February 01, 2017

Some Great Story Lines for Tara VanDerveer’s 999th Win: Some Others Not So Good

By Warren Grimes

It was a memorable 999th victory for Tara VanDerveer. Down by 18 points midway through the second quarter, Kelsey Plum had made all six of her three point shot attempts. She finished the half with 26 points, and Washington had 45, apparently on its way to a 90 point game that could leave Stanford in the dust. Oh, and add the10,000 screaming Husky fans supporting the nation’s #7 ranked team and expecting a big win. On top of that, Stanford’s three point shooting was dismal (0-10) until Nadia Fingall converted at the end of the half.

The last 25 minutes of the game were a different story. Stanford clamped down on UW while ramping up its own offense, outscoring the Huskies by 22 points to take a great come-from-behind win against a top ten team.

Brittany McPhee is another great story line. Playing 37 minutes in her home state, McPhee racked up 17 points (the most of any Stanford player) along with 7 boards, 2 blocks and 3 steals. She played with focus and hustle throughout the game. Emblematic of McPhee’s performance — two come-from-behind swipes to knock the ball away when Kelsey Plum was running hard in transition. McPhee’s end of game moves made the difference. First, McPhee stole the ball at mid court and ran for a lay up. Then McPhee blocked a Plum shot attempt.

Still another story line would be that the win was a quintessential team victory. All three seniors contributed mightily (McCall, Roberson, and Samuelson). McCall had 16 points in a rejuvenated second half effort. Roberson made 3 of 6 three point attempts, all in the critical second half comeback. Samuelson did not convert any threes, but still managed a hard fought 10 points, including critical end of game free throws. And Sniezek made the only three she attempted, and penetrated on several plays to produce a lay up and three points from the charity stripe.

Candidly, a lot of other possible story lines did not work out so well. Here are some of the failures.

To Win In Seattle, Stanford Needs Three Point Shooters to Step Up

After all, that’s how Stanford bested the Huskies last year in Maples. Experienced three point shooters like Karlie Samuelson, Brittany McPhee, and Alanna Smith have to make the Huskies pay.

Well . . . uhm . . . these three players were 0-10 from three point territory.

To Win Against the Huskies, Stanford Must Start Strong

Stanford did this last year in Maples, but not this time.

Stanford Must Hold Kelsey Plum to 30 Points

Darn, missed again on that one. But only by 14 points. And Stanford did hold Plum to a mere 18 points in the second half.

Natalie Romeo on her way to Player of Week Honor

Romeo scored a career high 32 points against Cal on Friday and seemed on her way to weekly conference recognition for the two weekend games. To win POW, Romeo probably needed something more modest like another 16 points against Stanford. Well, that one did not work out either. But, do the math, Romeo did average 16 points for the two weekend games.

UW is a deeper and more balanced team than last year

Hmm. Maybe so, but not on Sunday. It was Kelsey Plum 44 - rest of team 24.

Stanford makes “unexpected” comeback against UW

These words were on the Stanford sports web site. But was the comeback genuinely unexpected? I suppose at the 15 minute mark in the game, one’s confidence in the Stanford team might have been severely tested, but I thought the team looked focused and hungry throughout the game. They had already shaved 6 points off the 18-point margin before the end of the half. With nine minutes left in the game, Stanford had already tied the score.

Besides, this is a Hall of Fame coach who knows how to get her teams ready to fight back. I’ve watched a Stanford team overcome a 26 point first half deficit (against Oregon in February of 2000 ). They won that game by 16 points. That’s a 42 point turn around. I’ve watched a number of critical games against UCLA when Stanford has overcome double digit deficits.

There are good reasons why TVD is about to win her 1000th game.

No comments: