March 31, 2012

Honors, Ogwumikes, Toni, Sara, Stanford vs Baylor


Ogwumike Sisters named To WBCA Coaches All-America Team from Stanford Athletics

Video Destination Denver : Episode 12 shows Chiney and Nneka receiving their WBCA Coaches All-America Team awards and Nneka speaking on behalf of all the recipients

Nnemkadi Ogwumike Wins Lowe's Senior CLASS Award from Stanford Athletics


For Ogwumike, it's now or never by Michelle Smith, espnW

Stanford's Ogwumikes have special bond by Jerome Solomon, Houston Chronicle

Ogwumikes put Cardinal front and center in Final Four, by Tom FitzGerald, San Francisco Chronicle


Kokenis in tune with Stanford by Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune


James barely plays but treasures Stanford experience by Joe Davidson, Sacramento Bee

Stanford vs Baylor

Stanford women are primed for the challenge of upsetting undefeated Baylor on Sunday by Elliott Almond, Mercury News

Geno: Baylor won't have it easy from espnW

March 30, 2012

Amber, Jos, Sisterhood, Baylor, Nerds, Altitude, Glass Wall

The Cardinal in Denver


Nate Parham (Swish Appeal) examines the impact of Amber's play in the latter half of the season: What Amber Orrange's Improvement Means For Stanford Against Baylor


Joanne C. Gerstner (New York Times) discusses the radical change in Jos' playing status since last season: For Stanford’s Joslyn Tinkle, a Chance to Have an Impact

The Sisterhood

Elliott Almond (Mercury News) writes about Stanford's perfect player combo: Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike's Stanford University sisterhood coming to an end

The Mercury News has a gallery of sisterhood photos — here's one of them:


John Henderson (Denver Post) writes about many schemes that have failed to beat Baylor: With Griner and Sims, undefeated Baylor Bears have no weak links

Elliott Almond (Mercury News) focusses on Brittney: Baylor's Brittney Griner offers an imposing obstacle to Stanford women's NCAA title hopes


James Kerley, a contributor to the Yahoo network, explains why it's not just about basketball at Stanford: Stanford Women’s Basketball Team Proud of Nerd Legacy


Pat Graham (Associated Press) discusses how (or if) playing at 5280 ft will have an impact this weekend: Teams brace for thin air to reach hoops summit

The Glass Wall

Kate Fagan and Luke Cyphers (espnW) analyze, "Women continue to shatter stereotypes as athletes. So how come they can't catch a break as coaches?": The Glass Wall

Interlude, seniors, Kate


Michelle Smith (espnW) takes us with the team from the time they depart from Fresno until they depart for San Jose airport: Final whirlwind of preparations

Stanford videographer Bud Anderson continues the journey from SJC to the Cardinal's hotel in Denver: Destination Denver : Episode 10

Stanford photographer Don Feria provides a gallery of departure day photos

Stanford Athletics summarizes the trip to Denver:

Stanford Women's Basketball touched in down in Denver, site of the 2012 Final Four, early Thursday evening. The Cardinal Channel was there to capture the whole thing.

With only a two-hour flight over just one time zone, the Cardinal certainly enjoyed the shorter trip compared to past years. The sun was still out and the temperature still hovering in the high sixties as the team deplaned at Denver International Airport. From there the team bussed to Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos, for the official team photograph. Despite the Broncos trading popular quarterback Tim Tebow to the Jets last week, the players still paid homage to the signal caller, "Tebowing" in front of the team's Bronco statues.

With the photo taken, Stanford took off for its hotel, where it was greeted by the Denver Local Organizing Committee to appetizers, soft drinks, and a presentation of a commemorative Final Four basketball. Head coach Tara VanDerveer and senior forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike said a few words thanking the city of Denver and expressing gratitude for the hospitality.

Soon enough, it was time for team dinner, where each player and staff member received their gift bag of Final Four gear from Nike. Curfew was announced as 11 p.m., and the players retired to their rooms to prepare for a full Friday of practice and activity.


