November 29, 2013

Fun in Puerto Vallarta

If you follow the Cardinal on Twitter, you've already seen these photos ... thanks to Bonnie, Sara, Nneka and Kate!

Riu Palace Pacifico, the team hotel

Tournament Dinner Reception

Celebratory Dessert, compliments of the chef at Palace Pacifico

At the Beach

The Basketball Family

Click here for Sara's video.

Nerd Nation takes over Puerto Vallarta

Click here for Chiney's video.

November 28, 2013

Cardinal runs past Jackrabbits

After a slow start and a 10-8 lead by the Jackrabbits, the Cardinal put the game away with a 29-6 run. The Jackrabbits got their offense going after the break and won the second half by one point. Final score: Stanford 80, SDSU 60.

The Cardinal returns home for finals week. Welcome the team back to Maples Saturday after next (December 14) in its game against Gonzaga and join in the celebration of Tara's epic 900 wins.

The tournament runs for another day, but since each of the other four teams has lost at least once, Stanford was awarded the championship trophy today ...

... and Chiney was named the MVP.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford-South Dakota State postgame notes from Stanford Athletics

November 27, 2013

Cardinal gets 900th win for Tara

Stanford 83, FGCU 59

Here are tributes to Tara:

The game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford-FGCU postgame notes from Stanford Athletics

And photos from her iPhone by Cardinal fan Su Schaffer:

Behind the bench in Puerto Vallarta
The 900th win
Mike O'Brian (Cardinal fan since 1979) & Debbie Johnson (Kailee's grandmother)
Fans Kiriyo Spooner & Mike O'Brian with Tara
So proud! So happy!

On the verge

Elliott Almond (Mercury News):
Nine hundred is just another number to Stanford's Tara VanDerveer.

"I'm not a bean counter," she recently said as her 900th coaching victory approached. "I'm just all about this team, this game, this practice, and they kind of piled up."

Victory No. 900 could come Wednesday ... (Read more >>>)

The team is ready for the 900th.

November 26, 2013

Stanford subdues Purdue

Stanford 86, Purdue 69

At the last minute, KZSU announced that it wouldn't broadcast the game after all, due to a shortage of personnel. So I listened to the game on Purdue All-Access. The quality of the broadcast was good, but the announcer had very little to say — barely the bare essentials.

His most welcome announcement was, "Stanford is shooting very well from the free throw line — over 80%."

Also good: Purdue full-court-pressed quite often, but I didn't hear any 10-second violation calls.

Here are game reports:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford-Purdue postgame notes from Stanford Athletics

KZSU still plans to broadcast the games on Wednesday and Thursday. Alternative media in case they don't:

In honor of Tara's almost 900th

As Tara is on the verge of becoming the fifth women's basketball coach to win 900 games:

Michelle Smith (espnW) writes an excellent tribute: VanDerveer remains student of game

espnWcompiles a list of her career highlights: VanDerveer's milestone moments

The Associated Press reports: Stanford's Tara VanDerveer nears 900 wins

The Pac-12 Networks create a video: Stanford's Tara VanDerveer approaches win No. 900

Chiney is stoked for her senior season

Chiney chats with Rebecca Lobo:

And blogs:

I'm back!

First of all, I would like to thank espnW for giving me the wonderful opportunity again to share my voice with you all. Read more >>>

November 25, 2013

Purdue vs Stanford scouting report

Mike Carmin reports on Purdue women's hoops for the Boiler Station, the Purdue section of the online Journal and Carrier.

His contributions include scouting reports of their games. His bottom line for their first game in Puerto Vallarta is Stanford 74, Purdue 61.

Sounds good to me.

Read: Scouting Purdue women's basketball vs. Stanford

Next: Thanksgiving in Puerto Vallarta

The Cardinal is in Puerto Vallarta this week to play in the 2013 Hardwood Tournament of Hope at the spectacular International Convention Center.

The tournament format is unusual. Five teams are competing — Stanford, Purdue, Florida Gulf Coast, South Dakota State and Texas Christian. Purdue is scheduled to play two games; each of the other teams will play three. Stanford's schedule is:

  • Purdue on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 PT.
  • Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 PT.
  • South Dakota State on Thursday afternoon at 2:00 PT.
Click here for the complete tournament schedule.

