April 24, 2017

Cardinal will open 2017-18 season against Ohio State and Louisville

The Cardinal will begin the 2017-18 season where they hope to end it — in Columbus Ohio, the location of the 2018 Final Four.

On November 10, they'll play Ohio State, the Final Four host, at Ohio State.

On November 12, they'll participate in "Showdown to Columbus" at Nationwide Arena, the site of the Final Four. There will be two games in that event: Stanford vs Louisville and Ohio State vs UConn.

Read more in the Stanford Athletics announcement: Season starts in Columbus

Note: The Stanford FBC schedule now shows what is currently known about the 2017-18 season: A few non-conference games, which conference teams Stanford will play against, and dates and sites of the PAC-12 and NCAA tournaments.

April 17, 2017

Welcome home, Lindy!

Lindy La Rocque, who played in four Final Fours with the Cardinal from 2009-12, has returned to Stanford as an assistant coach, filling the position on staff made available when Amy announced her retirement from coaching late last week.

Stanford Athletics announced: The farm is where the heart is

Way-too-early preseason rankings

Although a lot of things can change before next season tips off, Charlie Creme (espnW) thinks it's time to start looking ahead: UConn is back on top in Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2017-18

He has five Pac-12 teams in his top 25:

7. Stanford Cardinal
Forward Alanna Smith could be ready to become the next great big in Cardinal lore. She and Nadia Fingall could be one of the best frontcourt duos in the country. Marta Sniezek and Dijonai Carrington are guards whose experience now matches their talent. Brittany McPhee will take on an even more important role with the departure of Karlie Samuelson. But it's Tara VanDerveer's latest recruiting class, led by point guard Kiana Williams from Texas and 6-foot-3 wing Maya Dodson from Georgia, that could make Stanford the favorite in the Pac-12 and a contender for another Final Four.

11. UCLA Bruins
Cori Close's talented recruiting class of 2014 has reached its final season in Westwood. Jordin Canada, Monique Billings and Kelli Hayes will take one last run at a Pac-12 title. This year's recruiting class, which includes 5-foot-11 forward Michaela Onyenwere and 6-foot-1 guard Chantel Horvat, will be on board to help make that happen.

13. Oregon Ducks
The Ducks made the most improbable NCAA tournament run in 2017, reaching the Elite Eight while relying almost entirely on freshmen and sophomores. Expectations will be higher in Eugene, Oregon, but coach Kelly Graves brings every impact player back. Point guard Sabrina Ionescu and 6-foot-4 post Ruthy Hebard should be one of the game's best inside-out combos for the next three years.

18. Arizona State Sun Devils
The Sun Devils will transition from a post-oriented team to one with backcourt emphasis. Reili Richardson and Robbi Ryan were the best freshmen in Charli Turner Thorne's recruiting class of a year ago and should lead the program the next few seasons. Depth, defense and balance will still be the cornerstones in Tempe, Arizona.

22. California Golden Bears
Coach Lindsay Gottlieb will be embracing motherhood and the return of nearly her entire roster. Kristine Anigwe will push to be an All-American but needs some more help. Cal made the NCAA tournament in 2017 as one of the last four teams in. The continued improvement of guards Asha Thomas and Mikayla Cowling, and the further development of 6-foot-4 CJ West in the post, should make a postseason run more comfortable.

April 13, 2017

Amy is retiring

Yes, Amy is retiring after 32 seasons on The Farm.

Stanford Athletics has not yet published an announcement, but here is the Associated Press report:

Longtime Stanford top assistant coach Amy Tucker retiring.

On Thursday morning, the Stanford Athletics announcement:

Tucker transitions to new role.

It is expected that Amy's replacement, that is, the person who will take over her position on the staff, will be announced soon.

April 07, 2017

Beyond Expectation: Celebrating the Cardiac Cardinal 2016-2017 Edition

By Warren Grimes

There was no dominant player. Erica McCall led the Stanford team in points and boards per game at a modest 14.4 and 9, respectively. Brittany McPhee and Karlie Samuelson were consistent contributors averaging 12 or more points per game. Late in the season, Alanna Smith came on strong and began averaging double digits. Still, this was fundamentally a team whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts. They liked playing together, they were resilient, they were focused, and they made the Final Four.

Of the thirteen Stanford teams that have made the Final Four, this may have been the least likely.

True, Stanford had made it to the Elite Eight last year with most of the same players (Of last year’s starters, only Lili Thompson was missing). True, Stanford had three well established seniors who had been major contributors. True, there were some exciting new freshmen on the team. True, the team had a Hall of Fame coach.

