January 15, 2017

Cardinal out-shoots the Buffs 84-70

This game started close, with both teams hitting threes seemingly at will: The first quarter saw eight three-point shots made in all, four for each team. The Cardinal's threes were by Karlie (two), Bird, and Marta. Marta's shot was especially encouraging; she caught the ball and fired the three in a single motion.

Stanford was hampered by making six turnovers in the quarter, which ended with the Buffs ahead, 20-23.

The game remained close through the second quarter, with Stanford again hampered by five more turnovers, so the first half ended with the host Buffaloes up by a point, 41-42.

This quarter also featured three-point shooting, with six made in all; Stanford had two of them, both by Dijonai. At the half, each team had scored three-point shots by four different players apiece.

Once again the Cardinal broke open a close game in the third quarter, this time largely on the efforts of Karlie and Brittany. In the quarter Brittany scorched the Buffs with five layups and a three-point shot, for thirteen points plus three rebounds, a steal, and an assist to Karlie for one of her three, three-point makes. At the buzzer Stanford was ahead 69-60.

Early in the third quarter, Marta suffered a frightening injury. In a scramble for a rebound she fell, and then a Colorado player fell on her, dropping directly on her head and driving her face into the floor. She left the game bleeding from a cut over her right eye and retreated to the locker room for a few stitches, but returned to play, apparently unfazed, near the end of the game.

The teams played about even throughout the fourth quarter, Colorado never closing the gap to less than nine points.

Karlie led the Cardinal with 20 points, having hit five of seven three-point attempts and five of five free throws -- and playing 38 minutes.

Brittany had eighteen points, having hit seven of eight layups and one of three long shots to go with five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block.

Bird had twelve points on 50% shooting. Alanna and Kaylee each had eight points.

It was a great balanced performance — six Cardinal players hit three-point shots (Karlie (5), DiJonai (2), Brittany, Bird, Bri and Marta (1 apiece)), eight of the nine who played scored at least five points, and five led the rebounding with five apiece (Karlie, Brittany, Bird, Kaylee and Marta).

The team should feel fairly confident flying back for a home stand against the Arizonas.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A gallery of photos from Boulder Daily Camera,

And a video interview of Karlie

Some of the Boulder Daily Camera photos feature the Cardinal defense:

Samuelsons past and present

Samuelsons Know UConn Streak From Both Sides
by Jeff Jacobs (Hartford Courant)

January 13, 2017

Cardinal pulls away from the Utes 77-58

The Utes have never beaten Stanford and are a strong defensive team. Could they break their streak, as OSU did five days before?

Spoiler alert: No, they couldn't; but they made a game of it for a while.

Utah came out defending in a matchup zone that they used throughout the game. Stanford has had problems against the zone this season but seemed not to be so bothered by it now, especially in the first quarter when they had a quick start aided by Utah's turning the ball over eight times. Marta had two near-identical steals on consecutive Utah possessions. Karlie hit three of four three-point shots. Alanna blocked the Ute's final shot to end the first quarter at 20-7.

Utah pulled together offensively and kept pace with Stanford in the second quarter. Kaylee had good minutes in this quarter, hitting shots and getting rebounds. The half ended 35-24.

The Utes made progress in the third quarter and for a while looked as if they were going to be back in the game, coming within 6 points for several minutes before falling back.

The opening minutes of the fourth quarter, however, put a decisive end to their hopes. Nine seconds in, Bri hit a three. Shortly, Karlie hit a mid-range jumper, then Alanna hit a three and, a minute later, hit another. In less than four minutes, the lead went from eight points to fifteen, and the game was effectively over.

Karlie led the team with fourteen points, hitting four of seven three-point shots while playing "only" 34 minutes, more than anyone else.

The rest of the scoring was almost evenly split among Bird (11), Alanna (10), Brittany (9), Marta (9), Nadia (8) and Bri (7). The Cardinal should feel some confidence with such a balanced attack.

The Cardinal challenged the Utes' standing among the top ten in the nation in 3-point field goal defense by making 38% of their shots from beyond the arc — in addition to Karlie's four, Alanna sank two, Bri and DiJonai each had one.

