December 31, 2006

Wiggins leads win over Arizona State

By: Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

Only in the postgame celebration, players jumping into one another's arms at midcourt, was there finally a moment for Stanford to exhale.

The No. 14 Cardinal women's basketball team engaged in an intense battle with one of the best teams in the country Saturday evening in front of the largest crowd of the season at Maples Pavilion, and the Cardinal came out with their biggest win, defeating No. 10 Arizona State 77-71.

Candice Wiggins was the driving force for the Cardinal (9-3, 4-0) with an outstanding second-half that included 19 of her 21 points and 5 three-pointers that propelled Stanford from behind on two occasions. (More ...)

December 30, 2006

Stanford readies for gritty ASU

By: Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

In recent years, playing Arizona State has proven to be not merely a game, but an experience for Stanford. It's an experience with a significance that needs to be conveyed properly to those Cardinal players facing the No. 10-ranked Sun Devils for the first time in their careers today at 5 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.

Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer has gone over the basketball basics -- taking care of the ball, maintaining poise and composure, hitting the boards hard. She let her veteran players handle the rest.

"You can't really know until you play them," senior center Kristen Newlin said. "We are getting prepared for aggressive defense." (More ...)

December 29, 2006

Pictures from the Arizona State game

Clare in a tussle with Jessica Arnold
No! That's MY ball!!
Look out for those New York drivers!Wasn't it great to have our L.A. driver back too? Brooke is looking for a hook.
Jayne is determined to be the top scorer

Cardinal get 'total team' win

By: Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

Candice Wiggins was back in the lineup for the No. 14 Stanford women's basketball team Thursday night, and while it was undoubtedly nice to have the two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year on the floor, it wasn't a matter of necessity.

The Cardinal rode the balance of five double-figure scorers and a dominant inside game to a decisive 86-58 victory over Arizona in their Pac-10 home opener at Maples Pavilion. (More ...)

December 28, 2006

Cardinal get a gift: Wiggins' healthy leg

By: Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

Santa Claus brought Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer just what she wanted for Christmas.

Candice Wiggins, the Cardinal's two-time All-American, will be back on the court tonight when No. 14 Stanford takes on Arizona in its Pac-10 home opener at Maples Pavilion. Wiggins sat out games for the first time in her college career last week with a left hamstring strain as the Cardinal traveled to Los Angeles to open the conference schedule against USC and UCLA. (More ...)

December 24, 2006

Pictures from the UCLA game

Don is still away for the holidays. Here are some Associated Press photos from the UCLA game.

December 21, 2006

JJ scores personal best in win over USC

By Michelle Smith, S. F. Chronicle

With its two-time All-American on the bench in street clothes, Stanford opened the Pac-10 season Wednesday night by making it look easier than it should have been.

The 14th-ranked Cardinal rode another stellar defensive effort and a strong night in the frontcourt to a 62-46 victory over USC at the Galen Center.

Freshman point guard JJ Hones did her part from the outside, turning in a personal-best 11 points, including three big three-pointers in the first half to keep USC at bay. (More . . . )

December 19, 2006

Stanford vs. USC, UCLA Previews

By: Tom Knecht, Jr., The Bootleg

It snuck up on us, but the start of the Pac-10 women's hoops has arrived. Stanford begins conference play Wednesday night at USC, followed by a trip to UCLA on Friday for an early afternoon affair. In this balanced league, road wins are paramount to title hopes, and the Los Angeles swing was the toughest the Cardinal faced last season. What do this year's Trojans and Bruins bring to the table? (More ...)

Pac-10 Preview, Michelle Smith

Chronicle staff writer Michelle Smith agrees with Bob Kinder that #1 and #2 will be Stanford and Arizona State, but differs from him on the remaining spots. Read her analysis of the Pac-10.

December 17, 2006

Pictures from the Utah game

Don is away on vacation. So as not to leave you totally deprived, here are a few pictures from other sources.

Candice elevates.

Brooke drives up the court

New about to make a tough shot

Jayne shoots way over a couple of Utes

One of JJ's three steals

Cardinal routs Utes

J.J. Hones steals the ball from the Utes

Don't you love reading about Cardinal routs? Here are accounts of Saturday's game from Bay Area newpapers.

