March 31, 2011

More from the media

All About Mel

Michelle Smith (Stanford Athletics) has written a great story about Mel's contributions to the team. — Murphy Provides Motivation, Determination To The Cardinal.

Seniors on a Mission

Michelle Smith (espnW) writes about Jeanette's and Kayla's determination to finish what began with Candice four years ago. — Stanford seniors are on a mission.

Hoping for Another Net

Keith Peters (Palo Alto Online) reports that the Cardinal practiced their scissor skills in Spokane in preparation for their goal of cutting down the net one final time in Indianapolis. — Stanford women's basketball team hopes to be a cut above in the NCAA Final Four.

Who's the Favorite in Indy?

Charlie Creme (ESPN) does an in-depth analysis of Stanford and Texas A&M and predicts that the winner will be ... — Is Stanford favorite in wide-open Indy?.

All About the Aggies

Mechelle Voepel (ESPN) writes about Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair and his assistant Vic Shaefer and what they've done for the Aggies. — Blair turns Texas A&M into contender

About the Aggies

So, next up is an unexpected opponent — theTexas A&M Aggies.

The Aggies flew under my radar this season. I knew very little about them. Here is what I've learned in the past few days.

The Aggies are a strong defensive team. They're led by All-American forward/center Danielle Adams and a pair of speedy aggressive guards — Sydney Carter and Sydney Colson. They're not very tall, but lack of height didn't keep them from disrupting Brittney Griner. They lead the nation in turnover ratio, with 13.9 per game to their opponents' 22.2.

Tara evaluates them as a very athletic team that is most like (in the Pac-10) Arizona State, "... but they're more athletic and have a lot more offense."

For other evaluations from the experts, see Cardinal (not UConn) a unanimous pick and Is Stanford favorite in wide-open Indy?.

The Aggies are in the Big 12 conference. They finished in the #2 spot this season, second to Baylor, and lost to Baylor in the tournament title game. Their only losses this season were to Baylor (three times), Duke and Kansas State.

This is the Aggies' first trip to the Final Four. They advanced with wins over #15 McNeese State (87-47), #7 Rutgers (70-48 ), #6 Georgia (79-38) and #1 Baylor (58-46).

I don't think statistics matter a lot at this point. All four contenders for the championship are athletically skilled, excellent teams. Victory will hinge on determination, focus, experience and perhaps a bit of luck. That said, here is how the Cardinal and the Aggies match up statistically — in their entire seasons and in their four NCAA tournament games:

All Games NCAA Tournament
Stanford Texas A&M Stanford Texas A&M
Points per game 79.8 78.1 79.0 73.5
Scoring margin +24.6 +21.3 +20.8 +28.8
Field goal % 0.491 0.451 0.494 0.455
3-pointers per game 6.3 4.9 8.0 5.5
3-point % 0.360 0.339 0.405 0.349
Free throw % 0.744 0.696 0.721 0.788
Rebounds per game 43.6 39.7 42.5 41.5
Rebounding margin +11.7 +6.5 +12.8 +8.5
Assists per game 17.8 16.5 18.0 16.0
Turnovers per game 14.0 13.9 12.5 12.3
Assist/turnover ratio 1.27 1.19 1.44 1.31
Steals per game 7.0 10.8 4.0 9.0
Blocks per game 3.5 4.2 3.5 5.3
Win-loss record 33-2, 18-0 31-5, 13-3 4-0 4-0

Here are the Aggies' 2010-11 statistics and their roster.

The probable starters are:

  • #23, 6'1" senior forward/center Danielle Adams, a two-time All-American (AP and USBWA), is the Aggies' centerpiece. She is their leading scorer (22.3 points per game, which is seventh-best in the nation) and their strong presence in the paint (8.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game). She picked up a couple of fouls early in the Elite Eight game and sat out most of the first half — the Aggies won with only six points, four rebounds and no blocks from Adams.

  • #4, 5'6" junior guard Sydney Carter averages 10.5 points, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. She is the Aggies' best 3-point shooter, averaging 1.3 per game. She overachieved in the Elite Eight victory over Baylor with 22 points and three steals.