The Utes are a strong defensive team, but the Cardinal was stronger today. They snagged more O-boards (15-11), more total rebounds (44-37), and blocked more shots (10-7).

Marta ran the point for most of the game and had seven assists to two turnovers. In this game Marta showed a new offensive skill: Previously her offense had consisted almost entirely of drives to the basket, with a rare 3-point attempt. In this game she twice stepped in and took mid-range jump shots, hitting both.

On Sunday it's on to Boulder to play the Buffaloes.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

And a video interview of Karlie, "We came alive in the 4th."

January 12, 2017

Up next : A trip to the Rockies

The Cardinal heads east this weekend to play the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City on Friday evening at 5:00 PT and the Colorado Buffs in Boulder on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 PT.

The media coverage for the games is:

  University of Utah Utes

Utah has a mature, experienced team in its second season under head coach Lynne Roberts.

Four of this season's starters also started every game last season: redshirt junior forward Emily Potter, senior wing Paige Crozon, redshirt junior wing Malia Nawahine, junior wing Tanaeya Boclair

Potter is the Utes' best everything — scorer (16.1 ppg), field goal percentage (.577), rebounder (9.6 rpg), and shot blocker (3.1 bpg). She's tallied six double-doubles this season and ranks tenth in the nation in blocked shots.

Boclair averages 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Nawahine averages 11.2 points and 3.9 rebounds. Crozon averages 9.3 points and 4.7 rebounds.

The Utes' offense is led by sophomore point guard Erika Bean, who averages 4.6 assists per game with a good assist/turnover ratio of 1.7.

The Utes are a great defensive team. They rank among the top ten in the nation in four defensive categories: 3-pt field goal defense (24.0, #3) , defensive rebounds per game (32.0, #6), rebounds per game (45.2, #10), and blocks per game (6.2, #10).

The Utes had a moderately strong nonconference schedule and won every game. They have since defeated USC and lost to UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State. They are not ranked, but Charlie Creme has them as a No. 8 seed in his bracket.

Here are Utah's roster and season statistics.

  University of Colorado Buffs

The Colorado Buffs are doing surprisingly well under a new coaching staff headed by JR Payne. Payne is new to Colorado, but not to West Coast basketball. She came to Colorado from Santa Clara, which she led to its first winning season in eight years. She played at St. Mary's under now Oregon Coach Kelly Graves and was his assistant at Gonzaga in her first coaching job.

The Buffs lost just one game in non-conference play, but have faltered since with losses to Arizona State, UCLA, USC. Their only conference win is against Arizona. Nonetheless, they already have four more wins than they had all of last season.

They are not ranked in the AP Top 25, but received enough votes this week to put them at No. 28.

The Buffs are not strong defenders, but they have a very efficient offense, with a pair of skilled sophomore guards who like to push the ball. Kennedy Leonard leads the team with 19.0 points and 5.7 assists per game. Alexis Robinson is second with 10.9 points and 3.3 assists.

Senior forward Haley Smith also scores in double digits (10.9) and is the best rebounder with 5.7 per game.

All three of them shoot the long ball. Collectively, they make about five treys per game.

The Buffs rank fifth in the nation in steals, with 13.1 per game.

Here are Colorado's roster and season statistics.

Bird advances to midseason watch list

Bird, who was named to four preseason watch lists, had been named to the John R. Wooden Award Women's Midseason Top 25. Read more in the Stanford Athletics announcement.

The full top 25 are as follows:
G Lindsay Allen, Notre Dame;
C/F Kristine Anigwe, California;
C/F Jordin Canada, UCLA;
G Alaina Coates, South Carolina;
C Nia Coffey, Northwestern;
F Napheesa Collier, Connecticut;
F Nina Davis, Baylor;
F Asia Durr, Louisville;
G Makayla Epps, Kentucky;
G Rebecca Greenwell, Duke;
G Jessica January, DePaul;
G Alexis Jones, Baylor;
G Brionna Jones, Maryland;
C Erica McCall, Stanford;
F Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State;
G Kia Nurse, Connecticut;
G Alexis Peterson, Syracuse;
G Kelsey Plum, Washington;
G Leticia Romero, Florida State;
G Katie Lou Samuelson, Connecticut;
G/F Brianna Turner, Notre Dame;
F Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State;
G Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Maryland;
G Sydney Wiese, Oregon State;
G A'ja Wilson, South Carolina

January 08, 2017

Cardinal loses battle to Beavers in OT, 69-72

During the pregame talk, Kate said that Bri would guard the dangerous Sydney Wiese and,"We think we have a pretty good plan for Wiese."

