March 26, 2019

So Far, So Good

Warren Grimes

The Stanford women have won all five of their post season games so far.  That brings us to the Sweet Sixteen this Saturday against a Cinderella team, Missouri State.  Stanford’s success in that game, and in any additional games that follow, will turn on how well the team executes on defense.  I say this because the Stanford offense, though potent in its own right, has not demonstrated the consistency and high offensive production of teams like Notre Dame and Oregon.  For what it’s worth, Stanford has averaged 74.8 points per game, compared to Notre Dame’s 89.2 and Oregon’s 86.

Stanford’s vaunted Scout defense is part of the formula for success, but that’s only part of the story.  No matter how informed, no matter how knowledgeable about the other team’s star players, no matter how well the other team’s tendencies are known, defense has to be played with focus and intensity.  The good news is that, so far in five post season games, Stanford has been defending very well.

For the season, Stanford has held opponents to an average of 60.6 points per game.  Against five very good post season opponents, that number is 57.8 points per game.  Below, I have noted Stanford’s defensive record against these five opponents.

Opponent’s Ave. Points Opponent’s points against Stanford

California 72.7 59

Washington 63.7 61

Oregon                          86 57

UC Davis 71.2 54

BYU 69.2 63

By far the most impressive of these defensive performances was against Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament final, holding Oregon almost 30 points under its season average.  Against a potential opponent like Notre Dame, which averages even higher numbers than Oregon, Stanford must pull off a similar defensive coup to have a chance to pull the upset.

From watching only a portion of Notre Dame’s victory over Michigan State, I’d say that stopping transition points is critical.  Should Stanford get to play Muffet McGraw’s team in the regional final, I’m hoping that Stanford  can limit transition opportunities and force a half court game that allows taking advantage of the scouting defense.

Do that well, and Stanford has a good chance of pulling the upset.  Win or lose, I’ve been enjoying this team’s growth and success.  That said, a few more Ws would be great.  The more the better!

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