November 30, 2017

Three-point barrage downs Dons, 86-66

The Cardinal started this game like people still a little fuzzy from a long weekend in Vegas. The Dons started with a couple of three-point makes and a vigorous, athletic defense. They took a lead that they maintained into the second half, while Stanford seemed to struggle. In fact, Stanford scored only 12 points in the first quarter, and again only 12 in the second, to end the first half trailing 24-28.

Maybe Tara came up with some of those famous "adjustments" during the break. At any rate, although the same players started the second half as started the first, they performed at a different level entirely.

DiJonai got it going with a crisp jumper; then Alanna and Kaylee made layups to tie the score 30-30. Then the threes started falling: Kiana hit one, then DiJonai did, then DiJonai again and Kiana again, then Alexa.

In all, Stanford scored 32 points in the third quarter, a third more than they scored in the entire first half. It wasn't a runaway yet because USF was making threes as well, so the third quarter ended 56-49.

But the Stanford blitz continued in the fourth with threes from Alexa, then Kiana, then Alanna and Alanna again, and DiJonai. That made the final score of 86-66 look like an easy win, but it was only easy for the final five minutes.

Alanna scored her third consecutive double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. She went 3-3 from beyond the arc.

DiJonai also had 19 points, plus 5 rebounds.

Kiana led the three-point barrage, hitting 5 of 9 long shots on the way to a personal best of 17 points.

Alexa had 13 points, equaling her personal best.

Kaylee grabbed the game-high 14 rebounds — quite likely the most since her freshman season.

As a group the team hit 15 of 31 three-point tries, or 48%. Eleven of those dropped in the second half — a school record for threes in a half.

The team now heads to Waco to play the Baylor Bears. Their success there will surely depend on which team starts the game, the one from tonight's first half, or that other, much better one. Then comes finals and "dead week" before the next home game.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

And a few photos:

Kiana was tough on defense too

Cardinal and Dons, always friends

November 29, 2017

Moving on from Vegas

From the Stanford Daily

Mikaela Brewer writes about what the team won in Vegas and how they continue to win every day: Thanksgiving tournament in Vegas

Ellie Chen and Alexandre Bucquet discuss how the team has improved since the beginning of the season and what they need to do to continue improving: Women’s basketball roundtable: Play4Kay debrief

November 28, 2017

Up Next: A trip to The City

The Cardinal have returned from Las Vegas, but not all the way to Maples. They'll play the San Francisco Dons at War Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm.

This is the media coverage of the game:

Two year ago, under the guidance of head coach Jennifer Azzi, the Dons went 18-11 in the regular season and entered the West Coast Conference (WCC) tournament as the No. 6 seed. They reeled off three straight wins to capture the conference championship, their first since 1996-97, then lost to Stanford in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Then their two star seniors graduated, Azzi resigned, and Molly Goodenbour (Stanford '93) took over as head coach. Last season the Dons went 18-13, placed fourth in the WCC and lost to Gonzaga in the tournament quarter-finals. They've begun this season 2-3.

The Dons have four players that are averaging double-digits this season: junior guard Shannon Powell, senior forward Michaela Rakova, senior guard Anna Seilund, and senior guard Kalyn Simon.

Here are the Dons' roster and statistics.

November 27, 2017

Alanna is Pac-12 Player of the Week

3 GP, 23.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 31-48 (.646), 7-9 FT (.778), 4 ast, 6 blk

  • Averaged a double-double with 23.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in Stanford’s 2-1 week at the Play4Kay Showcase in Las Vegas.

  • Shot 64.6 percent from the field (31-of-48), 40 percent from deep and averaged 2.0 blocks per game.

  • Had the best performance of her career in the Cardinal’s 94-82 overtime loss to No. 9 Ohio State on Saturday, setting career highs in both scoring (33) and rebounding (16).

  • The nation’s only 30-point, 15-rebound double-double against a ranked team this season and just the fourth such performance by a Pac-12 player against an AP top-10 team since 2000.

  • Her 33 points is the highest single-game total in the Pac-12 this season and the most at Stanford since Chiney Oqwumike dropped 37 against Washington State on March 1, 2014.

  • 106th weekly honor for Stanford and first honor for Smith.

November 26, 2017

Cardinal almost cracks the Buckeyes, 82-94 (OT)

The game started very well for Stanford, when Alexa, Dijonai and Alanna combined for a 9-0 run, forcing Ohio State to call an early timeout. The first quarter ended with Stanford up 19-13 and ahead on rebounds 13-7.

These trends continued throughout the first half. Aided by Anna hitting four of six three-point shots, and Alanna reaching an early double-double at 10 points and 10 rebounds, Stanford ended the half ahead 33-26.

This was a major advance in defensive play, to hold a team that had broken 100 in its two previous games to only 26 in the half. Even more remarkable was that Stanford had 26 rebounds to OSU's 12, and that the formidable Stephanie Mavunga had only two points and four rebounds.

The third quarter ended with Stanford up 58-49 and still ahead on rebounds, 37-25. Near the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, Ohio began to press every inbound, which resulted in some turnovers and began to turn the flow of the game. Stanford maintained a lead largely due to Anna hitting two more threes on consecutive possessions. The final two minutes were an exciting alternation of leads, with critical makes from Anna (her seventh trey), Alanna, and Dijonai to reach a 76-76 tie.

