November 30, 2008

The Jillian Show

Jillian didn't fool around with buzzer-beater recalls today. She scored the first nine Cardinal points in 3.5 minutes and ended with the game-high 18 points (including four of five three-pointers) in 18 minutes before being sidelined with back spasms.

Jayne added 16 points, Nneka 14 and Kayla 10 to the Cardinal's 83-54 win over the Rainbow Wahine.

Here are the AP game recap and photo gallery and the box score from Stanford Athletics.

Jayne was the tournament MVP, and Kayla was named to the all-tournament team.

The Cardinal return home for finals week. Welcome them back to Maples Saturday after next (December 13) in their game against last season's WAC champion, Fresno State.

November 29, 2008

Stanford overpowers Iowa State

Stanford's defense against Iowa State this afternoon was a thing of beauty. They absolutely smothered the Cyclones, holding them to a season-low field goal percentage of 29.6.

On the other end of the court the Cardinal went wild. They were led by Ros and Sarah, each with 14 points, closely followed by Kayla with 13 and Lindy with 11. Ros, who rooms with Lindy, thinks hitting threes has rubbed off on her. Today it was an epidemic. Six Cardinal players combined for 13 threes -- four from Ros, three each from Lindy and Kayla (!) and one each from Jeanette, Jill and Michelle.

The result was Iowa State's worst loss since 1994: 83-45.

Here are the AP game recap and photo gallery and the box score from Stanford Athletics and game reports from Palo Alto Online and GoCyclones.

November 28, 2008

Game so nice, they had to win it twice

The score is 65-65, 19 seconds to play, Purdue has the ball.
Purdue calls a timeout.
Stanford calls a timeout.
Purdue misses a jumper, Jayne gets the rebound, 1.4 seconds to play,
Kayla heaves the ball way-y-y-y downcourt, Jill leaps high in front of a Purdue defender, snatches the ball, spins around her defender, shoots, swish!, Stanford wins 67-65!
Jubilant hugs and high fives all around!

OH NO! Why are the refs conferring in midcourt? (They have no video monitor at Stan Sheriff center).
They decide Jill didn't release the ball before the buzzer.
Overtime, Jayne comes out filled with righteous indignation.
Jayne hits a jumper, gets two rebounds, hits another jumper, then two layups.
A few more shots and free throws later, Stanford wins again 78-70!!

Here are the AP game recap and the box score from Stanford Athletics and a game report from Palo Alto Online.

Next up, Iowa State, who defeated coach Cynthia Cooper's Prairie View A & M earlier in the day, but didn't look as good or as strong as Purdue.

November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving in Hawaii

The Cardinal is in Hawaii for the Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic. This is a six-team round-robin tournament, where each team plays three of the other five. Stanford's opponents will be Purdue, Iowa State and Hawaii. The other two participants are Prairie View and San Diego State.

Before the tournament begins on Friday, all the teams will enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner tonight at the Waikiki Marriott with their families and fans.

Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue was the Big Ten tournament champion last season. They lost to Tennessee in the second round of the NCAAs. And that was without Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, who missed the season with an ACL, and Jodi Howell, who was out with two shoulder surgeries.

In her junior year, Wisdom-Hylton was the Big Ten defensive player of the year and an honorable mention All-American. She led the team in rebounds and blocks and was their second leading scorer. She is a bit smaller than Jayne, 6-2 with a wingspan of 6-4.5.

ESPN's Charlie Creme evaluates them thus: Their nightmarish injury problems of a year ago might turn into a blessing this season. While Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton and Jodi Howell were out with injuries, Danielle Campbell and Lakisha Freeman established themselves inside. The 6-4 Campbell anchored a defense that ultimately carried the Boilermakers to their end-of-the-year success. FahKara Malone is probably the player most responsible for keeping Purdue alive last season, and the junior returns to anchor the backcourt.

Coach Sharon Versyp made practices more challenging this week, "We went very, very hard," to prepare her players for the trip to Hawaii.

