December 30, 2008

Next up, Sun Devils and Wildcats

The Cardinal begins conference play with a trip to the desert. In the past few seasons, the game at Arizona State has been one of the toughest conference road games for Stanford, the game at Arizona one of the easiest. Things may be different this season.

Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State lost Jill Noe and Reagan Pariseau to graduation, but all the others are back, including Danielle Orsillo who missed all of last season with a knee injury. And they added four freshmen and two transfers. They need a very long bench. They have 14 active players (out of 17 on the roster), ample for Charli Turner-Thorne's platoon substitutions.

Their top players are:
  • Senior guard Briann January is #1 in the Pac-10 in steals/game (3.1) and assists/game (5.4), #2 in A/TO (2.3) and 3-Pt % (.453), #6 in free-throw % (.857), #8 in points/game (13.3)
  • Junior guard Dymond Simon is #1 in the Pac-10 in free-throw % (.962), #7 in 3-Pt % (.375), #11 in points/game (12.8)
  • Senior center Sybil Dosty is #3 in the Pac-10 in blocks/game (1.3), #5 in rebounds/game (7.9) and ASU's third-best scorer (10.1)
  • Junior guard Danielle Orsillo is #3 in the Pac-10 in 3-Pt % (.400) and ASU's 4th best scorer (8.1)
The Sun Devils are not doing quite as well as might be expected this season with all that talent. Their win-loss record (8-4) places them 5th in the Pac-10, their RPI (30) places them 4th, and their schedule strength (30) places them 3rd. They dropped out of the AP Top 25 last week after blowing an 18-2 lead and losing to Nebraska.

However, they have won all six of their home games and will no doubt bring their best game to Wells Fargo Arena for their conference opener against arch-rival Stanford.

Here are their 2008-09 team statistics and their roster

Arizona Wildcats

Arizona is starting over this year. Only five players returned from last season. They've added five freshmen and two junior college transfers. They have apparently been revitalized by their new coach Niya Butts, who gets rave reviews from her associates, and who is described as energetic, passionate, driven, winner!

Only nine of the 13 players on their roster have seen action this season. The most active are:
  • Sophomore forward Ify Ibekwe is #1 in the Pac-10 in rebounds/game (12.6), #2 in blocks/game (1.45), #3 in points/game (15.5), #4 in steals/game (1.9). She has seven double-doubles this season, the most in the Pac-10. The most recent one was her career-bests of 26 points and 20 rebounds. She has just been nominated to the Naismith Trophy Watch List.
  • Freshman guard Reiko Thomas is #5 in the Pac-10 in free-throw % (.860) and Arizona's second-best scorer.
  • Senior forward Amina Njonkou is #7 in the Pac-10 in rebounds/game (7.1) and Arizona's third-best scorer.
  • Junior guard Ashley Frazier is tied for #4 in the Pac-10 in assists/game (4.18), #8 in A/TO (1.05)
Not surprisingly, those four are among the top 10 in minutes-played/game.

The Wildcats will not be a pushover this season. Their win-loss record (7-4) places them 6th in the Pac-10, their RPI (111) places them 7th, and their schedule strength (103) places them 7th.

Here are their 2008-09 team statistics and their roster

December 29, 2008

Jayne is Pac-10 Player of the Week

Jayne was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the second time this season. Read more...

And then some ...

In addition to her fine performance against UC Davis, Jayne had double-doubles in the prior three games: Duke (10 rebounds, 16 points), South Carolina (14 rebounds, 15 points) and Tennessee (14 rebounds, 19 points). She was the #1 rebounder and scorer for Stanford in the Duke & Tennessee games.

She also had 10 blocks in the last four games, bringing her season total to 28 and her career total to 173, just 28 shy of Val Whiting's Stanford record of 201. She also had nine assists, and is #1 in assists for Stanford.

Nationally, she is ranked 33rd in field goal percentage, 24th in rebounds per game, and 23rd in blocks per game.


December 28, 2008

Cardinal rebounds to win over UC Davis

The Cardinal made just 25% of their three-point attempts, but their strong post play led them to an 84-49 victory over the UC Davis Aggies. Kayla said, "Coach has been on us about rebounding more and we got a lot of second chance points from that."

The Cardinal out-rebounded the Aggies 53-27 (23-8 on O-boards). Jayne was the top scorer with 16 points, and was just one rebound shy of a fifth straight double-double. Kayla made her third straight double-double (14 points and ten rebounds). Michelle and Nneka each had 13 points. Michelle's included three of five three-pointers.