Cardinal routs Utes--Wiggins hurts leg

By: Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

The Stanford women's basketball team found a different way to win Saturday afternoon at Maples Pavilion. And in this case, change should be good for the No. 14-ranked Cardinal.

They returned to the court for the first time in 13 days and won handily -- defeating Utah 74-47 -- on a day when Brooke Smith didn't score a point, the first scoreless day in her Stanford career. And they won on a day when Candice Wiggins didn't play in the second half after sustaining a left leg injury on the final play of the first half. (More ...)

Balance helps Cardinal win

By: Dylan Hernandez, San Jose Mercury News

The Stanford women's basketball team appears to be finding its form -- enough so that it crushed visiting Utah 74-47 Saturday with Candice Wiggins on the bench for the entire second half and Brooke Smith held scoreless for the first time as a Cardinal. (More ...)

December 16, 2006

Cardinal looks to regain momentum

By: Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

Just when the Stanford women's basketball team was finding its groove, final exams came along.

The No. 14-ranked Cardinal have not played a game in 13 days, but they will take the court today at 2 p.m. against Utah (5-4) hoping to recapture some of the momentum that appeared to be building when they soundly defeated then-No. 25 Texas Tech 73-49 on Dec. 3. (More ...)

December 15, 2006

Utah-Stanford Preview

By: Tom Knecht, Jr., The Bootleg

After a two-week break for autumn quarter final exams, #14-ranked Stanford Women's Basketball is back in action on Saturday against a hot Utah squad from the Mountain West. The youthful Utes may not sit in the Top 25, but they just knocked off a pair of Pac-10 schools and are shooting the ball at a high clip. We take a look at the Cardinal's and Utes' most recent outings and preview the match-up. (More ...)

December 14, 2006

Ban Male Practice Players?


The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics released a position statement Monday calling for a ban on the use of male practice players in women's intercollegiate athletics. The statement concludes months of debate about whether the practice should continue.

According to the CWA statement, the use of male practice players "violates the spirit of gender equity and Title IX." The committee believes that "any inclusion of male practice players results in diminished participation opportunities for female student-athletes, contrary to the association's principles of gender equity, nondiscrimination, competitive equity and student-athlete well-being." (More ...)

ESPN columnist Mechelle Voepel writes:

Junk the males? No way!

On a periodic basis, we probably all make the pronouncement, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

Right now, this is my current "stupidest thing I've ever heard of," and this one might not be topped any time soon.

The NCAA officially announced Monday: "The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics has issued a position statement calling for a ban on the use of male practice players in women's intercollegiate athletics."

You know, when the NCAA moved out of Overland Park, Kan., a few years back, maybe it shouldn't have stopped at Indianapolis. Perhaps it should have kept going east. Right now, I think the middle of the Atlantic Ocean might be a good spot.

It's lucky for me that the NCAA is gone from Kansas, because the headquarters was barely 10 minutes from my house. If it were still there, I'd probably have been arrested Monday for disturbing the peace by standing outside and screaming incessantly, "What in the world are you people thinking?"

You can read the entire "position statement" online … and if you make it through without wanting to repeatedly beat your head against a wall (or, you know, somebody else's head), then you're doing a whole lot better than me. Among other things, it's paranoid, uninformed, reality-phobic, logic-devoid, silly and ill-conceived.

Unfortunately, this issue is going to be voted on at the Division III level in 2007 -- that proposal is to greatly limit the use of male practice players -- and the obvious fear is that Division II and Division I are next and might ban them altogether.

Check out the Women's Hoops Blog for more commentary on this lunacy (uh, warning: there is an f-bomb in there; I'd have a few here, too, except we're not allowed). Or go to various women's hoops message boards, where many posters make point after point after point after point about how wrongheaded this is.

Men's practice players have helped women's basketball get better. The idea that they take "opportunities" away from women in practice doesn't make any sense if you've ever seen how they are actually used.

Coaches use them to give everyone more productive reps, not just the starters. They use them to help simulate opposing players' strengths and weaknesses. They use them because they can constantly wear them out if need be; it doesn't matter if they're not as fresh and strong as possible for games.