Paul Gackie (SF Examiner) writes about Nneka, Lindy and Grace: Final Four old hat for Stanford Women's basketball trio


Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle) speculates about Kate's future: Stanford assistant Paye could succeed VanDerveer

March 29, 2012

Tara, Toni, Andrew Klein, Stanford v Baylor


A fine tribute to Tara by Monte Poole (Bay Area News Group):Tara VanDerveer's emphasis on high standards over high stakes fuels Stanford's success


Scott Schmid (Oak Brook Suburban Life) reports on Hinsdale Central's prize alumna: Former Hinsdale Central star Toni Kokenis leads Stanford to Final Four against Baylor

Andrew Klein

Elliott Almond (Mercury News) gives us the real scoop on someone whose name you probably don't recognize: Male practice stand-in offers his take on Stanford women's matchup with Baylor's Brittney Griner

Stanford v Baylor

Charlie Creme (espnW) explains in great detail why he thinks Baylor will win on Sunday: Stanford-Baylor breakdown

Nneka, La Rocques, Chiney, press conferences

More honors for Nneka

Nneka has been named to another pair of All-America teams: USBWA All-America Team and John R. Wooden Award All-America Team. This is the third consecutive season that she has been named to each of those teams.

Another perfect trip for Lindy's family

Ron Kantowki (Las Vegas Review-Journal) follows Al and Beverly La Rocque on their journey with Lindy: For La Rocques, four Final Fours 'perfect'

Chiney's espnW blog

Chiney writes a verse to celebrate the Cardinal's trip to the Final Four: FreeStylin' to the Final Four!

From the press conferences

Mechelle Voepel (espnW) comments on what each of the four participants in yesterday's Final Four coaches teleconference had to say: The upside to predictability

Michelle Smith's (espnW) report of yesterday's Stanford press conference: Stanford ready for challenge

March 28, 2012

From the press conference

Tara, Nneka, Chiney and Toni held a long press conference today before departing for Denver. You can listen to the whole thing here, or get the gist of it from these articles:

And here's a tribute to the sisters from their home town:

A look at the final four

ESPN takes a look at the final four contestants:

March 27, 2012

Yes, Stanford is that good

Exulting over yesterday's victory and looking ahead to the next challenge: Read more...

Still more honors for Nneka and Chiney

It was announced yesterday that Chiney is one of five finalists for the WBCA Division I Defensive Player of the Year award. Read more about Chiney's defensive prowess in the Stanford Athletics announcement.

Today both Nneka and Chiney were named to the AP All-America Teams. Nneka, along with Brittney Griner, was a unanimous choice for first team. Chiney was named to the second team. They are the first sisters to be All-Americans in the same season. Here is a detailed list of all the team members.

March 26, 2012

Elite 8: Cardinal drives out the Devils

The Cardinal will finish their season as they have the prior four with a trip to the Final Four following their decisive defeat of Duke 81-69.

The Cardinal kept a comfortable lead for much of the game. The Blue Devils cut it to eight briefly several times in the second half, but the Cardinal answered back immediately each time.

The Blue Devils tried everything they could to contain Nneka, but couldn't do it. She led her team to victory with another fabulous outing — 29 points on 73% shooting from the field and 88% from the free throw line, nine rebounds, three assists and a steal.

Tara said yesterday that she would need more from everybody else against Duke tonight, and she got it.

From everyone: A great defensive effort that held the Blue Devils to 39.7% shooting from the field, an impressive drop from the 57% they had averaged in the first three rounds of the tourney.

From Chiney: Her 19th double-double of the season (12 points and 17 rebounds), an assist and a steal.

From Jos: Three of seven from beyond the arc (the first one came two minutes into the game and gave Stanford the lead it never lost), a total of 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

From Amber: 13 points on 71% shooting (including a three-pointer), four assists with just two turnovers, two rebounds, two steals, and one of the Cardinal's two blocked shots.

From Toni: Eight assists with just one turnover, six points (including a three-pointer), three rebounds, and two steals both of which she took downcourt on fast breaks.

From Lindy: A three-pointer and the Cardinal's other blocked shot.

From Taylor: A three-pointer (that's a total of seven for the Cardinal) and a steal.