  • #51, 5'8" senior guard Sydney Colson runs the point. She averages 5.8 assists per game with an excellent assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.3. She ranks 9th in the nation in both those statistics. She is the Aggies' most adept ball thief (2.3 steals per game) and averages eight points per game.

  • #20, 6'0" junior guard Tyra White is the Aggies' second-best scorer with 13.6 points per game. She averages 5.2 rebounds per game.

  • #21, 6'1" junior forward Adaora Elonu is the Aggies' second-best rebounder with 5.8 per game. She averages 8.5 points and 1.3 steals per game.
The Aggies have nine reserve players. These five play, on average, at least six minutes per game:

  • #34, 6'5" freshman center Karla Gilbert is the only Aggie taller than 6'1". (Standout rookie Kelsey Bone, who transferred from South Carolina, is not playing this season.) She plays about 12 minutes per game and averages 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds.

  • #15, 5'10" senior guard Maryann Baker sat out her sophomore year with a shoulder injury and was hampered by shoulder problems as a junior. This season she has played about 17 minutes per game and contributed 4.1 points and 2.8 rebounds.

  • #32, 5'7" sophomore guard Adrienne Pratcher plays for almost ten minutes per game and scores 2.5 points.

  • #40 6'1" junior forward Kelsey Assarian averages 2.0 points and 2.2 rebounds in nine minutes per game.

  • #05, 6'1" sophomore forward/guard Kristi Bellock averages 1.8 points and 1.0 rebounds in six minutes per game.

In the media spotlight

Being in the media spotlight is fun, but it's hard to keep up with all the output. Here are stories/articles posted on Thursday morning:

ESPN experts Graham Hays, Mechelle Voepel and Charlie Creme analyze the semifinal matchups in Cardinal (not UConn) a unanimous pick

Tom Fitzgerald (San Francisco Chronicle) presents the Cardinal's view of their upcoming semifinal game in Stanford's seniors hope 4th time's the charm

Robert Cessna ( presents the Aggies' view of their upcoming semifinal game in Aggie women's basketball team now prepares for the Cardinal

Michael Marot (Associated Press) writes about three Final Four participants who have strong ties to Indiana — Tara, an Indiana University Hall of Famer; UConn forward Kelly Faris, who played prep ball at Heritage Christian; and Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, the 2009 Indiana Miss Basketball — in Women's Final Four has decidedly local flavor

March 30, 2011

Kayla, Awards and Anticipation

Kayla like a rock for Stanford

By Michelle Smith, writing for the Pac-10:

There is an argument to be made that no player in Stanford women’s basketball history has ever done more for the program than Kayla Pedersen. Read more...

Honors for Jeanette and Nneka

Jeanette and Nneka have been named to two more All-American teams: The John R. Wooden All-American Team and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) All-America Team. Read more...

Academic Honors

Kayla was named to the Pac-10 All-Academic First Team. Sarah, Lindy, Mel, Nneka, Jeanette and Mikaela all received honorable mention. Read more...

Anticipating the Final Four

Did Baylor's loss benefit the Cardinal?

By Jake Curtis:

Obviously, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is not going to admit that Texas A&M presents a better matchup for her team than Baylor would have, but it would seem the Cardinal are better off not having to face 6-8 Brittney Griner in Sunday's national semifinals in Indianapolis. Read more...

March 29, 2011


Congratulations to the Cardinal Big Three!!

Jeanette was selected to the Associated Press All-American First team!

Nneka earned a spot on the second team for the second year in a row!

Kayla earned her second straight honorable mention!


March 28, 2011

Elite 8: Cardinal Zaps the Zags

Now that's the kind of game fans really enjoy — Stanford 83, Gonzaga 60.

The victory earned the Cardinal the Spokane Regional championship and their fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four.

It was almost all the starting five tonight, fueled by ben-ergy and a strong desire to play another game!


This was Jeanette's 149th collegiate game — that breaks the Stanford career record set by Ros Gold-Onwude last season.

She demolished her shooting slump with five (of eight) 3-pointers and a total of 17 points. She has now made 93 3-pointers this season — that's two more than the Stanford single-season record held by Krista Rappahahn since 2006.

