January 31, 2014

Academic honor for Chiney

Chiney, a Capital One Academic All-American last year, earned her third straight selection to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 Team, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced Thursday.

Here's more information:

Cardinal survives Bear attack

What a battle! It felt more like a "didn't lose" than a win, but it still counts: Stanford 70, Cal 64.

It started pretty much as expected, with the Cardinal ahead, but the Bears hanging close, for about 16 minutes. Then the Cardinal began a 28-7 run that put them ahead by 18 points at the break and by 30 points at the 13:35 mark.

I'm not sure what happened then, whether the Cardinal relinquished control or the Bears clawed it away, but the pace and intensity of the game increased and the margin shrank steadily.

During that last 13:35 minutes the Cardinal committed (or at least was called for) 11 fouls, turned the ball over seven times, grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 11 points. The Bears grabbed 22 rebounds and scored 35 points. The Cardinal did well to hang on for its 6-point victory.

The Bears double- and triple-teamed Chiney and succeeded in holding her to just 23 points and a 47% field goal percentage. The Cardinal did better on its defense of Reshanda Gray, the Bears' top scorer. She was held scoreless.

The Cardinal defense didn't slow down Brittany Boyd. She sank two 3-pointers (that gives her a total of 10 for the season) and matched her season-high score of 25 points.

The Bears defended the perimeter better than the Cardinal. They (the worst 3-point shooting team in the Pac-12) made 6 of 16 3-pointers and we (the best 3-point shooting team in the Pac-12) made 5 of 19 — two apiece by Karlie and Taylor, one by Lili.

All in all, it was way too close for comfort. The Cardinal made two more 2-pointers, one less 3-pointer and five more free throws than the Bears. Rebounds were even — 44 each.

Sunday at Haas will be very interesting

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford-California postgame notes from Stanford Athletics,

The game recap video from Stanford Athletics

A postgame interview of Chiney from Pac-12 Networks,

A gallery of photos by Nhat V. Meyer (Mercury News),

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

And photos by George Nikitin (Associated Press):

Chiney goes against Justine Hartman
Mikaela drives past Courtney Range
Chiney shoots over Gennifer Brandon
Looking good - Karlie's 3-pointer ends the first half
Mikaela, Reshanda and Sara battle for the ball

January 30, 2014

Battle of the Bay

The student newspapers voice opinions and predictions about tonight's game between Stanford and Cal.

Pair of point guards headline upcoming Battle of the Bay by Ashley Westhem (Stanford Daily)

Cal women’s basketball massive underdogs in Battle of the Bay by Janice Chua (Daily Californian)

January 29, 2014

Mikaela is flying high

John Reid (Mercury News) honors Mikaela's contributions to the Cardinal's great season:

Ruef flourishing in final season at Stanford

January 28, 2014

Next: A double dose of Bears

The Cardinal passes the midpoint of the regular season this week with a pair of games against Cal:
  • at home in Maples on Thursday evening at 8:00
  • across the bay in Haas on Sunday afternoon at 1:00
The home game will be televised by Pac-12 Networks and streamed online by Pac-12 Networks, with live stats here. The game in Berkeley will be televised by ESPN2, with live stats here. Both will be broadcast by KZSU.

Note that there won't be a booster bus to the game in Berkeley because not enough Cardinal fans expressed an interest. However, parking near Haas should be easy on a Sunday afternoon.

Amber put on a show at Cal last year

Which Bears will show up against the Cardinal this week? The tough defenders who have won 14 games? Or the careless, uncontrolled ones who defeat themselves?

It's been hard to predict, but I expect the former — the Bears traditionally bring their best game against the Cardinal. And I'm sure they're eager to repeat last season's upset at Maples.

The Bears are generally very strong on defense. They rank third in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, allowing their opponents an average of 63.6 points per game. They're particularly good on 3-point defense, where they rank second, allowing their opponents to make only 27.5% of their 3-point shots. Three of their players rank among the top 20 in rebounding — junior forward Reshanda Gray, freshman forward Courtney Range and junior guard Brittany Boyd.

As a team, the Bears aren't outstanding scorers. They rank eighth in the Pac-12 with 69.1 points per game, but three of their players are among the top 30 scorers — Reshanda Grey, Brittany Boyd and senior guard Afure Jemerigbe.

The Bears aren't usually a threat at the perimeter. They rank last in the Pac-12 in 3-pointers per game and in 3-point percentage. Only three of their players shoot much from beyond the arc — Jemerigbe, freshman guard Hin Ben Abdelkader and senior guard Mikayla Lyles. They each make just over or not quite one per game. However, there are occasional standout performances — Ben Abdelkader hit six of nine against Cal State Bakersfield and Lyles hit four of four against Oregon. Also, Lyles hit four of six last season in the Bears' victory at Maples.

In conference play, the Bears have defeated the Oregon schools, the Rocky Mountain schools, Arizona and UCLA. They've lost to Arizona State and USC.

The Bears have been ranked all season, as high as #15/15, currently #21/#19.

In recent games, the Cal starters have been:

  • #15, 5'9" junior guard Brittany Boyd dishes out almost half of the Bears' assists ( 5.63 per game), which is the most in the Pac-12. But she turns the ball over a lot too, so her assist/turnover ratio is a poor 1.49. She's a very adept ball thief, averaging 3.2 per game, which ranks #5 in the nation. She's the Bears' second-best scorer with 14.0 points per game and she grabs 6.4 rebounds per game. She has the dubious distinction of having committed the most fouls (3.42 per game). She's ended with four fouls in six games and fouled out three times.

  • #21, 6'3" junior forward Reshanda Gray is twice as productive as last season and is now the Bears' leading scorer (17.3 points per game) and rebounder (7.9 per game). She's had six double-doubles. She has committed just one less foul than Boyd, has ended with four fouls ten times and fouled out twice.

  • #2, 6'0" senior guard Afure Jemerigbe is the Bears' third-best scorer with 10.7 points per game. She's had double-digit scores in eleven games. She averages 0.9 3-pointers, 1.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.

  • #40, 6'2" junior forward Justine Hartman averages 3.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.

  • #10, 5'10" freshman guard Mercedes Jefflo averages 5.0 points, 1.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game.
These four players get significant minutes off the bench:

  • #24, 6'3" freshman forward Courtney Range is the Bears' second-best rebounder with 7.6 per game. She's had double-digit rebounds six times and been the Bears' top rebounder in half of their games. She averages 6.3 points per game and has blocked the most shots (0.8 per game)

  • #25, 6'2" redshirt senior forward Gennifer Brandon left the team for personal reasons early in the season, but returned in time for conference play. She's averaged 6.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game since her return.

  • #12, 5'7" freshman guard Hin Ben Abdelkader played for Belgium in the FIBA U17 World Championship and the FIBA U16 European Championship. She averages 5.3 points, 1.1 3-pointers, 1.1 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game

  • #30, 5'8" senior guard Mikayla Lyles averages 3.7 points, 0.9 3-pointers, 1.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Last off the bench are redshirt junior forward Kyra Dunn, redshirt junior guard Brittany Shine, and freshman forward KC Waters. Senior guard Avigiel Cohen has not played since the end of the non-conference season.

Cal's win-loss record 14-5 overall, 6-2 conference) places it fourth in the Pac-12, its RPI (22) places it fourth, and its strength of schedule rank (32) places it fifth.

Here are Cal's statistics and roster.

January 27, 2014

Cardinal thrashes the Trojans

It was a fast-paced, intense game with lots of crisp passes and excellent play from both the Trojans and the Cardinal — but more from the Cardinal who won 86-59.

The Trojans kept up for a while, but the Cardinal took the lead with an old-fashioned 3-point play from Lili five minutes into the game and never relinquished it.

That was just one of Lili's fine plays. She also sank two treys, scored on another drive to the basket in the second half and made a couple of free throws for a total of 12 points. Her defense of Ariya Crook, USC's sharp-shooter, was outstanding. She stuck to her like glue, and although Crook eventually scored 18 points, she hit only one from beyond the arc.

