March 31, 2010

Cardinal eager to take next step

The source of the following stories is yesterday's long press conference with Tara, Jayne, Ros and Kayla.

Two more games

Janie McCauley (Associated Press) writes: It used to be Tara VanDerveer would accompany All-American Candice Wiggins to the Final Four and they settled for watching, because the Cardinal had already been eliminated. Now, Stanford is headed for a third straight Final Four, determined to finally take the next step and win it all even if daunting defending champion Connecticut still stands in the way. Read more...

Michelle Smith (Fan House) writes that Jayne is still looking for the big finish. Her message to her team is, "Leave it all out there. Whatever it takes. I don't care how much pain you're in, how many issues you are dealing with ... just let it all go and play." Read more...

Michelle Smith writes more in her blog Left Coast Hoops about how Monday's close game prepares the Cardinal for their semifinal against Oklahoma State. Tara sees the Sooners as a team similar to the Cardinal and a "great matchup". Read more...

Jayne and Nneka named to two All-American teams

Congratulations to Jayne and Nneka!

The John R. Wooden Award Women’s All-American team was announced today with all five team members invited to Los Angeles for the April 9 announcement of the 2010 John R. Wooden Award winner as the college basketball player of the year.

Jayne and Nneka are two of the five team members. Read more...

* * * * *

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) has chosen the recipients of its 2009-10 women's postseason honors. Connecticut's Tina Charles is the National Player of the Year, while Nebraska coach Connie Yori is the National Coach of the Year and Baylor's Brittney Griner is the National Freshman of the Year.

Jayne and Nneka are two of the 10-member USBWA Women's All-America Team. Read more...

Final Four has familiar feel

Mechelle Voepel (ESPN) points out that three of last season's Final Four have returned to this year's event, reviews how they got here, and predicts how each will fare. Read more...

Jake Curtis predicts that Stanford's next game, against Oklahoma, won't be as easy as their records suggest. Read more...

But what about the kid in the candy store?

Ray Ratto (San Francisco Chronicle) wonders how Monday's Stanford/Xavier game will be remembered twenty years from now — as Jeanette's big night or as Dee Dee Jernigan's worst nightmare. Read more...

March 30, 2010

Bless the Buzzer-Beater

Here's more about yesterday's breath-taking game.

Cardinal's mad dash reaches Final Four by John Schumacher, Sacramento Bee

Her speed is deceptive – and effective by Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee

Slide show by Jose Luis Villegas, Sacramento Bee

Buzzer beater sends Card to Final Four by Tom Taylor, The Stanford Daily

Postgame press conference with Tara, Jayne, Jeanette, Kayla and Nneka

March 29, 2010

Elite 8: Survive and advance

Stanford 55, Xavier 53

This one is beyond my descriptive ability — let the photos and the journalists and this video of the last 4.4 seconds tell the story.

Here are the game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

A photo gallery by Jason O. Watson, US PRESSWIRE,

A photo gallery by Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle,

A photo gallery by Steve Yeater and Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press,

Here are a few of the AP photos from the above gallery:

Jayne encourages her teammates The bench erupts when Ros hits a three late in the game Jeanette's teammates celebrate her buzzer beater Jayne and Nneka are ... ... dancing for joy Tara celebrates the championship Jayne celebrates the championship Jeanette celebrates the championship

More from the media

You'd think they'd run out of things to write about, but fortunately they don't.

Red-hot Cardinal prepares for No. 3 seed Xavier by Tom Taylor, The Stanford Daily

Battle of Bigs Defines Stanford-Xavier by Michelle Smith, Fan House

Stanford, Xavier hit the 'Big' time Monday by Rick Eymer, Palo Alto Online

XU's McGuff says Stanford offense finely tuned by John Erardi,

Coach turns a phrase into motivation by Gwen Knapp, San Francisco Chronicle

Ogwumike ready for Elite Eight by Jenny Dial, Houston Chronicle

Stanford's Appel polishes nails, game by Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee

March 28, 2010

Cardinal prepared for Game of Bigs

Michelle Smith (Fan House) writes about how Tara's preparation for games pays dividends. It's always, "Load up on film, scout the heck out of it and find the other team's 'favorite thing' and take it away." Read more...

Janie McCauley (Associated Press) writes that Xavier will be the first team in months to stand up to Stanford. On paper, anyway. The third-seeded Musketeers have the height they hope will allow them to hold their own inside with one of the nation's most talented frontcourt trios.

Tara says, "How often do they play against a team with as many bigs as we have, and how often do we play against a team with as big and quality bigs as they have?"

