March 31, 2014

The last step on the road to Nashville

In anticipation of the last, and biggest, step on the road to Nashville for Stanford and North Carolina:

In other news today, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) announced its 2013-14 Women's All-America Team. Chiney is, of course, one of the ten members. Here's the USBWA announcement.

March 30, 2014

Sweet 16: Lili locks down Lucas

Well, there was more to the Cardinal's 82-57 victory over the Lady Lions than that, of course.

As Penn State coach Coquese Washington said, "They don't win all those games with only one player." She was speaking of Chiney, but it was Lili who made a huge contribution to the Cardinal's victory today.

She and Maggie Lucas, Penn State's sharpshooter, each played for 37 minutes — the same 37 minutes. While Penn State had the ball during those 37 minutes, Lili never lost sight of Lucas for more than a few seconds — so few that Lucas managed to launch only 14 shots, of which she made three, for 15 points less than her season average.

On offense, Lili began the Cardinal scoring with an assist from Mikaela, a three-pointer, a total of eleven points and three assists.

Mikaela was high-quality glue today. She tallied her sixth double-double of the season with eleven points and 13 rebounds. Plus five assists and two steals. She executed a beautiful defensive play over and over: Lili is face-guarding Lucas, Talia East steps in and sets a screen, Lucas ducks past her to the right and finds Mikaela in her face.

Chiney delighted her 7,000-or-so fans (Maples was sold out) with a splendid, strong performance — the game-high 29 points and 15 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. Two of her baskets came on exciting fast breaks — one when she stole the ball and went coast-to-coast, and another on a court-long pass from Lili.

Amber found many ways to score today — dribble-drives to the basket, stop-and-pop jumpers, tear drops, a three-pointer. She made 64% of her shots and scored a total of 18 points.

The Lady Lions kept the game close with two lead changes and five ties until Bonnie subbed in midway through the first half and sank a three-pointer that sparked a 14-0 run for the Cardinal. The Lady Lions never got closer than eight points after that.

The following game between the Carolinas was a striking contrast to the Cardinal's beautifully-executed game plan — slashing, aggressive, uncontrolled play. (A Cardinal fan seated behind me commented that it was like watching Cal play itself.) North Carolina won the battle 65-58, so we play the Tar Heels on Tuesday evening in the Elite Eight.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The game highlights video,

The postgame press conference video with Tara, Chiney, Lili and Amber

Penn State postgame quotes,

Stanford postgame quotes,

A gallery of photos by Josie Lepe (Bay Area News Group),

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

SEJ

Sara James hopes to end Stanford career with NCAA women's basketball title by Ailene Voisin (Sacramento Bee)

A fierce competitor when her body lets her
A staunch supporter when it doesn't

March 29, 2014

The day before

Stanford vs Penn State

Penn St.-Stanford Preview by Janie McCauley (Associated Press)

Stanford, Penn State prepare for their Sweet 16 meeting by Rick Eymer (Palo Alto Weekly)

VanDerveer passed on coaching's golden rules to Staley by Ann Killion (San Francisco Chronicle)

Stanford's Ruef making things happen in the background by Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle)

Sense of urgency for Stanford women in NCAA tournament by Marcus Thompson II (Mercury News)

Stanford freshman Thompson hits the court running by Elliott Almond (Mercury News)

The Day Before from Stanford Athletics

Sweet Sixteen press conference from Stanford Athletics

Press conference quotes — Stanford

PSU seniors look to lead way in Sweet 16 game at Stanford by Karen Price (Pittsburgh Tribune)

Sights and Sounds from NCAA Practice Day in Santa Clara from Penn State Athletics

NCAA Practice Day Interviews at Stanford from Penn State Athletics

Press conference quotes — Penn State

South Carolina vs North Carolina

North Carolina-South Carolina Preview by Janie McCauley (Associated Press)

Tar Heels, Gamecocks prepare for rematch from the Winston-Salem Journal)

USC ready for payback against North Carolina by Ryan Wood (The Post and Courier)

Battle of Carolinas Set for Sunday at Stanford from South Carolina Athletics

Battle of Carolinas by Harold Gutmann (The Herald-Sun)

Sweet Sixteen press conference from North Carolina Athletics

Press conference quotes — North Carolina

Bittersweet 16

The Ogwumike era at Stanford is nearing its end.

Here are celebrations of Chiney:

March 28, 2014

The road to Nashville continues in Maples

Here is how the teams that will play in the Stanford Regional match up statistically:

Stanford Penn State South Carolina North Carolina
Points per game 77.3 75.7 71.2 80.1
Scoring margin +17.6 +9.2 +11.2 +14.3
Field goal % 0.471 0.421 0.471 0.448
3-pointers per game 6.5 3.6 3.6 6.0
3-point % 0.367 0.317 0.368 0.321
Free throw % 0.694 0.775 0.712 0.669
Rebounds per game 43.2 44.3 40.8 42.6
Rebounding margin +8.4 +7.5 +8.2 +3.9
Assists per game 18.0 13.1 13.6 15.5
Turnovers per game 12.4 16.2 16.2 17.1
Assist/turnover ratio 1.45 0.81 0.84 0.91
Steals per game 5.8 8.5 5.0 11.4
Blocks per game 3.7 4.7 8.3 4.8
Win-loss record 31-3 24-7 29-4 26-9
RPI 3 13 6 21
Schedule strength 11 13 23 16

  Penn State Lady Lions

The Lady Lions earned an at-large bid to the tourney with a first-place tie with Michigan State in the Big Ten. They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with wins over Wichita State (62-56) in the first round and Florida (83-61) in the second round.

The Lady Lions found an unexpectedly tough opponent in their first round game. Wichita State built up an eleven-point lead midway through the first half. Penn State overcame the deficit and held on to the lead for most of the second half, but Wichita stayed close and was just two points behind with a minute left to play.

The Lady Lions controlled their second round game from the opening tip. They started the game with a pressure defense that rattled the Florida Gators and forced them into 20 total turnovers. Led by 22 points apiece from Maggie Lucas and Dara Taylor, the Lady Lions shot a sizzling 52% in the second half and led by as many as 28 points.

The Lady Lions are coached by Coquese Washington, now in her seventh year. She has taken the Lady Lions to the big dance for four consecutive seasons. They're looking to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2004.

Stanford and Penn State have played each other twice — in the dim past. The most recent meeting was at a Thanksgiving tournament in Hawaii in 2001. Stanford, with double-digit scoring from Lindsey Yamasaki, Nicole Powell, Cori Enghusen, Enjoli Izidor and Kelley Suminski, won 90-68.

Senior guard Maggie Lucas has led the Lady Lions to their four straight NCAA tournament appearances and three regular-season Big Ten titles. She is a two-time Big Ten player of the year and holds the team and conference record for 3-pointers made. She averages 21.5 points per game. She takes 39% of her shots from beyond the arc and makes 36.5% of them.

Tara says, "You can't leave her open, but she's got more than 3-point shooting to her game."

Lucas draws more fouls than any other Lady Lion and makes 95% of her free throws for an average of six points per game.

But the Lady Lions aren't a one-woman team. Lucas is joined in the starting five by three other seniors — point guard Dara Taylor (11.7 points, 4.9 assists, 2.7 steals per game), forward Ariel Edwards (15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds per game) and forward Talia East (8.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks per game).

Here are stories about Penn State's upcoming game against Stanford:

Lady Lions Meet Stanford in NCAA Regional Semifinal Sunday from Penn State Athletics

Lady Lions shift focus to Sweet 16, Stanford by Walt Moody (Centre Daily)

Penn State Lady Lions meet Stanford in NCAA Regional Basketball Semifinal Sunday from BOXSCORE

Here are Penn State's statistics, roster and game notes.

  South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks earned an at-large bid to the tourney with a first place finish in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with wins over Cal State Northridge (73-58) in the first round and Oregon State (78-69) in the second round.

The Gamecocks slogged through their first-round victory, letting Big West champion Cal State Northridge hang around for longer than anyone anticipated.

Last season, the Gamecocks were upset by the 12th-seeded Kansas Jayhawks in the second round. They were determined not to let that happen again. They replaced their first-round sluggishness with an aggressive, harassing defense that overwhelmed the Oregon State Beavers.

The Gamecocks are coached by Dawn Staley, who took the helm five years ago. She has brought a struggling team to its first SEC regular-season championship and first NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed. This is the Gamecocks' third appearance in the tourney under her guidance. They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen as a No. 5 seed two years ago, where they lost to Stanford 76-60.

The Gamecocks and the Cardinal have played each other in the regular season four times in the past seven years. The Cardinal won all those games.

The Gamecocks are a balanced team. Their four top scorers are also the top rebounders — sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell (15.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg), junior forward Aleighsa Welch (13.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg), freshman center Alaina Coates (12.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg), junior center Elem Ibiam (9.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg). Should we meet in the Elite Eight, the latter two will be a challenge for Chiney — they're both 6'4".

The Gamecocks don't shoot a lot from beyond the arc. Their 3-pointers account for only 21% of their field goal attempts and 16% of their scoring.

The Gamecocks' strong defense has led their opponents to commit an average of 22 fouls per game. They've made 26% of their total points at the free throw line. In the first two rounds of the tourney, CS Northridge and Oregon State committed a total of 59 fouls. 40% of the Gamecocks' points came from free throws.

Here's an interview with Coach Staley about South Carolina's upcoming game against North Carolina:

Gamecocks get set to face North Carolina on Sunday from South Carolina Athletics

Here are South Carolina's statistics and roster.

  North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels earned an at-large bid to the tourney with a sixth place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) behind Notre Dame, Duke, Maryland, NC State and Syracuse (of those, only Notre Dame and Maryland have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen). The Tar Heels advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with wins over UT Martin (60-58) in the first round and Michigan State (62-53) in the second round.

The Tar Heels narrowly escaped elimination in the first round. UT Martin's brilliant game plan left the Tar Heels 18 points down with 11 minutes left to play. Then Diamond DeShields drew a flagrant foul with an elbow to the throat. She made the free throws, and she and her teammates decided they didn't want their season to end yet. They went on a 15-0 run in the next six minutes and took the lead with 3.5 minutes to go. The Skyhawks fought back to a tie with a minute to go. Then the Tar Heels pulled out the victory with a 3-pointer from Xylina McDaniel.

The Tar Heels were in it to win it all the way in the second round against Michigan State and scored a dominating win. Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said, "I think UT Martin poked the beehive there, and we got a swarming bunch of bees coming at us early."

North Carolina's 28-year head coach, Sylvia Hatchell, has been battling leukemia since last fall, and associate head coach Andrew Calder, also in his 28th year at UNC, has led the team this season.

UNC has advanced to at least the regional semifinal game in 13 of its last 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, most recently in 2011. It's played in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed five times in school history and four seasons in a row from 2005-08.

UNC and Stanford have played each other twice, most recently in the Sweet Sixteen three years ago. It was a very tough game that Stanford won 72-65.

The Tar Heels are a high-scoring offensive team led by a quartet of underclassmen who account for 67% of the points and 57% of the rebounds — freshman guard Diamond DeShields (17.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg), freshman guard Allisha Gray (14.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg), sophomore forward Xylina McDaniel (11.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and freshman forward Stephanie Mavunga (10.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg).

DeShields, Gray and McDaniel are all good perimeter shooters. Combined, they take 32% of their shots from beyond the arc and make 36% of them.

DeShields stands out from the rest as much for her personality as for her sharp-shooting. Graham Hays describes her as college basketball's biggest entertainer, although not its best player — not yet.

Here are stories about North Carolina's upcoming game against South Carolina:

UNC women’s basketball team will face South Carolina in California by Grace Raynor (Daily Tarheel)

Stopping UNC rookie DeShields a tough task by Aaron Beard (Associated Press)

Here are North Carolina's statistics and roster.

More honors for Chiney

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) announced today that Chiney is of 12 players named a finalist for The Wade Trophy. This is the third year that Chiney has received this honor.

More information:

WBCA announcement
Stanford Athletics announcement

Earlier this week, Chiney was nominated as a candidate for the 2014 WBCA Division I Coaches’ All-America Team. The 10-member team will be selected from 52 candidates across the nation. Chiney is one of four candidates from Region 8.

More information:

WBCA announcement
Stanford Athletics announcement

March 27, 2014

Ruef used to juggling multiple roles

Michelle Smith (espnW) introduces Mikaela to a national audience in: Ruef used to juggling multiple roles.

Our student-athletes

The Pac-12 announced the Women's Basketball All-Academic teams today.

Chiney, with a GPA of 3.46, was named to the first team.

Bonnie, with a GPA of 3.42 was named to the second team.

Alex, Taylor, Sara, Amber and Mikaela, with GPAs of at least 3.0, received honorable mention.

See also:

The Pac-12 announcement
The Stanford Athletics announcement

March 26, 2014

Cardinal returns home for NCAA regional

The Cardinal has come home to Maples for its next game, but Tara doesn't want it to feel like a home game.

Read more in this AP story.

Here's a different take on the same information from the Mercury News.

March 25, 2014

Chiney needs your assist

As announced last week, Chiney, Odyssey, Brianna and Kayla are the finalists for the 2014 Naismith Women's College Basketball Player of the Year.

The winner will be partly determined by fan votes, which will represent 25 percent of the selection process.

Unlike the Lowe's CLASS Award, you don't vote once a day — you just pick your choice of winner by April 5th.

But, like the Lowe's CLASS Award, you can make your pick

➔ from any device from which you access the internet (IPhone, IPad, home computer, work computer, family member's computer, friend's computer, computer at the library ...)

➔ using any browser with which you access the internet (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari ...).

CLICK HERE

to pick Chiney as the winner
with every browser on every device you can find.

Be creative !!

See a computer — pick Chiney !!

March 24, 2014

NCAA Round 2: Cardinal smothers the Seminoles

The Cardinal is heading home to Maples for the Sweet Sixteen after a definitive 63-44 victory over the Florida State Seminoles.

It wasn't looking good for the Cardinal 11 minutes into the game. The Seminoles' defense had rattled the Cardinal into five turnovers and poor shooting, and the Seminoles had made five of their first six shots and taken a firm grip on the lead.

Then the Cardinal switched to a two-three zone, the Seminoles stopped scoring, and the Cardinal offense (sparked by a 3-pointer by Bonnie) clicked. The Cardinal went on a 22-2 run and led 32-16 at the end of the half.

The Cardinal defense had held Natasha Howard, the Seminole's star player, to zero points and two fouls. The Cardinal had made 55% of their shots, the Seminoles 25%.

The second half was essentially a draw. Both teams continued their smothering zone defense. The Cardinal weathered a few minutes of aggressive trapping defense from the Seminoles and extended its lead by three points.

The Cardinal victory was a great team effort. They had 17 assists on 23 field goals.

In spite of the Seminoles' double- and triple-teaming, Chiney made 73% of her shots and scored the game-high 21 points. She didn't quite get her usual double-double — just nine rebounds.

Lili continued her outstanding offense and defense. She scored 14 points, including two 3-pointers, and added two assists, a steal and three rebounds.

Bonnie continued her sharp-shooting. She made three (of eight) treys and stepped in past her defender for a long jumper for a total of eleven points. She also had three assists.

Mikaela looked kind of shaky at the beginning of the game. She turned the ball over a couple of times and was benched. She went back in seven minutes later and gave her usual strong do-everything performance — eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Amber was fierce on offense and defense with seven points, four assists, and five rebounds.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

A postgame interview of Tara and Chiney from espnW,

The Stanford postgame press conference with Tara, Chiney and Lili,

The Florida State postgame press conference with Coach Sue Semrau, Natasha Howard and Cheetah Delgado

A gallery of team sendoff and game photos by Dave Cortesi,

And photos by Nati Harnik (Associated Press):

Lili goes for a steal
Mikaela eludes Natasha Howard's defense
Amber passes past Cheetah Delgado
Chiney goes for a layup against double-defense
Amber loses the ball to Natasha Howard
Mikaela looks for a receiver
Cardinal defense contains Cheetah Delgado
Chiney contains Natasha Howard
Lili and Cheetah contend for possession
Chiney snags an out-of-bound-bound ball
Mikaela dives for an out-of-bound ball

Bonnie and Karlie are ready to go

Elliot Almond (Mercury News) has written a nice story about Bonnie and Karlie:

Stanford's sibling shooters ready for call against Florida State

March 23, 2014

Between rounds

The Stanford women spent part of the day watching the Stanford men advance to the Sweet Sixteen:

Game previews:

FSU women out to repeat 2007 upset of Stanford by Eric Olson (Associated Press)

Florida State, Stanford battle Monday in Ames for Sweet 16 spot by John Naughton (Des Moines Register)

Second round preview press conferences:

Florida State

Stanford

Athletic department preview stories and game notes:

Seminoles Take on No. 2 Seed Stanford on Monday from Florida State Athletics

Florida State game notes

Party and Practice from Stanford Athletics

Stanford game notes

Nate Parham (Swish Appeal) looks right past the second round at possible Sweet Sixteen contenders in the Stanford region:

Stanford region showcases a contrast in styles

Dave and I spent our Day Off in Des Moines.

March 22, 2014

NCAA Round 1: Cardinal cages the Coyotes

The South Dakota Coyotes made a good showing in their first-ever NCAA appearance. They fought hard to the final buzzer, but fell to the Cardinal 81-62.

The Coyotes have some fine shooters, in particular junior guard Nicole Seekamp, who racked up 22 of the Coyotes' 62 points.

But their defense was no match for the Cardinal's strength and skill. They (in particular senior forward Polly Harrington) did slow down Chiney a bit — she scored only 23 points and made just 58% of her shots — but the rest of the Cardinal stepped up and gave a great team performance.

Bonnie was the second-highest scorer for the Cardinal with 18 points from six of her ten 3-point attempts. This is the third time in her career that Bonnie has made six treys in a game.

Amber scored ten points on dribble-drives to the basket. Even better — she dished nine assists and turned the ball over just twice. Her assist/turnover ratio for the season is now 3.10 — #7 in the nation.

Lili made three of six 3-pointers, scored a total of eleven points, soared high above taller players to grab six rebounds and turned the ball over only once.

Mikaela played for only 13 minutes, during which she recorded six rebounds, four points, three assists and a steal. Late in the first half, as she was trying to snag a loose ball while falling out of bounds, she fell and hit her head hard on the floor. After a couple of minutes, she got up and made her way to the bench where Marcella Shorty poked through her hair looking for damage, but didn't find any nor did she administer any, "How many fingers am I holding up?" tests. Mikaela's ponytail may have saved her from serious injury. She sat out the rest of the game, but was walking around and appeared to be OK.

The Cardinal's second-round opponent will be the Florida State Seminoles, who upset the Iowa State Cyclones 55-44. The 7,000 or so Iowa State fans who overflowed the lower bowl of the Hilton Coliseum were even more upset as they watched their team give its possibly poorest performance of the season.