So far this season, the Boilermakers are 3-0 against unranked teams. Their RPI is 44, and they're ranked 19/23. Here are their 2008-09 Team Statistics.

Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State finished eighth in the Big 12 last season. They lost to Rutgers in the second round of the NCAAs.

They return four double-digit scorers: Alison Lacey, Nicky Wieben, Heather Ezell and Kelsey Bolte. Charlie Creme says that Lacey is probably the best of that group. He expects that she will get more minutes at her more natural shooting guard spot after playing the point last season.

They have a 21.3 rebounding margin, but coach Bill Fennelly isn't sure they can keep that up. He says the one thing his team hasn't seen yet this season is size. "That will be the No. 1 thing our kids will have to adjust to. They’re going to be looking up to people when they haven’t had to look up in a while.” If they are to succeed in Hawaii, "...the rebounds must continue to fall into ISU’s hands."

So far this season, the Cyclones are 3-0 against unranked opponents. Their RPI is 28, and they're ranked 25/22. Here are their 2008-09 Team Statistics.

Hawaii Rainbow Wahine

Hawaii finished sixth in the WAC last season.

They were led by their freshman phenom, point guard Keisha Kanekoa, who started 15 games and played in every one.

This is coach Jim Bolla's fifth season at Hawaii. He is the program's second winningest coach, known for recruiting talented players. This year's team is a deep, though young, squad with six freshmen added to the nine returners.

The Rainbow Wahine are 0-3 this season. Their RPI is 265. Here are their 2008-09 Team Statistics.

November 25, 2008

Losing Hones hurts, but Stanford will be OK

Graham Hays (ESPN) writes about JJ and how her loss will affect Stanford's prospects this season. He thinks that with a full season to adjust and the experience of last season's postseason run in hand, Stanford's return to the Final Four is not precluded. Read more...

Ann Killion (Mercury News) agrees that the Cardinal have reason to be optimistic. They are a no nonsense, hard-working team. They understand from their run to the Final Four last season the conditioning and pace required to reach such heights. When JJ went down, they regrouped and went back to work. As Jayne said, "It's sad, but you have to move on." Read more...

Darren Sabedra (Mercury News) reports the confirmation of JJ's ACL injury here ...

November 24, 2008

With love to JJ

We don't yet know what the MRI will show, but I want to tell JJ how much she means to her fans. Following are posts from the Bootleg Women's Basketball Message Board. Please add your tribute -- your thoughts, feelings, special memories -- as comments to this blog. I'll send them all to JJ tomorrow.
As convincing a victory as I have ever seen, but so saddened by the injury to our spark, JJ. We hope for the best, and our thoughts are with JJ and her family. Candace Parker suffered ACL injuries in both her Sr year of HS and her first year at Tenn. She turned out to be the best in college BB after her injuries. Keep the faith JJ.
I love JJ's game. I first saw JJ play in December of her freshman year. She and her mates came down to LA to kick off the Pac-10 season (before Christmas!) against UCLA and USC. Candice Wiggins was injured and missed both of those games, so someone had to step up. It was JJ, who scored much needed points from the outside and brought a calming influence to her team. Stanford won both games. I brought a guest to the USC game who'd never seen Stanford play before. His thought -- that freshman point guard was the most impressive player on the floor. Indeed she was.

During the game against Rutgers, there were two touch pass plays that really entertained me (watching on the video feed). One was Nneka, leaping in the air to meet a high pass into the post and volleyballing the pass back to the perimeter where a mate knocked down a three point shot. Wow! The other touch pass was JJ's. Running the floor on offense, JJ met a pass around the mid court line and touch passed it ahead to Jeanette Pohlen (I think) for the lay up. What a marvelous play, and made to look so easy and effortless. In fact, the play was extraordinary, as JJ was in full stride and her touch pass fell just where it needed to for Jeanette to complete the play.

