February 28, 2018

The Last Three Games: Is Stanford Tournament Ready?

By Warren Grimes

In its last two weekends of conference play, Stanford went 2-1, with one loss at Haas against an inspired Cal team, and one lost opportunity in Pullman. The Washington State game was cancelled because of the sudden death of that team’s strength and conditioning coach.

The game in Pullman could have aided this Stanford team in refining strategies entering the conference tournament. Still, we know that Tara VanDerveer is renowned for preparing her team for the postseason. That record is likely to continue. Victories are not guaranteed, but fans can expect a well-prepared and motivated Stanford team.

The last three games do suggest some strategies that are likely in the postseason.

First, not surprisingly, the team has settled into a seven-player rotation, with the five starters supplemented by DiJonai Carrington and Nadia Fingall coming off the bench. Each of the five starters received some sort of all-conference recognition this week. In the last three games, the seven players have accounted for 193 minutes (the Maples Cal game), 188 minutes (the Haas Cal game), and 200 minutes (the Washington game). This is the crew likely to bear the load in the post season.

To be sure, the rotation may be expanded a bit for the conference tournament because of the possibility of three games on consecutive days. If so, one could expect players such as Maya Dodson, Alyssa Jerome, and Shannon Coffee to get meaningful time.

Another VanDerveer strength has been to motivate each player to focus on key, team-enhancing roles for the tournament. Most of these roles have been practiced throughout the season. There is, however, likely to be change in point guard and shooting guard positions. Based on VanDerveer comments and the Washington game, Marta Sniezek may trade positions with Kiana Williams, with Williams taking over primary point guard responsibilities and Sniezek stepping into shooting guard shoes.

Why the change? There is at least some evidence that it worked in the Washington game, when Stanford racked up a season high-tying 86 points. Sniezek, who had taken only one shot and scored only two points in the previous two games against Cal, had seven attempts and 13 points in the game against Washington. She was the team’s third highest scorer. Without her offensive contribution, Stanford probably loses that game.

Giving Sniezek the shooting guard role takes some of the offensive management responsibilities off of her shoulders, allowing her to concentrate more on scoring. As a point guard, Sniezek was not a consistent scorer, often reluctant to shoot until and unless the shot clock was expiring. In the Washington game, she was taking open shots and making layups earlier in the shot clock. Now defenses will have to guard her closely or face the consequences.

Giving Williams primary point guard responsibilities has other potential advantages. Kiana is not afraid to pull the trigger from outside at any point in the shot clock, so defenders must confront her whenever she has the ball. Williams scores primarily in three ways, with three-pointers, layups, and pull-up jumpers. With these options, plus the option to pass to an open teammate, it seems wise to have the ball in her hands more often, and especially as the shot clock is expiring.

Collectively, these changes may make it more risky for defenders to clog the middle, a strategy that could limit the effectiveness of Brittany McPhee and Alanna Smith. Against Washington, Smith was planting herself in the corner for three-point shots, a strategy that also helps to unclog the middle. She shot only 2-8 from three-point range, but those two successes helped to stave off a Washington comeback.

Finally, there is Kaylee Johnson, who has played great defense all year and is the team’s best rebounder. I fully expect VanDerveer to talk to Johnson about being more of an offensive contributor in the postseason. Six of the seven players in the rotation are significant three-point threats, placing substantial pressure on opponents to guard the perimeter, and leaving Johnson more opportunities for interior moves. I fully expect Johnson to be looking to exploit that.

Here’s to great chemistry, focused role playing, and a successful postseason!

Pac-12 media honors for Brittany, Alanna, and Kiana

A panel of Pac-12 women’s basketball media members who cover the league agreed with the league’s coaches, voting Brittany and Alanna to the Pac-12 Media All-Pac-12 and Kiana to the Pac-12 Media All-Freshman team.

Read more:

2017-18 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Awards Announced, the Pac-12 announcement
Trio celebrated by media, the Stanford Athletics announcement

February 27, 2018

Tara and Britt honored as best of the Pac-12

The Pac-12 women's basketball head coaches voted these awards:

Pac-12 Player of the Year
Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon

Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year
Jordin Canada, UCLA

Pac-12 Freshman of the Year
Satou Sabally, Oregon

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Brittany McPhee, Stanford

John R. Wooden Coach of the Year
Tara VanDerveer, Stanford

Pac-12 Announces Annual Women's Basketball Awards

Top Honors for Two, Stanford Athletics announcement

Pac-12 honors for Brittany, Alanna, Kiana, Kaylee and Marta

The Pac-12 has announced the All-Conference teams that were selected in a vote of the league’s 12 coaches.

The Pac-12 Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, John R. Wooden Coach of the Year and Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors will be announced this evening at 5:00 pm on Pac-12 Network .