Amber also scored 12 points — on three drives to the basket, a stop-and-pop jumper and all four of her free throws. She also dished out six assists and never turned the ball over.

The Trojans knew about the Samuelsons and stuck close to them on the perimeter. But Karlie eluded her defenders twice, drove past them for a jumper another time and sank both her free throws for a total of 10 points.

My game ball goes to Mikaela who was in it to win it for 31 minutes. She earned her third double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. She also stole the ball twice and forced numerous held balls. I'm surprised that the box score credits her with just one assist. Her decisive ball-handling and bullet-like passes were instrumental in much of the Cardinal offense.

The best parts of Mikaela's own scoring came at the free throw line, where she made all four of her freebies, and beyond the arc, from where she sank her second trey of the season. That shot came with just a couple of seconds left on the shot clock and no other option for Mikaela, who launched it with an, "Oh well, I might as well give it a try ..." look on her face. No-one enjoyed the result more than Mikaela. The thumbnail that accompanies this blog on the FBC home page is of Mikaela shouting in joy as she raced back down the court. (You can find that photo and several others of Mikaela in the USA Today gallery linked to below.)

Have I overlooked someone? Oh yes, Chiney, the fifth Cardinal to score in double digits. She had 30 points and 12 rebounds and three assists and two blocks — her customary splendid game.

Some quality stats for the team: 22 assists, 7 turnovers, 42 rebounds to USC's 28, 51% on fields goals, and 78.9% of 19 free throws (!).

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford-USC postgame notes from Stanford Athletics

A game highlights video from Stanford Athletics,

A gallery of photos by Nhat V. Meyer (Bay Area News Group),

A gallery of photos by Kelley L. Cox for (USA Today),

A gallery of photos by John Todd (Stanford Photo),

And photos by Jeff Chiu (Associated Press):

Chiney shoots against Cassie Harberts
Chiney shoots against Briana Barrett
Amber harrasses Briana Barrett
Chiney gets to the loose ball first
So does Bird
Chiney celebrates her basket
Mikaela & Chiney celebrate Mikaela's basket
Everyone celebrates Alex's 3-pointer
"Good job!"

Chiney is finding her own way

In promotion of tonight's Big Monday doubleheader, espnW's feature story, by Michelle Smith, is about Chiney, "Following in a sister's footsteps can be tough. But Chiney Ogwumike has carved out her own place on the court." Read here.

January 25, 2014

Cardinal overcomes the Bruins

Forget the short bench and the lack of big players! The Bruin style is the same old aggressive in-your-face defense, and the Cardinal had to fight very hard for its 72-55 victory.

The lead changed 12 times in the first half until the Cardinal managed to gain an eight-point lead, which dwindled away to one by the end of the half.

The Bruins drew first blood after the break, and the Cardinal gave up the lead in the second half for the only time this season (except for that once in Storrs). Mikaela and Sara took care of that in short order — Mikaela with an old-fashioned three and Sara with two contemporary ones. The Bruins never cut the margin to less than six points in the remaining 17 minutes, but the victory didn't seem assured until the final buzzer sounded.

The Bruin defense clearly discombobulated the Cardinal, causing unproductive passes and 16 turnovers. But the Cardinal managed to make 53% of its shots while holding the Bruins to 33%.

Tara called on only eight players for this battle (Bonnie came in for just a few minutes). In no particular sequence, this is what they did tonight:

Sara took advantage of some lapses in the Bruins' perimeter defense to launch three shots from beyond the arc. She made all three — her high for the season. She added a soaring layup for a total of eleven points. And, as always, she was really tough on defense.

Bird had a breakout game, making the plays that have been "not-quite" until today. She scored her career-high 12 points and matched her career-high eight rebounds.

Lili scored on three driving layups in the paint, two of three shots from beyond the arc, and all three of her free throws for a total of 15 points. Plus two assists, two steals and a block and her usual fierce defense.

Amber handled the ball and the Bruin defense beautifully. She dished out eight assists and turned the ball over just once. She also scored six points directly on a drive to the basket and a couple of jumpers.