JJ, I love your game. I know that, whatever your injury, you will be back!
A tragedy. JJ had trained herself into peak condition, significantly better than at the start of last season. Her vision of the court and seemingly natural ability to connect with her teammates was inspiring. Hopefully, she will still bring inspiration from the bench as Morgan does.

Her smiling presence signing autographs for worshipful little girls was missing from the auction. She left poignant stats for her last 17 minutes: 3 of 4 3-pointers, 6 assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal.
Just viewing the video clips on YouTube where JJ is so cute, running around on campus and making threes, gets me all verklempft. Double RATS!!! I am bereft and disconsolate!
That pass from JJ brought the house to its feet, and it [the game] may have been over from that point on. The definitive statement: We are better than you. We are quicker, we can score on you. Well at this point we hope for some sort of good news for us, for JJ, for her family.
I hate this so much. It is the only thing that bothers me about following basketball. Losses bum me out for two minutes to a day, depending. This kind of bummer sticks around.
I cried. JJ has such amazing talent, but I have to admit it's JJ's heart that I love the most -- she's a spark, an influence, a helper, encourager, leader, all the intangibles that I don't have words for + a great, skilled and fun-to-watch player. Our prayers and best wishes to her and her family.
Go to comments for more messages.

November 23, 2008


So bitter to see JJ go down in great pain, apparently with an injured knee, as she drove towards the basket late in the first half. She had started the game right where she left off last season: nine points on three of four three-pointers, six assists and one turnover.

But what a sweet victory for the Cardinal, who crushed the Scarlet Knights 81-47. Jayne led the way in the paint and on the scoreboard with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Kayla added 17 points and Nneka 11 for a total of 47, the same as Rutgers' total score.

Which is not to say that the other members of The Committee were not needed. It is said that Tara doesn't like to play zone defense, but the Cardinal employed it very effectively for most of the game, and Rutgers could not cope with it. On the other hand, the Cardinal coped very well with Rutgers' occasional press. Turnovers were 8-16 and steals 8-5, both in the Cardinal's favor.

For more, see:

November 22, 2008

Next up, the Scarlet Knights

Before their road trip to the Bay Area, coach C. Vivian Stringer said of her five McDonald's All-American freshmen, "They don't know what they don't know." In other words, don't expect the newcomers to shy away from what promised to be a treacherous weekend.

They're beginning to understand after the 66-52 plain ol' whuppin' the Bears put on them at Haas last night. Playing without Devanei Hampton and Rama N'Diaye, still recovering from knee injuries, the Bears outplayed the Knights in all aspects of the game. In addition to all that's covered in the game reports, two things impressed me:
  • The difference between our Jayne and the Knights' Big, Kia Vaughn. As has been the case with Jayne, Kia was double-teamed almost every time she got the ball (usually by Ashley Walker and Kelsey Adrian). The difference: her stats line -- 35 minutes, four points, four turnovers, eight rebounds, one block, zero assists. “Jayne is a very unselfish player,” Amy said after the New Mexico game, "so when she can’t do her own shooting, she passes off to someone who can." Kia was not able to do that last night.

  • The Knights' defensive intensity. They pressed so hard in the last quarter of the game, that the Bears were often unable to inbound the ball. I expect the Cardinal will be ready for that on Sunday.
Here are the story about Rutgers' anticipated Bay Area road trip, the Cal/Rutgers game report, both from the New Jersey Star-Ledger, and the box score and play-by-play.

November 20, 2008

They're back!

Jillian said, "People are still learning their roles and picking their spots. I think it's coming along."

It came along very nicely in the Cardinal's 84-46 win over the New Mexico Lobos. Jillian led five committee members in double figures with 13 points.

JJ is back. She played 11 minutes, hit three three-pointers, and ended up with 12 points. Tara said, "Having JJ back really changes our team. "She gives us great stability with her experience, her poise." JJ said, "It was so nice to play. It was killing me sitting on the bench."

The perimeter shooting is back. The Cardinal swished 12 of 27 three-pointers: four from Lindy (who earned her first start and played 19 minutes), four from Jeanette, three from JJ and one from Ros.