But there were issues. Stanford had played inconsistently the previous year, struggling to a third place finish in the conference. There was no consistent go-to player on the team; no consensus All-American. The point guard position was still somewhat unsettled, with Roberson and Sniezek showing promise but with neither holding a lock on the position. Some of the promising freshmen had injury issues. Early in the season, Stanford lost a home game to Gonzaga, a good but not great team.

But the Stanford team came together to produce a 32-6 season. They did this because they complemented one another’s strengths. They did this because they worked hard and communicated on defense. They did this because, when one player was down, others stepped up. They did this because, when it came to blocking shots, this was among the best teams in Stanford history.

Erica McCall led the way with 63 blocks, including that memorable stuff in the last 2 seconds of the Notre Dame game. But McCall had lots of help from Alanna Smith (61 blocks). Kaylee Johnson, Brittany McPhee and Nadia Fingall were also proficient shot blockers.

On a per minute basis, the shot blocking award goes to Alanna Smith. She blocked shots at .0829 per minute, well above McCall’s .0516 per minute rate. Playing an average of just 19.3 minutes per game, Smith tied Jayne Appel for 8th place in the race for the highest number of blocks per season. That’s an achievement. If Alanna can avoid foul trouble, she could be a formidable shot blocker next season.

So why is this 6'3" Australian so proficient in blocking shots? Alanna is tall and athletic; she also seems to have the gift of a long reach. In the conference tournament final against OSU, Alanna had no difficulty blocking a shot by OSU’s 6'5" Marie Gulich.

When it comes to rebounding, McCall and Smith were essentially tied in the rebounds per minute category. Decisively ahead of both (at .34 boards/minute compared to McCall and Smith at .28/minute) was Kaylee Johnson. That should not surprise those that have watched Johnson over the past three years. She set rebounding records as a freshman. If her offensive production can step up next year, Kaylee’s additional minutes on the floor could set rebounding records.

One has to bow to the three seniors who set the tone for the rest of the team. Karlie Samuelson’s injury in the semifinal game could have been the difference maker. Erica McCall’s block in the last seconds of the regional final was the difference maker. These two players were deservedly named as honorable mention All Americans. Briana Roberson averaged 6.5 points and 2.5 assists per game. All three of these seniors played smart, played focused, and played hard. Leading by example, they were the best kind of team leaders.

Resilience will, by itself, commend this team as one of the best. This season, getting ahead of Stanford, more often then not, just made Stanford mad.

Stanford came back against Oregon in the Pac 12 tournament semifinal.
They did it again against OSU in the Pac 12 tournament final.
They did it again against New Mexico State in the 1st round NCAA game.
They did it again against Texas in the Elite Eight game.

But the season’s two most memorable comebacks were:

  1. Overcoming an 18-point first half deficit and defeating UW in Seattle (this, late in the conference season);
  2. and
  3. Overcoming a 16-point deficit at the beginning of the third quarter, and taking down Notre Dame in the regional final.

Thank you to the seniors, thank you to the team, for those great memories.

April 06, 2017

in the record book, 2016-17

The 2016-17 team was not a record-breaking team, but they did earn a lot of entries in the Stanford record book. Perhaps that's why this hard-working group of young women took Stanford to the Final Four for the first time in three years.

Bird earned ten entries in the Stanford record book this season and ends her college career with thirteen.

Karlie matched two Stanford records this season, earned seven other entries in the Stanford record book, and had two other noteworthy accomplishments. She ends her college career with eleven entries in the Stanford record book.

Bri earned one entry in the Stanford record book.

Kaylee did not earn any entries in the Stanford record book this season, but she retains two freshman records and five other entries that she earned in the past two seasons.

Alanna earned two entries in the Stanford record book.

Marta earned one entry in the Stanford record book this season, and she retains the three entries and the Pac-12 tournament record that she earned last season.

The team broke one Stanford record this season and earned seven other entries in the Stanford record book.

Note: You can see the complete Stanford record book online at Women's Basketball History, section Records, and the Pac-12 record book at Pac-12 Conference: 2016-17 Women's Basketball Media Guide, section Records. (They have not yet been updated for the 2016-17 season.)

Erica ("Bird") McCall

Blocks

Bird blocked 63 shots this season, including this one that sealed Stanford's 76-75 victory over Notre Dame in the NCAA Elite 8.

Bird blocked 200 shots in her career, which places her fourth in Career Blocks. That's just one less than Val Whiting in third place and two less than Chiney Ogwumike in second place.

She blocked 66 shots last season, which placed her in a three-way tie with Chiney Ogwumike and Joslyn Tinkle for third place in Single-Season Blocks. Her 63 blocks this season also places her in sixth.

Bird also is also in a tie with Joslyn Tinkle for second place in Single-Game Blocks, which she earned last season with seven blocks against Utah on February 21, 2016.