In the overtime period, OSU hit three-point shots on two successive possessions and the Cardinal were unable to answer either one. Down six in the final minutes Stanford had to foul, and the Buckeyes made their free throws. Those closing points add up to a final score that does not reflect the close contest this was.

Alanna led the Cardinal with 33 points and 16 rebounds, both numbers her personal best. She also had two steals, two blocks, and just one personal foul (which came in the final minute of overime).

Anna hit seven of eight three-point tries for 21 points, her personal best, although not quite a Stanford record

Six other players scored, although none in double digits. Dijonai had eight points, four rebounds and four assists. Kaylee and Marta each had six points. Alyssa had four points and Alexa and Maya each had two.

In the end the Cardinal out-rebounded the Buckeyes by 45-39, shot 45% from the field and (largely thanks to Anna) 35% from beyond the arc. Despite not coming away victors, the game demonstrated a major improvement, especially in defense, for this young team.

Alanna and Anna were named to the All-Tournament team.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

And the audio press conference with Tara,

November 24, 2017

Play4Kay, second day

First game: DePaul vs Memphis

DePaul grabbed a 12-point lead in the first quarter and then held on to win 81-67.

Second game: Gonzaga vs Kent State

Gonzaga built a 17-point lead in the first quarter, slowed down for two quarters, then closed the game out at 77-57.

Third game: Ohio State vs Florida Gulf Coast

We arrived in the arena a few minutes into the game and the score was Buckeyes 11, Eagles 6. By the time we'd gotten comfortable in our seats it was 18-6. At the end of the first quarter it was 30-9, and things were not looking good for the feisty Floridians. We noted that Ohio ran a wide-spread zone on every possession. FGCU rarely got the ball inside the perimeter without turning it over.

In the second quarter FGCU regained some composure and hit a few threes. At the half the score was 58-34 but in the third quarter the Buckeyes pulled further ahead to 85-49.

During the third quarter Ohio's Kelsey Mitchell hit her 401st three-point goal and became the NCAA all time leader in that category. Mitchell finished the game with 34 points, making 7-11 on three-point attempts, and five free throws and a couple of layups.

When the Ohio score topped 100, they subbed in the scrubs, but FGCU couldn't make much headway and the final score was 104-62.

Fourth game: Stanford vs Belmont

Belmont had shown a lot of skill in beating Gonzaga the day before and we were concerned about Stanford's chances. However the game started well with a 9-0 run by Stanford. Points were coming from Alanna, Alexa, and Dijonai. Around the 5-minute mark Tara began to bring in subs: Nadia, Maya, Alyssa. But then the Belmont shooters began to hit and the lead disappeared. With a minute left in the quarter, all the starters had subbed back in! The quarter ended at 18-16.

The second quarter started with exciting action: Belmont tied the score at 18; Dijonai un-tied it with a three; Belmont tied it with a three; Alexa hit a layup; Belmont hit a layup to tie at 23; Alanna hit a three for a Cardinal lead of 26-23.

About this time a visiting relative who hadn't seen a lot of college basketball asked, "Do they keep up this pace the whole time?"

Yeah, they do. The game was close for the rest of the quarter. Stanford pulled out a 37-29 lead, then went cold while Belmont caught up, and the score at the half was a tie, 37-37.

The third quarter began with three more minutes of rapid scoring. It started when Marta hit a three to give Stanford a lead that in fact they would not relinquish. At 06:29, three and a half minutes into the quarter, Belmont called time. At that point there had been 20 points scored in the quarter, 13 by Stanford and 7 by Belmont, and the score stood at 50-44.

Then remarkably, Stanford's defense simply smothered Belmont, who went nearly ten minutes of game time without another bucket. The score was 64-44 in the fourth quarter before Belmont made its next goal. That ten-minute drought changed what had been a close competition into an easy win. However, Tara didn't sub in the B-team until the 2-minute mark.

Some good things in the Cardinal stats: Six players sank at least one three-pointer, the team shot 43% in all and 32% from long range, and committed only five turnovers.

Alanna led all scorers with 23 points, as well as eleven rebounds (her first double-double of the season). Alexa had eleven points (in 35 minutes). Dijonai had nine points and seven rebounds. Kaylee had eight points and eight rebounds.

Marta scored eight points, six rebounds, and seven assists (to one turnover). Marta's passing was remarkable: she created several fast-break buckets by firing from near mid-court to Alanna, Dijonai or Maya running to the basket for an easy layup. One pass to Maya was just a bit too high and too long, but Maya leaped for it and twisted in the air to make the layup as her body floated over baseline.

Tomorrow's games ...

... line up this way: At noon Kent State plays Memphis for seventh place. At 3pm DePaul and Gonzaga play for fifth. At 5:30 Belmont and FGCU play for third place.

At 8pm Stanford plays Ohio State for the championship. Odds have to favor the Buckeyes' zone defense and balanced inside and outside attack. But Stanford will try to show that they have learned a thing or two in the three weeks since they lost to the same team 64-85.

Here are game reports:

The game statistics,

And the audio press conference with Marta.

November 23, 2017

Play4Kay, first day

Although the seating layout at the Mandalay Bay Event Center is similar to many college arenas, it has not been used for basketball before this year. As a result it has no big screen and no scoreboard! The only score presentation was by small illuminated signs on the floor beside each basket, and from one side of the floor they were partly blocked by the basket support itself.

Presumably this lack will be remedied before the former San Antonio Stars of the WNBA begin play in this facility next season.