The defense is back. The Cardinal held the Lobos to 27% shooting and out-rebounded them 47 - 35. Jayne was double-teamed almost every time she got the ball, so turned her attention to finding her teammates. She dished out seven assists to go with 10 rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Nneka added eight rebounds, two assists, two blocks and 11 points.

Here are the AP game recap, photo gallery and the box score from Stanford Athletics and game reports from Michelle Smith (SF Chronicle) and Wyndam Makowsky (Stanford Daily).

Next up, the New Mexico Lobos

Richard Stevens (GoLobos) thinks the Lobos could have found a more favorable place to open their 2008-09 road season than Palo Alto, CA.

Although the Cardinal fell to #8 in the polls after their loss to Baylor, coach Dan Flanagan says, "I don't want to criticize them at all. I don't want anything on their bulletin board about what I said. They are missing one great athlete (Wiggins) that they had last year, but they have four of their starting five back again and they are very physical, very talented, execute very well, are well coached. Maybe not as athletic as last year, but they are young and I think eventually they are going to be one of the top five teams in the nation."

UNM does have something the Cardinal don't have: a perfect record. The Lobos are 3-0 after winning the Basketball Travelers Tip-Off Tournament in The Pit.

It will be interesting to see how the MVP of the tournament, 6'-3" Angela Hartill does against the inside talent of Stanford. It's important for the Lobos to get points from Hartill because she is the main threat inside and a good game from her in the paint opens up the perimeter more for the Lobo long guns. Read more...

November 17, 2008

Things learned from Baylor's upset of Stanford

Tracy Schultz ( learned something about Stanford on Sunday: You don't just replace a four-time All-America.

Although the Cardinal struggled with physical battles in the paint and missed plenty of open shots on the perimeter, she thinks there is no need for them to panic. They do need the leadership and consistency that Candice provided, but they may get that back when JJ rejoins the team.

Tara said, "Our team not only is without Candice, but without our starting point guard, [whose return] would allow Jeanette Pohlen to play her real position and would bring tremendous stability to our team. When you take away basically -- this is Texas -- your quarterback and your best running back, you've got trouble. Sometimes you go into a fight, and this is Round 1. We've got a big bloody nose. See us at Round 15, see where we've come."

There's no reason the Cardinal can't rebound from the loss. Wiggins might have been a huge part of the program, but she's not the only one that got the Cardinal to the championship game last season, even after losses to UCLA and USC. Read more...

November 16, 2008

Baylor payback

Just 11 months ago, Stanford defeated Baylor 87-63 at Maples. Rachel Allison was hurt and embarassed. "It broke our heart," she said.

Today Baylor defeated Stanford 81-65. Allison led the way offensively with the game-high 25 points, including four of six 3-pointers.

"They were on a mission," Tara said. "They didn't like what happened last year and wanted payback. They were fired up and got after it. More power to them."

Here are the AP game recap, photo gallery and the box score from Stanford Athletics and a game report by Joe Holloway (Baylor Lariat).

November 15, 2008

Next up, the Baylor Lady Bears

There are several superficial similarities between the Cardinal and their next opponent, Baylor.

Baylor returns all but one starter, star guard and top scorer Angela Tisdale.

Both teams struggled beyond the arc in their first game. The Lady Bears sank just three of 20 3-point attempts. Ros and Jeanette found the basket late in the game, and the Cardinal ended up three of 10.

They too have four freshmen. This similarity end with the number. In their season opener against Florida Atlantic last night with a substantial early lead and looking to rest the starters as much as possible before taking on No. 2 Stanford, coach Kim Mulkey subbed-in the four freshmen with a little more than six minutes to go in the first half. "The freshmen did about what you expect them to do," Mulkey said. Three minutes and 10 Florida Atlantic points later, the freshmen were out and the starters were back in to close out the half.

The freshmen got another chance in the last six minutes of the game, when they surrendered only 11 points. "They were much better the second go around," Mulkey said. But none appear to be of the same caliber as Nneka and Sarah.