A devastating injury demon -- anterior cruciate ligament tears -- afflicts females in this sport a great deal more proportionally than males. As scientific/medical research and weight-training methods advance, we all hope to see ACL injuries decrease markedly among women's hoops players.

But I'd guess the ACL factor alone has contributed a lot to women's hoops teams facing problems with having enough available, healthy bodies in practice over the years.

This "position statement" suggests that the answer is bringing in more women to the team -- as if there are talented, fit, competitive women who can practice and play at the necessary level just hanging around every campus wanting to join the team but being ignored because coaches want men practicing.

Does the NCAA's Committee on Women's Athletics think coaches are complete morons? That they don't scour every nook and cranny they can find to get eligible females who can help their teams?

Does the CWA not realize that when women's basketball players are working out on their own, the first place many of them go is the rec center on campus to play against men because they know it helps them?

But here's something else that is significant in this whole matter. Let's consider what being a practice player does for the men who fill that role. They are participating in something that's designed to contribute to the betterment, achievement and glory of women -- not themselves. They need to be punctual, responsible, willing to follow instruction, able to control temper flare-ups in the heat of competition, and eager to work hard toward something that helps other people.

Gee, you don't think any of that stuff is going to make them better human beings, partners and fathers, do you?

They are learning to respect women as athletes. They are taking that respect with them -- at least to some degree -- when they're around other men who don't think or feel the same way. Maybe they are changing a few minds.

Yeah, clearly we need to "eliminate" them.

Cal hit hard with Gray-Lawson injury

By: Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

It has been a good news, bad news week for 15th-ranked Cal. And unfortunately for the Bears, the bad news is the biggest.

Sophomore guard Alexis Gray-Lawson, part of the nucleus of five young players who came into the Bears' program last season and helped lead them to Cal's first NCAA berth in 13 years, will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a torn ACL in Sunday's win at Kansas. (More ...)

December 12, 2006

Jayne is making an impact

By: Jennifer Starks, Contra Costa Times

ESPN women's basketball analyst Nancy Lieberman first met Jayne Appel at the Nike Girls Skills Academy in Beaverton, Ore., during the summer of 2005.

Like the rest of the select group in attendance, Appel was a bright, young talent with limitless potential. Lieberman was taken with her basketball savvy and skill around the hoop. But there was something else.

"You see a lot of kids, when they come into situations, they have big, wide eyes. She was a little bit different," said Lieberman, a two-time Olympian and member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. "You could tell she had a good handle on the situation. Some kids don't know what they want to do. Let's face it. Go to Stanford and figure it out."

Appel is doing just that. (More ...)

Brooke & Candice on Naismith Watch List


Senior Brooke Smith and junior Candice Wiggins have been included among a list of 50 preseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy presented by Cingular Wireless, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Monday. The Naismith Trophy is one of the prestigious national awards presented annually to the men's and women's collegiate players of the year. (More ...)

December 11, 2006

Bracketology in December

ESPN columnist Charlie Creme says that projecting the NCAA Tournament bracket in December is probably just plain crazy, but he does it anyway because it's fun. He has this to say about the four Pac-10 teams in his December bracket:
  • Washington: After blowing a second-half lead at Ohio State, the Huskies bounced back with what should prove to be a big win later on over Texas A & M.
  • California: The young Golden Bears didn't pass their first test, at Vanderbilt, but have still won eight of nine.
  • Arizona State: Maybe the least publicized and most unrecognized really good team in the country.
  • Stanford: The poor Cardinal start might be the most perplexing story of the season so far.
Here is the complete bracket and Creme's column.

December 04, 2006

Cardinal strikes back

By: Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

Stanford can head into its annual break for final exams fully able to concentrate on taking care of business in class, knowing that it finally is taking care of business on the court.

The 15th-ranked Cardinal made easy work of Texas Tech on Sunday afternoon at Maples Pavilion (More ...)

December 01, 2006

Raiders on Horizon

By: Scott Bland, The Stanford Daily

The No. 15 Stanford women’s basketball team will be looking to start its first winning streak of the 2006-2007 season when they take on No. 25 Texas Tech at 2 p.m. Sunday in Maples Pavilion. (More ...)