May 31, 2011

Remembrance of times past

Riki Mueser Sorenson played basketball at Stanford for four seasons, from 1983 to 1986-87. Dotty McCrea was the coach during Riki's freshman and sophomore seasons. Then, in 1985, Tara VanDerveer came in and things changed — a lot.

I recently came across Riki's account of that period in Stanford Women's Basketball (It was originally posted by C and R's Stanford Women's Basketball Blog):

I played back in the dark and dreary days of sub-.500 seasons. A coaching change was made at the end of my sophomore year. I remember during Tara's interview she said, "so how much fan support do you get?" We mentioned that we could usually count on my parents, a handful of fans, and that's it... they didn't even pull out the bleachers. We thought she'd never leave Ohio State (top 8 in country) for Stanford. Tara came in and got a huge budget and serious commitment from the A.D. so things changed VERY quickly.

I loved playing for Tara. She didn't scream at players or at refs, she studied the game, she was efficient in practice, and she knew her stuff. The song "I can see clearly now the rain is gone" would come on and it was my theme song.

Wasn't so happy when she'd say things like, "we've got to get some real horses in here," like we were just chopped liver, but really, we probably were. Still, I've never worked so hard in my life. Even Jennifer Azzi and Katy Steding learned how to work hard from us liver-choppers.

The highlight of my career was during my senior season - we beat CAL at home after 3 1/2 years of losing to them (1987). When I left after the game there were people directing traffic with FLARES in the road (that's how many fans had come!). I knew that Stanford Women's Basketball had arrived! Three years later there were SCALPERS selling tix!

One funny story... we had an award that the seniors (grandmas) would bestow on the most gullible freshman at the end of the season. It's called the "Lizard Lung" award because there was this weird stuff the trainers gave us to put on blisters and they called it Lizard Lung. One freshman, hearing about it, was horrified because she thought it was real lizard lung. Thus the award was initiated (Kami Anderson, first recipient). Jennifer Azzi won it, hands down, as a freshman, for asking, at the first day of practice, "How many teams are in the Pac-10, anyway?" I believe the award continues even now!

A teammate had a really good line (Emily Wagner Gallagher '89)... before Tara came to Stanford if you told someone you played basketball at Stanford, they'd say "Wow! you must be really SMART!" After Tara and the National Championship they'd say "Wow, you must be really GOOD!"

So I get to enjoy the legacy even though I played a very small part in it...

Here are several more remembrances of Stanford Women's Basketball from even further back that you may not have seen before or may enjoy re-reading (They're linked to in the FBC Where are They Now? files.)

The Pinney Generation by Mariah Burton Nelson ('78)

We were the Pinney generation. We wore them in the days before Stanford issued practice jerseys -- or, for that matter, uniforms ...
Escaping from Roble by Mariah Burton Nelson ('78)
The phone rang. It was Fred Hargadon, Dean of Admissions. It was April 1974 and I had not yet accepted Stanford’s invitation to attend ...
Just Want to Play Ball by Stephanie Erickess-Caluya ('77)
It's 1969, I'm a skinny, long-legged 13-year-old white girl in a small town in the San Francisco Bay Area ... Dr King Jr had been murdered in the prior year, the U.S. had launched a full-scale war against Vietnam, and I discovered the basketball ...

May 27, 2011

Rule changes for 2011-12

Move the line back a foot? No problem!

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight panel has approved the following changes for Division I Women's Basketball in 2011-12:

Three-point line
The three-point line will be moved back a foot to 20 feet, 9 inches.

This was an experimental rule in 2010-11, in effect during exhibition games.

Restricted area arc
An arc three feet from the center of the basket will be painted on the court to visibly mark where a secondary defender cannot legally take a charge.

The arc is an attempt to limit the number of collisions near the basket on charge/block plays. It is also intended to provide some benefit to offensive players who have legally gained an advantage.

Fouls nomenclature
All fouls deemed more severe than "common" fouls will be called flagrant fouls.

Fouls previously called intentional fouls will be called Flagrant 1. An example would be when a player swings an elbow and makes illegal, non-excessive contact with an opponent above the shoulders. As before, the team whose player was struck would receive two free throws and possession of the ball.

The player's intent was never the point of the rule. The more appropriate term flagrant means conspicuously offensive.

Fouls previously called flagrant fouls will be called Flagrant 2. An example would be when a player swings an elbow excessively and makes contact with an opponent above the shoulders. As before, the player who threw the elbow would be ejected from the game, and the other team would receive two free throws and the ball.

Review of flagrant fouls
Coaches will be able to request a review of the monitor to determine whether a foul for elbow contact was a Flagrant 1 or a Flagrant 2 foul. If it is determined that a Flagrant 2 foul did not occur, the team that requested a monitor review will be charged a timeout.