The Aggies suited up just eight players -- six of them freshmen -- due to injuries and illness, and coach Sandy Simpson was pleased with their effort. Among the missing was Hannah's sister Haylee, so there was no Donaghe face-off after all.

Here are:

December 27, 2008

Next up, the UC Davis Aggies

It's time for Hannah and Haylee to face off again -- at Maples on Sunday afternoon.

The Aggies' top scorer, rebounder, and tied-for-tallest player is 6'-2" sophomore Paige Mintun.

So far this season, the Aggies are 4-5, Their RPI is 172 . Here are their 2008-09 team statistics, and roster.

December 22, 2008

More from Knoxville

Kayla and Jeanette guard Shekinna Stricklen

Postgame quotes from Tara, Jayne, Jeanette, Pat, and several Lady Vols. If you don't want to read all that, do read Tara's opening statement:
"First of all, I am really proud of our team, and how we battled. We did a great job on the boards. We had a chance to win the game in regulation, and unfortunately we weren't able to convert on our last possession, but we battled back in the second half. In overtime, (Shekinna) Stricklen hit some big threes and we just got down too fast and weren't able to stay with them. I'm really excited about our team, and how we came in and really worked hard. I'd compliment on how well they played. I thought Stricklen had a great game and so did Angie Bjorkland. They were the two keys. They have a lot of young players and, like them, we have a lot of young players. I expect we will both benefit from this matchup, and I hope that we will play them again."
This article in the Palo Alto Times discusses reasons why the Cardinal's week on the road was so frustating and ends with the comforting message, "History has a way of repeating itself."

Here is a full report of the Stanford/Tennessee game and a photo gallery from the Knoxville Times

Here is another photo gallery from the Lady Vols' website.

December 21, 2008

Another lump of coal

Jayne and Kayla both had double-doubles again, and Jeannette added 16 points, but that just wasn't enough to stop the Lady Vols.

The Cardinal led for the first four minutes of the game and for one possession in the second half. Jeanette's 3-pointer tied the game at 68 with less than a minute to play. The Lady Vols came back stronger than the Cardinal in overtime and won 79-69.

Here are the AP game recap and the box score from Stanford Athletics and photos by Wade Payne/AP:

December 20, 2008


Ros left Shannon Bobbitt in the dust a year ago.

What can we expect of tonight's Stanford/Tennessee game?

Michelle Smith (San Francisco Chronicle) writes about Tennessee's pressure defense by a young inexperienced team, and how Stanford expects to handle it. Read more...

Ann Killion (Mercury News) writes that last year's championship game was exactly why Tara keeps the long Stanford/Tennessee series going: to give her team some March madness for the holidays. Read more...

Dan Fleser (Knoxville News) reports that the Lady Vols intend to play their typical defense, but that they just don't have many experienced players implementing their intentions. Read more...

Injury Report: goStanford reports that Jillian, with her sprained ankle is questionable for tonight's game. Here's a Tennessee injury report.

December 19, 2008

Gamecocks roasted

That was more like it! The free throws were still iffy (12 of 21), but everything else was as we expect from the Cardinal, as they defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 78-47.

All the healthy players played (114 minutes from the starting five and 86 minutes from the bench), and they all scored. Kayla led the way with 15 points and 16 rebounds, Jayne just behind her with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Tara said, "This was a must game for us in terms of coming out and playing very, very well. Our team was very disappointed at how we played against Duke and how we finished that game. I think we wanted to show ourselves we were better than that."

The Cardinal out-rebounded the Gamecocks 53-21. "We never want to get out-rebounded like we did again," Dawn Staley said. "We got beat by a good rebounding team with big bodies."

Here are the AP game recap and the box score from Stanford Athletics and a game report from the The State.

A holiday from cupcakes

Joseph Persons (The State) reports that Dawn Staley, in her first year as coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, inherited a schedule from former coach Susan Walvius that includes each of last season's Final Four participants, beginning tonight with Stanford.

Despite taking over a team with only three seniors, Staley never considered calling Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, her coach on the 1996 Olympic team, to ask about pushing the game back a year or two.

"I welcome the challenge no matter what our personnel is because I think you can learn a whole lot about yourself playing against some of the best teams in the country," Staley said. Read more...

