November 13, 2022

What's Exciting About This Year's Stanford Squad?

 Warren Grimes

Last year’s Stanford women’s basketball team was excellent.  They won all of their conference games (a major accomplishment) and made it to the Final Four.   A key to their success was the three starting perimeter players (Lexie Hull, Lacie Hull and Anna Wilson). 

Those three players were valuable on both offense and defense.  Lacie brought the ball up court and, after Haley Jones, was the leading assist maker.  Anna and Lexie weren’t far behind.  Collectively, the three made over 40% of the team’s three pointers, shooting at 37% rate.  The Hull twins were also excellent free throw shooters.

On defense, the three were again leaders, with just under 60% of the team’s total steals.  The Hulls were the top theft artists on the team, with Wilson not far behind. 

You won’t see any of these three playing for Stanford this season.  So who will replace these gifted starters?

Based on the first four games for this season, there are at least partial answers, and some are quite exciting.

It looks as though Haley Jones will be sharing point guard duties with freshman Talana Lepolo.  Lepolo started against Portland and handled their full court press well.  In all four of the games, she has pushed the tempo of the game by moving the ball rapidly up court.  She is the team leader in assists and steals.  Lepolo has missed all 4 of her three point attempts, but has impressed with her drives to the basket.

On three point shooting, Hannah Jump is predictably leading the way (12-19), helped by Ashten Prechtel (5-10).  A number of different players have stepped up.  Brooke Demetre is 7-14; Indya Nivar is 5-10; and Elena Bosgana is 5-13.  Although the team has yet to play against a conference level opponent, the team’s overall 42% shooting from the three-point line is impressive.

Free throw shooting seems also to be improved.  The team is shooting 73% with players such as Kiki Iriafen, Demetre, Bosgana, and Nivar all shooting well above 70%.

The biggest difference from last year may be the improved play of Kiki Iriafen in the post and the high tempo offense that, at least against weaker opponents, has resulted in lots of points on high percentage shots (field goal percentage is 56%).  The team’s average score for the first four games is 93.8.  Number one-ranked high school recruit Lauren Betts has played only in reserve so far, but she’s averaging 9.8 points per game (at a 69% clip), the fourth leading scorer on the team. 

Those numbers will decrease as Stanford enters the tougher part of its schedule.  No reason to fret -- this year’s edition of Stanford women’s basketball seems destined for an exciting and very successful season.  There are still questions to be answered and not a little suspense in seeing who will be the key players at season's end. 

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