Rebounds

Bird grabbed 976 rebounds in her career, which places her seventh in Career Rebounds behind Val Whiting in sixth place.

She grabbed 343 rebounds this season, which places her twelfth in Single-Season Rebounds behind Kaylee Johnson and Jayne Appel who are tied for tenth (Appel is also in seventh place).

Bird is also in twelfth place in Single-Season Rebounds Per Game, which she earned last season with 9.4.

Points scored

Bird scored 1,376 points in her career, which places her 23rd among the 37 members of the Stanford 2,000/1,000 Point Club.

Games played and started

Bird played in 144 games in her career, which places her sixth in Career Games Played with just one less than Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike who are tied for fifth place.

Bird played in all 38 games this season. She joins Karlie, Bri, Alanna, Marta and seven members of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 teams in sixth place in Single-Season Games Played. (Five members of the 2007-08 team share first place with 39 games).

She started in all 38 games, which places her in a tie with Nneka Ogwumike, Kayla Pedersen, Jayne Appel and Jeanette Pohlen for fourth place in Single-Season Starts.

Minutes played

Bird played 1,220 minutes this season, which places her sixth in Single-Season Minutes Played behind Candice Wiggins in fifth.

Karlie Samuelson

3-Pointers

Karlie sank 249 3-pointers in her career, which places her third in Career 3-Pointers, between Jeanette Pohlen in second and sister Bonnie in fourth.

She attempted 562 in her career, which places her fourth in Career 3-Point Attempts behind sister Bonnie in third.

Karlie sank 96 3-pointers this season, which places her in a tie with Jeanette Pohlen for the Single-Season 3-Pointers Made record. She is also in tenth place with the 80 she made last season.

She attempted 198 3-pointers this season, which places her sixth in Single-Season 3-Point Attempts behind Krista Rappahahn and Candice Wiggins who are tied for fourth

Karlie made her 3-pointers this season at a rate of 48.5%, which ranked second in the nation. (Note: Stanford publishes the leader in this category (Jennifer Azzi with 49.5%), but not the runners-up).

Free Throws

Karlie didn't draw many fouls. But when she did get to the line, she swished free throws at a rate of 83.3% in her career, which places her second in Career Free Throw Percentage behind Kelly Suminski in first.

She made 86.4% of her free throws this season, which places her ninth in Single-Season Free Throw Percentage behind Jeanne Ruark Hoff in eighth.

Points scored

Karlie scored 1,164 points in her career, which places her 30th among the 37 members of the Stanford 2,000/1,000 Point Club.

Games played

Karlie played in all 38 games this season. She joins Bird, Bri, Alanna, Marta and seven members of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 teams in sixth place in Single-Season Games Played. (Five members of the 2007-08 team share first place with 39 games).

Minutes played

Karlie played 1,274 minutes this season, which places her in a tie with Kayla Pedersen for the Single-Season Minutes Played record and which ranked fourth-best in the nation. She played for at least 37 minutes half of the season (19 games) and for the entire game nine times.

Briana Roberson

Games played

Bri played in all 38 games this season. She joins Bird, Karlie, Alanna, Marta and seven members of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 teams in sixth place in Single-Season Games Played. (Five members of the 2007-08 team share first place with 39 games).

Kaylee Johnson

Kaylee did not earn any places in the Stanford record book this season, but retains the places she earned in her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Blocks

Kaylee is in third place in Freshman blocks.

She is in eleventh place in Single-Season Blocks with the 54 she had in her freshman season and in thirteenth place with the 51 she had in her sophomore season.

Rebounds

Kaylee holds the Freshman Rebounds record and the Freshman Rebounds Per Game record.

She is tied with Jayne Appel for tenth place in Single-Season Rebounds and is in tenth place in Single-Season Rebounds Per Game.

Alanna Smith

Blocks

Alanna blocked 61 shots this season, which places her in a tie with Jayne Appel for eighth place in Single-Season Blocks (Appel is also in first and second place.)

Games played

Alanna played in all 38 games this season. She joins Bird, Karlie, Bri, Marta and seven members of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 teams in sixth place in Single-Season Games Played. (Five members of the 2007-08 team share first place with 39 games).

Marta Sniezek

Assists

Marta dished 169 assists this season and has a career total to-date of 278, which do not earn places in the Stanford record book.

But she retains the entries she earned last season: A three-way tie for third place in Single-Game Assists, eighth place in Freshman Assists, and ninth place in Freshman Assists Per Game.

And her 13 assists on March 3, 2015 vs Washington in the Pac-12 Tournament still holds as the Pac-12 Tournament Single-Game record.

Games played

Marta played in all 38 games this season. She joins Bird, Karlie, Bri, Alanna and seven members of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 teams in sixth place in Single-Season Games Played. (Five members of the 2007-08 team share first place with 39 games).

