January 13, 2019

Disappointments, but mostly Superlatives:
Stanford WBB After 4 Conference Games

Warren Grimes

Stanford is now 14-1 after surviving a tough road trip to the Arizona schools.  Any win against ASU on the road is an achievement.  And Arizona is a serious team this year, having taken down California and ASU.   But Stanford actually won that game by a comfortable 30 point margin.  What’s not to like?
Well, there are disappointments, primarily on the injury front.  The worst was the ACL that has taken Nadia Fingall out for the rest of the season.  She had been a starter and a real force inside.  And Maya Dodson, with her jump hook, shot blocking, and improved rebounding, was yet another bright star taken out of the lineup with a stress fracture.  Dodson has excelled at offensive boards, the only player on the team with more offensive than defensive rebounds.  Stanford is now vulnerable at the post, and will remain so at least until Dodson is back.  Marta Sniezek has also yet to play a single minute.
Bit let’s talk about some superlatives.  We can start with free throw shooting.  Last year’s team shot only 64% from the line.  There were signs of improvement in the pre-conference season, but still too many missed opportunities.  Then the conference games began.
How about an 85.5% rate?  That’s what the team has shot in the four conference games so far.  In the desert, Stanford shot a sizzling 95.8% (23-24), with 22 uninterrupted makes before Mikaela Brewer missed her first free throw of the year at the end of the Arizona game.  Stanford was 14 for 14 in the ASU game, a team record for the number of attempts without a miss.  Stanford’s free throw shooting is helped by the Hulls (who have yet to miss) and improved accuracy from Smith, Carrington, and Williams, each of whom is now converting at 72% or better.
A second superlative is DiJonai Carrington.  She has emerged as a member of the triumvirate – Smith, Williams and Carrington, each of whom is averaging 13 points or better.  Actually, since her career high 33 points against Tennessee, Carrington has been on a tear.  In the four conference games, she averaged 20 points, the best on the team, and averaged 8.75 boards, second to Smith’s 10.5.   In defensive boards, Carrington leads the team with .224 per minute, ahead of Smith's .215 per minute. Her just-beyond-the-half-court-line conversion against ASU was part of a demoralizing double-double against that team (17 points and 11 boards).
Then there is Alanna Smith, averaging just under 20 points for the season and shooting an astonishing 48.8% from distance, averaging 2.6 three pointers per game.  Of course, Smith is just an everywhere player, proving that she can score with multiple moves under the basket.  And she is the in the top two in both defensive and offensive boards per minute.
The other member of the triumvirate, Kiana Williams, is only one behind Smith with 38 made threes at a 39.6% clip.  Some have been shot from the parking lot outside the arena.
She is a competitor and a clutch player and, despite some difficulty with turnovers, is the real deal as a point guard.
Now we get to the Hulls.  They are both making a mark with their never stop motors and high basketball IQs.  Both are superior defenders, leading the team in steals per minute (.072 for Lacie and .070 for Lexie).  When the opponent is pushing in transition, one or both of the Hulls are consistently back to defend.
   Lacie also has the best assist/turnover ratio on the team – 2.4 – and shoots from distance at a 39% clip.  Lexie, back from her stress fracture, continues to lead the team in rebounds per minute (.298 to Smith’s .281).  That’s just part of the story.  When it comes to offensive boards, Lexie greatly surpasses anyone else on the team (.140 per minute to Dodson’s .100 and Smith’s .067).  Lexie can be outside the three point line when the shot is launched and somehow get into the paint and contest for rebounds.  Her board crashing sometimes generates fouls, which is something she needs to watch.
Lexie Hull has played only in six games, but if she continues on the current trajectory, it is hard to see how the coaches could keep her off the floor.  She started and had a double-double in the team’s opening game and just knows how to score (42% from three point range so far).
Finally, Stanford’s third freshman is now making waves from off the bench.  Jena Brown can get the ball down the court in one heck of a hurry.  She played 20 minutes against Arizona, and had 9 points on lay ups and a three pointer.
Tune in for more superlatives this weekend against the Washington schools.

