February 21, 2017

The final reveal and bracketology

Charlie Creme discusses the NCAA selection committee's final reveal of the season: Committee drops important clues in final reveal

He has no comment about the Pac-12 teams, which the committee placed at 8-OSU, 10-Stanford, 12-Washington and 13- UCLA.

In this week's bracketology, Creme seeds the Pac-12 teams so:

Bridgeport Region
(no Pac-12 team)
Oklahoma City Region
2 Oregon State (up from 3)
4 UCLA (no change)
Lexington Region
3 Washington (no change)
8 Arizona State (down from 7)
Stockton Region
3 Stanford (no change)
9 Oregon (down from 8)
Here's the complete bracket.

February 20, 2017

Top-16 upsets and shakeups

The NCAA selection committee will announce the third and final reveal of its in-season top-16 seeds tonight.

After an eventful weekend full of upsets that shook up the top-16 seeds, Charlie Creme expects Notre Dame to replace South Carolina on the top line and Oklahoma to jump to a No. 4 seed: Notre Dame should replace South Carolina on top line in top-16 reveal

Creme predicts only a small adjustment of the Pac-12 teams. He moves Oregon State, Stanford and Washington each down one spot to 8, 9 and 11 respectively, while UCLA moves up one to 13.

His comments on each of the Pac-12 teams:

8. Oregon State: The Beavers have been grinding all season. Two more slugfest wins over Colorado and Utah this weekend have Oregon State tied with Stanford heading into Friday night's matchup that will likely decide the Pac-12 regular-season championship. Regardless of that decision, it is safe to say that the Beavers, barring something like a three-game losing streak, will be a No. 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.

9. Stanford: The Cardinal lost to Oregon State on Jan. 8 and have lost only once since. Sophomore Alanna Smith had a huge weekend in two key wins over Cal, with 44 total points off the bench to keep Stanford alive for a Pac-12 title that has eluded it since 2014. That is far more important to the Cardinal down the stretch since they won't be hosting NCAA tournament games even with a top-16 finish (Maples Pavilion is hosting the Pac-12 gymnastics meet the same weekend).

11. Washington: Kelsey Plum is making the national player of the year race a runaway, but she couldn't save the Huskies from a loss Friday at UCLA, which damaged Washington's chances at a No. 2 seed. The defeat was even more damaging to the Huskies' Pac-12 title chances; they are a game behind Stanford and Oregon State with two to play.

13. UCLA: Just when the Bruins look like they are ready to hit a slide, they rebound with a big win. They did it earlier this season at Stanford and produced again at home against Washington on Friday right after losing both of their previous games on a trip to Oregon. Even better news, Jordin Canada is playing; she's not back at 100 percent, but she's coming off the bench after a neck injury knocked her out of the loss at Oregon State.

February 19, 2017

Cardinal sweeps the Bears 72-54

Before the game, a person who had spoken to Cal assistant coach Charmin Smith reported that she said,"We really, really want to win this game."

That desire was enough to keep Cal in the game, and to keep the score close, for about 25 minutes of play. Then Alanna and Karlie took the game away.

Stanford was ahead by two to four points throughout the first half, which ended with the Cardinal ahead 37-32. Much of the credit for Stanford's lead at this point was due to Brittany, who scored sixteen points in the half.

Just seconds into the third quarter, Brittany was called for her third foul and had to take a seat. In her absence, Cal tightened the score, and over the next minutes repeatedly came within one point as the teams traded baskets.

Then Karlie hit a layup, Bri hit a jumper,

Alanna made a layup,

and Stanford was ahead by six.

Then on a Cal defensive mistake, Karlie was left open and immediately drained a three. Cal called time but shortly after play began, Karlie hit another three, and Stanford was ahead by double-digits.

Cal didn't quit playing, but with four fouls on star center Christine Anigwe, Alanna could find open lanes and made four more layups to keep the Cardinal well ahead to the end.

Alanna led all scorers with 17 and and all rebounders with eight, and added two blocks and a steal.

Brittany scored 16 points, all in the first half, and dished four assists.

Karlie scored eleven points on three treys and a layup, as well as five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Bri had nine points and played strong defense for 34 minutes.

Erica struggled in the paint against the octopus-like defense of Anigwe and Courtney Range to score seven, but had one emphatic block and five rebounds.

Every other available person (Anna and Mikaela were not dressed) got some time on the court and all but Shannon scored at least a point.

