October 31, 2016

Preseason rankings

espnW's Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel, and ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo place five Pac-12 teams in the top 25 with these evaluations:

9. UCLA Bruins
Is this the season that sixth-year coach Cori Close -- who brought in the nation's top-rated recruiting class two years ago -- has been building toward? The Bruins advanced to their first Sweet 16 in 17 years last spring and were voted the preseason favorites to win the Pac-12 for the first time since 1999-2000. Canada is one of the best point guards in the country, and Billings is a two-time All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick. Someone will have to replace Nirra Fields' production (15.3 PPG), so keep an eye on junior Lajahna Drummer (6.2 PPG). Oklahoma transfer Nicole Kornet gives UCLA another 3-point threat -- Korver shot 36 percent from beyond the arc last season -- to further open the floor for Canada.

11. Stanford Cardinal
After winning 14 straight regular-season Pac-12 championships, the Cardinal have gone consecutive seasons without one. Still, Stanford reached its 10th Elite Eight in the past 13 years and is a strong contender to get there again, especially if McCall continues her ascension. The 6-3 senior averaged just over three points and rebounds per game as a freshman but tallied nearly a double-double on average a year ago. The 6-3 Johnson gives McCall a solid running mate in the inside, and Samuelson is deadeye from the perimeter. The 6-foot senior made 47 percent of her 3-point attempts last season, third best in the country. An even bigger role awaits sophomore point guard Marta Sniezek since last season's second-leading scorer, Lili Thompson, decided not to return for her senior season. Sniezek posted a nearly 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the final 15 games of 2016. Freshmen Dijonai Carrington and Anna Wilson, sister of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, should get plenty of opportunity in the backcourt as well.

14. (tie with Tennessee) Arizona State Sun Devils
With 55 wins, an Elite Eight appearance, a share of a Pac-12 title and a program-best No. 2 NCAA tournament seed, the Sun Devils of the past two seasons have returned to the level of consistent success that has defined the career of coach Charli Turner-Thorne. Three starters return from last season's 26-win Sun Devils, whose only disappointment was an earlier-than-expected second-round tournament loss to Tennessee. Brunner once again anchors the frontcourt, but the scoring load will be spread throughout the rotation that typically goes nine or 10 players deep. Turner-Thorne has some work to do to replenish the backcourt, but the 20-year coach brought in a top-10 rated, five-player recruiting class that includes four guards. Reili Richardson might be the best of the bunch.

19. Washington Huskies
The Huskies were good -- not great -- from November through mid-March last season. Then the NCAA tournament began and the season became historic. The seventh-seeded Huskies beat Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds to reach their first Final Four. All hopes of an encore begin with Plum, who will leave Seattle as the best player in program history. She controls everything Washington does offensively and plays in perpetual attack mode. Osahor's unique combination of size, long-distance shooting and quirky release earned plenty of attention during the Final Four run, but was also a key to it. Washington will badly miss the perimeter game and experience of Talia Walton, but if Brianna Ruiz can come back from her second knee injury -- and if the NCAA grants immediate eligibility to Nebraska transfer Natalie Romeo -- the loss won't be as great.

20. (tie with DePaul) Oregon State Beavers
Early in the season, the Beavers will be relying heavily on Wiese and Hanson as they get used to life without Jamie Weisner and Ruth Hamblin, the two players, along with Wiese, who were the catalysts behind Scott Rueck's program rejuvenation. With those three leading the way, Oregon State won 83 games and two Pac-12 titles in the last three years. The nonconference schedule is manageable. By the time conference play begins, players like Gulich, who is trying to replace Hamblin's at center, sophomore guard Katie McWilliams and five freshmen should have a better grasp of their expanded roles. Combo guard Mikayla Pivec is the prize of the recruiting class and could ease the ballhandling responsibilities on Wiese.