That plan worked very well for 16 minutes. At 3:33 in the second quarter, both numbers 24 – Wiese and Bird – were scoreless. At that point Wiese broke loose and scored seven points in the remaining minutes of the first half, which ended with OSU up by one, 22-23.

That first half was some of the most exciting basketball we've seen this season. There were beautiful plays and dramatic turnovers on both sides. Both teams moved at dazzling speed — sometimes too fast in OSU's case, who had 12 turnovers in the half. A fan commented that, with the speed of play, both teams would spend halftime "getting oxygen and saline IVs".

In the second half OSU moved to a zone that slowed Stanford's offense to a crawl. Nevertheless the game remained close, with the teams trading a one-point lead and OSU slightly ahead until the third quarter ended at 33-36. Stanford trailed most of the fourth quarter until Brittany tied the score at 51-51, sending us to overtime.

Overtime started well with Stanford out to a five-point lead, but OSU came back to lead 61-63. With seconds left, Bird made a desperation layup through two defenders to tie the score at 63-63 and we were off to a second OT.

During the second overtime players on both teams were visibly exhausted, making mistakes and shooting the ball short or long. Stanford made some progress but by now the OSU zone was spreading the offense much wider, with vast gaps of open hardwood between the defenders and the Cardinal passing the ball slowly around a wide perimeter. Just the same, Nadia made a layup to bring the OSU lead down to one, 70-69, with 17 seconds to play. Then Stanford had to foul, and had to foul Wiese, who made two free throws to ice the result, and the Beavers celebrated their first-ever win at Maples.

The Beavers had "pretty good defensive plans" for the Cardinal's top scorers too.

So effective that Bird was held scoreless for the first half. She finally managed to break through their double- and triple-teams and scored 25 (just one less than Wiese) in the second half. She added twelve rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season.

For the fourth conference game in a row, Karlie played almost the entire time — 48 minutes tonight. The Beavers defended her so closely that she never got clear enough to launch a trey and succeeded in making only one of her eight attempts in the paint. But she got eight rebounds and five assists, forced several held balls, and accounted for a good part of the Beavers' 22 turnovers with six steals.

Nadia was the only other Cardinal to score double digits. She started again tonight and had ten points on 5-10 shooting in 25 minutes of play.

Bri and Brittany and Marta each scored nine points. Marta was about the only Cardinal to succeed in driving to the basket through the Beavers' defense. She succeeded on four of 11 attempts. She also stole the ball six times.

Bri gets our unofficial Aerobics Award, having played the hood ornament to the Sydney Wiese limousine wherever it went for 45 minutes.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The press conference audio with Tara and Bird,

The game highlights video,

A gallery of photos by Nhat V. Meyers (Bay Area News Group),

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin and Bill Daily (isiphotos.com).

January 07, 2017

Cardinal cages the Ducklings, 81-60

Oregon this season has a top-ranked freshman class (as reported in our Up Next report), with Ruthy Hebard and Sabrina Ionescu leading the team in scoring and rebounding. Stanford's task in this game was to contain these Ducklings, and they did — mostly. Hebard, a post player, was smothered by a double every time she got the ball, and ended scoring only four points on 2-6 shooting. Ionescu did better with 14, but on 4-18 shooting, which indicates that good defense was disturbing her aim. The game might have been different had she hit a few more of those shots.

A third, unheralded Duckling, Mallory McGwire, stepped up to do greater damage, scoring 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Ducks' only double-double.

Thanks in large part to McGwire, the first half was close. Stanford delighted fans with a fast start, opening a 9-2 lead on layups by Marta, Bri, and Bird and a three from Karlie. Then Oregon found their feet defensively and the game remained close for many minutes. At one point Oregon tied the score 11-all with a three-pointer, but eight seconds later Bri untied it with a three of her own. As the half was winding down, the score was 32-27. With 16.5 seconds to play, Tara called a timeout. When play resumed, Marta made a crisp pass to Alanna at the top of the key and she sank a three on the buzzer: 35-27.

