October 31, 2008

Winning by committee

A staff writer for SI.com considers how the Cardinal will move forward without Candice.

Tara says that this year's team will do it by committee -- four people who get ten, five or six people in double figures, different players in different games. Her biggest challenge may be divvying up minutes considering the depth of the team at every position. Read more...

October 29, 2008

Jayne is ready to go

Michelle Smith (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the health issues of Bay Area post players. Cal's Devanei Hampton and Rama N'diaye are still recovering from their knee injuries. But Jayne is cleared to practice this week and is likely to play against Chico State on Saturday. Read more...

October 24, 2008

Coaches pick Stanford to win Pac-10

You won't be surprised to hear that the Pac-10 head coaches have picked Stanford to win the conference title (for the ninth straight year). Cal is a very close second, and Arizona State is not far behind. Read more...

October 22, 2008

NCAA Compliance

Stanford Athletics and the Fast Break Club complement their support of women's basketball by linking to each other's website. Both are required to observe NCAA Recruiting Rules.

It was recently brought to our attention that we failed to comply with two rules.

We linked to articles about prospective student athletes who had verbally committed to Stanford. We are not allowed to write about a recruit until she has signed a Letter of Intent. This usually happens during the early signing period, which this season is Nov 12-19, but may be done as late as May 20, 2009. We have removed such entries from the FBC Recruiting blog.

We linked to websites of recruiting services -- services that evaluate and provide information about recruits' potential. This is not allowed because it implies endorsement of those services. Two such services are HoopGurlz and scout.com (The Bootleg). We have removed all links to recruiting services, including entries in the FBC Recruiting blog and the FBC Interview blog. Much to our regret, the latter included links to Sue Bair's excellent interviews with various team members, which were posted in The Bootleg. Her interviews do not violate NCAA rules, but our linking to The Bootleg did.

We regret the need to restrict the content of our website, as you, perhaps, regret the need to restrict your contact with prospective athletes. But, so be it. The NCAA Recruiting Rules are designed to prevent gross recruiting violations and are in the best interest of our recruits.

October 17, 2008

Preview of the top teams

USA Today has previewed, but not ranked, what they consider to be the top 16 women's basketball teams. Among them are Stanford, of course, and six of our upcoming opponents: Arizona State, Baylor, California, Duke, Rutgers and Tennessee. The evaluation of each team includes a "Big Question", which I've paraphrased below. To which of the above six teams does each question pertain?
  • Will they rebound from a relatively down 2007 and compete in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast?
  • Three of the their seven losses last season came against xxx. Can they get over the hump and take the top spot in the conference?
  • They finished losing six of their final 11, including a first-round exit in the conference tournament. Can their starting guard's knee hold up?
  • How quickly can the freshmen get past the learning curve and become acclimated to the speed of the college game?
  • Can their leading scorer handle being the new leader of the team, and can she shoulder the load if the freshmen don't pay immediate dividends?
  • After what was considered a disappointing 22-11 record, including a second-round loss, can they rebound and put together a deeper run in the big dance?
The answers and more...

October 16, 2008

Stanford & Cal among the best

Do you remember the three Stanford/Cal games last season?
  • The first one at Maples when the Cardinal's A+ defense shut down the Bears 72-52.
  • The last one, the Pac-10 Tournament Championship, when the Cardinal stunned the tired Bears in a 56-35 rout.
  • And the best one at Cal where 10,525 fans watched Stanford battle to a 60-58 victory. Remember the last 37 seconds when Stanford held on to its slim lead as Cal missed four shots and JJ, Kayla and Ros took turns missing a one-and-one?
Michelle Smith writes about the expectations and prospects of these two teams that are expected to be in the top 10 again this season.

Stanford is eager for another championship season. JJ says, "We've experienced the Final Four and everyone is definitely working really hard to get back." Kayla adds, "People understand what it takes to get there and we're doing it."

Cal has all five of their starters returning, and this is the last chance for the So Berkeley Trio (Devanei, Alexis and Ashley) to achieve their goal.


October 15, 2008

Ready for a big jump

Seven years ago, the only thing Nneka Ogwumike knew about basketball was that the object of the game was to put the ball in the basket. She's learned a lot since then and is ready for the jump into her college career. Teammate Kayla Pedersen says Nneka is powerful and quick enough to jump out of the gym.

Michelle Smith (San Francisco Chronicle) writes of Nneka's road to Stanford, what she expects of her college career, and what Tara expects of her. Read more...

October 12, 2008

Preseason Top 25

SPM Sportspage predicts that Stanford will be the #3 women's basketball team this season. They say, "Don’t be surprised to see Coach Tara Vanderveer’s squad win another Pac-10 title." We won't be!

The Cardinal will be playing six of SPM's top-25 teams this season:

#4 Tennessee
#6 California
#8 Duke
#9 Rutgers
#13 Arizona State
#20 Baylor


October 08, 2008

Injury Report

The class of 2010 has had three ACLs, two meniscus surgeries and one shoulder. Jayne hopes that they're done with the injury jinx.

She and Michelle had their meniscus tears repaired recently. Their pre-season practice is limited, but Tara doesn't see them missing games.