Jeanette also had two rebounds and five assists.

She was named to the All-Tournament team.


This was Kayla's 149th collegiate game too, so she now shares the new Stanford career record with Jeanette.

Kayla grabbed 12 rebounds today for a season total of 270 and a career total of 1,256. She needs just eight more to break the Stanford and Pac-10 career record set by Jayne Appel last season.

Kayla also scored eight points and had two assists.

She was named to the All-Tournament team


Nneka was unstoppable at the post. She scored 23 points, grabbed 11 rebounds (four of them O-boards) and had two assists and a block.

She was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player.


The Zags had no answer for Chiney either. She scored 18 points, grabbed 15 rebounds (seven of them O-boards) and had three assists and a block.

She was named to the All-Tournament team.


Lindy sank three 3-pointers — the Zags guarded her much more closely after the first one.

She scored a total of 11 points and helped to keep Courtney Vandersloot in check.


Before the game today, Tara was named the WBCA National Coach of the Year! Here's the announcement from the WBCA.

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play

A gallery of photos by James Snook, US Presswire

A gallery of photos by Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

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

A video of the postgame celebration and team meeting


Michelle Smith, writing for Stanford Athletics, explains "Ben-ergy", the vital contributions of Stanford's bench to the team's success this season as exemplified by Toni. Read more....

March 27, 2011

Elite Eight Eve

Here are stories, interviews, photos and videos on the eve of the Elite Eight game between Stanford and Gonzaga:

March 26, 2011

Sweet 16: Cardinal slips past Tar Heels

That was too tough! The Tar Heels did a great job of keeping the Cardinal from doing what it likes to do. Except for one thing — win, which the Cardinal did 72-65.

I hope we don't have to play them again for another 15 years.

The game reports focus on the major contributions by the Sisterhood (19 points from Nneka, 16 points and 11 rebounds from Chiney) and by Kayla (15 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and a steal) and on the shortcomings — Jeanette's shooting woes, Stanford's -3 rebounding margin.

They fail to report other important contributions:

Joslyn came in for just eight minutes, but she scored seven much-needed points. Late in the first half when the Cardinal were struggling to hold on, she made a layup and then a jumper and then an assist to Toni who sank a 3-pointer. That gave the Cardinal a six-point lead. Although the score was tied five times after that, they never fell behind again except once for 24 seconds.

Joslyn's other three points
Toni scored nine points and played excellent defense, particularly against Italee Lucas. She wasn't as quick as usual perhaps — no fast breaks, no drives to the basket with amazing layups — but she played for 28 minutes.

Sarah helped to thwart the Tar Heel's big, strong, aggressive front court for eight minutes. She didn't score any points, but had three rebounds, a block and a steal.

In the first game of the evening, Gonzaga appeared to have it wrapped up with a bow tied around it for 30 minutes. Then Louisville finally figured out how to defend the Zags and gradually cut the 17 point lead down to three with three minutes left to play. But the Zags hung on and fought back and finished with a 76-69 victory. Most of the 11,339 fans in the Spokane Arena were very happy.

Here are reports of the Stanford/Carolina game:

The box score and play-by-play

A gallery of photos by Don Feria, Stanford Photo

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

March 25, 2011

About Jeanette, Chiney, Super Sophomores and Tarheels

Jeanette has her eyes set on the title

Ann Killion (Sports Illustrated) writes about Jeanette:

She has excelled at the point, while showing a knack for making big plays.

She's not a transcendent star. She's a glue player, making the team better. She's a workhorse, known best for her hawklike focus on the court. Read more...

Chiney is fearless

Andy Gardiner (USA Toay) writes about four freshmen who are in the starting lineups of the top four seeds in the NCAA — Baylor's Odyssey Sims, Connecticut's Bria Hartley, Tennessee's Meighan Simmons and our Chiney.

Of Chiney, he includes a comment by Tara, "I didn't want to throw her into the deep end of the pool, but then she jumped in. From the get-go she was our best rebounder." Read more...

Stanford's Super Sophomores

Elliott Almond (Mercury News) writes about Mikaela and Joslyn:

Tara says the sophomores will determine how far the second-ranked Cardinal goes in the NCAA tournament as it prepares to face North Carolina on Saturday in the Sweet 16 at Spokane Arena.