December 17, 2008

Duke downs Stanford

Here are the game reports:
  • The News & Observer: Depending on its defensive prowess, the Duke women's basketball team stuck to Stanford on Tuesday night, using every scheme available to pressure the Cardinal and wear down the nation's third-ranked team. Read more ...
  • The Times News: Christmas came early for Duke. It arrived Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the form of Karima Christmas. Read more ...
and the photos:
The fabled arenaStanford supporters The tipoff Nneka battles for the ball Jayne & Jill apply some pressure Go Stanford!! Mel gets duked Coach P. doesn't like the call Ros gets hassled

December 16, 2008

Not quite

Duke's power defense and Cameron Indoor Stadium were all that they were cracked up to be. Stanford's response wasn't quite.

The Cardinal started out very strong and led by nine points 12 minutes into the game. Duke responded, tied it up six minutes later, and were ahead by four or so points the rest of the game. Jeanette hit a three-pointer that cut the lead to two with a minute left to play, but that was essentially the end. Duke 56, Stanford 52.

This is not a loss to be ashamed of. The Cardinal handled the Blue Devil defense very well, and dished out some strong defense of their own. Where Duke's pressure made the biggest impact, I think, was in the Cardinal's free throw shooting. They missed 13 of 27 free throws, some of the misses obviously due to exhaustion.

Speaking of exhaustion, I didn't get much sleep on the redeye last night, and it's 10:30 in Durham. Here are the AP game recap and the box score from Stanford Athletics. I'll add some photos and links to game reports tomorrow morning.

December 15, 2008

The Blue Devil's Home

I'm looking forward to seeing Cameron Indoor Stadium tonight. It's reputed to be one of college basketball's toughest environments, where Duke's non-conference opponents almost never win. Only four non-ACC teams have beat the [women] Blue Devils on their home court in the past eight years.

It was officially opened in 1940. This is the architect's rendering of the design: It was so grand that local city officials at its dedication were said to be speechless. Except one, who said, "It is so colossal and so wonderful ... This building will not only be an asset to the university but to the entire community as well ... There are no superlatives for it."

It was renovated in the late 1980s, and looks like this today --outside from the front: and inside: It seats 9,314. So far this season, the average attendance for women's basketball has averaged 5,626. But the stadium may be full tonight -- playing #3 Stanford is a big deal for the Blue Devils.

Folding bleachers on the floor are designated for the exclusive use of undergraduates, the Cameron Crazies, who have made a name for themselves as Duke's exceptional "sixth man": and here is the Blue Devil himself: Attendance figures have changed since 1988 when the Stanford and Duke first met at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tara remembers that, "they had, like, 15 people at the game."

Stanford won. Let's all hope that history repeats itself.

December 14, 2008

On the road

The Cardinal have headed east for three challenging games before Christmas.

Duke Blue Devils

Seniors Chante Black and Abby Waner are Duke's leading scorers. Charlie Creme (ESPN) thinks that Waner's jump shot is the key to Duke's success. She seemed to lose it last season; her 3-point accuracy dipped to 26%. She is beginning to regain her stroke this season. She hit three of seven in their most recent game, and her current average is 28.9%.

But Graham Hays (ESPN) thinks that junior forward Joy Cheek, pictured on the left, is the critical piece of the puzzle for Duke. "When [she] is rolling as option #3 (or option #1 or #2 on a given night), it's possible to picture Duke in St. Louis at the Final Four." Read more...

The Blue Devils' defense has been stifling. It's mostly man-to-man with a variety of presses. They've forced their opponents to commit 25 or more turnovers in five of their seven games.

Coach Joanne P. McCallie, in her second season at Duke, says of Stanford, "They are huge, they are a big team, and even their guards are 6’0 so I would tell you they are very big, very strong, and they try to pound it inside. I think I would love us to play up tempo without turning the ball over. Go, go, go, run, run, run but make it productive.” Chante Black concurs, "This [game] is a challenge because they have two great post players if not three or four. but you just have to keep going in there and hopefully you will get the calls." Read more...

So far this season, the Blue Devils are 6-1, with one win against a ranked team (Oklahoma State). Their RPI is 19, and they're ranked #8. Here are their 2008-09 Team Statistics and their roster.

South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina is low on the SEC totem pole and doesn't get much attention from the media. The Gamecocks haven't made the NCAA tournament or had a winning record in the SEC since 2003. They made it to the second round of the WNIT last season, after which 11-year coach Susan Walvius resigned. She was replaced by Dawn Staley, and no team coached by Staley is to be dismissed lightly. If you don't remember Staley's accomplishments, read here...