December 31, 2018

Non-Conference Confidence


Non-Conference Confidence
Warren Grimes
                Impressive.  That’s the right word to describe Stanford WBB, this season’s edition.  The team ended the non-conference schedule 10-1.  One has to go back 5 years to find a better beginning to the season.  And this team should get better.    
                They lost their one contest to a hot-shooting Gonzaga team, despite an inspiring fourth quarter rally.  Building off that defeat, they went on to defeat two undefeated top 10 teams: Number three ranked Baylor at home; and number nine ranked Tennessee on the road.  The victory in Knoxville was  record setting and an altogether inspiring performance. 
                Stanford scored 95 points, two short of a record for an opponent playing on Tennessee’s home court, and shot 58% from the three point line, a record for a Tennessee visiting opponent.   Two Stanford players set career highs for points in that game: DiJonai Carrington had 33 points and Lacie Hull had 14 on 4-5 shooting from three land.  
                When two Stanford players set career scoring highs in the same game, that’s good news.  The last time I can recall that happening was in Stanford’s upset victory over Maryland in a NCAA regional final during Candice Wiggins’ senior year.  She and JJ Hones both set career highs in that memorable game, and Stanford went on to defeat another number 1 seed, Connecticut, in the semifinals.
                It’s premature to suggest this year’s team will have that sort of success, but not premature to say that the team is, indeed, very, very good.  So why the step up from last year?  Gone are Brittany McPhee and Kaylee Johnson, but the returning players are stepping up.  Four of the five starters are veterans with substantial experience.   
                Fouls aside, Alanna Smith is getting it done on the offensive end, leading the team with just under 19 points per game and shooting more threes than anyone else (and at a remarkable 49% clip).  She’s also the team’s second best rebounder.  And Kiana Williams is continuing her strong point guard performance, leading the team with 50 assists and just under a 2:1 assist turnover ratio.  She has almost as many threes as Smith, and at a commendable .386 rate. 
                A number of vets are back with improved performance.  Maya Dodson’s 16 points against CSUN was the team high, a sign of the team’s blossoming versatility and balance.  She is showing confidence in her jump hook shot.  Dodson leads the team in blocks and is improving her rebounding. 
                But let’s talk about two starting players who have really stepped up this season.  First is DiJonai Carrington.  She has excelled in numerous ways, including moving up to the team’s number one rebounder (on a boards per minute basis, she’s a slight step ahead of Smith).  She’s shooting threes at a .379 clip, but she’s also scoring in the paint on creative drives and put backs.  Her eleven points per game average puts her in third place on the team, but, of late, as in the Tennessee game, she has been performing well above that level. 
                None of this is totally different from last year’s Carrington, but she’s no doubt been asked to step up her performance in McPhee’s absence.  Carrington is a fierce competitor and a chemistry player.  Her strength, athleticism and drive make her critical to Stanford’s success.  Stanford’s ability to stay on pace with Smith out of the game is due in significant part to Carrington, whose versatility makes her a nightmare for opponents to guard.
                Lacie Hull has also been quietly (but not so quiet of late) contributing to this team’s success.  She has started 5 games for the team for good reason.  She plays solid defense, leading the team with 20 steals.  Lexie is steady on the ball, with a 2:1 assist/turnover ratio.  And she can shoot the three ball, at a 40% rate overall.  Of late, she’s been rebounding strongly, with 5 boards against Buffalo and 4 against CSUN.  
                Lacie Hull won the Pac-12 freshman of the week distinction last week.  Well deserved but, I must say, something of a surprise.  At the season’s start, one would have guessed that the first Stanford freshman to get this award would be her twin, Lexie Hull, or perhaps Jenna Brown, the highly ranked point guard recruit.  Lexie Hull, however, has played in only three games because of her injury, and Brown has been making steady progress as a point guard, but has yet to start a game.
                There is something to be said for the fact that Lacie Hull won the freshman of the week competition before either of her more highly touted freshman teammates did.  That suggests that they are all very good players whose development will make Stanford an even better team. 
                Imagine a Stanford team at season’s end with Marta Sniezek, Lexie Hull, and Anna Wilson back, and with a more experienced Jenna Brown.   Some of that may happen as early as this weekend, when USC and UCLA visit Maples.


December 11, 2018

Seven Games In: What’s Working, What’s Not


            Going into the December exam break, Stanford is 6-1. Not perfect, but a far cry from the 5-4 record at the same point last year.  Some things are working well, others less so.

