October 29, 2014

Evan Unrau returns with new job

By Judy Richter

After a one-year stint as video coordinator for the Stanford women’s basketball team starting seven years ago, Evan Unrau has returned to the Farm in a new capacity: She’s a special assistant to head coach Tara VanDerveer.

Calling her duties “ever-evolving,” Evan is helping Tara with some projects such as clinics and NCAA legislative matters – “a little bit of everything,” she said during a recent interview on campus.

For example, shortly after starting her Stanford assignment in September, she joined Tara and associate head coach Amy Tucker on a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, to conduct FIBA coaching clinics during the world championship tournament (won by the USA team with Nneka Ogwumike, ’12).

NCAA rules don’t allow her to work with the team or individual players, but she attends daily WBB staff meetings. They include film sessions and the chance to “share a thought or two.”

‘Part of that brain trust’

“Being part of that brain trust is beyond rewarding,” she said. “It’s a learning experience, (and) Tara is one of the best to do it.”

Among other things, Evan said she’s learning about leadership. Even though Tara is a Hall of Fame coach who’s considered one of the best ever, she always seeks input from the staff. “That’s a coaching style that I believe in,” Evan said. “Tara’s a learner.”

During practices she keeps statistics on an iPad and sends the results to the coaches. It’s a way of keeping objective track of what’s happening and augmenting the coaches’ evaluations of individual players and combinations of players.

Graduate of the University of Missouri

Originally from Fort Collins, Colo., Evan earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri in 2004. While there, the forward played basketball all four years and earned an All American honorable mention during her senior year.

Coincidentally, an assistant coach there had played for Tara when she was head coach at Ohio State. Evan also worked at Tara’s summer hoops camps while in college.

Her Stanford biography notes that as “a two-time first team all-league selection, (she) captained the Big 12 All-Star team that represented the United States at the 2003 World University Games in Daegu, South Korea.” She was drafted by the Washington Mystics in the third round of the 2004 WNBA draft and played professionally in Luxembourg in 2005 and again in the 2006-07 season.

Between those two overseas ventures, she earned her master’s in health education and promotion at her alma mater, where she was a graduate assistant with the women’s basketball team.

Six seasons as an assistant coach

She spent the 2007-08 season as the Stanford WBB video coordinator before becoming an assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara for one season, followed by Santa Clara University for three seasons and by USC for two seasons, ending earlier this year.

It was then that Tara invited her to return to Stanford. “When a Hall of Fame coach says that, it’s hard to turn down,” Evan said.

Her goal is to return to coaching.

In the meantime, she’s like many fans in that she can’t venture a prediction of how this year’s team will fare after a succession of superstars that ended with Chiney Ogwumike’s graduation in June.

“It’s a different team (with) new exciting faces,” she said, adding that everyone is working hard and competing.

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