Kristine Anigwe, California
Monique Billings, UCLA
Jordin Canada, UCLA
Maite Cazorla, Oregon
Marie Gülich, Oregon State
Ruthy Hebard, Oregon
Borislava Hristova, Washington State
Megan Huff, Utah
Kianna Ibis, Arizona State
Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon
Kennedy Leonard, Colorado
Brittany McPhee, Stanford
Amber Melgoza, Washington
Kristen Simon, USC
Alanna Smith, Stanford

Honorable mention:
Jalea Bennett, ARIZ ; Kennedy Burke, UCLA; Mikayla Cowling, CAL; Aliyah Mazyck, USC; Katie McWilliams, OSU; Mikayla Pivec, OSU; Emily Potter, UTAH ; Robbi Ryan, ASU; Asha Thomas, CAL; Kat Tudor, OSU; Kiana Williams, STAN.

All-Freshman Team
Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA
Satou Sabally, Oregon
Kianna Smith, California
Sam Thomas, Arizona
Kiana Williams, Stanford

Honorable mention:
Kierra Collier, WASH; Taya Corosdale, OSU; Aleah Goodman, OSU; Annika Jank, COLO; Tori Williams, UTAH.

All-Defensive Team
Monique Williams, UCLA
Jordin Canada, UCLA
Marie Gülich, Oregon State
Aliyah Mazyck, USC
Minyon Moore, USC

Honorable mention:
Kristine Anigwe, CAL; Kennedy Burke, UCLA; Maite Cazorla, ORE; Mikayla Cowling, CAL; Kaylee Johnson, STAN; Kennedy Leonard, COLO; Katie McWilliams, OSU; Emily Potter, UTAH; Robbi Ryan, ASU; Marta Sniezek, STAN.

2017-18 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball All-Conference Teams Announced, Pac-12 announcement

Conference recognizes five, Stanford Athletics announcement

February 25, 2018

Pac-12 Tournament: Prologue

The Cardinal has earned the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12. The outcome of today's scheduled game vs Washington State -- win or lose -- would not have affected that ranking.

The Cardinal's first tournament game is on Friday March 2 at 6:00 pm against the winner of the first round game between Washington State and USC.

Here is the complete tournament bracket.

Oregon claims regular-season Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Title and No. 1 Seed by Pac-12 Conference

UCLA Bruins Earn the #4 Seed in Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament by Joe Piechowski (Bruins Nation)

Previewing the Pac-12 Tournament by Nick Krantz (California Golden Bears)

Stanford/WSU game cancelled

From Stanford Athletics:
Stanford joins Washington State in mourning the loss of the Cougars' director of strength and conditioning David Lang on Saturday afternoon. Due to his sudden passing, the Cardinal's regular-season finale at Washington State on Sunday has been cancelled.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to David's loved ones, his wife Brigitta and their children," Stanford's Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women's Basketball Tara VanDerveer said. "Everyone associated with women's basketball is part of an extremely close, extended family and receiving this news was absolutely devastating. Washington State may be our opponent at times on the court, but June, her staff and players are our dear friends and have our love and support during this difficult time."

Lang, a member of the WSU Athletics Department for 20 years, worked closely with many of the Cougars' roughly 450 student-athletes and directly with the women's basketball and men's and women's golf programs.

February 23, 2018

Cardinal snatches a win from the Huskies, 86-79

On this night in Seattle, Stanford: Hit 48% of their field goal tries; hit 12 of 29 three-point attempts, for 41%; massively out-rebounded their opponent, 38-22; had more than twice as many O-boards at 19-7; and led in blocks 4-0 ...

... and still the game was in doubt, and the Huskies had a good shot at winning, until the final minute.

That was mostly because UW sophomore Amber Melgoza had a career night, dropping 40 points on the Cardinal. If any other UW player had managed to get into double digit scoring, the game might well have gone the Huskies' way. Fortunately for Stanford, none did.

The game started well for the Cardinal with layups by Alanna and Kaylee, and threes from Kiana, DiJonai, Marta and then Marta again. But the Huskies were playing with confidence and high energy, and it seemed as if everything they (especially Melgoza) tossed up, fell through the hoop. Stanford's early lead was quickly erased and the first quarter ended with Washington up by eight, 18-26.

The Huskies enjoyed a lead until seven minutes into the second quarter. Then the Cardinal defense finally began to get control and the Huskies flat-lined for three minutes. At the half Stanford was up by seven, 42-35, and looking in charge.

But the Huskies were at home and Melgoza was unconscious and the game remained close. Whenever Stanford opened a lead, it seemed Washington would drop in a three to narrow the gap again. In the middle of the fourth quarter, Washington pulled within three points, 71-68.

From there, the game turned largely on offensive rebounds by Kaylee and Brittany, rebounds that extended Stanford possessions and led to second-chance scores. Without those the game would have been tight and might have swung Washington's way.

Brittany led all scorers not named Melgoza with 25 points, including three of eight long-range shots. She pulled in seven rebounds (three offensive, including two in the fourth quarter), and was credited with four assists and four steals.