            On the positive side, senior Alanna Smith is averaging 18.1 points per game.  Her contributions don’t stop there, as Smith is averaging 6 boards, 2.6 assists, and 1.6 blocks per contest.  Her three point shooting percentage is the team’s best (16 threes at a .485 clip). And she is knocking down free throws at a much improved rate (.778 compared to last year’s disappointing .539).  Smith is critical to the team’s success, but has had to sit substantial periods because of foul trouble (against FGCU and Gonzaga). 

            Equally impressive, veteran sophomore Kiana Williams is tearing it up with points (averaging 15.3) and assists (averaging 5 assists against 3 turnovers per game).   Smith leads the team in threes with 20 (at an impressive .465 clip).  She’s a fierce competitor and (for now at least) the team’s point guard.  She’s a very good one, but could also dazzle as a shooting guard.

            Other veterans have also shown up.  DiJonai Carrington and Nadia Fingall are consistently putting up double figures, and Maya Dodson, coming off the bench, is not far behind.  

            None of this is wholly unexpected.  But the statistics do reveal some surprises.  For example, who is getting the most playing time? Here are the top four in average minutes per game:
            Kiana Williams - 30.7 minutes
            Lexie Hull         - 25.7 minutes (in the 3 games played)
             Lacie Hull        - 23.1 minutes
            Alanna Smith    - 22.6 minutes

            Given that Smith is the team’s most prolific scorer (averaging .804 points per minute  against second place Williams average of .500 points per minute), Alanna needs to minimize fouls so that she can be on the floor more.

            So why are the Hull twins getting so much playing time?  
            
            One answer is that they play defense and keep the offense flowing with few turnovers.  On the defensive side, the twins lead the team in steals per minute. Here are the stats:
                                                Lacie Hull                   - .105 steals per minute
                                                Lexie Hull                   - .104 steals per minute
                                                DiJonai Carrington     - .077 steals per minute

            In the turnover category, Lacie Hull is the best. Despite averaging the second highest number of minutes, Lacie has less than one turnover per game while averaging more than 2 assists.   So far, both twins are perfect from the foul line (Lexie 2-2 and Lacie 4-4).

            The twins may be identical, but they are different players.  With 10.7 points per game, Lexie has the third highest average on the team.  And there’s more.  Lexie is the team’s top rebounder in terms of boards per minute. Here are the top four players in that category.
                                                Lexie Hull                   - .273 per minute
                                                Alanna Smith              - .272 per minute
                                                Nadia Fingall              - .243 per minute
                                                DiJonai Carrington     - .240 per minute        

            Rebounding was an issue in the loss to Gonzaga. Lexie’s injury kept her out of the game, and the team’s other top rebounder, Alanna Smith, played only 25 minutes.  Other players need to step up their rebounding, among them Maya Dodson, who, while leading the team in shot blocks, is averaging just .188 boards per minute.  With her athletic moves, Dodson tends to get fouled a lot, and she also needs to convert more of her foul shots (so far she has made only 1/3 of her 15 attempts).   

            Three other players are averaging 10 minutes or more per game (Alyssa Jerome, Anna Wilson, and Jenna Brown).  If this trend continues, 10 Stanford players would be part of the rotation.  To be a great team, each of them must find how they can contribute.  With Baylor and Tennessee up next, the door is open for each to demonstrate what they can do.  

Warren Grimes, FBC Feature Writer

November 29, 2018

A Massive Astronomical Event Was Just Announced - the Haley Comet!

Lovers of Stanford Women's Basketball - a Massive Astronomical Event Was Just Announced that
will brighten our lives through early 2023!!!!

The Haley Comet will be visible to the naked eye in broad daylight next summer in Palo Alto - and will be closely watched for years!!

Sorry for the cheap stunt to get your attention - but now that I've got it, I'll let you know (as if you didn't already) that Haley Jones just committed to Stanford. Haley may not be a comet, but she's the next thing to it - she's the No. #1 ranked recruit in the 2019 class in the U.S. I've heard her compared to Maya Moore at sixteen. They're both the same size - 6'-1" and built strong.

Remember Tara and Amy's last No. #1 recruit? I knew you would - you're right, it was Chiney. And see, you don't even need a last name - besides I still can't spell it. So years from now, I'll just say Haley - and you'll know who I mean.