Fortunately we could get statistics on the internet. We had been told that there was "no wi-fi in the arena" but in fact the Mandalay resort wi-fi system worked just fine and we could get live stats on our phones.

Florida Gulf Coast University over DePaul, 87-84 (OT)

Both teams in this entertaining contest were athletic and aggressive on defense. The lead changed many times, and the result could have gone either way until the very end. The game was still tied 84-84 on a desperation three-point shot by DePaul with 6 seconds to play, but FGCU made their free-throws to seal the game.

Ohio State over Memphis, 100-69

Stephanie Mavunga, who had a career-high 26 rebounds against Stanford two weeks ago, today notched a career-high 35 points (and 16 rebounds) as Ohio State dominated their game. We did not actually watch this one.

Stanford over Kent State, 79-54

Stanford countered a salvo of three-point makes by the Kent State Golden Flashes with strong inside play from Dijonai and Alanna for a decisive win.

The game opened in unusual but encouraging fashion when, less than twenty seconds in, Marta made a three-point shot from the top of the key. A minute later, she drove for a layup, and later hit another three and another layup. At the end of the first quarter Stanford had 18 points, ten of them by Sniezek.

Opening the second quarter, Kent State hit four consecutive three-point shots to take the lead, 20-25. Stanford then got serious, and Alanna, Dijonai and Nadia combined to put on a 22-0 run. That quarter ended with Stanford ahead 48-30.

Scoring was slow for both teams in the third quarter and Kent State crept back in to trail by only eleven, 57-46. In the fourth quarter the Flashes seemed to run out of steam and Stanford cruised to the final score of 79-54.

Dijonai led all scorers with a career-best 24 points, plus 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. She hit eight of eight inside shots, and two of six three-point tries, and also recorded four assists, a block and a steal.

Alanna scored 15 points. She hit six of nine inside shots and one of two three-point tries. She recorded three assists, three steals and three blocks.

Nadia scored eleven in only 15 minutes playing time, plus four rebounds and a steal.

Marta's ten points were all in the first quarter, but she played 37 minutes and recorded a career-best eight rebounds, seven assists (with only two turnovers) and three steals.

Kiana had seven points, two assists and a steal. Kaylee and Alyssa had five points each.

The team could have wished for more consistency, but in the stretches when they were good, they were dominant. Tomorrow's game against Belmont will be more of a challenge.

Belmont over Gonzaga, 71-63

The Belmont Bruins turned out to have both a strong 3-point attack which was most effective in the first half, and strong post play that maintained their lead in the second half. The Zags stayed in the game to the end, getting to within four points in the final two minutes, but though they got the defensive stops they needed, they couldn't make the buckets.

The Cardinal watched most of this game, so along with Lindy's having coached the Bruins for two seasons, should be well-prepared for tomorrow's game. (Brit was present, still wearing a boot.)

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

And the audio press conference with Tara.

November 22, 2017

Up next: Thanksgiving in Vegas

The Cardinal are spending the Thanksgiving weekend Playing 4Kay in Las Vegas after eating their Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday.

Their first game is on Thursday at 5:30pm PT vs Kent State. On Friday afternoon or evening (3:00 or 8:00), they'll play either Gonzaga or Belmont.

Their final game, on Saturday, will be against a team from the other side of the bracket, where the winner is likely to be Ohio State (the other contenders are DePaul, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Memphis).

There will be no TV coverage of the tournament, but all the games will be streamed live by FloHoops. A $12.50 subscription is required. The Stanford games will be broadcast by Sidearm Sports at Stanford All-Access.

   The Kent State Golden Flashes
are located in Cleveland, Ohio and play in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). They won the East division of the MAC last season and have been picked to place second this season. They've begun the season with three wins and a loss.

The Flashes return a core of four starters from last season's team and are led by one of the MAC's most experienced frontcourt tandems: Senior forward Jordan Korinek (22.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and graduate forward McKenna Stephens (7.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg).

Also starting this season is sophomore guard Ali Poole , who likes to shoot the three and is currently their second-best scorer with 10.5 ppg.

Of their upcoming game vs Stanford, Poole said, “It’s a good opportunity. What do we have to lose? We’re not expected to win this game so we have to give them heck.”

Here are Kent State's roster and season statistics.

   The Belmont Bruins
are located in Nashville and play in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC).

Lindy began her coaching career at Belmont. She was an assistant coach for two seasons before returning to Stanford this season.

The Bruins won the conference title the past two seasons and have been picked to do so again although it may take time to adjust to a new coach. They're currently ranked eighth in the mid-majors by Graham Hays (espn) and ninth by CollegeInsider.

They lost their opening game of the season to No. 22 Oklahoma, then won the next three.

Belmont returns four starters from a team that went 27-6 and nearly upset Kentucky in the NCAA tournament a season ago:

Junior guard Darby Maggard is the reigning NCAA 3-point field goal percentage champion, registering a .487 mark from beyond the arc last season. She's at .480 this season and averaging 16.3 ppg and 4.5 apg. She was named OVC Preseason Co-Player of the Year, along with:

Senior center Sally McCabe (13.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg).

Senior guard Kylee Smith (18.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.8 apg) was named on the Preseason All-OVC team.

Junior guard Jenny Roy (6.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg).

Here are Belmont's roster and season statistics.

   The Gonzaga Bulldogs,
West Coast Conference (WCC) powerhouse, have won 12 WCC regular-season titles and seven WCC Tournament championships in the past 13 years. They've made it to the NCAA Elite 8 once and to the Sweet 16 four times.

For the fifth-straight season, the Zags were picked as the WCC preseason favorite. They're ranked second in the mid-majors by CollegeInsider.

They've played only two games this season, losing to Colorado State and beating Montana.

The Zags are led by a pair of juniors who were named to the All-WCC Preseason Team:

Guard Laura Stockton averaged 8.0 points and 4.4 assists per game with a 1.9 assist/turnover ratio last season.

Forward Jill Barta was the Zag's leading scorer (16.8 ppg) and second-best rebounder (6.0 rpg) last season.

The Zags lost a vital member of their team just before the season began when redshirt senior center Emma Wolfram suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Here are Gonzaga's roster and season statistics.

   The Ohio State Buckeyes
have continued their successful season start. Their record is now 4-1, with a loss only to No. 5 Louisville in "Countdown to Columbus", and they're still ranked ninth in the AP Top 25.

Should a Cardinal/Buckeye re-match occur, I won't be surprised if the Buckeyes win again. At this point in the season, they're still a better team than the young Cardinal. But I'm sure they won't out-rebound the Cardinal 64-41 this time nor limit them to two second-chance points.

Here are Ohio's roster and season statistics.

November 19, 2017

Running away from the Roadrunners, 57-34

Bird's dad Greg McCall brought his CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners into Maples, returning the visit we paid to the Icardo Center last December.

In the pre-game chalk talk, Coach Paye said that Brittany's "foot issue" was indefinite: "In a couple of weeks we'll see." (Post-game, Tara said much the same, indicating that they were in no hurry to rush Brittany back, and in fact, had she been playing this game, she might have, "taken minutes from some players who need the experience.")

Kate said that the "new" offensive scheme being taught this year is the "Princeton Offense" first taught by the famous Pete Carril. For those who'd like to know more, here is the Wikipedia description of the Princeton Offense, which needs "5 players who can each pass, shoot and dribble at an above average level," and for good reason, as "the ball is kept in constant motion through passing..."

While the ball did seem to be in pretty constant motion during Stanford possessions, apparently the full system was not being run because, as Tara noted after the game, Bakersfield played a defensive zone the whole time, and "This was the first time we've played against the zone this year."

In any event, the Cardinal quickly opened a 9-0 advantage, maintained it into the second quarter, and then steadily increased it to the end. In the first half, three-point shooting was notably better than in the prior game; at the half the Cardinal was shooting 37% from long range. Unfortunately a flurry of misses in the second half pulled that number down to 25% by the end — still an improvement from the dismal 11% of the prior game.

Alexa led all scorers with 13 points from 3 made 3-pointers, a nice two-point jumper when she had to step in over the line to avoid a defender, and a free-throw. That was her career high in points. In her 23 minutes Alexa also tallied three rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Anna got a healthy 21 minutes on the floor (no doubt thinking "Thanks, Brit!") and scored nine points on three made 3's. She also pulled in four rebounds and blocked a shot.

The Roadrunners' zone collapsed onto any "big" who got the ball down low. Nevertheless, Alanna scored eight on 4-7 shooting, plus four rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Maya also scored eight on 4-6 shooting, plus four rebounds and a block. And Kaylee scored seven, on two layups and three free-throws (and six rebounds and a block).

Dijonai played 31 minutes and, although coming up empty on 0-5 shooting, had seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals.

Alyssa, who was the featured guest at the post-game "Behind the Bench", played 17 minutes and scored four points.

Estella came into the game in late minutes and scored her first college points, hitting one of two three-point attempts.

With this comfortable home win behind them, the Cardinal packs up and flies to Las Vegas for the Play 4 Kay tournament. They'll get a team Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, because on Thursday they have a game against Kent State. On Friday they play against (probably) Gonzaga; and if they win that, they'll have a probable rematch against Ohio State on Saturday.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The video press conference with Tara, Alexs and Anna,

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (

November 17, 2017

Cardinal holds off the Highlanders

With Brittany and Nadia in street clothes due to unspecified injuries (Brittany wore a boot on her right foot), Stanford did not represent quite such a dominating force against the UC Riverside Highlanders as they might have done at full strength. However, a period of smothering defense in the first quarter — a quarter that ended 20-6 — opened a comfortable lead that held for the next 25 minutes of play.

In the fourth period, the Highlanders recovered their poise, and in the final minutes, with the Stanford B-team on the floor, closed to within 10 points, prompting Tara to bring back a couple of starters in order to stifle any possibility of an embarrassingly dramatic conclusion.

Stanford out-rebounded the smaller Highlanders 59-44, although the Cardinal conceded many more turnovers, 19-10. Both teams shot abysmally from beyond the arc, UC hitting only 1 of 21 tries, and Stanford hardly better at 3 of 28.

Dijonai was the player of the game. In 31 minutes she scored a team-high 13 points and pulled down a personal-record 22 rebounds, for her first career double-double. Except for Riverside's sparkplug Michelle Curry, who scored 15, Dijonai was the high scorer. She would have had more points had she connected on any of the eight three-point attempts she put up.

Alanna, who was consistently double- or triple-teamed, had eleven points, four rebounds, a steal and a block.

Kaylee had eight points on 4-6 shooting (she hit her first four attempts), and collected ten rebounds, three blocks and a steal.

Marta had six points, all on free throws. She drove to the basket five times, never connecting but being fouled three times. She tallied four assists against two turnovers.