Ros's practice has been limited too because she wrenched her back in a rear-ender this summer.


October 04, 2008

Heather Owen returns to Stanford in a new capacity

Story by Judy Richter
Photo by Dave Cortesi

During forward Heather Owen’s career at Stanford (1994-98), she and her Cardinal teammates played their way into three Final Four appearances. When the 2007-08 women’s basketball team won its way to the championship game in Tampa, Heather and several other former players were there to cheer.

Now Heather is back at Stanford to lend her support to the team again, albeit in a new role. She’s serving a one-year internship in external relations, focusing on marketing and development.

Where marketing is concerned, her goal is to entice more people to revel in the magic at Maples. To do so, she’s taking a two-pronged approach, focusing on Stanford students and the community, she said during a mid-morning interview at Jimmy V’s Sports CafĂ©.

Increasing student attendance is perhaps a greater challenge at Stanford than at some other universities because it has a relatively small undergraduate enrollment and because it fields great teams in so many sports that focus on any one is diluted. Moreover, students tend to take the quality for granted. Another factor is the variety of other activities along with the strong emphasis on academics. “School is the first priority,” she said.

Her approach is to depict the games as a social event, “a chance to interact with your classmates.” Here’s where the team’s new videographer, Bud Anderson, can be helpful. Already he has posted some fun videos on the university’s new YouTube site.

Video also could play a role in trying to “forge new relationships with the community,” both individuals and businesses, while maintaining ties with present fans, “the most loyal supporters,” Heather said.

She wants to do grassroots outreach by giving presentations to schools, community groups like Rotary and the Lions Club, and institutions like senior centers and the Veterans Administration hospital. “Getting out and meeting people” is crucial so that they feel a personal connection to the team.

Local schools can feel that connection when individual players partner with them. After hearing the player (joined by Heather and Bud) speak at their school, the students will attend a game and be honored there. The first school will be Redwood City’s Kennedy Middle School – paired with senior forward Jillian Harmon -- at the Minnesota game Nov. 14. Kennedy students have already heard Jill’s former Stanford teammate Claire Bodensteiner, ’07, whose mother teaches there. Jill and Claire were teammates when New Zealand’s Tall Ferns played in the Olympics in Beijing.

Involving schools “is a win-win at the end of the day,” Heather said. The player gets a chance to deliver a message on her own, and the students meet a positive role model. The entire team also will do community service and sign autographs -- at a children’s hospital, for example -- on a quarterly basis.

Other ideas include games with themes, similar to the breast cancer awareness nights observed throughout the country. Stanford themes might be a green night for environmental awareness or a dog night – “Tara’s real big on dogs” – when the Humane Society brings in dogs for adoption.

The purpose of all these efforts is “making Stanford your team,” Heather said. Of course the fact that last year’s team had such a great season “makes it all the easier,” she said. And “they look great this year, too.”

Now that she’s on the job, she’s finding that head coach Tara VanDerveer “is just a phenomenal marketing person” with terrific ideas.

The development part of her job involves fund-raising, she said in a follow-up phone call. The goal is to enhance relations with donors, alumni, ticket-holders and others and “to make people aware of opportunities and needs” for giving. She praised Tara and assistant head coach Amy Tucker for their ongoing efforts in this direction. “Tara and Amy have done a terrific job of outreach.”

This year, the development program hopes to endow the four coaches’ positions and the women’s basketball program “so the operating budget can come from an endowment,” she said.

She’s also working with Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations, to plan more events for the Fast Break Club “to beef out the social side of it.”

While we spoke at Jimmy V’s, two Cardinal guards – junior Melanie Murphy and sophomore Jeanette Pohlen – sat at a nearby table. They were multi-tasking: studying together while eating. Freshman guard Grace Mashore stopped by to say hello before getting herself a drink and going on her way. They then were joined by sophomore forward Kayla Pedersen with her tray of food.

Perhaps it was this atmosphere of camaraderie that helped to lead Heather back to Stanford. After graduating, she played professionally in the now-defunct ABL and then with the Washington Mystics in the WNBA. Bad knees ended her playing days, so she earned her law degree at Santa Clara University in 2003. After passing the bar, she joined an East Palo Alto law firm. She later opened her own office specializing in employment issues, but “law didn’t afford me the satisfaction and enjoyment that I had in basketball,” she said.

“I knew I missed sports,” but she didn’t want to coach, so she looked into administration. She networked by talking to a lot of people and volunteering, and “this just kinda came together,” she said. And as Tara said at the FBC wine tasting, the hope is that the job can become permanent. “Heather is a worker,” the coach said.

Schedule Update

The 2008-09 schedule has been revised. The most recent official schedule is on the FBC Website. Updates to the schedule are:
  • It includes the TV games: Away games at Duke (ESPN), Tennessee (ESPN2), Cal and UW (FOX) and the Cal, UCLA and WSU games at Maples (FOX).
  • Dates have changed for the away games at Cal, WSU and UW, and the UCLA game at Maples.
  • Times have changed for some games.
Be sure to update your social calendar. You don't want to miss a single minute of Tara's most challenging season.