Chiney was slowed down to a 56% field goal percentage, but fought through to her customary double-double — 21 points and 15 rebounds.

Mikaela scored only three points — on a driving layup in the paint and the subsequent free throw — but that began the Cardinal turnaround in the second half. She also contributed four assists and five rebounds.

Taylor was denied the perimeter tonight, but scored four points on the inside. She also tallied three rebounds and two assists.

Karlie contributed the most egregious foul call of the season. She stood up to a charging Bruin, was thrown to the floor by an outflung elbow, and called for a blocking foul! Tara strode onto the court in protest (or, maybe, just to check that Karlie was OK), and 4,000 irate Stanford fans screamed, "No-o-o-o-o!!!" until play resumed. The Cardinal seemed energized by all the hoo-hah and proceeded to build up their brief eight-point first-half lead.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford-UCLA postgame notes from Stanford Athletics

A postgame interview of Chiney from Pac-12 Networks,

A gallery of photos from USA Today,

A gallery of photos by Karen Ambrose Hickey (Stanford Photo),

And photos by Marcio Jose Sanchez (Associated Press):

Chiney's about to put this lob in the basket
Lili drives past Luiana Livulo
Lili has many talents
Karlie keeps her eyes on the ball
Who snags this rebound?
Nirra Fields drives through the Cardinal defense
Sara celebrates one of her 3-pointers

January 24, 2014

Cardinal is looking good

Bay Area journalists sum up the State of the Cardinal:

Stanford women have chance to pull away in the Pac-12 by Rick Eymer (Palo Alto Weekly)

No. 4 Cardinal rolling through Pac-12, thus far by John Reid (Mercury News)

Stanford women shoot better than ever from long range by Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle)

January 23, 2014

Cardinal prepares for stiff Southern California test

Lauren Christine Lockett (The Stanford Daily) writes about the Cardinal's upcoming games against UCLA & USC: Cardinal prepares for stiff Southern California test.

January 22, 2014

Next: Cardinal hosts Bruins & Trojans

After two weeks on the road, the Cardinal is back in Maples this week for its first games of the season against:
  • UCLA on Friday evening at 8:00.
  • USC on Monday evening at 6:00.
The UCLA game will be televised by Pac-12 Networks and streamed online by Pac-12 Networks. The USC game will be televised by ESPN2. Both will be broadcast by KZSU. Click here for live stats.

Chiney scores over Alexyz Vaioletama last season

  UCLA Bruins

The Bruins have been ravaged by injuries this season. They lost sophomore guard Kori Karver (their best 3-point shooter last season), junior forward Kacy Swain and freshman forward Paulina Hersler to knee injuries before the season started. Freshman center Savanna Trapp (the tallest WBB Bruin ever at 6'9") is red-shirting this season.

The remaining nine players fought through one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation. Their schedule strength was ranked #3 at the end of non-conference play. Their opponents included four ranked teams — at #12/17 Nebraska, vs. #12/14 North Carolina, vs. #10/13 Oklahoma and at #4/5 Notre Dame. They see-sawed through the non-conference season: lose, win, lose, win, lose, ...

And now they're down to just eight players. In their first conference game, redshirt freshman guard Lauren Holiday sustained a concussion and is out for the season. (She also sustained a concussion in the third game last season and sat out the remainder.)

The Bruins have continued to see-saw in conference play, with losses to USC, Colorado and Arizona State (by just two points in each of those games) and wins over Utah, Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State.

The Bruins are no longer a defensive powerhouse — Markel Walker, Jasmine Dixon and Alyssia Brewer have all graduated. Nor ae they an offensive powerhouse — those three and graduated point guard Mariah Williams and injured Kori Karver accounted for 55% of the Bruin scoring last season. That hasn't been replaced — the Bruins are the third-lowest scoring team in the Pac-12, with the poorest field goal percentage.

This is a rebuilding year for the Bruins, but that doesn't make third-year coach Cori Close or her players any less competitive.