"We're counting on the freshmen but we need the sophomores to step up."

Which is exactly what Mikaela and Joslyn did as Stanford routed St. John's in the second round Monday. Read more...

"Fun basketball" from the Tarheels

DishNSwish wonders if the UNC Tarheels can take down Stanford.

He says that one things is certain for Saturday's game — The Tar Heels are going to try to open things up, put the throttle down, and see if the Cardinal can keep up with them as they play their usual fast paced up and down the court style of basketball.

Coach Hatchell considers her team's style of play not only good for the team and good for her players, but she considers it good and important for the continued growth of women's basketball in general. She refers to it as "fun basketball" and feels the more offense the better. Read more...

March 24, 2011

About Kayla, Rookies and Honors

Versatility is Kayla's calling card

From Mechelle Voepel, ESPN:

Kayla Pedersen's parents instilled in her the virtue of versatility. Her ability to do anything the Cardinal needs has made her invaluable. Read more...

Cardinal rookies have become vital parts of team's success

From Michelle Smith, writing for Stanford Athletics:

Impact freshmen. Everybody wants them, but not everybody gets them. Stanford, however, seems to find more than its share in the women's basketball program. Read more...

Honors for the tri-captains

Jeanette, Kayla and Nneka received more honors this week.

They are among the 12 finalists for the Wade Trophy Player of the Year. Read more...

They are among the 40 finalists to be considered for the State Farm Coaches' All-America Basketball Team. Read more...

March Madness continues in Spokane

Here is how the teams that will play in the Spokane Regional match up

Stanford North Carolina Gonzaga Louisville
Points per game 80.0 78.2 86.3 71.3
Scoring margin +25.2 +16.8 +24.3 +11.4
Field goal % 0.494 0.430 0.499 0.448
3-pointers per game 6.3 4.4 4.6 7.0
3-point % 0.363 0.293 0.319 0.358
Free throw % 0.748 0.691 0.754 0.692
Rebounds per game 43.4 47.4 42.0 35.9
Rebounding margin +11.7 +7.0 +8.0 +1.3
Assists per game 18.1 16.5 20.6 14.9
Turnovers per game 14.1 17.6 13.5 17.6
Assist/turnover ratio 1.28 0.94 1.52 0.85
Steals per game 7.3 11.0 11.6 11.6
Blocks per game 3.5 6.6 3.6 3.7
Win-loss record 31-2, 18-0 28-8, 8-6 30-4, 14-0 22-12, 10-6

  #5 North Carolina Tarheels

North Carolina earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament with a sixth-place finish in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) behind Duke, Miami, Florida State, Maryland and Georgia Tech. They lost to Duke 66-81 in the ACC tournament title game. They arrive in Spokane with an 82-68 win over #12 Fresno State and a 74-86 win over #4 Kentucky. UNC women seize momentum is an interesting account of the game vs. Kentucky.

North Carolina is a tough, fast-moving, high-scoring team. The Tarheels like to dominate the boards and turn games into track meets. They are ranked #4 in the nation in blocked shots, #5 in field goal percentage (each of the five starters makes more than 40% of her attempts), and #10 in points per game.

Stanford and North Carolina have played each other just once before — in the 1995 Sweet Sixteen when North Carolina was the defending NCAA champion. Stanford won 71-61. They have each played Connecticut this season — Stanford won 71-59, North Carolina lost 57-83.

Here are North Carolina's 2010-11 statistics and roster. The probable starters are:

  • #22, 5'6" senior guard Cetera DeGraffenreid runs the point. She averages 4.9 assists per game. Her assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.38, which is the sixth-best in the nation. She also scores 7.9 points per game.

  • #50, 5'8" senior guard Italee Lucas is Louisville's top scorer (16.0 points per game) and the best from beyond the arc ( 2.1 per game at a rate of 33.5%). She is the only one that averages as much as one 3-pointer per game.