Maya played 17 minutes, scored five points, found three rebounds and blocked one shot.

Kiana played 14 minutes at the point, hit one of Stanford's three, three-pointers, and tallied three assists with one turnover.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A video interview of Dijonai, "I tried to crash as hard as I could",

The audio press conference , with Tara and Dijonai.

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (,

November 15, 2017

Up Next: At home with Riverside and Bakersfield

The Cardinal have climbed out of the deep end of the pool and returned to Maples for games against UC Riverside on Friday evening at 7:00 pm and CSU Bakersfield on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm.

It's almost Thanksgiving, and Stanford Athletics is collecting canned food at both games. Bring some non-perishable goodies to help out — you can get a free general admission ticket for each donation.

There will be a chalk talk before each game and a Behind-the-Bench session after the game on Sunday.

  UC Riverside Highlanders

Riverside plays in the Big West Conference, along with Hawaii, UC Davis, and six other southern California schools. They've been picked to finish fifth this season.

They played USC on Monday night and lost 46-64.

Riverside's two most productive players from last season graduated, taking with them almost 40% of the team's scoring and rebounding. They'll likely be led this season by redshirt senior guard Lauren Holt and senior guard Michelle Curry.

The Cardinal and the Highlanders have met just once before — at Maples in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2010 (game story).

Here is Riverside's roster.

This is the media coverage of the game:

  CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners

The Roadrunners play in the WAC and are the only California team in the conference. The other members are all over the western half of the country — Chicago. Phoenix, Kansas City, New Mexico, Seattle, Texas, Utah. The Roadrunners not only travel a lot — they also play some very tough teams.

The game on Sunday is the third consecutive one between Stanford and Bakersfield, but with just one McCall this time — Bird's dad, head coach Greg McCall.

Coach McCall likes to challenge his team in the non-conference season. The Roadrunners played four Top25 teams last season, and placed fourth in the WAC with a 24-6 record. They've been picked to finish second this season

The Roadrunners are led by senior forward Aja Williams, who was named to the All-WAC second team. She averaged 11.2 points and 4.1 rebounds last season.She took 40% of her shots from beyond the arc and made 30% of them.

The Roadrunners' strongest player is redhshirt senior center Jazmyne Bartee. She averaged 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 8.0 points last season.

The Roadrunners have added a 6'5" junior college transfer, Nandi Jorden, to their roster this season. She has played just a few minutes in the Roadrunner's first two games of the season.

Here is Bakersfield's roster.

This is the media coverage of the game:

The Cardinal will wear their N7-inspired turquoise uniforms at this game in celebration of Honor Native American Heritage Month. The N7 philosophy embraces the Native philosophy: "In every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Read more about N7 in: Stanford partners with N7 (last season's story).

Learning and growing

From the Stanford Daily

Mikaela Brewer hopes,
"to broaden the view of athletes, and exemplify the side what most often isn’t seen; in my opinion, these characteristics of people are what builds great teams – not just in sports, but in life as a whole. Here’s a look into the first weekend of the season for the women’s basketball team:"
Read more: Looking beyond the final score

Laura Anderson, Ellie Chen and Gregory Block discuss the performance of Stanford women’s basketball last weekend in Columbus, and what the team can do moving forward: What can the Cardinal learn from a tough road trip?\

November 14, 2017

Brit named to Wooden Award watch list

Brittany McPhee was named to the John R. Wooden Award Women's Preseason Top 30 today. The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation's top five players, will be announced the week of the Final Four.

Read more from:

Stanford Athletics: Under consideration
The Wooden Award: John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s announces 2017-18 preseason top 30

November 12, 2017

Hounded out of Columbus by Huskies, 53-78

This game was the inverse of the previous one. Against Ohio State, Stanford played equal in the first half but was stifled in the second.

Against the Huskies, the Cardinal was flattened in the first half, but in the second played at a respectable level. Although the final was a 25-point loss, it could have been much, much worse without a strong second-half recovery.

UConn's defense dominated the first half. The Huskies seemed to anticipate every Cardinal move. Pass after pass was deflected or intercepted. In one single Stanford possession, UConn deflected three successive passes, two recovered by Stanford and the third going out of bounds.

This extremely smart, active defense led to 24 UConn points off 15 Cardinal turnovers, and held the Cardinal to a dismal 16.7% field goal percentage in the half.

As a result Stanford scored only 10 points in the first quarter, and an abysmal four points in the second, to end the half at 14-49. During the halftime break we began wondering if this could be a record-bad game. Stanford seemed to be on track to match its previous records for lowest score (31) and worst FG percentage (19.3).

We'll never know what Tara had to say, or what adjustments were made, but the second half was a much better story, so that no bad records were matched or broken in this game.

In fact, Stanford outscored UConn 19-18 in the third quarter, and in the fourth, when Geno Auriemma was giving his reserves playing time, Stanford won the quarter 20-11.

During the second half Dijonai proved herself as an offensive threat, scoring a career-high 21 for the game on 8-15 shooting. She scored in the paint, and hit 3 of 8 three-pointers, as well as collecting seven rebounds.

No other Cardinal made double digits. Brittany had nine points, but only made 3 of 12 attempts: UConn was clearly ready for her usual slashing drives to the basket, and she hit only one of five long-range shots. Alanna had eight points and the game-high 10 rebounds.