From Grace: Two free throws in the waning seconds when the Devils refused to give up.

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

A gallery of photos by Don Feria for Stanford Photo,

And some celebratory photos from the Associated Press:

News of the Day

March 25, 2012

Looking forward ... and back

There was a press conference today as Stanford prepared for its fifth straight trip to the NCAA Regional final.

This is Janie McCauley's report for the Associated Press: Duke women will defend Ogwumike with everybody

The latest episode of Destination Denver includes some clips from the press conference.

Here are a few quotes from Stanford and from Duke.

Stanford Athletics takes a brief look back at the Cardinal's prior four trips to the regional final in this article.

If you'd like to remember more about those four games, look here:

March 24, 2012

Sweet 16: Cardinal overcomes the Gamecocks

Although severely pecked, the Cardinal herded the Gamecocks into the coop and closed the door: 76-60.

The Gamecock defense was all that it's cracked up to be. They had an answer for everyone except Nneka, who scored 39 points – more than half of the Cardinal's total.

Their offense differed from that of any other team the Cardinal has played this season. Their little guards went around and up and over our bigs in the paint for layup after layup. Chiney had it just right when she said, "When you have a clear size advantage people expect things to benefit the taller team. But think about it. You're going to have to guard their size advantage, meaning their quickness to the rim."

The game was much more challenging than the final score indicates. The Cardinal took the lead three minutes into the game, but weren't able to hold onto a double-digit margin until the last six minutes when they went on a 7-0 run that effectively closed out the game.

In addition to her 39 points, which she made at a rate of 64% from the field and 92% from the charity stripe, Nneka tallied ten rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal.

Chiney appears to be suffering from more than a slightly stiff knee. She was wearing a calf-to-thigh wrap on her right leg and wasn't her usual explosive self. She also took two very hard falls during the game. Nevertheless, she played for 33 minutes, got a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds), three assists, four blocks and two steals.

The Gamecocks weren't able to defend against Toni's quickness, and she had a splendid game. She stole the ball twice, scored on two fast breaks, tallied a total of 12 points, and had seven rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes of play.

Jos tried and made the only Cardinal 3-pointer with a one-handed launch to the basket as the buzzer sounded the end of the first half. She had seven points in all, three rebounds and three blocks.

The Gamecock defense focussed on Amber (she's not flying under the radar anymore) and kept her from scoring or distributing the ball as well as usual. But she still had five assists with just one turnover, five points, a rebound and a block.

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

Ogwumike's 39 Keeps Stanford Moving, a Nneka highlights video from ESPN,

A slide show by Nhat V. Meyers (Mercury News),

A gallery of photos by Don Feria for Stanford Photo,

Rich Pedroncelli and Gary Kazanjian posted 42 photos for the Associated Press. You can see all of them on the Stanford Athletics website – here and here. These are a few of the best ones.

Chiney goes up stong Amber drives Jos put up a shot Toni gets there first Nneka puts up a shot The cheering section

March 23, 2012

South Carolina viewpoint ... and more

This is what they're saying in South Carolina about the upcoming Gamecocks/Cardinal game:
and here are nice stories about the Vanderveer/Staley connection: and more great stories about Amber and Chiney: and this is what the Cardinal have been up to as they prepare to face the Gamecocks:

More honors for Nneka and Chiney

Congratulations to Nneka and Chiney!

They are two of the 12 finalists for the State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year, as announced today by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. This is the third straight year that Nneka is up for the award. Chiney, in her first appearance, is one of just three underclassmen on the list.

For more information, see:

Family time is short but sweet

Michelle Smith (espnW) writes that family time is precious for the parents who travel to their daughters' games.

On the Cardinal's trip to Virginia earlier this week, family time was at even more of a premium, with many of the players preparing for final exams for the winter quarter. Read more...

