December 19, 2014

Stanford, Tennessee in unfamiliar territory

By Steve Megargee (Associated Press):

For the first time in nearly a quarter century, Stanford and Tennessee are facing off with neither of these traditional women's basketball powers ranked in the top five.

The seventh-ranked Cardinal (6-3) and 11th-ranked Lady Volunteers (8-2) have legitimate Final Four aspirations, but both teams are still sorting things out as they head into Saturday's game at Thompson-Boling Arena. Read more...

Ariel & Lili at Maples last season

December 17, 2014

Another stunning upset by the Mocs

Holy Toledo! What a game!! The Mocs upset the No. 7 seed 54-46!!!

There was plenty for the jubilant fans in McKenzie Roundhouse to cheer about.

The Mocs defense held the Cardinal to 28% shooting from the field.

The Cardinal guards couldn't find their way to the basket. Amber scored on two of six 2-pointer attempts. Lili sank three 3-pointers, but made none of seven 2-point attempts. Briana made none of three attempts. That's a total of two of 16 – 12.5%. Before tonight, their combined total 2-pointers per game was 8.5 of 18 – 46%.

And the Mocs closed off access to the basket without fouling. They're tied with two other teams in the nation for the fewest fouls per game. They committed only six tonight. None of them were against Amber, Lili or Briana.

The Mocs defense (or bad karma, or something) also stymied the Cardinal beyond the arc, where they made just four of 17 attempts. Besides Lili, six other Cardinals launched 3-pointers – only Taylor succeeded in sinking one.

The Mocs offense was as impressive as their defense. Their ball-handling was crisp and confident. They're a good 3-point shooting team with an average of six per game. They outdid themselves tonight, making nine of 24 attempts. Five of them came from freshman guard Chelsea Shumpert, who scored a career-high 18 points.

To end on a bright Cardinal note: E Payne came off the bench for 18 minutes tonight and tallied six points, four rebounds and two steals. All those stats are season highs for Erica.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

And photos of some nice Cardinal moments by BillyWeeks (Associated Press):

Kaylee shoots against Jasmine Joyner
Briana goes way up for a shot
Bird gets past Jasmine Joyner
Kaylee blocks Keiana Gilbert's shot
Karlie impedes Moses Johnson's drive
Taylor keeps the ball away from Chelsey Shumpert

The word from Chattanooga

Folks in Chattanooga are anticipating this afternoon's game against Stanford.

Chattanooga seeks to upset another national power, commentary by Steve Megargee (The State)

UTC Women's basketball schedule benefiting from Coach Foster's connections, a video story about Coach Foster from TV station KRCB

With big sister injured, Keianna steps up; Lady Mocs battle Stanford tonight, an injury report by Marion Wilhoite (The Daily Herald)

December 16, 2014

Up next: The Universities of Tennessee

Updated Dec 17: Radio coverage of Tennessee game.

The Cardinal are in Tennessee, getting ready to play two Universities of Tennessee – the one in Chattanooga and the one in Knoxville.

When I first saw the schedule for this season, I guessed that the Cardinal would have a fairly easy win in Chattanooga and a tough loss in Knoxville. Then, three weeks ago, the Chattanooga Mocs defeated the Lady Vols and now I have no idea what to expect!

The game in Chattanooga is on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 PT. The Southern Conference will produce a live video stream of the game; Chattanooga will provide live audio and live stats.

The game in Knoxville is on Saturday morning at 10:00 PT. It will be televised on the SEC Network and broadcast by KZSU, broadcast by the Lady Vol Network, with live stats by GameTracker.

Amber lays it up and in last season at Maples

  Chattanooga Mocs

Chattanooga has long been a dominant team in the Southern Conference (SoCon). They've been the champion 16 times in the conference's 31-year history – six times in the past nine years.