Kiana had 26 minutes at point and although she notched no assists, she scored seven points, hitting a three, a layup, and two free-throws, and committed no turnovers. Marta, in her 14 minutes at the point, took a single three-point try and hit it, as well as dishing three assists. Shannon also hit her single three-point try.

This weekend has given the team what Tara expected: a clear illustration of what they need to do to be great. But it has also shown how close they can be to the elite level, having played even with OSU for a half, and with the Huskies for another half. In coming weeks we will see how well these lessons have been learned.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

And the audio press conference , with Tara.

November 11, 2017

Alanna named to Lisa Leslie Award watch list

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday that Alanna Smith is one of 20 players on the watch list for the 2018 Lisa Leslie Award. The award is named after the three-time All-American and 1994 National Player of the Year, and recognizes the top centers in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball.

Read more from:

Stanford Athletics: Smith up for Leslie Award
The Basketball Hall of Fame: Lisa Leslie Award

November 10, 2017

Over-boarded in Ohio, 64-85

Updated Nov 11: Added links to videos and audio press conference.

Both Ohio State and Stanford claimed to want to run a fast game with lots of running and ball movement. Tara welcomed this matchup, saying it would show the freshmen "what pace really means".

In fact, Stanford did run well with the Buckeyes, at least in the first half, which was a footrace from start to finish. The first quarter ended 24-27, with both teams on pace to score over 90. Early in the second quarter Stanford took their only lead of the game at 33-32. The first half ended with a score of 40-46, and the Cardinal could go to the locker room feeling they were doing respectably well.

Throughout the third quarter something other than speed came into play — rebounding. The Buckeyes simply dominated the glass, getting one second-chance point after another. Late in the game, the TV commentators noted that Ohio had a 28-2 advantage in second-chance points -- which was more than enough to account for the score differential.

Central to OSU's rebounding was the play of Stephanie Mavunga, who in the third quarter reached a career high of 18 rebounds but didn't slow down, ending the game with 26 rebounds, 14 of them offensive. (Mavunga also had 17 points, 4 blocks, 3 assists and 2 steals.)

The final tally on rebounds was 41-64. Most other team stats were close, so that was the deciding factor. For example, field goal percentage was 36.9 for Stanford, 34.5 for OSU. However, thanks largely to O-boards, OSU took 19 more shots than Stanford (29 of 84, vs. 24 of 65).

If Mavunga was OSU's heart, Brittany was Stanford's. She played 34 minutes and scored 24 points, including a game highlight that we will see often in the future: At the end of the first half she took an inbound with 4 seconds on the clock. With 1.4 seconds left she launched a shot from mid-court that dropped in on the buzzer.

No other Cardinal was in double-digits. Alanna and Nadia had eight. Also with eight points was Alyssa, who played 17 minutes in her freshman debut and dropped in two three-pointers, and had two rebounds and a block.

Maya had seven points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in 26 minutes on the court. Dijonai had six points and five rebounds. Marta played 33 minutes, had the team-high eight rebounds, three points (on free-throws), and five assists (but five turnovers).

All other players had some time on the court but were unable to affect the outcome.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics.

The game highlights video,

And the audio press conference , with Tara and Brittany.

November 09, 2017

Up next: Buckeyes and Huskies in Columbus

The Cardinal are in Ohio this weekend, playing what may be their toughest season-start ever.

This weekend also marks the debut of the first-ever professional audio coverage of Stanford Women's Basketball. This season, there will be live audio broadcasts of all women's (and men's) games available via Sidearm Sports. Read more in the Stanford Athletics announcement: Enhanced Basketball Coverage.

First up is a game at Ohio State on Friday at 3:00 pm PT (6:00 pm ET). The game will be Tara’s first game back in Columbus since she coached the Buckeyes from 1981-85.

Media coverage:

TV: Big Ten Network
Video: BTN2GO
Audio: Sidearm Sports
Live Stats: Game Tracker

The Buckeyes made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year, where they lost to Notre Dame. They've won 15 Big Ten championships and have been picked to win again this year. They're ranked 5/8 in the preseason national polls.

They're a very experienced mature team, but a bit short-handed. Eight of the eleven players are upperclassmen.

The Buckeyes are led by the shooting and ball-handling of All-American senior guard Kelsey Mitchell who averaged 22.6 ppg last season and made 115 three-pointers. She enters this season with 2,553 points and has a chance to break Kelsey Plum's NCAA scoring record (she's 974 points shy, and she scored 889 in 34 games in her sophomore year).

Mitchell also averaged 3.9 assists per game with a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio last season

Redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga averaged a double-double (11.4 ppg, 10.8 rpg) last season, but missed 13 games due to injuries.

This summer she decided she needed to slim down, gain muscle and get in better shape. Head coach Kevin McGuff said, "She’s really taken her physical stature to another level. I’ve actually never been around a player, in over 20 years coaching, who’s done more in terms of her diet to change her body."

Mavunga credits her brothers and her sister-in-law, Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga, for helping her stick to her new healthy regime.

In their opening exhibition game this season, the Buckeyes completed their starting lineup with three more guards: redshirt junior Sierra Calhoun (9.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg), redshirt senior Linnae Harper (8.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg), and senior Asia Doss (5.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg).

Here is Ohio State's roster.

On Sunday, the Cardinal head to the Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus (the site of the 2018 Final Four) to kick off the Countdown to Columbus event with a game vs Connecticut at 10:30 am PT (1:30 pm ET).