She's a senior at Archbishop Mitty High School in Santa Cruz - in case you want a preview. Also, I've included a link to the video of the Under 17 Basketball World Cup Gold Medal Game against France from last summer that I think you'll enjoy. I'm still having trouble with the technical aspects of blogging, so you'll need to put your cursor on this link and hit control/click to access the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3pBo0Vh_mQ

Stanford's recruiting class national ranking just went from No.# 3 to No. #2. How does our coaching staff do it? I remember reading that when Tara asked her dad about taking the Stanford job, he told her "Nah, it's a coaching graveyard." Stanford had had decades of losing seasons and were the perennial doormat for the PAC10 conference. NCAA tournaments?  Forgetaboutit.

Most fans excused the previous coaching staff, figuring (like Tara's father) that the microscopically thin layer of star talent available would head directly to the established powers, i.e. Tennessee or Old Dominion. Coaching on the West Coast in the 80's was akin to coaching in Australia, as far as the national sports media was concerned. (Believe it or not, it's better these days.)

But Tara could envision it. One of the top five academically ranked universities in the world with a major endowment, incredible alumni base, and magnificent plans for the future. And Silicon Valley, Baby. You probably bought a Macintosh like I did in 1985, her first year.

So, in one of the bravest coaching decisions in WBB history, Tara left Ohio State where she had a major contender in hand, for an absolute non-contender (Jeanne Ruark Hoff, their only All American in decades had just graduated.) Then, somehow she signed Jennifer Azzi from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, from under Pat Summit's nose, and then Kate Starbird, then Molly Goodenbour and things began to change - big time. But that's another story.

Obviously they're still changing. It's almost like the WBB magnetic field has had a polar reversal. Haley didn't go to UConn! Instead of the 251st academically ranked university in the world, she decided to come to the 2nd - according to Reuters. (Of course, being a British rating agency, they list Oxford as still No. #1.) Anyway - smart decision, Haley.

But that's not all! While you're watching the U17 game link, check out one of Haley's teammates who is also coming with her to Stanford next year, and is the No. #23 recruit in the nation - Fran Belibi. Her dunking videos on youtube have gone viral and she's 6'-1". How many 6'-1" people do you know that can dunk? 
 
Not on the U17 US team, but the No. #16 recruit in the nation, also coming to Stanford next year is 6'-5" post player Ashten Prechtel. And fourth, but certainly not least, Hannah Jump has also signed and is the 50th ranked recruit in the nation (that's out of tens of thousands). She stars at Pinewood in Los Altos. Her coach was recently quoted as saying, that in his unbiased opinion, she's the best three point shooter in the nation - currently playing in high school. The three point beat goes on.

A handful of recruits in the 2020 Class have already committed and two are coming to Stanford. No. #2 Cameron Brink is a 6'-4" All American wing out of Oregon and No. #37 Jana Van Gytenbeek is a point guard from Colorado who, I'm told, committed to Stanford in the seventh grade.

Don't you figure the WBB world is noticing. Something really big is going on out West. If you were one of those fabulously talented players on the 2020 list of the top 100 recruits in the U.S. - wouldn't you be erasing the top choice on your list of schools and writing in Stanford? Would you want to play against Stanford for the next four years? I didn't think so. 

So, sit back and buckle up fans! The thirty-four years of work by Tara et al are coming to fruition. Big Mo is moving into Maples. You think Gino hasn't noticed? 2020's No. #1 ranked recruit, Paige Bueckers, who also stars in the above link on last summer's gold medal winning U.S. team, is uncommitted. Don't you figure she's leaning toward Stanford? She's from Minnesota. Lindsey Whelan is probably sitting in her living room recruiting her this afternoon and it's 23 degrees outside. Paige is thinking, right now it's 75 in Palo Alto. They've got palm trees and everyone's drinking iced latte outside a sidewalk cafe in tank tops and flip flops. Besides, Tara's building a juggernaut out there in the sunshine. Hmmm. Think I'll join Haley and Fran.

Anyway. It's happening. I can feel it. 

Malcolm McFall

November 26, 2018

Three Days After Baylor - Stanford Takes On Tennessee In Knoxville

That's what you sign up for when you come to Stanford. After a maximum effort on Saturday and a long flight, you suit up on Tuesday to do battle in one of America's toughest venues - Thompson Boling Arena where 15,000 rabid fans decked out in garish orange await in full voice. The decibels assault your senses like few college players ever experience - one reason the Lady Vols rarely lose at Rocky Top.