Here is espnW's entire Top 25: UConn maintains hold on top spot in espnW preseason rankings

The AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches pretty much agree:

    AP Top 25   USA Today Coaches
UCLA 9 9
Stanford 11 10
Washington 17 15
Arizona State 18 16
Oregon State 25 17

The espnW gurus have also picked the top 25 players and are unveiling them week by week: Counting down the top 25 women's basketball players for 2016-17

Bird made the cut as No. 23:

McCall really came into her own last season, turning herself into one of the top seniors to watch for 2016-17. The promise was there her first two years. But the opportunity and execution arrived her junior season, as she proved to be a threat offensively and a force on defense. Her career-high scoring performance -- 27 points -- came in one of the biggest games of the season for Stanford: a 90-84 Sweet 16 upset over No. 1 seed Notre Dame.

October 27, 2016

Honors for Tara, Ros and Anita

The induction ceremony this weekend for the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Northern California will be an all-woman affair for the first time, and some of the six honorees aren’t even Jewish.

The nonprofit celebrates achievements by athletes living in Northern California.

Jack Anderson, the founder, said, “I don’t think that women have been given their due in sports. With all that testosterone bubbling around, I figured it might be nice to do something different. All the old Jewish guys on the board with me agreed.”

Three of the six honorees are from Stanford Women's Basketball — Tara, Ros Gold-Onwude (2010) and Anita Kaplan (1995).

Here is the complete announcement: Year of Women at local Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

October 25, 2016

Preview of 2016-17 team

By Judy Richter,
Photos by Dave Cortesi

More than 100 fans of Stanford women’s basketball got their first look at the latest edition of the team during an open practice Oct. 24.

It wasn’t so much a chance to assess the team as it was a chance to become acquainted with the four freshmen and reacquainted with the nine returning players. It also was a chance to hear some of head coach Tara VanDerveer’s views of the team.

During the approximately 90 minutes open to fans, the team primarily scrimmaged with white jerseys coached by Tara and red jerseys joined by two male practice players and coached by assistant coach Tempie Brown. Associate head coach Amy Tucker and assistant coach Kate Paye served as observers and referees.

Yes, that's Casey Jacobsen

Karlie, Anna sidelined

Senior guard Karlie Samuelson, sporting a red cast on her left wrist, took part only in non-contact drills. Otherwise, she mostly worked on perfecting her 3-point shot while strength and conditioning coach Brittany Keil rebounded for her.

Freshman guard Anna Wilson also stayed on the sidelines, working on some of her shots. Anna is recovering from a concussion suffered in the spring.

Some general impressions are that the team played with high energy and worked hard on both offense and defense. Shooting wasn’t so great, and there were turnovers, but one can expect improvement in both areas.

Again, although it’s far too early for definitive judgments, fans were impressed with the hustle shown by freshman guard DiJonai Carrington. Senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall and several other returnees appeared to be picking up right where they left off so well last season.

Tara introduces players

After the practice, Tara briefly introduced each player before excusing the team to head for the showers and dinner.

Freshmen Nadia, Mikaela, Anna and DiJonai

She started with the freshmen, noting that fans can expect to see Anna in action soon. She said that “we’re really excited” about DiJonai, who’s “off to a great start.”

Freshman guard Mikaela Brewer, the team’s first Canadian, played for her country’s U18 team this past summer. Forward Nadia Fingall, like the other freshmen, is “doing a phenomenal job,” Tara said.

Sophomores Marta, Alanna, Alexa and Shannon

Moving on to the sophomores, Tara said that center Shannon Coffee is a smart player who’s doing well. Guard Alexa Romano had the honor of going to India during the summer. Forward Alanna Smith, the Australian who was the team’s first international player, is “off to a tremendous start.” Point guard Marta Sniezek is an “even better sophomore” than she was as a freshman.

Juniors Kaylee and Brittany

The team has only two juniors: guard Brittany McPhee, who’s working hard and is “in great shape,” and forward Kaylee Johnson, who is versatile and “a great vocal leader.”

Seniors Bird, Karlie and Bri

Concluding with the seniors, Tara said that guard Briana Roberson is “working hard on her shot,” earning the nickname “Big Shot Bri.” Karlie, who was due to have her cast removed the following day, is “a hungry player.” As for Bird, she’s “a special player,” who’s expected to improve even more this year than last.

Tara pleased with freshmen, team overall

After the players had left, Tara answered questions. “I’m absolutely thrilled with how well the freshmen are doing,” she said. Mentored by the returning players, they “will make major contributions.”

As for the Pac-12, “it’s always been competitive,” but “I have a lot of confidence in our team.”