Ta'Shia Phillips says, "It will be fun to finally match up with somebody who matches up inside, rather than chasing around little people on the perimeter like we usually do."

Jayne says, "Love it. I hate chasing around the little players. It's the most annoying thing ever." Read more...

Jake Curtis writes that Jayne and Nneka are used to dominating the paint, but for one of the few times this season, they will be going up against taller players whose statistics are as impressive as theirs — 6'6" Ta'Shia Phillips and 6'5" Amber Harris.

The four players have not only height and athleticism in common — they are all finalists for the Wooden national player-of-the-year award. Read more...

Sweet 16: Cardinal muzzles the Dogs

The Cardinal took a few minutes to get going before they went on a 26-4 run. The Georgia Bulldogs never had a chance. Final score: Stanford 73, Georgia 36.

The Cardinal got:

  • Double-digit scoring from Jayne (17), Kayla (13), Jeanette (12) and Nneka (11).
  • Three-pointers from Jeanette (2), JJ (2) and Joslyn (1).
  • 14 more rebounds than Georgia, mostly from Kayla (15, matching her season high), Nneka (11), Jayne (5) and Joslyn 5).
  • Assists from Jeanette– five of them with just one turnover.
  • Outstanding defense from everyone that held Georgia to their lowest score of the season on 20.3% shooting.
  • Lots of help from the bench, who were so well-prepared for this game that they yelled out Georgia's plays as the Bulldogs tried to execute them, and who all subbed in during the last six minutes and allowed Georgia just six more points,
There was a great crowd at Arco Arena – 5,784. About 3/4 of them were Cardinal fans.

In the second game of the evening, Gonzaga out-hustled Xavier for 20 minutes, but couldn't keep it up against Xavier's superior height and strength. So the bigs meet the bigs on Monday night.

Here are the Stanford/Georgia game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

The press conference video with Tara, Kayla, Jayne and Nneka,

A photo gallery from Jason O. Watson/US PressWire

And more photos by Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo:

Jayne shoots over the defense Kayla puts one up Nneka goes to the basket Jayne battles for a rebound Jayne pulls a rebound away from Angel Robinson Kayla battles for a loose ball Kayla in another battle Kayla never gives up Free for all "This isn't going quite like we had hoped." Cheering on the bench players

March 27, 2010

Jeanette gets to point for Stanford

Mechelle Voepel has written a long interesting story about Jeanette – why she decided to come to Stanford, how she came to be the Cardinal point guard, her impact on the team, and lots more...

Jeanette starred as the Altitude Impaired Flying Girl in episode 5 of the Super Hoopster videos. This totally cracked up Mechelle, and she has posted links to all six espisodes in her blog.

John Schumacher (Sacramento Bee) writes about recent improvements in Stanford's guard play – primarily from Jeanette and Ros. Tara says, "I'm really excited about our guard play." Read more...

March 26, 2010

On Sweet Sixteen Eve

One game at a time – next up Georgia.

Rick Eymer (Palo Alto Online) reports that as well as the Cardinal played in the first two rounds, Tara thinks they can improve and come out even better in Sacramento. She says of Georgia, "It's a terrific matchup. They're a team that beat Tennessee. We will have our work cut out for us." Read more...

Tom Taylor (The Stanford Daily) writes about the Cardinal's assets and concludes, "If the Card is able to start this game anywhere near the level it achieved in the second round against Iowa, it will be very hard for the Bulldogs to upset [them]." Read more...

Ben Bussard (Red and Black, the University of Georgia student newspaper) reports that a sense of invigoration has spread throughout the Lady Dogs locker room. Freshman guard Jasmine James, who is playing her best basketball of the year, says “It’s the NCAA Tournament — everybody’s wanting to keep moving on and keep advancing, and I feel right now that we’re in a good spot.” Read more...

Tom FitzGerald San Francisco Chronicle writes about how Ros has matured in the past five years. Tara says, "I wish I could have had four years of this Ros. She grew up." Read more...

This article in Stanford Athletics describes how the Cardinal spent the day in Sacramento.

One of their activities was this press conference.

Nneka: Stanford's positive force

John Schumacher (Sacramento Bee) writes about Nneka's personal side.

Jeanette describes her as, "Funny, outgoing, just always looking to have fun. She always says something positive. That's one of the best things about her.

"She's very encouraging. If you make a bad play, it's, 'OK, you'll get the next one.' " Read more...