The Cyclones were thoroughly discombobulated by the Seminoles very effective two-three zone defense — they made just 18% of their shots in the first half. The Seminoles made four of four 3-pointers in the first five minutes, and that was about it. The Cyclones fell behind by as much as 15 points and never got any closer than six.

So much for Hilton Magic. The crowd, although large, was never a factor (granted — they didn't have much to cheer about today). Here's a game recap.

Here are reports of the Stanford/South Dakota game:

The box score and play-by-play,

The Stanford postgame press conference with Chiney, Bonnie and Tara,

The South Dakota postgame press conference with Nicole Seekamp, Polly Harrington, Tia Hemiller and coach Amy Williams,

A gallery of photos by Dave Cortesi,

A gallery of photos by Nati Harnik (Associated Press),

Chiney and her mom

Ify Ogwumike says athletics were never pushed in the household - but she and her husband taught their daughters never to quit and to excel at anything they started.

Jenny Dial Creech (Houston Chronicle) has written a lovely story about Chiney and her mom: Stanford standout Ogwumike's mom is just a call away

March 21, 2014

Pre-tournament stories

The Stanford press conference with Taylor and Lili:

Press conferences of the other Iowa first round participants:

South Dakota with Nicole Seekamp, Polly Harrington and Tia Hemiller

Iowa State with Hallie Christofferson, Nikki Moody and Brynn Williamson

Florida State with Natasha Howard and Cheetah Delgado

Stories about some of the players:

Stanford's Mikaela Ruef 'the glue on the floor' for the Cardinal women, by Elliott Almond (Mercury News)

Stanford's Greenfield, a Ballard alum, back home for NCAAs by John Naughton (Des Moines Register)

Stanford women's Iowa native glad for homecoming by Eric Olson (Associated Press)

Christofferson looks to extend career at Hilton by John Naughton (Des Moines Register)

Freshman Buckley key to ISU’s tourney success by Anthony Zilis (Ames Tribune)

Other stories:

Final Preparations from Stanford Athletics

Perceived slight motivates Stanford women by Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle)

Cardinal begins title run without No. 1 seed for first time since 2009 by Lauren Christine Lockett (Stanford Daily)

Defending inside, zone offense keys for ISU in NCAA opener by Anthony Zilis (Ames Tribune)

And, finally, the second episode of Real Women of Maples, Tournament Edition:

Chiney is Naismith finalist

The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today that Chiney is one of the four finalists for the 2014 Naismith Women's College Player of the Year.

Like the Lowe's CLASS award, this one too is partly determined by fan vote — 25% for this one. As soon as voting for the CLASS award has ended on March 24, you can begin voting for Chiney for the Naismith award and continue until April 5.

For more information, see these announcements:

Atlanta Tipoff Club
Pac-12

March 19, 2014

The road to Nashville begins in Ames

Here is how the teams that will play rounds 1 and 2 in Ames match up statistically:

Stanford South Dakota Iowa State Florida State
Points per game 77.6 75.6 73.7 70.6
Scoring margin +17.5 +2.6 +9.0 +6.2
Field goal % 0.471 0.422 0.416 0.428
3-pointers per game 6.5 5.7 9.0 4.9
3-point % 0.372 0.327 0.337 0.281
Free throw % 0.693 0.753 0.804 0.654
Rebounds per game 43.7 40.2 37.5 41.4
Rebounding margin +8.7 +4.4 +2.4 +6.4
Assists per game 17.8 14.0 14.1 14.3
Turnovers per game 12.6 14.5 12.9 19.3
Assist/turnover ratio 1.42 0.97 1.10 0.74
Steals per game 5.8 7.2 4.8 10.3
Blocks per game 3.7 2.7 3.0 3.7
Overall record 29-3 19-13 20-10 20-11
Conferencerecord 17-1 7-7 9-9 7-9
RPI 3 136 42 39
Schedule strength 11 175 36 27

In regard to the other first round matchup in Ames: Florida State and Iowa State have played just once before — in the 2001 NCAA second round game in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won that game, 85-70.

AP sports writer Doug Feinberg predicts a repeat this year, "The Seminoles have the best player on the court with Natasha Howard. The Cyclones don't lose too many at home. This will not be one of those occasions."

  South Dakota Coyotes

First off, these aren't the Jackrabbits from South Dakota State that the Cardinal played in Puerto Vallarta. They're the Coyotes from the University of South Dakota, which is located in Vermilion, SD.

I expect that many of their supporters, the Howling Pack, will make the 200-mile drive to Ames to cheer on the Coyotes in their first NCAA Divison I Tournament appearance.

This is the Coyotes' second year of tournament eligibility — they joined the Summit League and began their transition from Division II to Division I in 2009. They finished the season with a 7-7 conference record, third behind South Dakota State, IUPUI and Fort Wayne. They earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the Summit League Tournament.

The Coyotes are coached by Amy Williams, in her second season at the helm.

The Coyotes are led by the play of senior guard Nicole Seekamp (15.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.9 spg, 3.9 apg, 1.65 ato), junior guard Raeshel Contreras (13.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.6 spg) and senior forward Polly Harrington (12.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.7 bpg).

Here are South Dakota's 2013-2014 statistics, roster and game notes.

  Iowa State Cyclones

Stanford and Iowa State have met four times, most recently in a memorable game that Iowa State would probably like to forget — the 2009 NCAA Elite Eight game in Haas Pavilion. Iowa State focussed on defending the perimeter and left Jayne Appel single-covered in the paint. Jayne feasted, running up 46 points to set the Stanford single-game scoring record.

But that was then, and there are two very different things about this season's upcoming contest. First, it will take place on the Cyclone's home court, which drew an average of 10,114 fans per game this season — the second-most in the nation. Second, 19th-year head coach Bill Fennelly will surely devise a more effective game plan this time around.

The Cyclones finished fifth (of ten) in the Big 12 behind Baylor, West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma State. They lost to Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament.

The Cyclones have advanced to the NCAA tournament 15 times during Fennelly's tenure, twice to the Elite Eight. This is their eighth consecutive appearance. Last season, they lost to Georgia in the second round.

The Cyclones are led by senior forward Hallie Christofferson who is their leading scorer (18.6 ppg) and second-best rebounder (7.3 rpg).

Christofferson is joined by three other double-digit scorers — junior guard Nikki Moody (12.8 ppg), who runs the point and is their best ball-handler (5.3 apg, 1.5 ato); freshman guard Jadda Buckley (10.9 ppg); and freshman guard Seanna Johnson (10.5 ppg), who is also the leading rebounder (8.0 rpg).

The Cyclones are not a very big team. Coach Fennelly says, “We have to shoot the ball really well. We shoot a lot of 3’s. We’ve been a pretty good free-throw-shooting team. So for us to be successful, that has to continue."

Here are Iowa State's 2013-2014 statistics, roster and game notes.

  Florida State Seminoles

Stanford and Florida State have played each other three times, most recently in the 2007 NCAA Second Round game in Maples Pavilion — the stunning loss for Brooke, Candice and Jayne that Cardinal fans find so hard to forget.

The Seminoles finished ninth (of 15) in the ACC behind Notre Dame, Duke, Maryland, NC State, Syracuse, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Miami. They lost to Notre Dame in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament.

This will be the Seminole's ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in the past ten years, during which they advanced to the Elite Eight once. They lost to Baylor in the second round last season.

The Seminoles are coached by Sue Semrau, who is in her 17th year at Florida State.

The Seminoles are led by a pair of outstanding seniors:

5'2" dynamo point guard Cheetah Delgado leads the Seminole offense. She dishes out 6.7 assists per game, which ranks #8 in the nation, with a 1.48 assist/turnover ratio. She also averages 7.9 points and 3.6 rebounds (closest to the floor?) per game.

On the receiving end is 6'3" forward Natasha Howard, the Seminoles' leading scorer (21.2 ppg), rebounder (9.3 rpg) and shot blocker (2.4 bpg). She makes her shots at a rate of 60.3%, which ranks #6 in the nation.

Here are Florida State's 2013-2014 statistics and roster.

March 18, 2014

Chiney is always on her game

From Stanford Magazine:

Intensity is Chiney's way of life, off court and on.

Obsessed and inexhaustible, basketball standout Chiney Ogwumike is taking things one step at a time.

Read more...

March 17, 2014

The road to Nashville

The selection committee gave Taylor a surprise present today. The Cardinal will begin its journey to Nashville ten miles from her home – in Ames, Iowa – as the #2 seed in the Stanford Region.

The Cardinal's first-round game is in Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum (map) against #15 South Dakota on Saturday, March 22 at 5:30 pm CT.

If the Cardinal wins that game (one game at a time), its second-round game is in the Hilton Coliseum against either #8 Iowa State or #9 Florida State on Monday, March 24 at 8:00 pm CT.

You can buy tickets in the Stanford section for the first & second rounds from Stanford until 5:00 pm on Tuesday, March 18. Or you can buy tickets, as available, from Iowa State.

If the Cardinal wins its first and second round games, its next game(s) will be at home in Maples Pavilion on Sunday, March 30 and Tuesday, April 1. You can buy tickets now from Stanford.

If the seedings hold true, the Final Four in Nashville will be UConn vs South Carolina and Notre Dame vs Tennessee. But if the Cardinal advances, you'll be able to buy tickets from Stanford after the Regional games are completed.

In regard to the rest of the Pac-12:

  • Cal is the #7 seed in the Notre Dame region. Its first game will be in Waco against Fordham.
  • Oregon State is the #9 seed in the Stanford region. Its first game will be in Seattle against Middle Tennessee.
  • Arizona State is the #9 seed in the Notre Dame region. Its first game will be in Toledo against Vanderbilt.
  • USC is the #9 seed in the Louisville region. Its first game will be in Knoxville against St. John's.