Double fouls
When two fouls of differing penalties occur, both fouls will be enforced. Previously, this scenario was considered as offsetting fouls.

More efficient timeouts
If a team does not return to the court after the first horn, officials will formally warn the team for delay of game. Any subsequent time that the team is late taking the court for play, the official will make the ball ready for play regardless of whether the team that has received a formal warning is ready.

Experimental 10-second half court rule
The 10-second half court rule (i.e., A team, having gained control of the ball in its own backcourt, must bring it across the center line within ten seconds) will be tested in closed scrimmages and exhibition games next season.

The women’s rules committee wants teams to report the number of turnovers, fouls, points and other relevant data to determine the effect the rule has on play.

See the Rules Committee Report for more information.

May 25, 2011

Trina Patterson is new assistant coach

Tara announced today that Stanford's new assistant coach is Trina Patterson, who comes to us from the University of Albany where ahe has been the head coach for eight years.

Wecome to Stanford Trina!

For more information, see the announcement from Stanford Athletics.

Super sisters make the final 14

Nneka and Chiney are two of the 14 finalists named today to the 2011 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team. The team will eventually be reduced to 12 members who will look to defend USA’s 2009 gold medal at the 2011 World University Games women’s basketball competition August 14-21 in Shenzhen, China.

Nneka says that it obviously feels great to be a finalist. She hopes to bring energy and success to the team. She'd like to win a third gold medal to add to those she won in 2008 with the USA U18 team and in 2009 with the USA U19 team.

Chiney feels that the trials were a struggle for her, but she worked hard the whole time and did her best. She's proud of her effort and glad that the committee saw it.

For more information, see the story from USA Basketball.

May 23, 2011

Nneka and Chiney at USABB Team Trials

Today's feature story at the USA Basketball World University Games team trials is about Nneka and Chiney, who are hoping to make the team a family affair.

If they are both named to the 2011 USA World University Games Team, they will become just the third sisters in USA Basketball history to play on the same team, and the first sisters in more than 20 years. Read more...

May 09, 2011

Super siblings invited to try out for World University games

Nneka and Chiney are two of the 35 nation's top collegiate players who have accepted invitations to attend the 2011 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team Trials, which will take place May 22-25 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

They already have considerable experience in playing for USA Basketball. Nneka helped the USA win gold medals at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship. Chiney was a member of the USA Basketball team that won the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.


May 04, 2011

Pac-12 announces mega-bucks TV deal

The Pac-12 Conference today announced it is teaming up with ESPN and FOX Sports Media Group on a landmark agreement for a broadcast and national cable television package that extends and expands long-time partnerships with both media companies.

Although terms of the ESPN and Fox Sports agreements were not disclosed in today's announcement, Commissioner Larry Scott called it a “landmark deal” on several fronts. He pointed out that the Pac-12’s member institutions would, for the first time ever, share equally in the revenue from the new arrangement, and that the equal revenue distribution would start immediately when the deal goes into effect in 2012.

Other sources reported yesterday that the Pac-12 will receive about $3 billion over 12 years by selling most of its top football and basketball games to Fox and ESPN. Each school will receive an average of $21 million per year -- four times the amount generated from existing contracts with Fox and ESPN.

The Pac-12 also announced the formation of a Pac-12 Network, which will include television and digital platforms that will air events not shown by ESPN and Fox. Other sources report that the network is scheduled to launch in August 2012.

Under the new deal with Fox and ESPN, every football and men’s basketball game will be televised, along with most women’s basketball games. All football and men’s basketball not on Fox or ESPN groups will be on Pac-12 TV and/or digital networks.

You can learn more here:

May 03, 2011

Rewarding athletic achievements

As a Cardinal fan, I have a very narrow view of athletic achievements. My focus is largely – almost entirely – on women's basketball.

But a recent article by Michelle Voepel caught my attention.

She explains why the Learfield Sports Director's Cup, which has been won by Stanford for the past 16 years — every one since the second award in 1993-94 —

has been replaced by the Capital One Cup.

Stanford will likely take home the inaugural women's Capital One Cup this year. They currently lead the standings, based largely on the achievements of Stanford women's basketball, volleyball and soccer. The award comprises a handsome trophy and a $200,000 donation to fund student-athlete graduate-level scholarships.

Do you want to know more?

May 01, 2011

Will Nneka be #1 WNBA draft pick in 2012?

James Bowman (Swish Appeal) writes:

The consensus among women's basketball followers is that the senior class is supposed to be a weak one next year. There's no Brittney Griner or Skylar Diggins coming up in the 2012 WNBA Draft that can grab the attention of the casual viewer (or the national media). [But] there are several players ... who will not only challenge for the usual shelf-full of trophies and honoraria but will also challenge each other over the year for the right to be called the #1 WNBA draft pick in 2012.

One of them is Nneka.