January 31, 2012

No. 1 seeds look like a slam dunk

Charlie Creme (ESPN) thinks that Baylor, Notre Dame, Connecticut and Stanford are done deals for the No. 1 seeds, and that Stanford has an 85% probability of holding its position. Stanford's position would be in question only if they had a shocking loss or if Duke ran the table — which they won't since they lost to Connecticut last night (Creme's article was posted before that game).

What he finds more interesting about Stanford (and Cardinal fans will too) is where they will be sent for the first and second rounds. There's only one subregional site west of Texas — Spokane. Gonzaga is likely to make the tournament and would play there. And then there might be a Gonzaga/Stanford game — a rematch of last season's NCAA and this year's regular season games, which the selection committee tries to avoid.

So he thinks that Stanford may be sent to Norman or maybe Nashville for the subregional games.

"may" ... "might" ... "if"

Don't buy your plane tickets yet. The committee's decisions will be announced on Monday March 12th, and it's all speculation until then.


January 30, 2012

Chiney is Pac-12 Player of the Week – again – AGAIN!!!

Chiney led the Cardinal to an overtime win over Bay Area-rival California with new career highs for points (27) and rebounds (18) and minutes played (42). Her performance helped the Cardinal preserve its game home winning streak and a 66-game winning streak in Pac-12 games.

For that remarkable performance, she was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for the third consecutive time. She's just the third player in Pac-12 history to earn three straight player of the week honors

Congratulations Chiney – WOW!!

For more details, see the announcements from Stanford Athletics and from the Pac-12.

Views from across the bay

Here are a few interesting stories about how Saturday's battle appeared to supporters on the other side of the bay:

January 28, 2012

What a battle!

Stanford won a fine battle – their 74th consecutive victory at Maples and their 66th consecutive conference victory – in overtime, 74-71.

Cal shot better than Stanford today. They took exactly the same number of shots and close to the same number of 3-pointers. Cal made 40.5% of the total and 25% of the treys. Stanford made just 36.5% and 15%. Stanford wasn't able to contain Cal's sharp-shooting guards. Freshman Brittany Boyd got 19 points and junior Layshia Clarendon got 17. Tara said, in the behind-the-bench session after the game, that it was "kind of refreshing" to win when your shooting is off.

Both teams were strong and aggressive, but Stanford out-did Cal by just enough in the other statistical categories to eke out the victory: rebounds 51-47, assists 15-10, blocks 4-2, steals 9-5, and – most importantly – fouls 13-19.

Actually, the game was won at the charity stripe where Stanford got twice as many free throws as Cal (not due to favoritism by the officials). Stanford made 17 of 25 for a poor 68%, but Cal had only 12 and made seven.

Chiney broke through the Bears' tough defense for a huge double-double of 28 points and 18 rebounds, both career highs. Her aggressive play drew a lot of fouls. She's still struggling a bit with free throws, but made nine of her 12 attempts.

Toni's long-range shooting was not on tonight ‐ she sank just one. But she was the Cardinal's second-best scorer with 15 more points from a fast break, drives to the basket, jumpers and five free throws. She made two of her free throws in the last 23 seconds of overtime to seal the victory.

Tara said that Nneka had been sick all week and hadn't practiced for the past couple of days. In spite of that, she played for 43 minutes. She drew much of the Bears' defensive attention, but still managed 12 points and nine rebounds. She moved past Val Whiting into fourth place on the Cardinal all-time scoring list and needs 42 more points to overtake Jayne Appel. She's in fifth place on the all-time rebounding list and needs 78 more to overtake Val Whiting.

Bonnie sank two long ones in a span of 30 seconds late in the second half that gave the Cardinal a nine-point lead (that unfortunately dwindled away to a tie). She also made an uncharacteristic drive to the basket for two more points.

Joslyn didn't score much today, but her strong defense was a big factor in keeping the Bears' front court in check. She tallied five rebounds, a block and two steals.

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

The game highlights video,

A gallery of photos by Don Feria (Stanford Photo),

And more photos by Ben Margot (Associated Press):

Chiney shoots over Gennifer Brandon Nneka shoots over Talia Caldwell Chiney's going to get this one Nneka boxes out Amber does her best Brittany Boyd gets past Nneka Chiney looks for a way out "OK! Now we're gonna ,,," Celebration!

Anticipation – no prediction

Anticipation, but no prediction of the outcome of the Battle of the Bay:

January 27, 2012

Nneka and Chiney named to Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 list

Nneka and Chiney are two of the 20 women (and the first sisters ever) named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 list.

Both were on the Preseason Top 30 list and advanced to the Midseason list based on their performances in November, December, and January. This is Nneka's third consecutive appearance and Chiney's first on the Midseason list

You can find more information in the announcements from:

Matchup of freshmen point guards

Jake Curtis highlights Stanford's Amber Orrange and Cal's Brittany Boyd, the pair of freshmen who, "will be directing the attacks of what might be the two best teams in the conference." Read here...

Chance for an upset?

norcalnick (California Golden Blogs) knows how Cal can upset Stanford:

Stop Nneka.

Unfortunately for the Bears, he has not the slightest clue on how to do that. Read more...

January 26, 2012

Battle of the Bay at Maples

Up next: Round 1 of the Battle of the Bay on Saturday afternoon at Maples.

The game will not be televised, but it will be video-streamed by Stanford All-Access and broadcast by KZSU. You can find the links in the Prior and Upcoming Games schedule on the FBC home page.

This may be the Cardinal's most challenging battle of the conference season — Cal has taken possession of second place in the Pac-12, so it's No. 1 vs No. 2.

An extra bit of incentive for both teams:

  • Stanford's last conference loss was to Cal three years ago when Alexis Grey-Lawson lit up Haas Pavilion with 37 points.

  • Stanford's last loss at Maples was to Cal five years ago when the Cardinal weren't able to recover from losing JJ to a torn ACL 45 seconds into the game.
Over the last three years Cal has recruited a collection of talent on a par with any other program in college basketball. The juniors on the current Cal team were part of a top 5 recruiting class. The sophomores were part of a top 15 recruiting class. The freshmen were part of a top 5 recruiting class.

This season Cal has a fresh start under new head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. Her enthusiasm has re-energized the Bears, and they are finally realizing their potential and living up to expectations.

The Bears performed very well in a tough non-conference season. The schedule included four ranked teams — Rutgers, Texas, Virginia and Ohio State. Cal's only losses were to three of those teams by a combined margin of six points!

They stumbled as they began conference play with losses to USC and UCLA in Los Angeles, but they won their next six games.

There are a good many similarities between the Bears and the Cardinal:

  • They are the top two rebounding teams in the conference and among the top five in the nation.

    Cal leads the Pac-12 and is second in the nation in rebound margin. They grab 16.1 more rebounds per game than their opponents. Stanford is second in the Pac-12 and fifth in the nation with 13.1.

  • They are the top two teams in the conference in outscoring their opponents.

    Stanford is first with a margin of 22.6, and Cal is second with 12.5

  • They have deep benches that play a significant role in the team's success.

    Cal has ten players that average more than ten minutes per game and one that averages less. The reserves get 39% of the playing time and account for 32% of the rebounds and 39% of the scoring.

    Stanford also has ten players that average more than ten minutes per game and three active players that average less. Assuming its current starting five, Stanford's reserves get 42% of the playing time and account for 35 % of the rebounds and 28% of the scoring.

    Coach Gottlieb said, "We can go 10 deep on a regular-basis. We can play a style that lends itself to up-tempo or aggressive play and we don't have to worry about foul trouble or fatigue." Tara could say the same.

  • They have a rapidly improving freshman point guard.

    Brittany Boyd is scoring more points than Amber, but Amber takes better care of the ball.

  • Scoring from beyond the arc is not a significant factor in either team's success.

    Only about 15% of Cal's points come from 3-pointers. They have three players who attempt, on average, more than two 3-pointers per game — Layshia Clarendon, Lindsay Sherbert and Mikayla Lyles. Collectively they've attempted about nine per game and made 34% of them.

    About 22% of Stanford's points come from 3-pointers. Our 3-point shooters (Lindy, Toni, Bonnie and Taylor) have attempted about ten 3-pointers per game and made 30% of them.

There are two areas where Stanford is significantly better than Cal:
  • Taking care of the ball.

    Stanford is the only team in the Pac-12 that has more assists than turnovers. Our assist-turnover ratio is 1.42. Cal is sixth in the conference with an assist-turnover ratio of 0.84

  • Free throws

    Stanford makes 72.6% of its free throws — the best in the conference. Cal makes 61.4% — the worst in the conference. In their three losses to ranked teams by a total of six points, Cal left 24 points at the line.

The probable starters for Cal are:

  • #15, 5'9" freshman guard Brittany Boyd is Cal's new point guard. She averages 4.6 assists per game, but turns the ball over 3.4 times. She averages 8.8 points, 2.2 steals and 3.4 rebounds per game. She has been Cal's top scorer twice this season.

  • #23, 5'9" junior guard Layshia Clarendon, who ran the point last season, has now been able to move to shooting guard, her natural position. She leads the team in scoring (10.9 ppg) and is the best 3-point shooter with just over one a game at a rate of 32%. She also averages 4.3 rebounds per game. She has been Cal's top scorer in five games this season and has had one double-double.

  • #32, 6'0" sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert takes about half her shots from beyond the arc and matches Clarendon in production — one per game at a rate of 32%. She averages 5.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.

  • #25, 6'2" redshirt sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon, who sat out last season with a stress fracture in her shin, has become Cal's strength in the paint. She averages 11.0 rebounds per game — ninth-best in the nation and second-best in the Pac-12. She is also Cal's third-best scorer with 9.8 points per game. She has been Cal's top rebounder in 13 games, the top scorer in five, and has had seven double-doubles.

  • #33, 6'3" junior center Talia Caldwell is Brandon's partner in the paint. She averages 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. She has been Cal's top rebounder four times this season, the top scorer five times, and has had two double-doubles.
The Cal reserves are::

  • #4, 5'7" junior guard Eliza Pierre now shares the point guard duty with Brittany Boyd. She averages 3.0 assists and 2.4 turnovers per game — about the same ratio as Boyd. She doesn't shoot well, but is a beast on defense in ways that don't show up in the box score. She was named to the All-Pac-10 Defensive Team in her freshman and sophomore seasons.

  • #2, 6'0" sophomore guard Afure Jemerigbe averages 5.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.

  • #30, 5'8" sophomore guard Mikayla Lyles takes about ¬æ of her shots from beyond the arc and makes 24% of them. She averages 2.4 points per game.

  • #5, 6'0" redshirt freshman guard Avigiel Cohen is an import from Israel with great potential. She sat out last season with a torn ACL and is still adjusting to playing college ball. She hasn't played much yet this season — just eight games for an average of 3.4 minutes.

  • #21, 6'3" freshman forward Reshanda Gray, who was a McDonald's All-American, is a strong addition to Cal's front court. She is their second-best scorer with 10.2 points and also averages 5.1 rebounds. She has been the leading scorer four times, the leading rebounder once, and has had one double-double.

  • #40, 6'2" freshman forward Justine Hartman is the highest-ranked recruit ever signed at Cal. She was a McDonalds's and WBCA All-American. she average 5.1 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
Cal's win-loss record (15-5 overall, 6-2 conference) places them second in the Pac-12, their RPI (35) places them third, and their strength of schedule (67) places them seventh.

Here are Cal's 2011-12 statistics and their roster.

Joslyn starting to make her presence felt

Tom Fitzgerald (San Francisco Chronicle) writes about how Joslyn worked her way into the starting lineup. Read here ...

January 25, 2012

Nneka is finalist for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

Nneka has been named as one of the ten finalists for the 2011-12 Women's Basketball Senior CLASS Award — the award that is presented annually to an NCAA Division I female senior basketball player who has notable achievements in four areas of excellence – classroom, character, community and competition.

This is the one where your vote counts. Fan balloting counts for ⅓ of the total vote — the other ⅔ comes from Division I head coaches and national media. Kayla was up for the award last season and got only about 8% of the fan vote.

We can do better than that for Nneka! We all love watching Nneka play. Show your love by helping her win the national recognition she so richly deserves.

You can vote once a day from the Lowe's website from your smart phone and from each computer to which you have access. In addition, you can also vote once a day from Facebook. Voting begins today and continues though March 18th. Do the math — you can cast at least 54 votes for Nneka (or 108, or 162, or ...).

Vote now: Click here

More information:

January 24, 2012

How good is the Cardinal?

... "The best!" say its fans.

But, objectively, just how good is the team? How does it stack up against the other 341 Division I teams? How do the Cardinal players stack up against the other 3500 or so players?

As of January 22nd, the Cardinal as a team ranks in the top ten in nine of the 18 statistical categories reported by the NCAA:

  • No. 2 in Assist Turnover Ratio with 1.42 (Connecticut leads with 1.45)
  • No. 3 in Turnovers per Game with 12.6 (St Bonaventure leads with 11.9)
  • No. 5 in Rebound Margin with 13.1 (Liberty leads with 16.8)
  • No. 5 in Won-Lost Percentage with 94.4 (Baylor and Greenbay lead with 100.0)
  • No. 6 in Scoring Offense with 78.9 (Notre Dame leads with 85.2)
  • No. 6 in Scoring Margin with 22.6 (Connecticut lead with 37.1)
  • No. 8 in Assists per Game with 17.9 (Connecticut leads with 20.7)
  • No. 8 in Three Pt FG Defense with 24.4 (South Carolina leads with 20.7)
  • No. 10 in Field Goal Percentage with 46.0 (Connecticut leads with 49.4)
Individually, Cardinal players are ranked:
  • Nneka is No. 5 in Points per Game with 22.9 (Elena Della Donne, Delaware leads with 27.9)
  • Chiney is No. 5 in Field Goal Percentage with 59.0, and Nneka is No. 11 with 56.5 (Carolyn Davis, Kansas leads with 62.2)
  • Nneka is No. 5 in Double Doubles with 11, and Chiney is No. 25 with 8 ( Kylie Kuhn, Sacramento State leads with 16)
  • Amber is No. 7 in Assist Turnover Ratio with 2.57, and Toni is No. 14 with 2.42 (Monique Smalls, Texas Tech leads with 3.77)
  • Nneka is No. 8 in Rebounds per Game with 11.2, and Chiney is No. 22 with 10.2 (Ashar Harris, Morehead leads with 12.4)
  • Nneka is No. 65 in Free Throw Percentage with 83.0 ( Abby Oliver, Richmond leads with 94.4)
You can find all the national statistics in NCAA 2011-12 Women's Basketball Statistics. If you're curious about how the Cardinal ranks in the Pac-12, see Pac-12 Conference Overall Statistics.

January 23, 2012

Chiney is Pac-12 Player of the Week – again!!

Chiney posted her seventh and eighth double-doubles of the season last week in Stanford's sweep of Washington State and Washington. She averaged a double-double of 17.0 points and 11.5 rebounds while shooting 68.4% from the field.

For that remarkable performance, she was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second consecutive time.

Congratulations Chiney!!

For more details, see the announcements from Stanford Athletics and from the Pac-12.

January 21, 2012

Cardinal drubs Udub

The Cardinal defeated the Washington Huskies thoroughly this afternoon 65-47.

The game got off to a sloppy start with several missed shots by both teams. The first basket came at 17:45 as Amber put back a miss by Chiney. Chiney made her next attempt, then Lindy sank two treys in the next two minutes, and the Cardinal was off to a 10-0 lead. The Huskies never got closer than six points.

The Cardinal defense pretty well shut down the Huskie's front court. Leading scorer Regina Rogers got five points, Mollie Williams got six and Mackenzie Argens got one.

Amber had a great game. She stuck to freshman point guard Jazmine Davis, UW's second-best scorer, like a piece of Velcro. Although Davis was the Huskies' top scorer today with 16 points, she sank only three field goals while Amber was on the court. Amber stole the ball four times and forced a held ball at least once. She had nine assists with just one turnover. Her assist-to-turnover ratio is now 2.57 — the best in the Pac-12 and within the top ten in the nation.

Tara told the team that anyone who had an open shot should take it. Taylor was paying attention. She sank four of five 3-point attempts. Lindy sank the two that got the Cardinal off to a good start, but no more after that although she took five more. Bonnie got one of five.

Chiney took her shots, whether open or not. She made six of eleven attempts, and got the only double-double —15 points and 11 rebounds (seven offensive). And an assist, a block and two steals.

Nneka scored 17 points and moved up to fifth place in the list of Stanford's top scorers. She now has 2072 points — more than any other Stanford player except Candice Wiggins (2629), Kate Starbird (2215), Jayne Appel (2125) and Val Whiting (2077).

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

A gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (Stanford Photo),

And more photos by Paul Sakuma (Associated Press):

Amber guards Jazmine Davis Amber and Joslyn on defense Chiney celebrates her basket Nneka drives through the Huskies defense Chiney is ready for the rebound Nneka is doubled up Chiney is called for a foul Nneka puts one up You rock! Nneka and Joslyn like the result

Up next for the Huskies

Jayda Evans (Seattle Times) previews the Washington Huskies' game against Stanford:

" ... As the scout tape rolled, all Washington coach Kevin McGuff could think of was slowing the Cardinal down. Hitting pause on the tape may be the only way..." Read more...

January 20, 2012

Stanford relishes a new dining experience

Michelle Smith (espnW) tells us all about the Cardinal's new dining venue where the food is nutritious and delicious! Read here...

January 19, 2012

Cardinal clamps down on the Cougars

The Cougars played a great game — for 15 minutes. Their defense kept our bigs away from the basket, and their driving offense kept them in the lead from the opening basket until the 05:27 mark.

Then the Cardinal tightened their defense, stepped up the pace and took control of the game. The first half finished with a beautiful coast-to-coast layup by Toni, and the Cardinal went into the locker room ahead by eleven points. They stayed in control for the second half and won 75-41.

The "new" lineup was in effect again tonight, with Joslyn and Amber joining Nneka, Chiney and Toni.

Nneka had the biggest double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Chiney was close behind with 19 points and 12 rebounds, and she may be over her charity-line slump — she made five of six free throws.

Joslyn had an almost double-double with nine points and eight rebounds, but that's not all. She also had four assists, two blocks, three steals and zero turnovers.

Toni played the most — 30 minutes. She didn't tally a lot in the box score — four points, three rebounds, five assists and two steals. But she was also a tiger on defense. She forced held balls and turnovers and generally disrupted the Cougars' offense.

Amber did a good job at the point for 21 minutes. Her only score was a free throw, but she grabbed five rebounds, stole the ball three times and had three assists with no turnovers. Her assist-to-turnover ratio is now a very good 2.25.

Bonnie came in and tried to take advantage of the Cougars' zone defense, but her shot wasn't quite on tonight. She made just two of seven attempts. There was an entertaining sequence late in the first half when, in the space of 11 seconds, Bonnie missed a 3-ptr, Nneka got the rebound, Bonnie missed a 3-ptr, Joslyn got the rebound, Bonnie missed a three-pointer, Amber got the rebound.

Some of the most gratifying statistics (for Cardinal fans) didn't appear on the scoreboard. The Cardinal were handling the ball beautifully with hard, fast passes and tallied 19 assists. They out-stole the Cougars (who were second in the Pac-12 in steals) 12-4. And they turned the ball over three times less than the Cougars (who had the best turnover margin in the Pac-12).

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

A gallery of photos by Don Feria (isiphotos.com)

And more photos by Paul Sakuma (Associated Press):

Chiney shoots through her triple team Nneka soars above her defenders Toni and Joslyn are fierce defenders Nneka trips over a Cougar Held ball! Ouch!!! The bench celebrates