In an article published in USA Today, AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley writes about Nneka's athleticism, her other accomplishments and her attitude. Ros says, "Nneka's probably one of the most positive people I've met in my life, period. She's just contagious. On the court and off the court, she's so nice. I'm just glad to see wonderful things happen for her." Read more...

March 25, 2010

Meet the Lady Bulldogs, the Bulldogs and the Musketeers

Here is how the teams that will play the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight in Sacramento match up:

Stanford Georgia Gonzaga Xavier
Points per game 77.7 63.3 80.7 72.4
Scoring margin +23.6 +8.2 +22.1 +14.9
Field goal % 47.6 38.8 47.7 44.8
3-pointers per game 6.4 5.0 4.9 6.0
3-point % 34.8 29.1 32.8 35.5
Free throw % 73.5 66.4 73.7 67.3
Rebounds per game 44.7 40.7 41.5 44.2
Rebounding margin +12.1 +2.7 +4.6 +11.2
Assists per game 17.9 12.0 19.3 15.8
Turnovers per game 14.2 16.4 15.7 16.4
Assist/turnover ratio 1.27 0.73 1.23 0.96
Steals per game 5.5 8.4 11.1 7.6
Blocks per game 4.4 5.5 4.7 5.3

Georgia Lady Bulldogs

The Lady Bulldogs are 25-8 overall, 10-8 conference (SEC). They are ranked 23/31 in the polls, and their RPI is 25. They qualified for the tournament as a #5 seed with an at-large bid. They reached the Sweet Sixteen by defeating:

Stanford is 6-3 against Georgia. Georgia has ended Stanford's season twice – in the 1996 semi-final, in the 2000 second round. Stanford has ended Georgia's season three times – in the 1991 sweet-16, in the 1993 sweet-16, in the 1997 elite-8.

They both played Rutgers and Tennessee this season. Stanford defeated Rutgers 81-66; Georgia defeated Rutgers 49-48. Stanford defeated Tennessee 67-52; Georgia defeated Tennessee 53-50.

Georgia thrives on blocks and steals and has a reputation for stingy defense. They have allowed their opponents just 55.2 ppg (16th best in the nation) and a 34.4 field goal percentage (5th best in the nation). See this article by Jake Curtis for an overview of Georgia's capabilities.

Their probable starters are:

#1: 5'6" senior guard Ashley Houts is Georgia's star. She leads her team in scoring (12.6 ppg at 40.5% ), free throw accuracy (81.8%), steals (2.0 per game), and assists (3.8 per game, 1.62 ATO). She is second in 3-pointers (1.2 per game at 30.7%).

#10: 5'9": freshman guard Jasmine James is second in scoring (11.7 ppg at 31.5%), steals (1.8 per game), and assists (3.1 per game, 0.93 ATO). She is the leading 3-point shooter (1.4 per game at 26.5%). She scored a career-high 27 points in Georgia's second round game against Oklahoma State, 12 of them in overtime, and she made eight of eight free throws in the overtime.

#21: 6'2" junior forward Porsha Phillips leads her team in rebounding ( 8.3 rpg). She has the second-most blocks (1.5 per game). She averages 8.7 points per game, but seldom shoots from beyond the arc.

#11: 6'1" sophomore guard Meredith Mitchell averages 8.6 points, 1.0 3-pointers, 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.

#33: 6'5" senior forward Angel Robinson is the second-best rebounder (7.7 rpg) and has the most blocks (2.0 per game). She averages 7.9 points per game and has had only 19 assists all season. She came up big In Georgia's second-round game against Oklahoma State with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Coming off the bench for about 14 minutes per game are 6'2" freshman forward Jasmine Hassell (6.3 ppg) and 6'3" freshman guard Anne Marie Armstrong (5.1 ppg).

Here are Georgia's 2009-2010 statistics and roster.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

The Zags are 29-4 overall, 14-0 conference (WCC). They are ranked 18/14 in the polls, and their RPI is 30. They qualified for the tournament as a #7 seed by winning the WCC tournament. They reached the Sweet Sixteen by defeating:

Gonzaga is 1-0 against Xavier, who they defeated in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.

Gonzaga is 0-1 against Stanford, to whom they lost 74-105 earlier this season. Since then, they have won 25 games, losing only to Baylor and to Texas A&M.

Stanford and Gonzaga have both played Pepperdine, Washington and USC this season. Stanford defeated Pepperdine 99-50; Gonzaga defeated Pepperdine three times – 107-64, 87-45 and 76-48. Stanford defeated Washington twice – 66-51 and 58-36; Gonzaga defeated Washington 81-52. Stanford defeated USC twice – 82-62 and 77-39; Gonzaga defeated USC 70-58.