The seniors were honored after the game with tearful joy

The ceremony was video-ed (see link below), and Judy Richter will give a full report in a day or two in her blog.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

The senior ceremony video,

A video interview: Seniors Karlie Samuelson, Briana Roberson and Erica McCall reflect on careers at Stanford,

The video press conference with Tara, Bird, Bri and Karlie,

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

A nice story about Tara ...

... from Milne School playground to 1,003 career wins: Stanford’s VanDerveer in touch with Albany roots by Steve Amedio (The Saratogian).

February 17, 2017

Cardinal out-battles the Bears

Stanford and Cal played a tight defensive contest that only turned the Cardinal's way in the final minutes. Both teams played excellent defense and none of Stanford's usual point leaders were able to break out and score freely.

However, as Tara says, a team is like an orchestra and different people solo at different times. Tonight the lead soloist was Alanna, who had a breakout game. Her twenty points in the first half kept Stanford in the game.

She also pulled off two dramatic plays that must have had an effect on Cal's morale. At the end of the third quarter, Cal had the ball leading by a point, 47-48. With two seconds left, Courtney Range attempted a three-point shot from in front the Cal bench, and Alanna's block slammed the ball out of play, so the quarter ended with that score. Then, only three seconds into the fourth quarter, Alanna hit a three of her own to give Stanford its first lead in many minutes.

Alanna, however, had to leave the game with five fouls when the score was tied 66-66 and there was still 2:16 to play. The game had to be decided by others, and a game's worth of drama was compressed into that short time.

With just a minute to play, Christine Anigwe fouled Bird, who made both free throws: Stanford up 68-66. (The Cardinal made 16 of 18 free throws in the game, an important factor in the outcome.)

On the following possession, Bird blocked a shot by Anigwe and Brittany controlled the ball. At Stanford's end of the court, the ball went out of bounds with 18 seconds left. The referees reviewed the video and awarded the ball to Stanford.

At this point, Cal made a critical error. They needed to foul, but somehow allowed the ball to be inbounded into the hands of Brittany, standing alone under the basket, and she simply laid it in: Stanford by four, 70-66.

Cal was unable to score in the remaining twelve seconds, but fouled Karlie who made two free throws to set the final score.

Alanna led all scorers with a career-high 27, including 3-5 three-point attempts, plus six rebounds, three blocks, and a steal.

Karlie had 17 points, including 3-4 from long range.

Bird had eleven points plus 14 rebounds for a double-double. She also had three steals, and a crucial block in the closing seconds.

Brittany gave her all for 27 minutes, but her shot was off tonight and she hit just three of fifteen attempts. But her last made shot was the one that gave the Cardinal a four-point lead with 12 seconds left to play.

Bri and Marta did their usual skillful ball-handling, combining for 12 assists with only five turnovers.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

"I'm just happy that I'm playing really well right now," said Alanna,

The audio press conference , with Tara and Alanna,

Cal's video press conference

And photos by Ben Margot (Associated Press):

February 15, 2017

Bird is finalist for Senior CLASS Award

Bird has been named as one of the ten finalists for the 2016-17 Women's Basketball Senior CLASS Award — the award that is presented annually to an NCAA Division I female senior basketball player who has notable achievements in four areas of excellence – classroom, character, community and competition.

This is the one where your vote counts. Fan balloting counts for ⅓ of the total vote — the other ⅔ comes from Division I coaches and national media members.

We helped Nneka win the CLASS award in 2012 by giving her 9.6% of the fan vote. Let's do as much for Bird! Show your gratitude for Bird's leadership by helping her win the national recognition she has earned.

You can vote once a day from each device with which you access the internet — your personal computer, your work computer, your IPad, your IPhone. Voting begins today and continues though March 20th. That's 34 days, so you can cast at least 34 votes for Bird (or 68, or 102, or 136, or ... do the math).

Vote now: Click here

More information:

Battle of the Bay

Battle for the Bay nears as Cardinal look to continue success by Lorenzo Rosas (The Stanford Daily)

Cal women’s basketball hosts Bay Area rival No. 10 Stanford by Devang Prasad (The Daily Californian)

Bracketology -- Big Monday impact

In this week's bracketology, Charlie Creme discusses Texas's second consecutive upset of a top-five team: Big Monday results have big impact on Bracketology

In regard to the Pac-12, Cal who just moved into the bracket last week, moved out this week as a result of losing to Utah and Colorado. The seeding of the six Pac-12 teams that remain in the bracket is the same as last week:

Bridgeport Region
3 Washington
Oklahoma City Region
3 Oregon State
Lexington Region
7 Arizona State
Stockton Region
8 Oregon
3 Stanford
Here's the complete bracket: