December 31, 2011

Cardinal breezes by the Bruins

Were the Bruins worn out from their tough win over Cal on Thursday? Was the Cardinal determined to get a prettier win this afternoon? Some of both probably. In any case, the Cardinal posted a definitive victory over the Bruins: 77-50.

The Bruins clearly were tired — moving slowly, making poor shot selections, missing bunnies. Thea Lemberger, who shot the lights out against Cal on Thursday, had been suffering from severe leg cramps and scored just eight points today.

The Cardinal weren't playing great either for the first ten minutes. But they pulled themselves together for a 17-3 run and were up by 17 points at the break. The second half was no contest — the Bruins never managed to narrow the gap.

The Sisters racked up another double-double-double. 18 points and 10 rebounds (and two assists, two steals and a block) from Nneka. 15 points and 11 rebounds (and an assist, a block and zero fouls) from Chiney.

Toni had another fine game. She played the '2' for much of her 26 minutes on the court and scored 11 points, several on drives to the basket and "Wow!" layups.

Amber played the point for 19 minutes. I don't know if she's found her voice yet, but she did everything you want from a team leader. She dealt fast, hard passes leading to five assists with just one turnover. She played a pesky one-player press at times and got two steals. And she scored six points on three-of-four shooting — two of them on fast breaks.

Tara put in the reserves for the last 10 minutes or so, and they maintained the Cardinal dominance. Joslyn had nine points, four rebounds, a block and a steal. Sarah had eight points, three rebounds, an assist and a block. Sara had seven points and two rebounds.

The Cardinal were somewhat better at the stripe today - 70%. But they left their 3-pointers at home. They made four of 16 attempts against USC on Thursday and just two of 13 this afternoon. I trust that the 3-pointers are not lost completely — just temporarily misplaced.

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

A gallery of photos by Rob Ericson (Stanford Photo),

And photos by Richard Hartog (Associated Press):

Chiney on the move Toni launches one Sarah shoots while being punched in the mouth? Chiney lays up a shot Taylor and Toni battle for a loose ball

December 30, 2011

Amber works to find her voice

Michelle Smith (espnW) considers Amber's transition from a highly-ranked recruit to a collegiate team leader. Read here...

December 29, 2011

Cardinal grinds out a win at Galen

It wasn't a pretty game by a long shot, but the Cardinal managed to pull ahead of the Trojans in the fourth quarter for a 61-53 victory.

The Cardinal led by as much as twelve in the first half, but the margin was down to three at the break. The Trojans took the lead halfway through the second half. The Cardinal then went into a zone defense that held the Trojans scoreless for the next six minutes. The Trojans' field goal percentage dropped from 36.7% in the first half to 25% in the second.

Defense ruled. The Cardinal (primarily Toni) limited Ashley Corral to just two of eight 3-pointers. Although she scored the game-high 21 points, she didn't do it from beyond the arc at her usual rate of 40%. And the Trojans' top scorer, Briana Gilbreath, was held to one of eight field goals.

At the other end of the court, the Trojans stifled Nneka under the basket, but they also fouled her. She made zero layups, but seven of her team-high 19 points were from the charity stripe. She also grabbed 15 rebounds, six of them O-boards.

Toni played the point for much of the game with confidence and control. She had just one assist (the Trojan defense didn't allow many of those), but no turnovers. She was the Cardinal's second-high scorer with 15 points on 44% shooting. Three of her layups were on fast breaks. She also had three steals and three rebounds.

Chiney had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. She committed only three fouls and was on the court for 34 minutes. Unfortunately, she's back in a free-throw slump and missed five of her nine attempts.

Bonnie contributed two of her signature quick-release three-pointers to the victory.

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

A gallery of photos by Rob Ericson (Stanford Photo),

And photos by Lori Shepler (Associated Press):

Chiney shoots up and over the defense Nneka puts up a jumper Nneka takes a charge Jos on defense Taylor on defense Sarah in a battle for the ball Good job!

December 28, 2011

Conference play begins in L.A.

The Cardinal head south to begin conference play against USC on Thursday evening and UCLA on Saturday afternoon.

You can listen to both games on KZSU and watch them on the home team All-Access: USC All-Access and UCLA All-Access.

The weekend in L.A. has in the past been one of the most troublesome for the Cardinal, but it's hard to know what to expect this season.