The Bruin starters are:

  • #11, 5'11" 6th year senior forward Atonye Nyingfa, in her sixth season with the Bruins (she sat out 09-10 and 11-12 with knee injuries), leads the team in scoring (18.0 points per game) and rebounding (9.1 per game). She tallied her fifth straight double-double and eighth of the season last weekend against Oregon State.

  • #21, 5'0" sophomore guard Nirra Fields is the Bruin sharp-shooter. She takes the most shots (about 18 per game, 25% of them from beyond the arc) and makes 40% of them for an average of 17.6 points per game. She also gets 5.9 rebounds per game.

  • #1, 5'7" senior guard Thea Lemberger runs the point and is the Bruins' third-best scorer. She dishes out 3.6 assists per game, and her assist/turnover ratio is a fairly good 1.5. She doesn't take as many shots as Nirra Fields, but 40% of hers come from beyond the arc for an average of 1.7 3-pointers and 15.8 points per game.

  • #13, 6'3" junior center Luiana Livolo is a junior college transfer, in her first season with the Bruins. She averages 4.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game.

  • #14, 5'8" freshman guard Dominique Williams helps out at the point and takes good care of the ball. She averages 1.3 assists, 0.6 turnovers, 0.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.
The Bruin reserves are:

  • #34, 6'4" redshirt junior forward/center Corinne Costa, who sat out last season after a concussion in December and missed the first nine games of this season. She averages 4.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

  • #20, 6'1" redshirt junior forward/guard Rhema Gardner, who sat out last season after knee surgery. She averages 2.6 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.

  • #22, 5.8"junior guard Madeline Brooks, who saw limited action last season as walk-on. She averages 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.
The Bruins' win-loss record (10-9 overall, 4-3 conference) places them sixth in the Pac-12, their RPI (74) places them eighth, and their strength of schedule rank (9) places them second.

Here are their statistics and roster.

  USC Trojans

The Trojans have been in the doldrums for a long time. They hadn't been to the NCAAs since 2006. They finished last season with their worst record since 1999 — 11-20, 7th in the Pac-12.

The poor performance wasn't due to lack of talent — they had plenty of good players. True, they were hit hard by injuries, but they suffered as much from lack of focus and lack of confidence.

This season started out much the same as the Trojans went 7-5 in non-conference play. Two of the losses were to ranked teams (#17/13 South Carolina and #20/23 Oklahoma State), but another was to Cal State Northridge.

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, who took over as head coach this season, is quoted in the Trojans' preseason prospectus, "We need to value assists as much as we do baskets. We succeed in sports and life when we help others do great things."

That philosophy is beginning to pay off for the Trojans, and they're playing with more confidence under her direction. They've won nine of their last ten games, losing only to Arizona State in a hard-fought game that went into overtime.

The starters for the Trojans are:

  • #11, 6'2" senior forward Cassie Harberts is breaking records at USC this season. With her 30-point game against Oregon last weekend, she knocked Coach Cooper out of the all-time top-10 in career scoring. She is the leading scorer with 15.7 points per game and the second-best rebounder (7.3) per game.

  • #14, 5'7" junior guard Ariya Crook is the second best scorer with 14.9 points per game. She takes more than half her shots from beyond the arc and makes 39% of them for an average of 2.1 per game. She averages 1.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.

  • #21, 6'1" junior forward Alexyz Vaioletama is the best rebounder with 7.6 per game and the third-best scorer with 9.5 per game.

  • #32, 6'1" junior guard Kiki Alofaituli averages 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

  • #1, 6'1" sophomore guard Jordan Adams averages 3.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
The Trojans have a full roster with 15 active players. The bench accounts for 42% of the playing time, 36% of the scoring and 42% of the rebounds. Only four of the reserves come off the bench for more than ten minutes per game: sophomore guard Brianna Barrett, senior forward Desiree Bradley, freshman guard Courtney Jaco and junior forward Kaneisha Horn.

The Trojans' win-loss record (13-6 overall, 6-1 conference) places them second in the Pac-12, their RPI (41) places them fourth, and their strength of schedule rank (50) places them eighth.

Here are their statistics and roster.