This is a rebuilding year for the Mocs, who lost six seniors from last season's SoCon championship team. They've done well so far with three losses (including one to No. 3/2 Notre Dame) and six wins (including a stunning upset of No. 4/4 Tennessee). It's not first time the Mocs have upset the Lady Vols. They spoiled Holly Warlick's debut as Tennessee's head coach with an 80-71 upset on Nov. 9, 2012.

The Mocs are led by Women's Basketball Hall of Fame coach Jim Foster, now in his second season at Chattanooga. Foster has also been the head coach at St Joseph's (PA), Vanderbilt and Ohio State.

The most productive Mocs are:

  • #20 5'11" freshman guard/forward Keiana Gilbert is the leading scorer (12.3 ppg) and the second-best rebounder (5.8 rpg). She has the most assists (2.4 apg), but unfortunately turns the ball over a bit more often than that. She had a breakout game in the upset of Tennessee where she scored her career-high 27 points.

  • #3, 6'2" sophomore forward Jasmine Joyner leads in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and blocking (3.7 bpg) and is the second-best scorer (11.0 ppg).

  • #25, 5'4" freshman guard Chelsey Shumpert runs the point for the Mocs. She averages 8.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

  • #35, 5.9" sophomore guard/forward Aryanna Gilbert averages 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. She and Keiana are sisters.

  • #11, 5'10" senior guard/forward Ka'Vonne Towns averages 7.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. She's the best 3-point shooter. She has taken 71% of her shots from beyond the arc and made 39.5% of them for an average of 1.7 per game.

Here are the Mocs statistics and roster.

Many visitors to Stanford athletic events wonder why the team is called the Cardinal and the mascot is a tree. The Chattanooga Mocs' nickname and their mascot, a bird, is just as confusing.

Mocs used to be short for Moccasins and the mascot was at various times a water moccasin, a moccasin shoe and Chief Moccanooga. But now it’s just Mocs and the mascot is a mockingbird (the Tennessee state bird) dressed as a railroad engineer (a reference to Chattanooga's history as a major railroad hub and to the song "Chattanooga Choo-Choo") named Scrappy (in honor of former Chattanooga football coach A. C. "Scrappy" Moore).

  Tennessee Lady Vols

The Lady Vols made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year.

Everyone returned this season except four-year starter Meighan Simmons. That left a scoring void, but with greater emphasis on its talented front court, the Lady Vols had reasonable expectations of returning to the Final Four for the first time since 2008. They were ranked No. 4 in the preseason national polls.

But things haven't gone according to plan so far this season. Sophomore center Mercedes Russell is sitting out the season to recover from off-season surgery on both feet. Senior center Isabelle Harrison sprained her knee late in the second game of the season and missed the next five contests.

The Lady Vols won five games before the stunning 67-63 loss to Chattanooga followed by a 72-59 loss to No. 6 Texas. They dropped to No. 14 in the national polls (but have since moved back up to No. 11).

The team's lack of defensive effort in those two losses left head coach Holly Warlick frustrated and angry. She intimated that the team couldn't defend a walk-through.

The priority has been on defense since then, and the team is getting the message that defense counts (and Isabelle Harrison is back.) They won their next three games — two against weak opponents, then against tough No. 17 Rutgers last week.

The Lady Vols have eleven active players on the roster. They all play major minutes (12.7 - 27.6 per game) and all score a significant number of points (from 5.1 to 12.0). Five of the key players are:

  • 5, 5'7" senior point guard Ariel Massengale is the leading scorer (12.0 ppg) and the best 3-point shooter. She has taken 53% of her shots from beyond the arc and made 46.2% of them for an average of 2.3 per game. She seems to be fully recovered from the concussion that caused her to miss the last 16 games of last season.

  • 12, 6'2" junior forward Bashaara Graves, after a slight sophomore slump last season, is again almost as productive as she was in her outstanding fresmman season. She is averaging 11.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. She has had double-doubles in five of nine games this season.