It takes a special kind of athlete to meet this massive back-to-back  challenge - two of America's best in three days. Then, with self-assurance and a joyful heart, you embrace this battle on Pat Summit's court and enjoy the environment their fans, band and spirit squad create. Those special athletes come to Stanford - and a tough venue brings out the best in them.

The Lady Vols are rebuilding this year, but they're tough. Few teams could lose what they lost from last year and be ranked #9. In their game against the Texas Longhorns on Sunday their guards, Meme Jackson and Evina Westbrook, went off for 56 points. They're not going to give anything to anybody - you've got to go in there and beat them. Press Control/Click to access the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YrYsMVldJM

We'll have to play especially tough on their home floor. Nothing comes easy in Thompson - Boling Arena.

Everyone needs to be on.

We can do it.


November 23, 2018

Cardinal heads north to play the 4-1 Gonzaga Lady Bulldogs on Dec. 2nd

Gonzaga Logo - Link to homepage

On December 2 the Stanford Women's Basketball Team Heads up to Spokane to take on the Gonzaga Lady Bulldogs (4 - 1). On the same day that their men's team defeated No.#1 Duke, the Lady Bulldogs lost to No.#1 Notre Dame in a Thanksgiving Tournament in Vancouver. They played the Irish tough early, but ended up losing by sixteen - too much rebounding, points in the paint, and fast break scoring. John Stockton's daughter, Laura, had eight points and seven assists while Zykera (look for blue hair) Rice had sixteen points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. A freshman named Melody Kempton had fourteen points.
Zykera Rice
Gonzaga has a pair of identical twins also - Jenn and Leeanne Wirth. It sounds like Lexie Hull will be missing in action again due to her foot problem. We sure feel her absence. Maybe this will be the game her twin, Lacie, gets rolling offensively. That would be a big help. She always plays great on the defensive end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbBZWrfxThk

The Zags always fill that building when the Cardinal come to town and they play well in front of their home crowd. This will be another strong challenge for the Stanford women, who show flashes of the power we're hoping to see manifested for entire games sometime soon.

November 22, 2018




Baylor is coming to Maples in two weeks.

Some large hungry  bears are coming to Maples on December 15th.  Stanford’s biggest challenge of the pre-conference season will be the No.#4 Baylor Bears from Waco, Texas. That Saturday game will be the first big test for the 2018/2019 Cardinal women’s basketball team and will answer some important questions. How tough are they? What kind of fight do they have in them? How determined are they? It isn’t easy to face down a bear, and that game is going to show the nation this Cardinal team’s true colors.

The Bears have the biggest and best high/low post combination in the country – hand’s down. Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown come in at a stout 6’-4” and 6’-7” – both loaded with talent, strength, and skill. Last year, Baylor easily handled the Cardinal down in Central Texas. Between them Kalani and Lauren had 43 points. Sounds pretty grim doesn’t it? Our leading scorer was Shannon Coffee who hit four threes. Oh yeah, Brittany didn’t play and Kiana hadn’t really come into her own yet. 

So forget about last year. In early October when asked about goals for her final season at Stanford, the first four words out of Alanna's mouth was, "Winning the National Championship" – and she meant it. So, this mid-December rumble is going to give America a clear indication of just how serious our Senior Aussie and her mates are this time around.

What’ll it take?

You probably know, one of Tara’s former point guards coaches down in the desert – and Charlie always has her undersized Devils primed for big challenges. Two weeks ago, ASU held Baylor to 65 points in Waco, and lost by six. They had a lead at halftime and fought hard the whole way. Their offense put all five players above the free throw line and forced the Baylor bigs to play away from the basket.  That opened up driving lanes, mid-range jump shots and offensive rebounds. Kalani was forced to guard guards off of screens and that's not her specialty. She picked up her second foul in the middle of the first quarter and left the game for the rest of the first half. 


ASU fronted Kalani with someone tall and quick off the floor. They face-guarded Lauren and made shots and entry passes tough for her. Help defense and double-teaming were critical and kept both bigs under their season average. Consistent effective blocking out was imperative. 