USC and UCLA were expected to be in the top tier of the Pac-12 this season. They were picked to finish second and fourth, respectively, but are currently the two bottom teams in the conference.

  USC Trojans

The Trojans have considerable experience and talent. They returned four starters from the team that reached the WNIT finals last season and added two MacDonald's All-American freshmen, but they've lost half of their games this season. Granted, they had a very hard non-conference schedule (ranked #21 in the nation by Collegiate Basketball News). Four of their five losses were against ranked teams — Georgia, Notre Dame, Gonzaga and Texas A&M.

They suffered a devastating loss halfway through the game against Texas A&M week before last when redshirt senior Jacki Gemelos tore her ACL for the fourth time. They rallied to almost win that game, losing by just one point, and defeated Pepperdine last week by a narrow margin.

They return to the Galen Center for the game against Stanford after almost a month on the road and are no doubt eager to rack up a conference win.

The Trojans' probable starters are:

  • #15, 6'1" senior guard Briana Gilbreath has been a noted Pac-10 defensive player for the past three years. Now in her final season, she continues to be strong on offense as well as defense. She is the Trojans' top scorer (12.7 ppg), has the most steals and is the steadiest ball-handler (2.3 assists to 1.6 turnovers). She averages 2.5 blocks (#2 in the Pac-12 and #24 in the nation) and 5.1 rebounds per game.

  • #11, 6'2" sophomore forward Cassie Harberts is a powerful post player for the Trojans. She started in every game last season as a freshman. She averages 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

  • #24, 5'9" senior guard Ashley Corral is USC's all-time leader in career 3-pointers. Her current total is 250. Almost two-thirds of her shots are from beyond the arc, and she makes almost 40% of them for a total of 11.2 points per game. Her average of 2.7 3-pointers per game is #1 in the Pac-12 and #25 in the nation.

  • #00, 6'1" junior forward Christina Marinacci is the Trojans' leading rebounder with an average of 6.4 per game. Almost half of them are O-boards.

  • #21, 6'1" freshman forward Alexyz Vaioletama is the Trojans' star rookie. She averages 5.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
USC has a very short bench: redshirt junior guard Stefanie Gilbreath, freshman guard Ariya Crook and sophomore forward DesireƩ Bradley.

In addition to Gemelos, USC has two players out for the season due to injury: freshman forward Deanna Calhoun and redshirt freshman forward Thaddesia Southall.

Not elibible to play this season are junior forward Kate Oliver who transferred from Marist and freshman guard Kiki Alofaituli who decommitted from ASU and then signed with USC.

Here are USC's 2011-12 statistics and roster.

  UCLA Bruins

It's not surprising that UCLA is not doing as well as expected. They lost their key player, senior forward Jasmine Dixon, to a ruptured Achilles tendon before the season began. She led the Bruins in rebounding and steals last season and was second in scoring.

Junior forward Markel Walker missed the first seven games of the season recovering from thumb surgery.

Injury struck again last week when junior forward Atonye Nyingifa tore her ACL near the end of the Bruins' game against Tennessee. In an unfortunate deja vu, Nyingifa had been leading the Bruins in rebounding and steals and was second in scoring.

This is the Bruins' probable starting five:

  • #35, 6'1" senior guard Rebekah Gardner is the Bruins' leading scorer with 15.2 points per game and the second- best rebounder (5.9 per game)

  • #23, 6'1" junior guard/forward Markel Walker is now the leading rebounder with 7.8 per game and the second-best scorer (12.0 ppg).

  • #1, 5'7" sophomore guard Thea Lemberger, who plays the point, has had 35 assists with 29 turnovers in eleven games. She averages 10.4 points and 2.3rebounds per game

  • #20, 6'1" sophomore forward/guard Rhema Gardner avergages 5.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. She's Rebekah's younger sister.

  • #5, 5'4" junior guard Mariah Williams averages 4.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Coming off the bench for UCLA are freshman guard Moriah Faulk, freshman forward Kacy Swain, sophomore forward/center Corinne Costa and freshman guard Madeline Brooks.

The Bruins do not have any strong long-range shooters. As a team, they average just 3.5 3-pointers per game at a rate of 30%. Without Nyingifa, they average seven steals and 2.5 blocks per game. They have more turnovers than assists — their ratio is 0.7.