The Gamecocks recently won the Cancun Thanksgiving Tournament. Their leading scorer, senior guard Brionna Dickerson, scored 30 points in the two tournament games and was named the MVP. 6-4 senior forward Demetress Adams, pictured on the right, is the Gamecocks' leading rebounder and #2 scorer.

So far this season, the Gamecocks are 4-3, all against unranked teams. Their RPI is 115; they are unranked. Here are their 2008-09 Team Statistics and their roster.

Tennessee Lady Volunteers

In Knoxville, they're calling this season's team -- which includes six rookies and one redshirt freshman -- the "Baby Vols." And like infants, they can be adorable and cute and make Summitt smile … but they also can make her want to scream a lot.

In their fifth straight win, Summitt was dissatisfied with the freshmen's poor shooting and sloppy ball handling. She cut their playing time in the second half and gave them a stern lecture after the game. "What really bothers me is when I see what they do in practice, and then they go out on the court and they don't bring it," Summitt said. "You never do that to your team, to the fans, to the program, to your coaches — it's stressful on me. I let them know after the game how I felt about it, and I'm not going to change. ... And I know that's youth. And I need to have more patience. Tonight I didn't have a lot of patience."

The most productive rookies are 6-3 forward Glory Johnson, pictured on the left, and 6-2 guard/forward Shekinna Stricklen, who are the leading scorers. They also have the most steals (and the most turnovers), and Johnson is the leading rebounder. Both have been in the starting lineup all season.

Another rookie to watch for is 5-2 energizer bunny point guard Briana Bass, who may be a clone of Shannon Bobbitt. She has the most assists and a respectable assist/turnover ratio of 1.59. She was promoted to the starting lineup in the Vols' eighth game. On being part of the youngest starting lineup in Tennessee history, she said, "I think that we, as a team, are about to shock the world. Even though we are young, we are about to bring some heat, so they had better get ready for us."

They're not quite that hot yet. In their most recent game, a loss to Texas, Johnson was the top scorer (13) and rebounder (nine), but she had three fouls and sat out most of the first half; she also had two turnovers and missed seven free throws. Stricklen had eight points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals; but she also had four turnovers and fouled out. Bass had six points and six rebounds, but also five turnovers and only three assists.

Hope they pull out a win in their next game against ODU before returning to Knoxville for their game against the Cardinal. A Summit-coached team has not lost three games in a row since 1986.

So far this season, the Lady Volunteers are 7-2, with the losses to the only ranked teams they've played (Virginia and Texas). Their RPI is 15, and they're ranked #11. It's the first time in 211 weeks that they've been out of the top 10. Here are their 2008-09 Team Statistics and their roster.

December 13, 2008

Bulldogs bitten

It was Peninsula Humane Society Pet Day at Maples, but the Cardinal showed no mercy in their 100-62 victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs:
  • Kayla scored 21 points, was perfect from the free-throw line (6-6), and had five assists.
  • Nneka, in her first career start, scored 19 points, many of them beautiful alley-oop shots
  • Jeanette scored  14 points and had seven rebounds, two assists and three steals.
  • Jayne had a double-double (13 points and ten rebounds), five assists and three blocks, and was perfect from the free-throw line (5-5).
  • The Cardinal outshot the Bulldogs  54% to 32% and outrebounded them  50 to 30.
  • Every suited-up member of the team played and scored (Jillian (back spasms, negative MRI) and Grace (groin pull) joined JJ and Morgan on the bench today).
The Bulldogs played a fast, intense, dribble-drive offense for the full 40 minutes, but as Bobbie promised in the pregame chalk talk,  the Cardinal didn't let them get away with that.  Stanford was just too big and too talented for Fresno State.

Here are the AP game recap and the box score from Stanford Athletics and game reports from the Fresno Bee, Palo Alto Online and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Don wasn't able to photograph today's game, and Bud hasn't (yet?) published a highlights video, but here are a few photos from the Associated Press.

Jeanette is the MIP

Michelle Smith (San Francisco Chonicle) writes:

The women's basketball season is just revving up and Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has already found her top candidate for Most Improved Player - sophomore guard Jeanette Pohlen.

Pohlen's strong, confident play to start the season has been a major factor in the Cardinal's 7-1 start against one of the toughest nonconference slates in program history. Read more...

On a different topic, Jeff David (Fresno Bee) writes of Fresno State's expectations and plans for their game today against the Cardinal:

Once upon a time Fresno State, believe it or not, held an iron upper hand on Stanford in their women's basketball series.

The Bulldogs, from November 1982 to December 1986, won six out of seven matchups - including five in a row.

Then along came an auburn-haired pixie coach