  • #51, 6'3" senior forward Jessica Breland is Louisville's top rebounder (7.1 per game) and second-best scorer (12.7 points per game). She is also second in blocked shots with 1.8 per game. (Reserve forward/center Waltiea Rolle averages 2.3 blocks per game.)

  • #20, 6'5" junior forward/center Chay Shegog averages 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. She makes 52% of her field goal attempts.

  • #21, 6'0" sophomore guard Krista Gross averages 4.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

  #11 Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga earned a bid to the NCAA conference by winning the WCC (West Coast Conference) tournament. They are also the regular season champion with a perfect 14-0 conference record. They've made it to the Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive year — this time with a 92-86 upset of #6 Iowa, followed by a 75-89 upset of #3 UCLA. They hosted the first two rounds and are riding a huge wave of fan support to the Spokane Arena, just two miles to the west.

Gonzaga and Louisville have never played each other before. Gonzaga women set sights on Louisville is an interesting story about the upcoming contest. The matchup between senior guard Courtney Vandersloot (who many consider the best point guard in the nation) and freshman phenom Shoni Schimmel should be extremely interesting.

Stanford and Gonzaga have played each other twice — last season and this season. Stanford won the first game at Maples 105-74 and the second at Gonzaga 84-78.

Gonzaga is a fast-moving, high-scoring team. They lead the nation in scoring, field goal percentage (four of their starting five average more than 48%), assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. They rank fifth-best in scoring margin and turnovers.

Here are Gonzaga's 2010-11 statistics and roster. The probable starters are:

  • #21, 5'8" senior guard Courtney Vandersloot runs the point. She averages 10.3 assists per game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.16 — both rank #1 in the nation. She is also Gonzaga's top scorer (19.4 points per game) and has the most steals (3.1 per game).

  • #32, 6'2" junior forward Kayla Standish is Gonzaga's top rebounder (8.7 per game) and their second-best scorer (17.4 points per game). She blocks the most shots (1.7 per game) and has the best field goal percentage (56.8%)

  • #23, 6'1" junior guard/forward Katelan Redmon is third in scoring (17.0 points per game), second in rebounds (6.3 per game) and second in field-goal percentage (54.6%).

  • #11, 6'0" senior guard/forward Janelle Bekkering makes the most 3-pointers (1.5 per game at a rate of 36.2%. Only she and Vandersloot average more than one per game. She averages 11.2 points per game).

  • #44, 6'0" junior forward Kelly Bowen averages 4.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

  #7 Louisville Cardinals

Louisville earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament ranked sixth in the Big East behind Connecticut, DePaul, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Marquette. They lost to Notre Dame in the second round of the conference tournament.

This is Louisville's 14th appearance in the NCAA tournament. They advanced to the title round in 2009, where they lost to Connecticut 54-76. They have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen this season with an 81-62 win over #10 Vanderbilt and a stunning 85-75 upset of #2 Xavier. Louisville rallies, upsets Xavier recounts Schimmel's role in that victory.

As noted in the prior section, Louisville and Gonzaga have never played each other. Nor have the Cardinal and the Cardinals. However, they've had several common opponents this season — Connecticut (Stanford won 59-71, Louisville lost 55-78), Tennessee (Stanford lost 72-82, Louisville lost 50-63), DePaul (Stanford lost 71-91, Louisville won 68-55) and Xavier (Stanford won 89-52, Louisville lost one 59-71 and won one 85-75).

Here are Louisville's 2010-11 statistics and roster. The probable starters are:

  • #33, 6'1" junior forward Monique Reid is Louisville's top scorer and rebounder (15.9 and 6.2 per game)

  • #23, 5'10" freshman guard Shoni Schimmel runs the point. She makes just under five assists per game, but her assist-to-turnover ratio is only 1.20. She is Louisville's second-best scorer (15.0) and the only other one to average double digits. She makes the most 3-pointers (almost three per game).

  • #25, 5'9" sophomore guard Tia Gibbs averages 8.6 points, 2.7 steals and 3.9 rebounds per game.

  • #45, 6'2" senior center Keshia Hines is the second-best rebounder (5.9 per game) and averages 7.3 points per game.

  • #31, 6'1" sophomore forward Asia Taylor averages 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.