Alanna had a good night, scoring 15 points, seven rebounds, three steals and a block.

Marta had a large offensive night for her, with 13 points including two early threes. She had three assists; unfortunately the Huskies' scrambling defense led her to commit four turnovers.

Nadia had ten points, hitting five of her five tries, plus four rebounds and a block.

Kiana had nine points, hitting three of seven three-point tries. According to Ros Gold-Onwude, commenting on the PAC-12 TV broadcast, Tara plans to have Kiana run "the one", the point-guard role, any time she's on the floor.

DiJonai played tough defense and scored eight points, including 2-2 three-pointers.

Kaylee had six points and thirteen rebounds, seven of them O-boards.

Having survived the season's penultimate game, the Cardinal hops over the hill to play at Washington State on Sunday. Then it's home to practice for the Tournament.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A video interview of Brittany, "We'll take the win as it is."

Brittany named to CoSIDA Academic All-District Team

Brittany was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District 8 Team on Thursday. She will now be placed on the ballot to vie for a spot on the 2018 CoSIDA Academic All-America Team.

We know all about Britt's athletic achievements. Perhaps less about her academic achievements — she's a human biology major with a 3.71 cumulative GPA.

Read more in the CoSIDA announcement and the Stanford Athletics announcement.

February 20, 2018

Tara honored with Integrity in Coaching award

The WBCA (Women's Basketball Coaching Association) honored Tara today as an active member coach who exemplifies spirit, integrity and character through sportsmanship, commitment to the student-athlete, honesty, ethical behavior, courage and dedication to purpose.

Describes our Cardinal coach to a 'T'!

Read more in the Stanford Athletics announcement.

February 19, 2018

It's crunch time

If the season ended today, the Cardinal would be the No. 4 seed in the Albany, New York region.

Click here for the NCAA's third and final Top 16 reveal of the season.

The Cardinal is in danger of falling out of the Top 16 if it doesn't bring its A-game to the remaining two conference games and the tournament.

UCLA, after trailing by 16 at halftime in Matt Knight Arena tonight, came back strong in the second half and tied it up at 90-all, but the Ducks won 101-94 in overtime.

The Pac-12 standings are now:

1. Oregon
2. Stanford
3. Oregon State & UCLA (tied)

UCLA plays the Mountain teams at home next weekend, the Oregons are on the road in Arizona, and Stanford is on the road in Washington.

There's little room for error.


February 17, 2018

Bears subdue Cardinal at Haas, 66-78

The Cardinal seemed out of rhythm from the first, missing many shots and conceding turnovers early. Brittany, Alanna and Kiana scored and the first quarter ended with the Cardinal down five, 16-21.

The second quarter was closer, with Stanford catching up to tie early. From there the game was close, tied or with Cal ahead by a couple, to the halftime score of 34-36.

The Cardinal no doubt came out of the locker room feeling they were in with a chance, but the game took a decisive turn in the first minutes of the third quarter: Cal scored on their first four possessions, and Stanford did not. That changed a close 34-36 contest to 34-44, and Tara had to call a timeout, during which she could be seen to be speaking at length with many hand gestures.

From there, the teams traded baskets until the middle of the fourth quarter, when a three by Alanna brought Stanford within two, at 60-62. But Asha Thomas and Mikayla Cowling hit quick threes to re-open the gap. In the final minutes, Cal made all their free-throws and Stanford was unable to score, bringing the final score to 66-78.

In the team stats, Cal was decisively better on rebounding, at 32-47, and at three-point shots, 35% to 19%.

Brittany led the Cardinal with 24 points, hitting 9-22 (but only 1 of 7 long-range tries).

Alanna posted 20 points, as well as nine rebounds, six steals, and two blocks.

Kiana had 14 points, two reboundsm and one steal, but no assists.

Kaylee had six points and three rebounds.

And that was about it for the Cardinal. The only other one that scored was DiJonai with two points on 1-8 shooting. Marta, Maya and Alyssa were the only others to even take a shot; each went 0-1.

Stanford now practices for a road trip to the Washington schools, after which it's off to the PAC-12 tournament.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

And the audio press conference with Tara, Brittany, and Alanna.

February 15, 2018

Cardinal tames Golden Bears at Maples, 74-69

The game began in excellent fashion with two layups by Alanna and two threes by Kiana. At the end of the quarter Stanford led by nine, at 22-13, and seemed comfortable.

In the second quarter the Golden Bears jarred them out of their comfy place, settling into a dogged defense. Stanford began missing; the Bears began rebounding; and half-way through the quarter, the score was tied at 29.

Less than a minute from the end of the half, Cal had a one-point lead, 34-35. Tara subbed in Shannon, one supposes simply to put a body on Cal's big girls without risking a foul by Alanna or Kaylee. This bit of routine strategy paid off when, with the clock winding down, Marta fired to Shannon on the perimeter and Shannon dropped in a three on the buzzer. The half ended with Stanford up 37-35 and Tara looking like a coaching genius.