Here is the tournament bracket.

N-E-R-D-S (#NerdAnthem)

Stanford Athletics announcement.

March 16, 2014

Tara documentary Monday night

Remember to switch the channel to Pac-12 TV on Monday night at 8:00 to watch "Tara VanDerveer: Life in a Season".

Sue Favor (FullCourt) writes about Tara and about the show in Documentary to feature Tara VanDerveer.

March 14, 2014

Chiney is an espnW All-American

EspnW announced its All-American selections today. Chiney was one of the five unanimous picks for All-America first team, with this commentary:
Ogwumike probably feels she has defenders around her even when she's asleep. She's been surrounded all season as Stanford's primary threat yet has been consistently outstanding. Averaging 26.8 points and 12.3 rebounds, she might well be the No. 1 WNBA draft pick.

Read more here:

The espnW announcement.

The Stanford athletics announcement, which includes information about Chiney's musical, academic and athletic accomplishments.

March 13, 2014

A Day in the Life: Mikaela Ruef

Stanford Athletics takes us for a day's walk in Mikaela's shoes with this video and article.

March 12, 2014

Chiney is Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year

I overlooked the announcement of a major honor for Chiney last week — she was named the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Click here for the complete announcement.

Chiney responded with some good advice for all student-athletes,
"Do your homework!"

March 11, 2014

Dishin & Swishin with Chiney

A few days ago, midway through the Pac-12 Tournament, Dave Siegel (Hoopfeed) chatted with Chiney.

Here is the podcast.

The accompanying article (Chiney Ogwumike leads Stanford into the postseason) includes other information about Chiney, as well as a partial transcript of their conversation.

March 10, 2014

Big weekend produces big change

But not that big, in Charlie Creme's opinion.

He still has Stanford as a No. 1 seed and five Pac-12 teams going to the dance:

1 Stanford
The Cardinal will have some extra, unwanted, and unexpected rest heading into the NCAA tournament after suffering a semifinal upset loss to USC, ending their streak of seven consecutive tournament championships. However, Stanford should remain a No. 1 seed with 10 top-50 wins and the best nonconference RPI in the country.
6 California
After a seven-game winning streak, the Bears lost their last two games and exited the Pac-12 tournament early, costing them at least a seed line.
8 Oregon State
Missed free throws and the inability to get key stops contributed to the Beavers' loss to USC in their first Pac-12 title game. Nonetheless, the hot streak over the final five weeks will get Oregon State into the tournament for the first time since 1996.
9 Arizona State
The Sun Devils are stumbling badly, losing six of their last eight, incuding a Pac-12 quarterfinal loss to USC. At one point, ASU had the potential for a No. 4 or 5 seed, but it looks more like a No. 8 or 9 now -- or worse.
11 Southern California
The Trojans became the first team in Pac-12 history to win four games in four days to win the conference tournament. They upset Stanford and Oregon State to complete the mission and grab the automatic bid.

Here's more:

Creme's article: Big weekend produces big change
The complete bracket

March 09, 2014

Pac-12 Tournament: Championship

This was a hard-fought, well-played game, as a championship game ought to be.

OSU and USC played even for about 15 minutes. Then the Beavers forged ahead a bit to a double-digit lead. They were up by seven, 36-29, at the end of the first half.

The Trojans came back for the second half all fired up (by coach Cooper, I'm sure) and took the game in hand. In two minutes of intense play, they made a short, but decisive, 7-0 run capped with a long 3-pointer by Ariya Crook that tied the score at 36-36, and then took the lead with a layup by Kiki Alofaituli.

The Trojan momentum continued for the rest of the game, and the Beavers were never able to regain the lead, although they brought the score back to a tie several times.

USC won its first-ever Pac-12 championship 71-62.

Ariya Crook was named the Most Outstanding player. Cassie Harberts (USC), Sydney Wiese (OSU), Ruth Hamblin (OSU), Lia Galdeira (WSU) and Chiney were named to the All-Tournament team.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

And a gallery of photos from the Pac-12.

The morning after

Michelle Smith (espnW) comments on yesterday's games:
USC to meet upstart Oregon State

Jayda Evans (Seattle Times) reports on the health of the tournament:
Attendance down after first two days of 2nd year in Seattle

These two videos may brighten your outlook this morning:

USC's Cassie Harberts, her parents get emotional in Trojan celebration
USC women's basketball locker room victory dance

Pac-12 Tournament, Semifinals

Stanford 68, USC 72

The Trojan's superior defense left the Cardinal struggling, looking tired and indecisive, for most of the game.

The two teams exchanged a small lead throughout the first half and were tied 32-32 at the break. The Trojans took the lead and built it to ten points in the second half.

With five minutes left to play, Mikaela stole the ball and passed it to Lili, who was fouled on her attempted shot and then made both free throws. The pace of the game increased considerably — frantic play in the next couple of minutes led to a half dozen missed shots by each team. So, with three minutes left to play, the Cardinal was ahead 60-57 and a victory began to seem possible. However, ...

Mikaela and Chiney had done a great job of shutting down the Trojan's leading scorer, Cassie Harberts — at this point she had four fouls and three points. But in those last three minutes, she took control, scored ten points and killed the Cardinal hopes.

The Trojan offense was unexpectedly led by Alexyz Vaioletama who scored 19 points, among them her season-high three treys (of five attempts). Ariya Crook eluded Lili's and Amber's dogged defense occasionally and added 15 points.

Chiney managed to make only a bit less than half of her attempted shots, but still finished with 30 points and is now tied with Candice Wiggins as Stanford's all-time high career scorer. She also grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked five shots, but it wasn't quite enough to lead her team to victory.

Here are game reports and commentary:

And the box score and play-by-play

Oregon State 70, Washington State 60

Here are game reports:

And the box score and play-by-play

March 07, 2014

Pac-12 Tournament, Round 2

Anticipation

If the Cardinal wins today, there will be a chalk talk at 3:30 and a sendoff with the band at 3:45 at the team hotel (the Westin Seattle) and a no-host gathering at 4:00 at the Tap House Grill. Click here for a map of both locations and the Key Arena.

#1 Stanford vs #9 Colorado

The Cardinal couldn't cope with the Buff's aggressive defense in the first half. Chiney was stifled, and no-one else managed to step up.

The Cardinal made just one 3-pointer and missed most of its free throws. Chiney ended the half with five points and two fouls.

The Cardinal defense lost Brittany Wilson several times and she sank three treys. The Cardinal was out-scored 23-21 and out-rebounded 25-20.

The sun came out after the break. Chiney sank a trey! Then Lili stepped up BIG with a spectacular drive to the basket, a 3-pointer, a fall-back jumper and the ensuing free throw ‐ eleven points in a couple of minutes.

The Cardinal upped its defensive fierce factor. Alex and Lili attached themselves to the Wilson twins. Mikaela grabbed a bunch of rebounds.

Bonnie sank three treys, all the Cardinal remembered how to shoot free throws, and we won 69-54.

Here are game reports:

And the box score and play-by-play

#4 Arizona State vs #5 USC

Amy, Kate and Tempie are scouting the Cardinal's next opponent.

The Trojans and the Sun Devils were pretty well matched.

The Devils held a slight lead through most of the first half, but the Trojans closed in for a 23-23 tie at the break.

The Trojans tightened their defense and shot better (or perhaps, luckier) in the second half. They took the lead and slowly, but steadily, increased it to six points.

The game got exciting in the last five minutes as the Devils increased the tempo and began to close the gap. With two minutes left to play, they tied it up at 57-57 on a 3-pointer by Katie Hempen. The Trojans scored again, then Hempen launched another trey that spun in and out of the basket. In the final minute, the Devils had three possessions and couldn't score; the Trojans had two 1-1 opportunities and couldn't hit either.

So the Trojans won 59-57, and get to play the Cardinal tomorrow in the first semifinal.

Here are game reports:

And the box score and play-by-play

#2 California vs #7 Washington State

The Bears are so good and so strong and so rough, and the refs were "lettin' 'em play". A victory for the Bears seemed a foregone conclusion.

But the Cougars kept bringing the ball down, making their plays, finding the basket — not with showy threes or dazzling drives to the basket — but with little jumpers and layups — plop, plop, plop.

All of a sudden, there were eight minutes left to play and the Cougars were ahead by 15. Reshanda Gray went to the bench for a while with four fouls. At 5:48 to go, Brittany Boyd fouled out and the Cougar fans (we included) went wild.

In the last minute, the Cougars made enough of their free throws to offset a couple of Cal baskets and won 91-83.

A glorious upset for June Daugherty and her Cougs!

Here are game reports:

And the box score and play-by-play

#3 Oregon State vs #11 Utah

After upsetting Washington last night, the Utes had only half a game left in them. Unfortunately that was not the first half of their game against a fresh Oregon State team, when they shot only 12% and scored only 13 points, the lowest first-half score in tournament history.

In the second half they matched the Beaver's pace but couldn't close the gap. The Beavers can't take too much pride in the win because even a tired Ute defense held them to a slow 50 points, for a final score of 50-35.

Here are game reports:

And the box score and play-by-play

Finis

This is Wally Mersereau's report: Another long day

Here are some photos by Dave Cortesi.

Two more upsets — the semifinals tomorrow are:

#1 Stanford vs #5 USC at 6:00 pm
#3 Oregon State vs #7 Washington State at 8:30 pm