The third quarter continued close, with the Cardinal slowly drawing out to a 10-point lead. In this quarter it became clear that Alanna was having an outstanding game. She seemed to be everywhere, shooting, grabbing rebounds, and getting one dramatic block that left her grinning and getting high-fives.

Another highlight was a bang-bang play in which Marta fired a 40-foot pass to Karlie at the shoulder, who instantly whipped it to Alanna on the left block, who made a nice spin move around her defender to lay it in.

In the fourth quarter Oregon, unable to close the gap, began to soften, and the point spread widened to the final 81-60.

Alanna led all scorers with 24, a career high. Her outing was also notable for other improvements: Only two personal fouls and a perfect 5-of-5 free throws.

Bri scored 15 points including hitting three of four long-range shots and defended hard.

Bird scored 14 points, but missed a double-double by two rebounds.

Karlie had nine points on 3-5 shooting and six assists, played 37 minutes, and had several spectacular rebounds, including one where she got the ball while falling and kept her dribble alive while on her knees until she could pass the ball safely.

Marta had nine points on 4-7 shooting, all drives to the basket, and five assists.

Nadia played 21 minutes, had 6 points, an emphatic block, and some tough rebounds.

Collectively, the team shot 49.2% from the field, 40.0% on treys, and 83.3% on free throws

All available players had some time (Brittany was out with a turned ankle from a practice injury, but is expected to play on Sunday). Kaylee returned from a foot injury to play six minutes.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A video press conference, first Kelly Graves, then Tara, Alanna, and Bri,

A game highlights video from Stanford Athletics,

A game highlights video from espnW,

A video interview: Alanna talks buzzer beaters, career-high scoring night,

January 06, 2017

We appreciate Bird

Bird is one of 30 NCAA women's basketball student-athletes selected as a candidate for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award® it was announced Thursday.

Read more:

This is Bird's fourth nomination to a national watch list. She has also landed on lists for the John R. Wooden Award®, the 2017 Naismith Women's College Player of the Year, and the 2017 Wade Trophy.

Fittingly, Thursday was also National Bird Day. SWBB Facebook showed its appreciation of our Bird with a charming video — watch.

January 05, 2017

Lili announces chapter 2

Notre Dame will swap veteran point guards in 2017.

Though senior Lindsay Allen departs this spring, former Stanford point guard Lili Thompson announced on Twitter on Thursday that she will join Notre Dame as a graduate transfer in the 2017-18 season.

"I'm SO excited to announce the next step in my journey!" Thompson wrote. "I have decided to postpone my entry into the WNBA Draft and make a return to College Basketball. For the 2017-2018 season, I will be joining the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame!

"I'm excited to join what is already a stellar team, and to get to work on winning a National Championship. Thanks to everyone, past and present, who has been a part of this process and supported me. Go Irish!"

The 5-foot-7 Thompson — a Mansfield, Texas, native — will arrive in South Bend with an extensive resume, including All-Pac-12 honors in her sophomore and junior seasons and a spot on the All-Pac-12 Freshman Team in 2014.

She started 96 of 104 career games at Stanford, averaging 12.0 points per game while racking up 295 assists. Last season, Thompson was named Pac-12 Player of the Week three times and averaged 14.7 points and 3.5 assists per game.

In Stanford's 90-84 Sweet Sixteen upset victory over Notre Dame last March, Thompson scored 11 points and added nine assists in 37 minutes.

The former Timberview High School standout, who has one season of eligibility remaining, chose to leave Stanford's program prior to her senior season this fall, though she remained enrolled at the university.

In South Bend, Thompson will have to compete for playing time with a slew of talented guards, including current sophomores Arike Ogunbowale and Ali Patberg, junior Mychal Johnson and freshman Jackie Young.

Up next: The Oregons at Maples

The Cardinal face two tough teams at home this weekend — Oregon on Friday evening at 8:00 and Oregon State early Sunday evening at 5:00.