The tight game continued into the third quarter. The score was tied at 40, and at 42, and at 44. Then came a decisive moment: with Stanford up three, 52-49, and 40 seconds to play, Nadia dropped in a three. Then a Cal foul gave the ball to Stanford with 16 seconds left, and Marta found Nadia for a smooth jumper, to end the quarter 57-49.

The run continued in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter, with a layup and a three from Kiana and a layup by Kaylee giving Stanford what should have been a comfortable 14-point lead, 65-51, at the 8-minute mark.

But then a scoring drought hit both teams. Stanford did not score a field goal in the rest of the game -- although they did score nine points on free throws. That let Cal come slowly back and made the final minutes dramatic; but Stanford hit their free throws and closed out the game 74-69.

Much of the success was due to defense. Stanford kept Cal's big girls, Anigwe and Davidson, to a total of three field goals and 14 points. Stanford conceded only 11 turnovers in an aggressive competitive game, and made 76% of their free throws.

Individually, Kiana led all scorers with a career-high 26 points. She hit 5 of 7 three-point tries and 7 of 9 free throws. She had three assists and four steals, against two turnovers.

Brittany collected 17 points despite a low shooting percentage due largely to Mikayla Cowling's tight defense. Britt hit 1-5 from three, and 4-15 from close in. She had two assists and two blocks, and two turnovers.

Nadia provided the spark at the end of the half that began the winning run. She had ten points in all, plus six rebounds, two assists, and a steal.

Alanna scored eight points, all in the first quarter. In only 18 minutes playing time she collected 7 rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Marta played 36 minutes. She only scored two points on free throws, but had six assists against two turnovers.

Kaylee played 34 minutes, had nine rebounds and six points.

Shannon was credited with only one minute on the floor, but that minute ended with her draining a three to send the Cardinal to the locker room with a half-time lead.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

The video press conference with Tara, Kiana, and Nadia,

A video interview of Kiana, "I came to Stanford for games like this,"

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (isiphotos.com).

February 14, 2018

Anticipating the Battle of the Bay

Here are some stories and a video about the Cardinal and the Bears on the eve of the Battle of the Bay:

February 13, 2018

Brittany still up for Naismith Player of the Year

The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced yesterday that Brittany remains one of 30 players under consideration for the 2018 Naismith Women's College Player of the Year.

Read more:

February 12, 2018

Top-16 in sight for Cardinal

After the Colorado game on Sunday, Tara said that the team's focus is now on winning through to an NCAA top-16 seed and more games in Maples Pavilion (in addition to the scheduled game against Cal on Thursday).

Although the Cardinal has won its last six games, its RPI slipped from 10 to 14 last week because the Mountain schools are among the least successful. Its RPI will likely slip again the last week of the season with games against the Washington Schools, whose RPIs are currently 85 and 167.

So the games against Cal (RPI currently 36) next week are critical, as is the Cardinal's performance in the Pac-12 tourney.

In spite of the RPI decrease, the Cardinal has moved up from #17 to #14 in the AP Top 25, and to a #4 seed (a top 16) in Charlie Creme's bracket.

Here are Creme's current bracket and bracketology report: Bracketology's biggest challenge: Which teams will get to host early-round games?

Of Stanford, he says:

Interestingly, Stanford — a team the Buckeyes beat twice earlier this season — is the chief beneficiary of Ohio State's fall (as well as stumbles by Michigan and Texas A&M). The Cardinal went from a 6-6 team to the co-leaders of the Pac-12 and now in the top 16 (No. 4 seed). With four games left in the regular season (Stanford should be considered a solid favorite in each) and a good run in the Pac-12 tournament, the Cardinal have the potential to climb as high as a No. 3 seed should teams in front of them stumble at all.

February 11, 2018

Cardinal rollerblades through the Buffaloes 62-53

Roger Miller gave it as an axiom in 1966 that You Can't Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd. Tonight, the Colorado Buffs did their best to prove that true, but Stanford strapped on their 'blades and rolled through an aggressive, obstructive defense to win.

Both sides opened with aggressive play, lots of grabbing and falling, but Stanford pulled ahead to a 9-3 lead at the first media timeout. Then the Buffs seemed to raise the level of their defense and pulled to a brief lead. The quarter ended at 13-10 Stanford.

The second quarter continued the rough, ragged play. In one zany possession two minutes in, Marta missed a layup, Kaylee got the rebound and missed the layup, Alanna got the rebound and also missed a layup; Colorado got that rebound and Kaylee fouled — all in the span of 10 seconds.

The score was tied at 17-all, then tied at 19-all. Brittany put Stanford ahead (for good, as it turned out), making the score 21-19 at the media timeout. For the remaining minutes of the half, Stanford reeled off a 14-2 run, for a half-time score of 35-21.

At the half the three point shooting was Stanford, 3 of 9, Colorado 2 of 15 — the Buffs were having a terrible shooting night against the Cardinal defense. Also at the half, the different styles of play were evident in the count of free throws: Stanford had taken 17 (making 10, tsk, tsk) while Colorado had taken exactly one.

Colorado's only answer to being down seemed to be, play harder; and rough play continued, with the crowd helpfully pointing out the many fouls the referees did not whistle at.

Then the officials seemed to tighten up and try to get control. Soon Alanna and Colorado's Maya Hollingshed tangled on an Alanna drive to the basket. On review, the referees awarded Alanna free throws for Hollingshed's foul, then awarded Colorado free throws for Alanna's arm swipe at Hollingshed during the foul (her third).

Half-way into the third quarter, Brittany grabbed a tenth rebound to secure a double-double.

Early in the fourth quarter Alanna was called for her fourth foul and apparently reacted too strongly, because she was immediately T'd-up for her fifth, and left the game.

The two teams played roughly (in two senses) equal the rest of the way and the game ended 62-53. In the final stats, Stanford had taken 35 free throws to Colorado's 12, a remarkable difference. Stanford conceded 21 turnovers, but so too did Colorado. It was a hectic night on the floor in general.

Brittany led all scorers with 25 points, seven of them from the 12 free throws she was awarded. She had 12 rebounds, and a steal and a block.

Marta had seven points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal, against one turnover. She spent a lot of her time flying or sliding across the floor being tackled by Buffalos.

DiJonai had seven points and seven rebounds, plus an assist and two steals; but she gave up four turnovers.

Alanna had six points on 2-11 shooting, and six rebounds.

Kaylee had five points plus 10 rebounds and two steals.

Following the game Brittany and Kaylee were honored by the fans.

Then the team went away to tend to their bruises and get ready for back-to-back games with Cal.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A video interview of Britt,

The video press conference with Tara, Brittany and Kaylee,

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (isiphotos.com).

February 09, 2018

Cardinal routs Utes, 70-49

Coming off a very successful Oregon trip, the Stanford team was intent on not slacking off against Utah and their star, 6-6 Emily Potter, who was shooting 50% in the paint, as well as two other players shooting 40% or more from the three.

The game was close — for about two minutes. Then Brittany broke it open with a three and two layups and Utah called time with the score 11-6 (McPhee having 9). Following that break, Marta hit a three, Nadia did too, and Marta hit another, to end the quarter up 20-9. The result was never in doubt after that.

The second quarter was notable for having no scoring at all for nearly four minutes. Kiana broke the drought with a three, and the rest of the quarter was a disaster for the Utes, with the halftime score 39-15, or 19-4 Cardinal for the period. Throughout the half, Stanford defenders had doubled Potter whenever the ball reached her, and at the break, Potter's only points were from free-throws. The Utes' other hot shooters had four points each.

During the break the Utah coach made some sort of adjustment, and in the third quarter Potter and the others began to score a bit more freely. That quarter ended 57-34. It was marked by some success for Maya, who finished two layups over the Utah defenders.

The final quarter was handled mostly by the practice team and the clock wound down to the final result of 70-49.

While turnovers were not quite as low as the preceding two games, Stanford turned the ball over only ten times, a very respectable number. And they hit 5 of 6 free throws.

Brittany's outburst of nine quick points in the first quarter established a decisive lead for the Cardinal. In all she had 18 points and three assists in only 25 minutes of play.

Marta hit three of three from beyond the arc, and two of two free-throws, for 11 points. She had four assists, a steal, and a block against one turnover.

Nadia came off the bench for 21 minutes during which she earned ten points, an assist, two steals, and two blocks.

Kaylee turned toward the basket more often than usual and hit 4 of 6 layup attempts, as well as five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block.

Alanna played only 13 minutes, but had eight points, four rebounds and a steal in that time.

Kiana, playing in a mask to protect the nose injured by Brittany's tooth in the collision at Oregon, nevertheless played 34 minutes, scoring seven points and recording six rebounds and five assists with zero turnovers.

In twelve minutes on the floor, Maya hit three of four shots and pulled in three rebounds.

Next up, Stanford welcomes the Colorado Buffaloes, currently 3-10 in conference games, on Sunday afternoon. After the game, Kaylee and Brittany will be honored with a Senior Day celebration.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

The video press conference with Tara and Nadia,

And a gallery of photos by Karen Hickey (Stanford Athletics).

February 08, 2018

Thank you Kaylee and Brittany

Sunday is Senior Day.

Kaylee and Brittany will be honored after the game against Colorado.

Click here for Kayl's and Britt's reflections on their time at Stanford and a message from Tara.

Interviews of Tara and Britt

The Bootleg interviews Tara and Britt:

Tara talks about the Oregon trip and next steps

Britt talks about big weekend in Oregon and what's next

Cardinal Rising

From the Stanford Daily:

Alexandre Bucquet and Jose Saldana discuss how the Cardinal upset the Oregon schools on the road and how they can avoid letting down in the upcoming games:
Women’s basketball roundtable: Cardinal rising

Mikaela Brewer writes about: Character

February 07, 2018

More honors for Brittany

Brittany picked up two more national awards on Tuesday when she was named both U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Naismith Trophy Player of the Week.

Read more in the Stanford Athletics announcement: More for McPhee

NCAA.com's Starting Five honored Brittany as a standout competitor, one of the top women's basketball players in the country, in this article.

February 06, 2018

The Cardinal has moved up

Up into a three-way tie with Oregon and UCLA for first place in the Pac-12 Conference.
Up to the #1 seed for the Pac-12 Tournament if they win their remaining six games against the Rocky Mountain schools, the Washington schools and Cal. Oregon will play UCLA in Eugene week after next, so one of them will drop to #2, at best, and Stanford holds the tie break.
Up to an RPI of 12 from last week's 20.
Up from #24 to #17 in the the AP top 25.
Up from 'not ranked' to #21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll
Up from 'no way' to a possible inclusion in the NCAA Selection Committee's top 16. There's a long way to go before that decision, but Stanford's chance to be among the Top 16 and host NCAA 1st and 2nd rounds has improved dramatically.

February 05, 2018

Last Weekend: Stanford the Brave

By Warren Grimes

The Scottish army went into battle with bagpipes in the front ranks, playing Scotland the Brave. Bagpipes can be heard for miles. So even the most intrepid foe, hearing the pipes echoing in the hills, must have shaken in their boots. Imagine how this fear must have multiplied when they saw, in the front ranks, the flag of the McPhee clan.

Well, the bagpipes must have been playing this past weekend in Oregon. Intrepid McPhee (aka Brittany the Brave), and her honorary Scottish mates, won two upset victories over higher ranked teams playing on their home courts. True to form, Coach McVanDerveer has her team playing at its best in the second half of the season.

Stanford entered the weekend with a resume of best in conference defensive stats. The previous weekend, the team had demonstrated a mastery of ball control (few turnovers and lots of assists). It was clear that they could beat the Oregon schools. But the odds were against it. These would be two excellent, higher-ranked opponents fighting to protect home turf. Stanford had clear vulnerabilities (erratic 3-point shooting and miserable conversion at the charity stripe).

The first foe was 16th ranked Oregon State, which had won all of its conference home games and was shooting over 40% from distance (best in conference). The house was packed with Beaver fans. Stanford started on an 11 point run, but soon yielded that lead, and fell behind by 6 points early in the second half. McPhee kept the team going with a double double (18 points and 12 boards). So did McWilliams (Kiana), our San Antonio freshman, who tossed in 14 points and 2 steals. Stanford played defense on OSU’s most prolific scorers and rode home with a three point win.

That was a significant upset, and most gratifying. But Stanford shot 10.5% (2-19) from distance and only 50% (6-12) on free throws. That did not portend well for Sunday’s contest against Number 6 Oregon, the highest scoring team in the conference. I hardened myself by expecting the Ducks to win, but hoped otherwise.

On Sunday, the bag pipes were absent in the first half. Kaylee McJohnson was benched after the first 2 minutes with 2 fouls. Stanford was massively out rebounded in that half (23 to 13), demonstrating Johnson’s importance to that element of the game. Supported by another packed house, Oregon ended the half up by 9 points (41 to 31). McPhee had only 2 points and seemed destined for game obscurity.

Enter ESPN star half-time commentators Andy Landers and Rebecca Lobo. They couldn’t say enough about Oregon’s preeminence. Stanford was relevant only as an out-classed opponent. To listen to them, the outcome was a done deal. But Landers and Lobo didn’t know Scottish history. Apparently, neither did the Duck team.

At the start of the second half, the Ducks extended their lead to 11. Then, the bagpipes sounded.

From that point, McPhee was everywhere, making it seem the entire clan was there. She scored 31 points in the half (to Oregon’s total of 24). Honorary Scots McWilliams and McSmith (Alanna) added most of an additional 15. Altogether, Stanford almost doubled Oregon’s point output in the half (46 to 24). Johnson was back and Stanford outboarded Oregon 21 to 13 in the half. By the final minutes, Oregon was Mcfrustrated and Mcdevastated, hardly the 6th best team in the nation.

More good news. Stanford shot 39.1 percent from distance (with McWilliams and McPhee doing most of the damage) and 70% (that’s right 70%) from the free throw line. All in all, McPhee had a career weekend, deserving Scot of the Week and all kinds of other weekly honors.

Stanford now has a reasonable path to at least a tie for the conference championship. They have to win out in the last six games, including two against a good California team. That’s a doable task . . .

. . . as long as they bring the bagpipes.

Cardinal earns 3 (three!) Player of the Week awards

Brittany's brilliant performance in Stanford's victory over Oregon on Sunday earned her two Player of the Week awards.

Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel voted her espnW's national player of the week: Stanford's Brittany McPhee named espnW's player of the week

And Pac-12 Player of the Week: Brittany McPhee, SR, G, Stanford (Normandy Park, Wash.)

  • 2 GP, 25.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 22-40 (.550), 4-8 FT (.500), 3 ast, 2 blk
  • Led then-No. 24 Stanford sweep a pair of ranked opponents on the road, beating then-No. 16 Oregon State (60-57) and then-No. 6 Oregon (78-65).
  • Started the weekend with her second career double-double, going for 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds against the Beavers, tallying 10 points and eight rebounds in the second half.
  • Scored 31 of her career-high 33 points in the second half at Oregon to propel the Cardinal to a win over its highest-ranked opponent on the road since it won at No. 3 Rutgers in 2007.
  • Scored Stanford's final 19 points of the game, singlehandedly outscoring the Ducks in the second half (31-24). She made the Cardinal's final nine field goals over the last nine minutes and shot 13-of-18 (.722) from the floor in the second half.
  • First weekly honor for McPhee and 107th all-time for Stanford.
And Kiana's two 14-point games earned her;

Pac-12 Freshman of the Week: Kiana Williams, FR, G, Stanford (San Antonio, Texas)

  • 2 GP, 14.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 11-24 (.458), 1-2 FT (.500), 4 stl, 6 ast, 1 blk
  • Scored 14 points in each game of Stanford's road sweep of then-No. 16 Oregon State (60-57) and then-No. 6 Oregon (78-65).
  • Helped the Cardinal come back from a third-quarter deficit at OSU, consistently knocking down mid-range pull-up jumpers.
  • One shy of her career high with four made 3-pointers as part of a 14-point effort at Oregon.
  • Scored in double figures in 12 of her last 17 games, averaging 10.8 points in 12 conference games, tops among Pac-12 freshman.
  • Second weekly honor for Williams and 7th all-time freshman award for Stanford.

February 04, 2018

Cardinal stuns Ducks with McPhee outburst, 78-65

Two days ago, the 6th-ranked Oregon Ducks laid a 40-point whuppin' on Cal, using 28 points from their sophomore star, Sabrina Ionescu. The question coming into this game was, could Stanford's agile, smart defense contain the Oregon scorers and keep them from running away with the game? Most fans would have accepted a respectable loss, say by fewer than ten points, as a decent outcome for this road trip.

The Ducks certainly started like a national #6, with three quick makes by Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard. With the score 0-9, Tara did not call time but she did run in DiJonai, Nadia, and Maya to replace three starters. This change of faces got results, too, as DiJonai and Kiana scored, and Kiana dropped a three to tie the game. The quarter ended with Stanford up by one, 16-15.

In the second quarter Stanford briefly luxuriated in a five-point lead. Then Ionescu drove for a crowd-pleasing reverse layup, hit a three, was fouled and hit a free throw. From there the Ducks pulled away to a nine-point lead, going into halftime 32-41. In this quarter they outscored Stanford 16-26 and looked like winners.

It must be noted that, to this point, Brittany had notched only two points. During half-time, however, she apparently gulped an energy drink. Five minutes into the third quarter, she and Alanna had erased the nine-point deficit to tie the score. A few minutes later there was a hard collision between at least three players. Kiana left the floor holding a bloody nose. This was serious, as Kiana had contributed 14 points thus far, and was doing well on defense. She was able to re-enter the game briefly later, but as it turned out, wasn't needed for scoring.

The third quarter ended with Stanford ahead 57-54, having outscored Oregon 25-13. Brittany had 16 at this point. Although it was still anyone's game, and Alanna and Kaylee each had four fouls, it was at least a real contest.

The score stayed close for several more minutes. At 5:08, Ionescu made a free throw to bring the score to 67-65, a two point game; and everyone settled in for a nail-biting finish. That was not what ensued.

What happened was that Stanford shut Oregon down. The Ducks did not score another point in the remaining 5 minutes. Meanwhile, Brittany became unstoppable. In that time she hit a three, made a jumper, made another jumper off a steal by Kiana, made a layup, and a final jumper to finish the scoring. Part of the shutdown was due to crucial offensive rebounds by Alanna and Kaylee, and a steal by Marta, each of which gave the Cardinal an extra shot clock as the game was running out.

Brittany led all scorers with 33 points, a personal best, and 31 of them in the second half (she actually scored the last 19 points by the Cardinal). She had two rebounds and two assists as well.

Kiana had 14 points, four assists, two steals and a block.

Alanna had 14 points, two assists, a steal and four blocks. She pulled in seven rebounds, one of which, in the final minute, was very important in keeping the Cardinal in control.

DiJonai had six points, three assists and two steals, and worked hard to keep Stanford in the game in the first and second quarters.

Nadia had five points and a steal, and also helped stabilize the first quarter.

Marta played 35 minutes, scored only four points, but had five assists and two steals against a single turnover.

In general Stanford demonstrated recovery from its early-season problems. In particular, the Cardinal conceded only six turnovers for the game (against 15 for the Ducks), and hit 7 of 10 free-throw attempts.

With a high-profile road sweep of two highly-ranked competitors, Stanford will be up in the polls. The Cardinal now return home for what ought to be a successful stand against Colorado and Utah, and two games with Cal.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

The Stanford audio press conference with Tara and Brittany,

The Oregon video press conference with Kelly Graves and Sabrina Ionescu,

And photos by Chris Pietsch (Eugene Register-Press):

Brittany on her 19-point run
DiJonai drives to the basket
Alanna and Sabrina Ionescu fight for possession
Kiana, Kaylee and Britt surround Ruthy Hebard

February 02, 2018

Cardinal dams Beavers' flow, 60-57

The Cardinal got off to a brilliant start, with assistance from the OSU shooters who missed their first seven attempts, while Stanford hit four of their first six. With the score 11-0, Scott Rueck had to call time. After that, OSU got it together and began to score. Ironically, this situation would find its exact mirror image at the start of the second half. Meantime, the first quarter ended with Stanford up 21-15.

The Beavers tied the score half-way into the second quarter. Then the teams played tight, defensive ball for five minutes, and went to the locker rooms with Stanford up one, 28-27. At this point, Stanford trailed in rebounds by a few.

At the start of the half, OSU hit on three successive possessions while Stanford missed every attempt. Tara was forced to call time at 8:16 with OSU up 28-34 and threatening to put the game away.

But now Stanford tightened up its defense, and also began to scoop up rebounds. As a result, through the middle of the third quarter Stanford tallied a 17-2 run. OSU recovered a bit, but the quarter ended with Stanford ahead 47-40, and ahead on rebounds 39-31, a big change from the first half.

The Beavers were too good to go quietly; they began to work back into the game in the fourth quarter. The score was 57-54 at the two-minute mark, and 59-57 with 18 seconds to go, with the ball in OSU's hands. However, Marie Gulich missed what would have been a tying layup, and Kaylee controlled the rebound. OSU had to foul twice before Marta went to the line with 14 seconds on the clock, needing only to make two free throws to ice the win.

She missed the first.

She missed the second! -- but somehow, Alanna controlled the rebound. That one rebound changed the game. Instead of OSU having a chance to score, they had to foul again. That sent Brittany to the line with nine seconds on the clock. She made one (60-57) but missed the second and OSU controlled. They called time to inbound the ball from their bench, with nine seconds to tie the score.

The ball went in -- and dropped into the hands of DiJonai, streaking across its path. She loped a curved pattern around the basket while time expired.

The game was won on defense and ball control. There were long stretches when the Stanford defense seemed to have OSU confused. In particular they collapsed instantly whenever the ball got into the paint, forcing missed layups, blocks and turnovers.

Stanford grabbed 44 rebounds to OSU's 35 and -- very much unlike earlier games -- committed only six turnovers.

Brittany led all scorers with 18 points. She recorded 12 rebounds for a double-double, plus an assist, a steal, and two blocks.

Kiana had 14 points, hitting only one of five three-point shots, but going 5-6 for jumpers and layups. She had two assists and two steals, and conceded two turnovers.

Alanna had eleven points on 5-12 shooting, three steals and three blocks. She also had six rebounds, one of which, on Marta's missed free-throw, changed the course of the end-game in Stanford's favor.

DiJonai had nine points, three rebounds, three assists, and just one steal -- but a steal that sealed the win.

Marta had four points, three assists, and two steals against only one turnover.

With one important road win in their pocket the Cardinal will now prepare for the sixth-ranked, 20-3 Oregon Ducks.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A video interview of Kiana about Stanford's "grind it out" win.

The video press conference with Tara, Britt, and Kiana,

And a gallery of photos by Andy Cripe (Mid-Valley Media).

Oregon expectations

The Stanford Daily roundtable discussion of this weekend's games vs Oregon State and Oregon:

Women’s basketball roundtable: Oregon roundtrip

And some stories about the Beavers and Ducks:

February 01, 2018

Beavers and Ducks fear the Tree

“Every time you play them you know that they’re going to be as prepared as anyone ever is to play you,” [Oregon State head coach] Rueck said Wednesday morning. “They’re going to be disciplined, they’re going to be efficient and it’s going to take a huge effort to compete in the game and give yourself a chance to win the game.”
Read more: OSU women's basketball: Beavers set to face Stanford in key Pac-12 showdown by Steve Gress (Albany Democrat-Herald)

“They’ve been the standard, really over the last couple decades, by which all of us are judged,” [Oregon head coach] Graves said. “So anytime you beat Stanford that’s a good day. But we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Read more: Oregon Ducks women’s basketball enters key weekend against Stanford, Cal by Ryan Thorburn (The Register-Guard) Anabel Ortiz / Mid Valley Media