Media coverage:

Video: WatchESPN
Audio: Sidearm Sports

Maturity ... youth ... the Huskies, who have been deemed better than ever this year, have both and are picked to win it all again.

All the key contributors are back: Senior guard Kia Nurse (12.7 ppg, 3.9 apg), senior forward Gabby Williams (14.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 5.1 apg), junior guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (20.2 ppg, 3.2 apg) and junior forward Napheesa Collier (20.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg).

And redshirt junior forward Azurá Stevens, a 6-foot-6 Duke transfer, could be the best of the bunch.

Depth, the one area that could be seen as a UConn vulnerability the past few seasons, is now just another strength when you add in sophomore guard Crystal Dangerfield, the No. 1 recruit in 2016 who has reportedly improved in the offseason and a stellar freshman class: Guard/forward Megan Walker, this year's top high schooler, and two more top-20 recruits.

I'm sure they would all like nothing better than starting a new winning streak with a victory over their nemesis.

Here is the Connecticut roster .

Expectations of the new season

Alexandre Bucquet (Stanford Daily) evaluates the roles that the upperclassmen will play this season: Women’s basketball season preview: Seniors stepping up

Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle) writes about the freshman and their first look at big-time college hoops: Stanford women’s basketball: Heralded freshmen will have to wait their turn

Laura Anderson, Gregory Block and Ellie Chen (Stanford Daily) discuss what the team needs to do to succeed this season: Women’s basketball roundtable: Season preview

Michelle Smith (Pac-12) summarizes the non-conference schedule of each of the Pac-12 teams: Preview of the non-conference Pac-12 women's basketball slate

Scott Wolf (Orange County Register) includes lots of fun trivia in : Why the Pac-12 is among the best in women’s basketball

November 07, 2017

Brit makes Drysdale watch list

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today that Brittany McPhee is one of 20 players on the watch list for the 2018 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award. This is a new award that recognizes the top shooting guard in women's college basketball.

Read more from:

Stanford Athletics: McPhee makes watch list
The Basketball Hall of Fame: Ann Meyers Drysdale Award

2018 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Candidates
Darby MaggardBelmont
Katie Lou SamuelsonConnecticut
Ashton MillenderDePaul
Rebecca Greenwell Duke
Asia Durr Louisville
Chloe Jackson LSU
Natisha Hiedeman Marquette
Allazia Blockton Marquette
Kaila Charles Maryland
Victoria Vivians Mississippi State
Arike Ogunbowale Notre Dame
Lexi Bando Oregon
Jovana Nogic Providence
Jaycee Bradley South Dakota
Kitija Laksa South Florida
Akina Wellere St. John's
Brittany McPhee Stanford
Dannie Williams Texas A&M
Kennedy Burke UCLA
Tynice Martin West Virginia

Preseason rankings

Charlie Creme's first bracket of the 2017-18 season includes six Pac-12 teams.

Albany Region
5 Arizona State
7 Oregon State
Lexington Region
4 Oregon
Kansas City Region
Spokane Region
1 Stanford
6 California
Here's the complete bracket.

espnW's Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel place the same six Pac-12 teams in their top 25 with these evaluations:

6. Stanford Cardinal

The Cardinal reached their 13th Final Four a year ago because of senior leadership and a few underclassmen raising their level of play when it mattered most. Opening the season with Ohio State and UConn will immediately tell us if McPhee, a senior, and Smith, a junior, can be the leaders Stanford needs. McPhee broke out in the NCAA tournament, averaging better than 17 PPG, including 27 points in an Elite Eight comeback against Notre Dame. The 6-3 Smith has a chance to become one of the top post players in the country. Nadia Fingall, a 6-3 sophomore, also figures to be improved, and Johnson, a senior, rebounds, defends and does all the little things. Freshman forward Maya Dodson figures to be a major contributor by the time Pac-12 play rolls around. Marta Sniezek (4.4 APG in 2016-17) is back at the point but will get help from top-10 recruit Kiana Williams.

8. Oregon Ducks

Reaching the Elite Eight last March might have accelerated Kelly Graves' rebuilding plan by a year or two. Now come the expectations. His two best players -- Hebard and Ionescu -- are still only sophomores, and the top seven scorers from a year ago are back. Bando and Maite Cazorla are more than just 3-point shooters, but that is their biggest strength. Along with Ionescu, they made the Ducks the most accurate long-range team in the Pac-12 (the Ducks averaged 6.1 3-pointers per game and shot 39.2 percent from beyond the arc). Hebard, already a calm, steady force in the post, led the conference in field goal percentage. The Ducks might have gotten even more versatile with the addition of athletic 6-4 freshman wing Satou Sabally of Germany. With a nonconference schedule that includes games against Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and possible matchups with Louisville and Michigan in the Preseason WNIT, Graves' talented bunch will be even better prepared for a deep tournament run.

12. UCLA Bruins

The Bruins are coming off back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances for the first time in school history. Merely reaching a third straight would be a disappointment. Much of what Cori Close has done to rebuild the program was pointed to this season, Canada's senior year. The ultra-quick, All-American point guard directs much of what the Bruins do on offense but also has plenty of veteran help around her. The 6-4 Billings is one of the best and most versatile post players in the country, while Burke gives UCLA a third double-figure, veteran scorer. Close brought in a top-notch recruiting class headlined by athletic 5-11 forward Michaela Onyenwere, but none of the newcomers address the Bruins' biggest weakness: They shot just 30.5 percent from 3-point range a year ago, and the two shooters who combined for 125 of UCLA's 216 made 3-pointers last season are gone.