The 2016-17 Team

The team won 32 games this season, tied with Washington for second place in the Pac-12, won the Pac-12 Tournament for the 12th time and advanced to the NCAA Final Four for the 13th time.

The team extended its Pac-12 record for most 20-win seasons to 27 and retained its record for most conference championships (23).

The team blocked 212 shots, which breaks the Single-Season Blocked Shots record of 211 set in 2015-16.

The team also earned these entries in Single-Season Team records:

A tie with the 2008-09 and the 2009-10 teams for second place in Games Played (38).

Ninth place in Lowest Opponent Scoring Average (56.5).

Eighth place in Lowest Opponent Field-Goal Percentage (.350).

Eighth place in 3-Point Field Goals (236 ).

Eighth place in Rebounds (1,562 ).

The team blocked 12 shots at New Mexico State on March 18, 2017, which places it in a 5-way time for third place in Single-Game Blocked Shots

The team won by 58 points vs Yale on Dec 28, 2016, which places it in a three-way tie for fifth place in Single-Game Margin of Victory.

Anna's concussion treatment

Here is an encouraging article about Anna 's treatment for concussion: With the Help of Plasticity Brain Centers Anna Wilson Defeats Her Concussion.

The game mentioned in the article is the game vs Yale on Dec 28. I hope Anna's health continues to improve until she's back to her full capabilities.

April 05, 2017

Look back at a magical season

Stanford Athletics looks back to memorable moments in Stanford's magical 2016-17 season with videos and stories about:
  • Trip to the Final Four
  • Winning the Pac-12 Tournament
  • Tara's 1000th Victory
  • Highlight Games of the Season
  • ...and more
Click here to see all of them.

April 03, 2017

Congratulations to Bird, Karlie and Britt!

Recognition of some achievements was lost in the flood of Final Four news.

Bird and Karlie earned Honorable Mention honors on the 2017 WBCA NCAA Division I Coaches' All-America Team. Here is the announcement from the Women's Basketball Coaches' Association.

With a 3.73 GPA in human biology, Brittany won the NCAA Elite 90 award as the top student-athlete in Division I Women's Basketball at the Final Four. Here is the announcement from Stanford Athletics.

April 01, 2017

Stanford season ended by South Carolina's defense, 53-62

In this national semifinal game, Stanford reversed the pattern of the three previous games: Instead of trailing at the half and coming back in the third to win, they went into the half with a healthy nine-point lead and in the third were stifled, leading to a loss.

This closed out a winning season, and wrapped up the college careers of Karlie, Bird and Bri. Indeed, late in the second quarter it looked as if Karlie's career was ending prematurely: Going around a screen she tangled with the other player, went down, and stayed down. She was helped up but appeared to be unable to walk, favoring her right leg. Alanna picked her up and carried her from the floor. Everyone in the crowd of 500 red-shirted fans were thinking the worst.

For the rest of the quarter the Cardinal played with unusual intensity and ended the half, as mentioned, leading by nine, 29-20.

To every fan's delight, when the team returned to the floor, Karlie was with them, apparently moving normally. She played only a few minutes in the second half, and finished with no points, but at least she didn't go out from a serious injury.

In the third quarter the Cardinal hit the kind of scoring drought they had previously imposed on OSU and Notre Dame: for nearly seven minutes nothing fell, while the Gamecocks forged a 17-4 run to take command of the game. Despite coming within three in the fourth quarter, Stanford could not stop South Carolina's "bigs" long enough to get ahead.

This game closed a season in which Stanford won the PAC-12 tournament in dramatic fashion and won four post-season games to reach the Final Four. The three departing seniors went out with style:

Although Karlie ended this game with no points, she played 26 minutes despite an injury. Had she only hit one three-point shot, she would have broken the Stanford single-season record for threes. As it stands, she merely tied it.

Bri left the floor with five points and three assists and a record of lock-down defensive play.

Bird finished in her accustomed style, a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, plus two blocks.

Among the players that will be integral to next season's team:

Alanna had a double-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks -- one of them of the 6-5 A'ja Wilson.

Brittany had eight points, three assists, and a block.

Marta had eight points, two steals, and six assists. One of the assists was a half-court pass to Brittany in the corner for a three.

Kaylee had two points, five rebounds and two steals in only 13 minutes on the floor.

Nadia and DiJonai had short minutes in relief, and DiJonai scored once.

This very special team will head back to Palo Alto with the satisfaction of knowing they were one of the four best teams in the nation. The staff and fans will be able to look ahead to a new season with solid play as well as an exciting class of freshmen.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video from the NCAA

The game highlights video from Stanford Athletics,

Interviews with the players in the locker room after the game,

And the video press conference with Tara, Bird and Alanna,