"Stanford is huge, they have a lot of depth," Mulkey said. " We'll play hard. We're going to give it everything we have and see if we can make a ballgame out of it."

No doubt the Cardinal will do the same.

You can watch a webcast of the game on Baylor's All*Access channel, but it will cost you $6.95. Go to the Baylor Schedule, click on the Stanford game, then click the Watch button. And if you don't want to do that, remember that you can Listen Live on KZSU.

November 14, 2008

Off to a good start

By Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

The Cardinal won their eighth straight season opener 68-55 with a physical, roller-coaster effort against a strong Big Ten opponent. What looked like it would be an easy win in the opening minutes and a defensive slog as the first-half ended, turned into a second-half dogfight.

"I like that it was physical out there, I think that's great for our team," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We didn't back down and that's a great statement. That's the way it's going to be. Read more...

Here are the AP game recap and the box score from Stanford Athletics.

Up first, the Golden Gophers

Stanford opens the season at home tonight against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Like Stanford, Minnesota begins the season with confidence. Their motto is, "Expect to win!" They too have more depth than last season with three freshmen (Jackie Voigt, Brianna Mastey and Kiara Buford) who are expected to play and produce immediately. Their top returning scorer, Emily Fox, is expected to pile up points again.*

But this will not be an easy game for the Gophers. In coach Pam Burton's seven seasons at Minnesota, they have never lost a season opener. But they have never opened against a nationally ranked opponent, nor away from home.

Read previews of the game from Minnesota's viewpoint by Mark Heise (Minnesota Daily) and Rachel Blount (Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

*Emily Fox is also a world champion cup stacker.

November 13, 2008

We want more

Graham Hays (ESPN) writes about the Cardinal's confronting life after Candice.

When asked if they might be a little tired of talking about her, JJ said, "I wish she was still here and we didn't have to be talking about her. But it's not something that I'm tired of, because she deserves all the talk and publicity and credit she gets."

Nobody is talking about replacing her presence. Having seen what it takes to get to the season's final weekend, nobody is all that interested in wasting energy on words of any kind. Jayne says, "We're just going to go out and do it and not talk about it so much. We're all kind of aware that we all need to step up."

Unlike Tennessee and LSU, Stanford returns almost its entire roster. In addition to all the returning talent, Tara brought in a surprisingly large and unsurprisingly lauded recruiting class. But something else returned alongside all that talent from last season, something that should quickly be passed on to the fresh faces.

"I feel like, coming into Stanford, I think if you ask anyone why they're here, it's to win a national championship," Hones said. "I think everyone put themselves in a place where they were going to do well both athletically and academically. And I don't think -- not think, I know -- we were not satisfied with how we finished last year. Yes, it's great we got to the national championship game, but this year we're greedy. We want more.


November 12, 2008

Size, size and more size

That Vanguard player going up against Sarah is only 5 '7", but as Michelle Smith (San Francisco Chonicle) says, "Size, size and more size is the new Stanford hallmark this season."

She evaluates the returning backbone of the team, Jayne and Kayla, the freshmen reinforcements, Sarah and Nneka, and the effect they will have on the team's style of play.

She concludes, "Stanford's fortunes likely will rest under the basket and on the drive to repeat the experience the Cardinal relished in April in Tampa." Read more...

November 10, 2008

ESPN's Top 25

After Tennessee's two-year dominance, red, white and blue have taken over the top of's preseason Top 25. Here is their analysis of their #1 pick, Stanford, and eight teams that Stanford will play this season. As Tara said, "It's going to be a challenging one!"
1. Connecticut
Elena Delle Donne's summer departure earned headlines for good reason, but it also overshadowed what remains. Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery are all national player of the year candidates, and Kalana Greene was one of the team's best all-around players before sustaining the knee injury from which she looks to return. Add newcomers Tiffany Hayes, Caroline Doty and Heather Buck, and the Huskies are loaded.
2. Stanford
Candice Wiggins is gone, but a quality of quantity should keep Stanford in the title chase. Jayne Appel, Kayla Pedersen, JJ Hones, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and Jillian Harmon all return, along with a deep recruiting class headlined by Nnemkadi Ogwumike and two veteran sleepers slowed by injuries last season in Michelle Harrison and Ashley Cimino.
3. Rutgers
Essence Carson and Matee Ajavon have moved on to the WNBA, but Epiphanny Prince, Kia Vaughn and the rest of the returning Scarlet Knights have a quintet of highly touted freshmen to ease the loss of two players who seemed to do the work of four or five. A quick transition at point for freshman Nikki Speed would help keep things rolling.
4. Duke
There are a lot of good parts for Joanne P. McCallie to fit together. Underrated post Chante Black is a cornerstone to construct around. And full seasons from Krystal Thomas and Joy Cheek could produce one of the nation's best frontcourts. Another top recruiting class provides the backcourt with abundant depth … and rotation question marks.
5. Cal
A second-round loss in the NCAA tournament will be fuel for the fire of a team that returns 97 percent of its minutes (assuming junior center Rama N'diaye returns from a torn ACL suffered in the Big Dance). Losing a top recruit for the second year in a row hurts -- this time guard Shawna-Lei Kuehu, who decided to remain home in Hawaii -- but the remaining incoming freshmen should provide more depth than in 2007-08.
9. Tennessee
he Orange Brigade has a new rallying point, which is the belief that everyone now underestimates the two-time defending national champion. Having lost its starting five to graduation, Tennessee will have a new look -- but the same expectations.
15. Baylor
Point guard Angela Tisdale has graduated, but the other four starters return and there's improved depth. It might take a little while for the freshmen to get up to speed, but Baylor should be a team on the rise at the right time.
18. Arizona State
Arizona State went 0-5 against Stanford and California last season and 22-6 against the rest of the country (including 15-0 against the rest of the Pac-10). Jill Noe and Reagan Pariseau are gone, but the Sun Devils still have the depth to run their familiar hockey-shift system -- especially if guard Danielle Orsillo returns from injury at full strength.
19. Purdue
Given the injuries and tough start, the Boilermakers pieced together an amazing season in 2008. The return of all-Big Ten talent Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton from a knee injury should transform the Purdue offense. Jodi Howell and her deep shooting skills also come off a medical redshirt year. Danielle Campbell and Lakisha Freeman established themselves with the additional opportunities and now the Boilermakers go from paper-thin to deep and versatile.
22. Iowa State
The Cyclones made the NCAA tournament last season against all odds after losing two starters to ACL injuries. Nicky Wieben and Toccara Ross are back, and it's the deepest team Bill Fennelly has had in a while. The Cyclones should be the top squad in the Big 12 North.

November 09, 2008

Traditional powers remain strong

Greg Auman (St. Petersburg Times) thinks three of last season's Final Four teams are likely to meet again in St. Louis.

There could be life after Candace Parker at Tennessee, which lost five starters but has legendary coach Pat Summitt back with a young but talented lineup. "We're going to have to grow up in a hurry," Summitt said of her youngest team in 34 seasons of coaching. "There's something to be said for having a young team. It certainly fires me up. I get excited and I look forward to practice every day."

Stanford returns a 1-2 punch in Jayne Appel and forward Kayla Pedersen, but moves on without All-America guard Candice Wiggins. Stepping in for Wiggins won't be easy, but Stanford has a standout freshman in Nneka Ogwumike. "She doesn't have to be Candice. She's got to be Nneka," coach Tara Vanderveer said. "She will stamp this team. She's someone who's a difference-maker, no doubt."

Connecticut returns two of the game's most dominant players in forward Maya Moore and center Tina Charles, and has three players — Moore, Charles and guard Renee Montgomery — good enough to make the preseason Wooden Award list of 30 national player-of-the-year candidates. They have impact freshmen, too, such as guards Caroline Doty and Tiffany Hayes.


November 07, 2008

Another team victory

Stanford defeated NAIA national champion Vanguard 87-41 in their second exhibition game. Vanguard is a small, but fast and scrappy team. They gave the Cardinal some valuable practice in breaking the press.

This victory, as last week's, was a team effort:
  • Sarah had the first double-double of the [pre]season -- 13 points and 10 rebounds.

  • Jayne led all scorers with 20 points and also had eight rebounds and four blocks.

  • Jillian led the defense with 12 rebounds and also had eight points.

  • Nneka had 16 points, five rebounds and three steals.

  • Michelle had 14 points and four rebounds

  • Mel kept everyone hustling with nine assists (just two turnovers) and a steal

  • Jeanette neared a triple-double with eight points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Morgan had a less strenuous workout tonight. There were just four three-pointers, two from Lindy and two from Jeanette.

Here are the AP game recap and the box score from Stanford Athletics.

Loading up to make a big-time run

Dick Patrick (USA Today) discusses Stanford's prospects for this season, including this quote from Tara, "I think our inside game was good last year, but this year it should be even better. We were big last year but not physical. We're going to be very physical and able to run with our bigs. I think Sarah is going to surprise some people."

He thinks the Cardinal may get off to a slow start, then concludes, "Maybe not, thanks to the dividends paid by last year's Final four trip." Read more...

November 06, 2008

Jayne on preseason Wooden Award Watch list

Jayne has been named to the list of 30 preseason candidates for the 2008-09 John R. Wooden Award and the Wooden Award All-American Team.

The list is composed of 30 student-athletes who, based on last year's individual performance and team records, are the early front-runners for college basketball's most prestigious honor. This is the second straight year in which Jayne has been named to the Wooden Award's preseason Top 30.

Here is the complete announcement from and the Preseason Top 30 List.

November 04, 2008

Morgan gets a workout in blowout

By Judy Richter

Senior Morgan Clyburn must have been tired after the Nov. 1 exhibition win over Chico State. The forward/center is still rehabbing from foot surgery, but she got a workout nonetheless. In keeping with tradition, she celebrated every three-pointer by high-fiving her teammates on the bench.

She had plenty to do in the 123-39 victory, high-fiving 15 times. The three-point barrage was led by freshman guard Lindy La Rocque, who swished in seven with her high-arcing shot from beyond the line. Also scoring from outside were sophomore guard Jeanette Pohlen with four. Senior forward Jillian Harmon, senior guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, sophomore forward Kayla Pedersen and freshman guard Grace Mashore added one each. Just for the record, Morgan has been known to knock in a few herself.

Even though it was only an exhibition game against a team that was – to say the least – at a height disadvantage, it carried several story lines, all of them boding well for the coming season.

First, it was the first outing in nearly a year for two juniors, forward Michelle Harrison and guard Melanie Murphy, both of whom had knee injuries. Michelle contributed four points, one rebound and one assist in 16 minutes of playing time. Mel, playing 17 minutes, most of them at the point, chipped in with two points, one rebound and six assists.

Junior center Jayne Appel, cleared to practice just a few days earlier after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus late this summer, looked as if she hadn’t lost a step. She recorded 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one block in 14 minutes.

Second, it marked the debut of the four freshmen, who were impressive. Lindy finished with a team-high 21 points in 22 minutes and had two rebounds, two assists and one steal. Grace had four points in her eight minutes and added a rebound, an assist and a steal.

Showing her athletic moves and high vertical leap, forward Nneka Ogwumike played a team-high 23 minutes. She finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one block and two steals. Forward/center Sarah Boothe scored 12 points and had five rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal in her 17 minutes. All told, the freshmen contributed 54 points.

Third, it demonstrated the team’s tremendous depth and balance. Head Coach Tara VanDerveer started with Jayne, Kayla, Jeanette, Jill and junior point guard JJ Hones, then substituted early and often. (For the record, Jeanette scored the first basket of the season.) By the end of the game, all 13 healthy players had played and scored. Sophomore guard Hannah Donaghe was in uniform but did not participate in warmups or the game.