22. Oregon State Beavers

No one single player was as important to her team last season as Sydney Wiese was to the Beavers. She led the team in minutes, scoring, assists, 3-point shooting and free throw percentage. Wiese dictated everything Oregon State did -- and now she's gone. That opens the door for the next wave of talent in the program coach Scott Rueck has built from scratch. Sophomore guard Pivec looks like the player ready to take the mantel from Wiese. Pivec's aggressiveness coupled with added opportunity should translate to more production. Gulich, a 6-5 senior, will have to dominate for longer stretches but could have some help inside from 6-3 freshman Taya Corosdale.

23. California Golden Bears

With a roster full of returning veterans and Anigwe, a junior forward, primed to ascend to the top players in the game, the Bears should have an easier time reaching the NCAA tournament than they last season, when they were among the last four in. Much of that will depend on the guard play and perimeter shooting that lacked consistency a year ago. Point guard Thomas should get more help if sophomores Mi'Cole Cayton and Jaelyn Brown are improved, and freshman Kianna Smith plays like the top-20 recruit she was. Cowling, a senior wing, was Cal's leader in assists, steals, free throw percentage and minutes a year ago and is the glue.

25. Arizona State Sun Devils

During South Carolina's run to its first national championship, the toughest game the Gamecocks faced in the tournament was against Charli Turner Thorne's Sun Devils. Arizona State always seems to be a tough out. That shouldn't change in 2018 even though Turner Thorne will have to orchestrate a transition from a post-oriented offense to one dominated by the backcourt. Hard-nosed and highly regarded guards Richardson and Ryan move into their sophomore years and will have all-time ASU great Briann January to help them in her first season as an assistant coach. The duo, along with junior guard Haines, will have to score more to compensate for the nearly 29 PPG lost with the graduations of the reliable frontcourt trio of Sophie Brunner, Quinn Dornstauder and Kelsey Moos. The healthy return of 6-1 sophomore Jamie Ruden and the early development of 6-5 freshman Eva Rubin will determine how guard-heavy the Sun Devils will have to be.

Here is espnW's entire Top 25: UConn returns to top spot in espnW preseason rankings

And, finally, here are the national polls, which place Stanford at 10/9.

November 04, 2017

Cardinal tentative in exhibition opener vs. UCSD

Let the record show that the first basket of the 2017-18 season was a layup by Brittany from a pass by Alanna — and the second was another layup by Brittany from her own steal.

After this exciting start, Cardinal offense in the remainder of the first half was tentative and confused. The new, "Warrior-ized" offense that Tara is trying to create was only partially evident. Ball movement was fast and free; even the freshmen were passing the ball with confidence. And the defense baffled Heidi Vanderveer's UCSD Tritons and kept them from scoring for long stretches.

However, the ball wasn't going into the basket at the Stanford end of the floor, and the Division II Tritons were able to tie the score at 17 near the end of the second quarter. At the half, Stanford led by only 21-17. Also at the half, rebounding was almost even, and UCSD had more offensive rebounds.

There may have been some crisp words spoken in the locker room; at any rate early in the third quarter Stanford opened a 12-point lead. After that the two teams pretty much traded baskets the rest of the way to the final score of 60-46.

All four freshmen got playing time, and indeed during the final two minutes of the game, the squad on the floor consisted of four freshmen plus Mikaela Brewer. Of the frosh, Maya Dodson was the most impressive. Although she scored only a single free-throw, she had three blocks and seven rebounds, and impressed everyone with her speed and great wing-span. During the post-game presentations, Tara compared her to a young Nneka Ogwumike! (So, no pressure, kid.)

The scoring was mostly done by the upper class. Alanna led all scorers with 13, even though she missed all of her three-point attempts.

Alexa had eleven points, mostly from 3-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Alexa appears to have the green light to shoot whenever she likes; and if she can maintain a high average, other teams will have to defend her on the perimeter, opening the center.

Brittany had ten points. She no doubt would have had more, but she played only 13 minutes after she tweaked her ankle in a collision in the second quarter. (Post-game she was all smiles and said she was fine.)

Following the game Tara introduced the team, showering praise on everyone, and all the players seemed loose and happy.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score,

The audio press conference , with Tara, Marta and Alanna,

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (

November 02, 2017

Up first: VanDerveer vs VanDerveer

The fun starts again at Maples on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 with a family affair — an exhibition game between the Cardinal and Heidi VanDerveer's UC San Diego Tritons. This will be the third time that Tara and Heidi oppose each other as head coaches.

This is Heidi's sixth season as head coach at UCSD, an NCAA Division II school. The Tritons have won 70.5% of their games during Heidi's tenure. She was named the CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) Coach of the Year last season for the second straight time.

If you're a season ticket holder, stick around after the game for a "Meet & Greet" event organized by the Stanford ticket office. (Note: There will be several "Behind the Bench" sessions open to everyone this season. See the FBC Schedule for dates.)

Can't make it to Maples? You can listen to the KZSU broadcast and check live stats.

November 01, 2017

Leaders and the start of a journey

From the Stanford Daily:

Gregory Block completes the Daily's preview of the team with a look at the upperclassmen who are redefining themselves as team leaders this season: Women’s basketball preview: Leaders

Mikaela Brewer writes about how the definition of this season's team began in Italy: The journey to a new season