Here are UCLA's 2011-12 statistics and their roster.

Nneka is Women's National Player of the Week

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association has selected Stanford forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike as its Women's National Player of the Week for games ending the week of Sunday, Dec. 25. Read more...

December 26, 2011

Nneka is Pac-12 Player of the Week

Nneka's average of 25 points and 10.5 rebounds against Tennessee and Cal State Bakersfield last week earned her another Pac-12 Player of the week award — her second of the season and the sixth conference POW award of her career.

For more details, see the announcements from the Pac-12 and from Stanford Athletics.

Her performance also yielded another nice Super Siblings Story in the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard: Stanford siblings are double trouble.

December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

Clearing out my inbox before the holidays:

December 22, 2011

Cardinal slows the Roadrunners

Stanford defeated a determined, but outmatched, team from Cal State Bakersfield 90-48 on a quiet afternoon at Maples.

CSUB is making the transition to Division I this season. They have been hit very hard by injuries — three ACLs and two other less serious knee injuries. The remaining seven healthy players' average height is 5'8".

But they played with skill and intensity all afternoon and made a respectable 40% of their field goal attempts in the second half.

Tara used the mismatch to give a lot of playing time to people whose name doesn't start with 'O'.

Joslyn took full advantage of the opportunity and posted a career-high 20 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. She also had an assist, three blocks, two steals and no fouls. Joslyn leads the team in blocks. She now has 13 of them in ten games.

Erika, who usually plays the '4' played the point this afternoon. She posted a near double-double of 12 points and nine rebounds (both career highs) in her 27 minutes of playing time. She also had an assist and two blocks.

Bonnie honed her shooting skill — she sank two of four long ones and four of four free throws, all with her signature quick release. She added to her repertoire of shots with a jumper inside the perimeter and a layup under the basket.

The bench got 60% of the playing time, during which they scored 42% of the points and snatched 47% of the rebounds.

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

And photos by Paul Sakuma (Associated Press)

Toni hustles downcourt Erica blocks a shot Sara gets the rebound Sarah draws an uncalled foul Nneka appreciates a good play So does Tara

Jasmine is out for the season

Our joy over Tuesday's victory is dimmed today by the announcement that Jasmine will miss the rest of the 2011-12 season due to a stress fracture in her left foot.

We look forward to seeing Jasmine on the court for Stanford's 80th consecutive win at Maples next November.

December 20, 2011

Orange CRUSHED!!

... 97-80 ...

Nneka the Unstoppable
who was not to be denied a victory tonight. She crashed and twisted through doubled and tripled defense for layup after layup. She threw in a jumper now and then to further baffle the Vol defenders. She made all of her free throws. She grabbed rebounds and passes that were seemingly out of reach. She stayed in control against aggressive defense, not committing a foul until six minutes into the second half.

She ended with a grand total of 42 points (her career high and just four shy of Jayne Appel's Stanford record), 17 rebounds (eight of them O-boards), and two steals.

Toni the Tiger
who played with determination and ferocity for 38 minutes. She drove the lane. She hit five of ten from beyond the arc. She scored a career-high total of 26 points.

At the point, she handled the Vols' pressure defense with calm assurance and sometimes just blazed through and past it. She forced held balls by grabbing them out of Vols' hands. She scrambled for loose balls.

Toni was no laid-back tie-dyer tonight!

and all their teammates
who, although they didn't post great stats, played an awesome game tonight.

They sometimes seemed tentative against the full-court press that the Vols applied on almost every possession. But they handled that and the Vols' aggressive defense with just nine turnovers — their season-low!

Their defense held the Tennessee scorers in check. Shekinna Stricken scored 27 points (almost twice her average), but the perimeter was pretty well closed off to their other long-range shooters. The Vols made just 30% of their 3-point attempts, well below their season average of 42.4%

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

The Stanford press conference video with Tara, Nneka and Toni,

The Tennessee press conference video with Holly Warlick, Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen

The game highlights video,

A postgame video featuring Nneka and Toni

A gallery of photos by John Todd (Stanford Photo),

Photos by Paul Sakuma (AP Photo):

It takes more than two to stop Nneka Toni in heavy traffic Nneka stops and pops over Glory Johnson Chiney grabs a rebound away from Taber Spani Don't mess with Lindy Toni foils Meighan Simmons' attempted steal Celebration!