Neither of the Baylor bigs are fast and ASU did a lot of scoring before they got down the floor. Once the bigs got there ASU still attacked and caused foul problems.  Turns out Baylor is not as potent when their star is on the bench. The Bear’s coach Kim asked her, “How are you going to be an All American sitting next to me?” That was how the Devils ended the half in the lead – they hit mid-range jumpers, they drove and made the bigs commit, then dished to who was open underneath. Their defense was tough, scrappy, and effective. Basically, to beat the Bears you have to be aggressive and tough as hell. 

If the Sun Devils had had Alanna – they would have won.The good news is we have her – and Tara, and a whole host of other dangerous women. Oh, and this time we’re playing in Maples. Come and see. We're gonna win.  

Malcolm McFall

November 19, 2018

Preview of the Rainbow Wahini Showdown

University of Hawaii at Manoa


PREVIEW OF THE RAINBOW WAHINE SHOWDOWN - Nov. 23-25, 2018
BY MALCOLM McFALL
Nov. 19, 2018

On Friday in Hawaii the Cardinal take on the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast from Fort Meyers, Florida.

Stanford WBB fans may remember Florida Gulf Coast from Stanford’s second round opponent in last year’s NCAA tournament played in Maples. Their tallest player was 6’-0” and they were fresh off of an upset win in the first round game against the  Missouri Tigers. FGCU is all about three point shooting and team speed and Missouri didn’t appear to have read the scouting report. The whole evening was small strong girls in green and blue either shooting and hitting a lot of their three point shots, or faking the three and driving the paint and making acrobatic layups. Stanford watched and prepared. The first half saw Alanna working down low and either scoring or getting fouled over and over by smaller defenders. The Cardinal players were in their face all night making it tough to hit their usual fifteen three’s, and played great help defense to stop most of their drives to the basket. It was a long night for the Eagles.
FGCU lost most of their starters from last year and have reloaded with graduate transfers. They’re still undersized and still depend on three’s and speed. It’ll be an interesting game, but FGCU isn’t used to playing an opponent capable of hitting fifteen three’s themselves.

The Hawaiian Tournament is three games in three days. On Saturday the Cardinal will play American University - http://www.aueagles.com/sports/w-baskbl/index. AU is located in Washington D.C., was founded in 1893, and has 8137 undergrad students (plus about 5000 grad students.) They’re in the Patriot League and compete quite well against the likes of Navy, Bucknell, Lehigh, and Boston U.   

The Eagles have won 22 straight home games and recently beat George Mason by fifteen, so take them lightly at your peril.

On Sunday Stanford will take on the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahines (which has to be one of the great mascots). The Bows have had a tough preseason so far and play in the Big West Conference, so things won’t get much easier going forward. Sure is a great way to escape hazardous air quality and watch some good women’s basketball. University of Hawaii website - https://hawaiiathletics.com/schedule.aspx?path=wbball

Malcolm  McFall, FBC Feature Writer

November 12, 2018

Stanford Wins Central Valley High School Reunion

Stanford Wins Central Valley High School Reunion

Warren Grimes, Stanford FBC Feature Writer

It was a reunion of three starting players on what may have been last year’s best high school team.   Central Valley High School, in the Spokane Valley, went undefeated last season, winning their state tournament; they also won the GEICO post season tournament in NYC, defeating two of the nation’s other top teams.  

Senior starters and stars on that team were the Hull twins, Lexie and Lacie, and Hailey Christopher, now playing as a guard/forward for Idaho.  In the reunion, Lexie stole the show.  She started, played 25 minutes, and scored 17 points while converting 5 of 8 three point shots, grabbing 5 boards, blocking 2 shots, and stealing the ball twice.  Lexie’s outside shooting was reminiscent of the Karlie Samuelson, but perhaps a Karlie Samuelson plus because of other strengths of her game. Lexie’s numbers were emblematic of her team’s performance.  Stanford won 115 to 71.  

The other Central Valley alums were also notable contributors.  Lacie played just 13 minutes, scored no points, but had 2 boards, an assist and a block.  Neither of the Hulls had any turnovers. Hailey Christopher played 19 minutes for Idaho, scored six on 3-4 shooting and had 3 assists for an Idaho team that could not get boards but shot 60% from the three point line.  Oh, and Christopher blocked one shot – one of former teammate Lexie Hull’s efforts.

