March 01, 2017

Does Stanford have another Tournament Taylor?

By Warren Grimes

Just two seasons ago, Stanford rode the performance of Tournament Taylor, a.k.a. Taylor Greenfield, to a Pac 12 tournament win and a strong NCAA performance.

Greenfield showed promise as a freshman, starting 13 games and showing a steadiness that the coaches valued. Over the next four years, Greenfield remained steady, but never seized the lime light. For her 4-year career, Greenfield averaged just over 17 minutes and 4.4 points per game. Her senior year was more of the same.

More of the same, that is, until the Pac 12 tournament began.

Suddenly, it was no longer Taylor Greenfield but Taylor Titan. In case you’ve forgotten, Taylor scored 17 against ASU in the semifinal and a career high 20 against Cal in the final. She was selected the tournament’s outstanding player and earned, thanks to Coach VanDerveer, the moniker “Tournament Taylor.” She continued her hot streak in the NCAA tournament.

Timely, and far better late than never.

Over the years, there have been other post season, surprise Stanford standouts. For the team’s memorable run to the NCAA finals in 2008, guard JJ Hones was a surprise performer. She complemented established Stanford stars such as Candice Wiggins, Jayne Appel, Kayla Pedersen, and Jillian Harmon. Hones came up big in upset wins over two number 1 seeds, Maryland in the quarter finals and U Conn in the national semifinal.

So who might be this year’s tournament Taylor? Alanna Smith comes to mind – but Smith has already become a go to player. A strong post season showing for Smith would hardly be a surprise. McCall, Smith, Samuelson and McPhee have reached double figures with some consistency.

That leaves a number of other players in the rotation: Briana Roberson, Marta Sniezek, Kaylee Johnson, Nadia Fingall, and DiJonai Carrington. Each has shown potential to contribute on the offensive as well as the defensive end, but is seldom (or never) in double figures.

Stanford is a very good team, finishing one game out of first and with a #2 seed (compared to last year’s #4 seed). But Stanford’s success flows from an intense defense and a diversified offense that lacks a dominant go-to player. This year, the conference POW award has not once been awarded to a Stanford player. From one game to the next, different players have stepped up.

I’m OK with that. To get that great post-season run, maybe what Stanford needs is a different Tournament Taylor for each game. I’ve listed six potential candidates.

Let them take turns. That will make Stanford difficult to defend, difficult to upend, and easy to commend.

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