March 22, 2012

The road to Denver : Stopover in Fresno

This is how the teams that will play in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 in Fresno match up:

Stanford South Carolina Duke St John's
Points per game 76.7 58.5 75.4 62.0
Scoring margin +22.1 +4.4 +20.0 +6.1
Field goal % 0.457 0.398 0.477 0.415
3-pointers per game 5.4 4.8 4.5 2.2
3-point % 0.313 0.313 0.379 0.286
Free throw % 0.764 0.561 0.677 0.689
Rebounds per game 44.4 37.1 40.4 36.5
Rebounding margin +10.6 +3.0 +7.5 +0.6
Assists per game 16.7 10.6 16.7 11.6
Turnovers per game 12.8 16.1 17.1 13.9
Assist/turnover ratio 1.31 0.66 0.98 0.84
Steals per game 6.7 7.2 12.6 8.8
Blocks per game 4.7 3.5 6.0 4.1
Win-loss record 33-1, 18-0 25-9, 10-6 26-5, 15-1 24-9, 13-3
RPI 2 32 10 11
Schedule strength 9 43 33 5

  South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks earned an at-large bid to the tourney with their fourth place finish in the SEC behind Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by trouncing #14 East Michigan 80-48 in the first round and upsetting #4 Purdue 72-61 on its home court in the second round.

South Carolina has advanced this far in the tourney twice before – most recently in 2002. This will be first time that Dawn Staley, in her 4th season as head coach at South Carolina, has taken a team to the Sweet Sixteen, although she has been there often as a player. She was a member of the University of Virginia teams that lost to Stanford in the Final Four in 1990 and 1992.

South Carolina is a small guard-oriented team that has relied on its swarming defense to slow down games and keep scores low most of this season. They've allowed their opponents just 50.7 points a game (fourth-best in the nation) and 21.5% on three-pointers (second-best in the nation).

But their offense has been hot too in the NCAA tourney. They've shot 51.3% in the first two rounds, way above their season average of 39.8%. All the Gamecocks contribute on offense. Their top five scorers average from 7.2 to 11.0 points per game. Their top scorer in the first round had 12 points. Markeshia Grant busted out with 21 points against Purdue, and Ieasia Walker contributed 17.

South Carolina has a deep bench — nine players average at least 11.5 minutes per game and two more play eight minutes.

Here are South Carolina's 2011-2012 statistics, roster and game notes. Their probable starters are:

  • #5, 5'6" senior guard Markeshia Grant is the top scorer with 11.0 points per game and the only one that averages more than one three-pointer. She takes half her shots from beyond the arc and makes 35% of them for average of 1.8 per game.

  • #3, 5'8" junior guard Ieasia Walker leads the offense for the Gamecocks. She averages 3.2 assists per game and has a fairly good assist/turnover ratio of 1.2. She averages 1.8 steals and 8.0 points per game.

  • #11, 5'8" senior guard La'Keisha Sutton shares the point guard duty with Walker. She averages 10.4 points, 2.7 assists with an assist/turnover ratio of 0.87, and 1.3 steals per game.

  • #12, 6'0" junior forward Charenee Stephens averages 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 points per game.

  • #22, 5'9" senior guard Courtney Newton averages 1.6 rebounds and 0.7 points per game.
South Carolina's best rebounders come off the bench. 6'0" freshman forward Aleighsa Welch averages 5.9 rebounds per game and 6'0" junior forward Ashley Bruner averages 5.2.

  Duke Blue Devils

The Blue Devils earned an at-large bid to the tourney by winning the ACC regular-season title. They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by crushing #15 Samford 82-47 in the first round and defeating #7 Vanderbilt 96-80 on its home court in the second round.

The Blue Devils have often gone to the big dance, but they've never gone all the way. They were the national runner-up in 1999 and 2006. Last season they made it to the Elite 8, where they lost to Connecticut.

This is the best offensive team head coach Joanne P. McCallie has had in her five years at Duke. They shoot 47.7 % from the field (second best in the nation) and 37.9% from beyond the arc (fifth best in the nation). They've been red-hot in the tournament, scoring 82 points on 51.9% shooting against Samford and then 96 on 65.6 percent shooting against Vandy.

Duke has eight players in its regular rotation. They lost a valuable member of the team in early February when sophomore forward Richa Jackson tore her ACL. Their freshman phenom, center Elizabeth Williams, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her right leg a week ago, but she's playing in the tourney.

Here are Duke's 2011-2012 statistics, roster and game notes. Their probable starters are:

  • #1, 6'3" freshman center Elizabeth Williams is the fourth best shot-blocker in the nation with 3.7 per game. She is also Duke's top scorer (14.2 ppg) and rebounder (8.1 rpg). She had a triple-double this season of 16 rebounds, 12 blocks and 18 points. The stress fracture may be affecting her performance. Although she played 25 minutes in each of the first two rounds of the tourney, she averaged 12 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

  • #12, 5'11" sophomore guard Chelsea Gray runs the show for Duke. She gets her own points when needed – she's the second best scorer with 12.2 per game – but she's at her best making her teammates look great. She averages 6.2 assists with a fine assist/turnover ratio of 1.79. She also averages 2.7 steals and 5.0 rebounds per game. She's had three assists/points double-doubles this season and a triple-double of 11 rebounds, 13 assists and 14 points.

  • #32, 6'1" sophomore guard Trisha Liston is Duke's three-point specialist. She takes almost half her shots from beyond the arc and makes 45% of them for average of 1.7 per game.

  • #33, 6'3" sophomore guard/forward Haley Peters averages 11.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

  • #3, 5'9" senior guard Shay Selby averages 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.

  St. John's Red Storm

The Red Storm earned an at-large bid to the tourney with their third place finish in the Big East behind Notre Dame and Connecticut. They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by winning two very close games in the final seconds. They squeaked past #14 Creighton 69-67 in the first round and past #6 Oklahoma 74-70 on its home court in the second round.

This is St. John's third consecutive trip to the NCAA tourney, but the first time they've advanced to the Sweet Sixteen

Offense is getting it done for the Red Storm. They have a multitude of scoring sources with four players that average double-digit scoring. Almost all their scoring comes from within the arc — no player averages as much as one three-pointer per game.

St John's has gotten the job done in the first two rounds of the tourney with a seven-player rotation — the starters shown below plus 5'9" sophomore guard Keylantra Langley and 6'2" sophomore forward Mary Nwachukwu.

Here are St. John's 2011-2012 statistics, roster and game notes. Their probable starters are:

  • #35, 6'1" junior guard Shenneika Smith is the Red Storm's leading scorer (12.7 ppg), rebounder (6.5 rpg) and shot blocker (1.2 bpg).

  • #5, 5'7" junior guard Nadirah McKenith runs St. John's offense. She averages 4.7 assists per game with a good assist/turnover ratio of 1.44. She averages 12.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. She's having a great run in the tourney — she hit the buzzer-beating game-winner against Creighton and the shot that proved to be the game winner against Oklahoma.

  • #22, 5'8" junior guard Eugeneia McPherson averages 12.1 points, 2.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 3.1 rebounds per game.

  • #3, 6'1" senior forward Da'Shena Stephens averages 11.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

  • #2, 6'2" freshman forward Amber Thompson averages 6.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Orrange is as good as gold

Rick Eymer's (Palo Alto Online) tribute to Amber begins:

Stanford freshman point guard Amber Orrange received Tara VanDerveer's highest compliment yet. Her coach called her "the closest I've ever had to Dawn."


Ogwumikes, Stanford aim for first title since '92

Another nice story today, with a video, about the Sisterhood by Julia Savacool (espnW).

Read here ...

Sitting didn't sit well with Jos

Elliott Almond (Mercury News) writes of Jos' frustration at not being called on for the Cardinal's final game last season and how she channeled that frustration into becoming a better player in the offseason. Read here...

March 21, 2012

Fresno Sweet 16 breakdown

Michelle Smith (espnW) looks at three X factors for each Sweet 16 matchup in Fresno and picks Stanford and St. John's for the Elite 8.

Read here...

Sweet 16 first impressions

Mechelle Voepel (espnW) takes a quick look at the Sweet 16 matchups in each of the four regionals in this article.

(The photo is from Stanford Photo's gallery of the Cardinal's second round game.)

March 20, 2012

Chiney is fired up for Fresno!

Read the latest installment of Chiney's NCAA Tourney blog HERE