Fourth, it showed that even though the outstanding Candice Wiggins has graduated, the team appears to be thriving. Tara has said she expects Candice’s scoring to be replaced by committee, and that seems to be the case.

Finally, Tara has said that this year’s team will play a more uptempo, aggressive game. That’s what the Cardinal gave us Saturday, wasting no time getting the ball down the court, battling under the basket and making some heads-up plays. The team played tough defense, too, right from the start of every Chico possession. Whenever the Chico point guard took the ball down the court, a Stanford guard dogged her all the way.

The regular season won’t be this easy. A tough, tough schedule lies ahead. We can be sure that the word about Lindy will soon get out and that she’ll be swarmed whenever the ball gets in her hands, especially if she’s on the perimeter. If that happens, though, her Cardinal teammates can knock in their own shots, including the threes.

So we can reasonably hope that Morgan will have lots of work to do at every game and that she’ll soon be back on the court to block shots, her specialty, and knock in her own threes. When she does, someone else on the bench will willingly fill in with the high-fives.

November 03, 2008

First crack at the bracket

As ESPN points out, Selection Monday is months away. The 64-team field is a project in the works. There are thousands of games still to be played. But that doesn't keep Charlie Creme from taking a crack at how the NCAA tournament bracket might look when the madness starts in March.

Here is his take on Stanford and their opponents this season:
  • Stanford (#1 in Berkeley): The Candice Wiggins era has ended, but there is plenty left in Tara VanDerveer's cupboard. Perhaps this is the beginning of the Nnemkadi Ogwumike era.

  • Rutgers (#2 in Berkeley): C. Vivian Stringer will have the task of blending a solid returning core, led by Epiphanny Prince, and a group of talented freshmen.

  • Iowa State (#7 in Berkeley): The Cyclones had four double-figure scorers -- led by Alison Lacey -- and they all return this season.

  • Tennessee ( #2 in Raleigh): After graduating the starting five, the personnel will look very different in Knoxville. But some things don't change: Pat Summitt and a tough schedule.

  • Duke (#3 in Raleigh): The Blue Devils will still be relying on depth and defense, but now they have a year under their belt in the transition to Joanne P. McCallie's system.

  • USC (#9 in Raleigh:The Women of Troy are no longer young. Camille LeNoir is hoping to lead them back to the tournament.

  • Minnesota (#12 in Raleigh): Ashley Ellis-Milan and Katie Ohm will have to raise their games to make up for the loss of Leslie Knight, but Emily Fox remains the go-to Gopher.

  • California (#2 in Oklahoma City): Devanei Hampton, Ashley Walker and Alexis Gray-Lawson will be taking their final shot at a Pac-10 title. Health and Stanford are all that stand in the way.

  • Purdue (#9 in Oklahoma City): The Boilermakers are just hoping for a healthier season. The return of Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton is huge.

  • Arizona State (#4 in Trenton): The Sun Devils remain deep and experienced, so will a distant third-place Pac-10 finish and second-round NCAA exit be good enough in 2009?

  • Baylor (#5 in Trenton): The Lady Bears' X factor is the health of Jhasmin Player's left knee. Having Leon Barmore on the sideline as an assistant coach should be fun.

November 01, 2008

Cardinal cruise in exhibition

As promised, the Cardinal won its first game of the season by committee. Everyone (except Morgan & Hannah, who were not in uniform) played with intensity and skill, and everyone scored.

Lindy led all scorers with 21 points off seven (of 13) beautiful three-pointers. Jeanette, who looks even stronger and better than last season, set the tone with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Jayne, Nneka and Sarah also scored in double figures.

The team spirit was emphasized by what I hope will be a new Cardinal tradition -- the team gathered at center court after the game, joined their uplifted hands, and shouted STANFORD!

Here is the AP game recap and the box score from Stanford Athletics and a game report by Michelle Smith (SF Chronicle).