USA Today Sports),

And a few postgame photos:

Tara's plan pays off!
The winners celebrate
Bonnie and Karlie exult
Lili savors the moment with her family
Geno talks to the media after the game

November 17, 2014

Anticipation

So many words about tonight's game. I like Tara's best, "We know it is going to be a challenge. We are excited about it."

New-Look Stanford Has Same Old Goal: Take Down Goliath by John Altavilla (Hartford Courant)

No. 6 Stanford potentially a stern test for No. 1 UConn by Rich Elliott (CT Post)

UConn, Stanford ready to write next chapter in rivalry by Jim Fuller (New Haven Register)

No. 6 Stanford women take on top-ranked Connecticut by Elliott Almond (Mercury News)

UConn women, as imposing as ever, visit Stanford by Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle)

Card dispatch Boston College with No. 1 Connecticut looming by Alexa Phillippou (Stanford Daily)

November 16, 2014

Next up: UConn

The Cardinal has a big date at Maples on Monday evening at 6:00 — a game against the reigning national champion, on national television.

The game kicks off ESPN's Monday night basketball series. It will be televised on ESPN2 and streamed live on ESPN3 (WatchESPN). KZSU will broadcast the game and live stats will be here.

Based on the preseason Top 25 rankings, Stanford will be UConn's third-toughest opponent this season after conference mate South Carolina and classic Jimmy V opponent Notre Dame.

No surprise that Geno would have liked a preview of Stanford's new style of play. Good that Heidi declined his request for the UCSD/Stanford game tape.

The Huskies have lost three members of last season's team. Center Stefanie Dolson and guard Bria Hartley graduated and junior guard Brianna Banks transferred to Penn State.

Together, they accounted for 39% of the Huskies' points, 35% of the 3-pointers and 33% of the rebounds. So UConn's style of play may look a bit different too.

They've added four freshman guards: Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams.

But not Katie Lou Samuelson until next season. She's still a senior in high school.

The returners whose names and faces you may recognize are junior forward Breanna Stewart, senior forward Kaleena Mosqueda -Lewis, junior guard Moriah Jefferson, redshirt sophomore forward Morgan Tuck, sophomore guard Saniya Chong and senior center Kiah Stokes.

Here are UConn's roster and last season's statistics.

And here is the recap of UConn's first game of this season ‐ against UC Davis on Friday – which they won 102-43.