The media coverage for both games is:

  University of Oregon Ducks

Almost half of last year's team graduated, including three of the Ducks' top five scorers. Jillian Alleyne, who overtook Chiney to become the top career rebounder in the Pac-12, is the greatest loss.

But the Ducks have lots of young talent — their seven-player recruiting class ranked No. 3 in the nation by ESPN. Most notable are 6'4" forward Ruthy Hebard, who played on the USA U18 team last summer, and 5'10" guard Sabrina Ionescu, one of the top five recruits of the year and MVP of the 2016 McDonald’s All-American Game.

Hebard is the Ducks' leading scorer (14.6 ppg) and rebounder (8.4 rpg). She makes 73.2% of her shots, the best in the nation. She has put up four 20-point plus games this season, including 25 points in 27 minutes against Washington last Friday.

Ionescu is the Ducks' second-best scorer (13.1 ppg) and rebounder (6.5 rpg) and the best ball handler. Although she is nominally a shooting guard, she averages more than five assists per game with an excellent 2.47 assist/turnover ratio. She has already had two 20-plus point games this season and a pair of triple-doubles.

Junior guard Lexi Bando is the Ducks' third double-digit scorer with 12.8 per game. She is their best 3-point shooter with an average of 2.7 treys per game at a rate of 57.1%, the seventh-best 3-point percentage in the nation.

However, all has not been well in Eugene. Recent injuries sapped the Ducks' backcourt. Ionescu broke her thumb about a month ago and missed the last four games. She is expected to be back in the lineup for the upcoming Bay Area games. Their other primary ballhandler, sophomore guard Maite Cazoria, missed several games while nursing a foot issue, but was back on the court last Sunday.

Freshman forward Lydia Giomi is out indefinitely with a broken hand. Freshman guard Jayde Woods also suffered a hand injury recently. She has since left the program and has been given permission to seek a transfer.

So it's not surprising that the Ducks began conference play with two losses — to Washington 77-99 and to Washington State 59-75. Head coach Kelly Graves said, "It is what it is. You gotta lace 'em up and play with what you have."

Now, with Ionescu and Cazoria back, the Ducks are ready to get a Pac-12 win.

Here are the Ducks' roster and season statistics.

  Oregon State Beavers

The reigning Pac-12 champions have lost most of the talent that took them all the way to the Final Four last season. Their outstanding shooting guard Jamie Weisner, powerful center Ruth Hamblin, and forward Deven Hunter graduated.

But point guard Sydney Wiese, now a senior and the team leader, is determined to continue the Beavers' winning tradition into this season and beyond. Wiese's biggest focus this season has been working with the underclassmen to help them be, "as good as they can be and as good as we need them to be."

Wiese is an excellent ball handler who prefers distributing the ball to taking shots. She averages more than five assists per game with a very good 2.1 assist/turnover ratio.

Although Wiese has the green light, she attempts only about 11 fields goals per game. (In contrast, Washington's Kelsey Plum takes about 19 shots per game). But she's having one of the most efficient offensive seasons in the country, shooting 49 percent from the field, 47 percent from the 3-point line and averaging a career-best 16.0 ppg. (up from 12.8 last season).

She has tallied a triple-double (points, rebounds, assists) this season.

6'5"junior center Marie Gulich , who was backup to Ruth Hamblin last season, has also stepped up. She's the Beavers's second-best scorer (10.9 ppg) and the best rebounder (7.9 rpg).

The third consistent starter for the Beavers is senior guard Gabriella Hanson, their defensive specialist. She helped the Beavers limit Kelsey Plum to a season-low .348 field goal percentage last Sunday and to a season-low 14 points in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals last season.

The Beavers have two very promising freshman guards: Kat Tudor with 7.8 ppg, almost all from beyond the arc, had a strong opening weekend in Pac-12 play, scoring a combined 20 points against Washington State and Washington; Mikayla Pivec, with a season average of 6.0 ppg and 4.9 rpg, has started the last five games for the Beavers averaging 10.8 ppg in those starts.

The Beavers have begun conference play this season with two wins — 80-58 over Washington State and 73-70 over Washington.

Here are the Beavers' roster and season statistics.