Reflecting on the Los Angeles Sparks’ recent WNBA championship, Tara said, “We’re so excited for Nneka.” She was referring to Nneka Ogwumike, ’12, the league MVP who made the last-second basket that defeated the Minnesota Lynx by one point and gave the Sparks the championship.

Her overall assessments of the team: “Everyone is working to be the best player she can be.” The coaches are experimenting with defense, but for now, “a lot of our focus is on fundamentals.” Nevertheless, “we’re way ahead of where we were last year,” perhaps as much as a month, she concluded.

The team’s first competition will be an exhibition against UC San Diego, coached by Tara’s sister Heidi, at 6 p.m. Nov. 4.

The regular season opener is at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 against Cal Poly. Both are at home.

October 20, 2016

Pac-12 Media Day

Pac-12 Media Day was hosted by Kate Scott, who was joined by Mary Murphy and Ros Gold-Onwude. The televised show consisted mainly of interviews of each team's coach and representative players.

Mary Murphy interviewed Stanford's representatives, Bird and Karlie.

Bird and Karlie enjoyed their day in San Francisco:

Karlie will be wearing that cast for another week (she fractured her left, non-shooting wrist three weeks ago).

Ros interviewed Tara. If you have a Pac-12 provider account, click here to view that segment of the broadcast.

The major news of the day was the Coaches' Poll. Stanford was picked to finish second, after UCLA. Click here for a complete account of the poll.

Tom FitzGerald's report: Stanford 2nd in Pac-12 women’s preseason poll; Cal 6th

October 14, 2016

Pac-12 preview: Stanford

Sue Favor writes all about women's basketball in her blog, They're Playing Basketball, including an annual season preview series of the Pac-12 teams. Here's her take on Stanford: Pac-12 preview: Stanford University

October 11, 2016

Open practice, chalk talks, and behind-the-bench sessions

Open practice and pre- and post-game events have been scheduled.

There will be an open practice session in Maples Pavilion on Monday, October 24 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. After an hour or so of informal practice, Tara will introduce all the players and staff. Enter through the NW or SW doors at Maples, pick up a roster, and help yourself to open seating.

Pre-game chalk talks will be held in Kissick Auditorium before every regular season home game, from November 11 thru February 12. The scouting film is projected starting 45 minutes before the game, then Kate or Tempie gives a brief preview and answers questions.

Two "Behind the Bench" sessions, at which new players are introduced and Tara discusses the game and answers questions, have been scheduled:

  • In Maples on November 4 after the exhibition game against UC San Diego.
  • In Dallmar Court on December 4 after the UC Davis game.
Additional sessions are to be determined.

October 06, 2016

Listen to Kate

In Women's Basketball Offseason Update, posted to the Cardinal Sports Report, Kate Paye talks about the Cardinal's offseason, recruiting and style of play.

The article was published several months ago, but is still timely as the 2016-17 season is about to begin.

October 05, 2016

All about clear tote bags

Stanford has implemented a clear bag policy to provide a safer environment for the public and expedite fan entry into Stanford Stadium and Maples Pavilion. This policy does not change what you can bring in, only how it can be brought into the facility. Fans may continue to bring in items such as blankets, jackets, permitted food and beverages. The policy limits the size and types of bags permitted. Almost all bags, including any purse larger than a tiny clutch bag (4.5" x 6.5"), are prohibited.

If you have more stuff than you can carry, you have to bring it in a clear bag no larger than 12" x 12" x 6". Any clear bag, including a one gallon plastic freezer bag is permissible.

If you want a Stanford clear tote bag, you can buy one at the Stanford Bookstore or the Track House. Well, you can't actually buy one now because they sold out for the first football game. Delivery of more is back-ordered and not expected until November.

Here's the good news: If you're a Stanford Women's Basketball season ticket member, you'll be gifted with a Stanford clear tote bag. Information about picking it up will be available soon.

October 04, 2016

First practice

The team held its first official practice of the 2016-17 season yesterday.

It will play its first game of the season exactly one month from today — an exhibition game against UC Diego on Friday November 4 at 6:00 pm in Maples.

Here are photos of the first practice from Stanford Women's Basketball facebook.