Hailey Christopher is a very good player, but, at least in high school, not the equal of Lacie Hull, the less productive of the two twins on Sunday. Coach VanDerveer clearly has confidence in Lacie – she was one of the first players off the bench.  The thing about Lacie is that, like her twin, she plays hard and intensive defense, takes care of the ball (and steals it from opponents), passing wisely, and potentially shooting very well (from distance, she shot better than Lexie in high school).  Lexie shot 63% from the three point line against Idaho.  Lacie can do that too.  I’m waiting for her break out game.

The Hulls are just the right players for this year’s high potency offense with quick ball movement and lots of transition points.  Against Idaho, with the wide open Princeton offense clicking, Lexie Hull was just one six players to score in double digits.  Alana Smith and Kiana Williams led the way with 19 points each, while Nadia Fingall was close behind with 16 points. Stanford scored over 100 points for the first time since 2016.  This offensive balance will be difficult to defend and suggests that the team has the potential to climb from its current number 7 national ranking. 

Kiana Williams played the point most of the time she was in the game (28 minutes), and she played it very well (9 assists).  But Stanford’s other highly touted freshman, Jenna Brown, came in off the bench to play 13 minutes, contributing 7 points, 3 assists and 3 boards. Jenna can score from anywhere: three pointers, pull ups, and creative lay ups.  She demonstrated that on Sunday.  She’s gonna play.

This is a very good, very talented, and very deep Stanford team. They can shoot from the three point line and the free throw line, defend, run with the ball, score in transition, and put up points, lots and lots of them.   More 100 point games in the making.  What fun to watch!




November 09, 2018

Unhullstering Stanford’s Freshmen Weapons

Unhullstering Stanford’s Freshmen Weapons 

By:  Warren Grimes, longtime Stanford Women's Basketball fan

             Stanford played its first regular season game on Wednesday.  All three of the team’s freshmen played: Twins Lexie and Lacie Hull and Jenna Brown. They came to Stanford with sterling credentials.  The Hull twins were co-players of the year in Washington State.  Jenna Brown was very highly rated by all the recruiting services, played in high school all star games, and was a key member of a U.S. youth team in international competition over the Summer.


            The addition of the Hull twins continues a tradition of top Washington State players on the Farm, including Kate Starbird and Brittany McPhee.  If memory serves, all of these players had state POY status as high schoolers. McPhee was a Stanford senior last year, so comparisons between the Hulls and McPhee are inevitable.  They are all roughly the same size (6' or 6'1"), all were gym rats, prolific scorers in high school, strong rebounders, and fun to watch.   

            Brittany McPhee dazzled fans with her acrobatic, how-did-she-make-that shots in the paint.  She also became a steady defender.  As a freshman at Stanford, McPhee averaged 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, but did not earn a starting role until the last 8 games of the season.  By her junior year, McPhee was a star, putting up big numbers in that come-from-behind victory against Notre Dame in the NCAA regional final.  In her senior year, McPhee averaged 16.7 points and 5.4 boards per game, while playing an average of 31.7 minutes.  She was a mainstay and a fan favorite.

            Last Spring, Lexie Hull’s high school coach, reflecting on how his player stacked up against McPhee, said that Lexie was a more developed player as a high school senior.  That judgement may have been borne out in Lexie’s performance in the season opener.   She started, played 27 minutes (the most of any player on the team) and got a double-double (11 points and 11 boards) while contributing 3 steals and a block. That’s very promising.  And Lexie is likely to be a superior free throw shooter, an area where McPhee sometimes struggled.  Both Lexie and Lacie were deadly from the charity stripe in high school.  

            Lacie Hull played just 17 minutes, but contributed a basket, 3 boards and 2 steals.  In high school, Lacie was the better twin in three point shooting, but she missed her first three attempts against UC Davis.  I’m expecting improvement there.  Both of the Hulls are high energy, never-lose-focus players. Lacie may not start, but she is for real and will contribute.

            Jenna Brown had the highest recruitment rankings of the three freshmen.  After missing the preseason game with an injury, Brown came off the bench against UC Davis, playing for 18 minutes and converting both of her field goal attempts. Brown also chalked up 2 assists and 3 boards.  She has an opportunity to be a starting point guard, particularly while Marta Sniezek is recovering from injury.  Brown is smart, focused, unselfish, and brings athleticism to the team.  Her potential is great, particularly if she can be a scoring threat as a point guard.   

            It’s way too early to draw conclusions about these three freshmen.  But the arrows point sharply upwards. 

Warren Grimes