Gonzaga ranks as one of the best offensive teams in the nation. They are ranked 5th in scoring (80.7), 3rd in scoring margin (+22.1), 4th in field goal percentage (47.7), 2nd in assists (19.3 per game) and 4th in assist/turnover ratio (1.23). These impressive statistics are partly due to their playing in one of the weaker conferences – the West Coast Conference. Nonetheless, their strength is in their offense.

All of Gonzaga's primary players (the eight named below) are very careful at the charity stripe. Their free-throw percentages range from 68.7 to 79.8 and average 74.1. They're all sticky-fingered. Courtney Vandersloot averages 3.5 steals per game, which is sixth-best in the nation. The other seven each steal about once per game.

The probable starters are:

#21: 5'8" junior guard Courtney Vandersloot is Gonzaga's star. She is only their second-best scorer (14.3 ppg), but her fort̩ is providing scoring opportunities for her teammates. She averages 9.4 assists per game Рthe most in the nation. Her assist/turnover ratio is 2.23 Р12th best in the nation. She was named the WCC Player of the Year and the WCC Tournament MVP. She is one of the 12 finalists for the Wade Trophy.

#30: 6'2" senior forward Heather Bowman is the leading scorer (15.2 ppg) and the second-best rebounder (5.5 rpg).

#12: 6'0" senior forward Vivian Frieson is the best rebounder (7.5 rpg), second-best "assistant" (2.1 per game) and third-best scorer (12.6 ppg). She was the star of Gonzaga's second-round game against Texas A&M with 23 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four blocked shots, three steals and the winning basket with just 21 seconds left to play.

#34: 5'10" senior guard Tiffanie Shives is the only Zag who averages more than one 3-pointer per game. She averages 1.8 3-pointers at a rate of 41.2%. She averages 8.4 ppg.

#11: 6'0" junior guard/forward Janelle Bekkering averages 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Not starting, but playing for more than 20 minutes per game is:

#23: 6'1" sophomore forward Katelan Redmon averages 11.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Incidentally, Redmon is one of the players who transferred from the University of Washington after June Daugherty was fired.

Also coming off the bench for about 16 minutes per game are 6'2" sophomore forward Kayla Standish (8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game) and 6'0" sophomore forward Kelly Bowen (3.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game).

Here are Gonzaga's 2009-2010 statistics and roster.

Xavier Musketeers

The Musketeers are 29-3 overall, 14-0 conference (Atlantic 10). They are ranked 5/5 in the polls, and their RPI is 11. They qualified for the tournament as a #3 seed by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament. They reached the Sweet Sixteen by defeating:

Xavier is 1-0 against Gonzaga, who defeated them in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.

Xavier and Stanford have never played each other. They both played USC and Arizona State this season. Xavier defeated USC 81-71 in overtime; Stanford defeated USC twice – 82-62 and 77-39. Xavier defeated Arizona State 59-46; Stanford defeated Arizona State twice – 71-48 and 62-43.

Xavier is noted for its "twin towers", Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips, who provide much of what Xavier does best – rebound and score inside. Xavier averages 11.2 more rebounds than its opponents – the 4th best rebounding margin in the nation.

The probable starters are:

#11: 6'5" junior forward Amber Harris is the leading scorer (16.1 ppg at a rate of 56.3%) and second-best rebounder (8.9 rpg). She also averages 2.0 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. She was named the MVP of the Atlantic 10 Tournament and is a finalist for the 2010 Wooden Award.

#53: 6'6" junior center Ta' Shia Phillips is the leading rebounder (11.8 rpg) – the 4th best in the nation. She is the second-best scorer (14.0 ppg). She has had 20 double-doubles this season. Her field goal percentage is 61.7 – the 6th best in the nation. She also averages 1.2 assists and 2.1 blocks per game. She is a finalist for the 2010 Wooden Award.

#42: 6'0" senior forward April Phillips averages 8.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

#1: 5'6" junior guard Special Jennings averages 8.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Her assist/turnover ratio is 1.64.

#0: 5'9" sophomore guard Tyeasha Moss averages 8.3 points. 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

Coming off the bench for about 20 minutes per game are:

#40: 5'8" freshman guard Katie Rutan is Xavier's best 3-point shooter with 2.5 per game at a rate of 41.1% and third-best scorer (8.9 ppg).

#4: 6'0" senior guard Dee Dee Jernigan averages 4.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Here are Xavier's 2009-2010 statistics and roster.