  • #1, 6'3" junior center Nia Moore has been a key member of the Lady Vols front court, especially during Isabelle Harrison's absence. She's averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

  • #20, 6'3" senior center Isabelle Harrison has played in just four games this season – she's been back for the most recent two She averages 11.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game

  • #0, 5'11" sophomore guard Jordan Reynolds has been the starting point guard this season. She averages 3.1 assists per game and has a good assist/turnover ratio (2.0). She adds 5.1 points and 2.1 steals per game.

Here are the Lady Vols statistics and roster.

December 14, 2014

Cardinal rounds up the Broncos

The Cardinal were a bit rusty on offense tonight after their two-week hiatus, but they still didn't have much trouble defeating the Broncos 82-43.

The Cardinal were strong on defense. They out-rebounded the Broncos 57-33, were 9-1 on steals and 9-17 on turnovers.

But they shot poorly from beyond the arc and at the free-throw line.

They launched 19 three-pointers, but made just four of them. That poor rate of success is somewhat tempered by the fact that several of the misses went into the basket, then swirled out again.

The Broncos committed 27 fouls as they fought hard for a win. The Cardinal took advantage in the first half, as they made 13 of 17 free throws. But focus waned in the second half with more misses than makes. Their rate for the game was just 58.8%.

Highlight non-rusty performances came from:

Amber, who shone tonight with the game-high 20 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.

Kaylee, who matched her career high and Stanford's third-best rebounds in a single game with 22. (Chiney made 24 once; Nneka made 23 once; Mikaela made 22 once; and Kaylee made 22 once before this season ‐ against New Mexico.) She made three of her seven field goal attempts, but also only three of seven free throws, so fell one point short of her second career double-double. She also tallied two steals, two blocks and an assist.

Brittany, who is looking very much at home on a college court. She's fast, sees the court well, and is a strong defender. She earned 15 minutes of playing time tonight, during which she scored eleven points on three of seven field goal attempts and four of five free throws. She also tallied four rebounds, two steals and a block.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford women's basketball steamrolls Santa Clara, Pac-12 game recap video

Stanford's Kaylee Johnson reflects on 22-rebound effort against Santa Clara, Pac-12 postgame interview video,

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

And photos by Ben Margot (Associated Press):

Bonnie blocks Marie Bertholdt's shot
Amber keeps the ball away from a pair of Broncos
Karlie drives past Marie Bertholdt
Raquel Avila drives against Amber

December 12, 2014

Amber named to Naismith watch list

Congratulations Amber!

Amber was named to the Naismith Trophy Women’s 50 Watch List this week. She is now on the preseason lists for all three major postseason individual awards (Wade Trophy, John R. Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy).

For more information about Amber and the Naismith Trophy, see the Stanford Athletics announcement: One more for Orrange

December 11, 2014

Kaylee couldn't believe it

Mark Soltau (Stanford Athletics) completes his series about the Cardinal freshmen with a story about Keylee's being convinced that the offer from Stanford Women's Baskeball was a hoax: No Joke

December 10, 2014

Brittany really likes Stanford

Mark Soltau (Stanford Athletics) writes about freshman guard Brittany McPhee's finding endless new learning experiences at Stanford: Never Dull

December 05, 2014

No better option for Taylor Rooks

Mark Soltau (Stanford Athletics) writes about freshman forward Taylor Rooks' finding the perfect combination of academics and basketball at Stanford: No Better Option

December 01, 2014

Kaylee is Pac-12 Freshman of the Week

Congratulations Kaylee!

Cardinal forward Kaylee Johnson (Benicia, Calif.) earns Freshman of the Week honors on her birthday after averaging 11.8 rebounds per game in Stanford’s four games last week. In the Cardinal’s 70-65 win over New Mexico, the freshman registered her first-career double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 22 rebounds against the Lobos. The 22 boards were the most ever in a single-game in Stanford history. Her season average of 11.0 rebounds per game is the highest of any freshman in the nation.