There will be no television nor live video of the tournament games. But KZSU will be there to broadcast the Stanford games, "assuming that everything works technology-wise," said KZSU Sports Director Sam Fisher.

Meet Stanford's three opponents:

  Purdue Boilermakers

Stanford has played Purdue occasionally, most recently five years ago at the Thanksgiving Tournament in Hawai'i. That's the game that Stanford had to win twice — first with a buzzer-beater in regulation by Jillian, then almost single-handedly by Jayne in overtime.

Purdue plays in the Big Ten. It finished at #3 last season behind Penn State and Nebraska, but went on to win the Big Ten Tournment Championship (for the ninth time). It finished the season with a loss to Louisville in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Purdue has begun this season with four wins and is ranked 18/22 in the national polls. Charlie Creme spots it as a #6 seed in the NCAA tournament.

The Boilermakers lack depth and experience in the frontcourt. Their attack is led by redshirt senior guard KK Houser (15.5 ppg, 5.3 apg, 2.8 spg), senior guard Courtney Moses (12.0 ppg, .559 FG%) and redshirt junior forward Whitney Bays (13.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg).

Here are Purdue's statistics and roster.

  Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles

Stanford and FGCU have never played each other.

FGCU plays in the Atlantic Sun conference. It finished at #1 last season, but lost to #2 Stetson in the Atlantic Sun Tournament championship game. It earned a bid to the WNIT, where it lost in the first round.

FGCU is favored to win the Atlantic Sun title again and has begun the season with three wins and a loss.

The Eagles are led by the program's all-time leading scorer with 1497 points, redshirt senior guard Sarah Hansen. She currently leads the Eagles in rebounds (8.0 rpg) and steals (3.8 spg) and is the co-leader in scoring (14.5 ppg) and assists (2.3 apg).

She is joined in the starting five by redshirt sophomore guard Whitney Knight (14.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg), sophomore guard Stephanie Haas (13.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg), redshirt junior guard Jenna Cobb (11.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.3 apg) and sophomore guard Kaneisha Atwater (7.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

Here are FGCU's statistics and roster.

  South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Stanford and South Dakota State have never played each other.

South Dakota State plays in the Summit League. It was the regular-season and tournament champion last season. It lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

South Dakota State has won four of the last six regular-season championships and the last five tournament titles. It's expected to continue its dominance of the league this season. It's begun with three wins and two losses.

The Jackrabbits are led in scoring by junior guard Megan Wateshek (14.2 ppg) and senior guard Steph Paluch (12.2 ppg); in rebounding by junior forward Mariah Clarin (4.8 rpg); and in assists and steals by junior guard Gabby Boever (4.2 apg, 3.0 spg).

Here are South Dakota State's statistics and roster.

November 23, 2013

Cardinal dodges the 'Horns

Updated November 24: Added game report by C and R and photo gallery from Texas Athletics.

Another game of two halves — the first one effectively without Chiney, the second one with Chiney at full throttle. They added up to a 63-54 victory for the Cardinal.

Texas bigs 6'7" Imani McGee Stafford and 6'5" Kelsey Lang, with the assistance of their smaller teammates, smothered Chiney under the basket all through the first half. She tried shooting from her extended range instead, but with little success. She took eleven shots in the half and made just two of them.

The Cardinal stayed in the game with good defense, four jumpers and two free throws from Mikaela and four 3-pointers — two from Sara and one each from Lili and Karlie. But Texas led 37-30 at the end of the half.

Chiney and the Chinettes returned after the break with renewed energy and determination. They were more aggressive, attacked inside and were soon back in the game.

With 13 minutes left to play, the Cardinal took the lead on a steal and fast-break layup by Amber. Amber stole the ball again a minute later, but missed her shot; Chiney stole the rebound from Chassidy Fussell and sank a jumper. The 'Horns never regained the lead.

Chiney fouled out with two minutes left to play and the Cardinal ahead by eight. The Cardinal stayed in control in spite of missing five of their next 12 free throws.

Cardinal highlights:

  • Mikaela stepped up big on both offense and defense and tallied her third career double-double with 11 points and ten rebounds.

  • Sara played for 18 minutes and is a strong member of the team again. In addition to her two 3-pointers, she had four rebounds and four assists.

  • Karlie started and played for 30 minutes. She doesn't show up huge in the box score (six points, two rebounds, two assists), but she was an excellent defender on the perimeter where she kept Chassidy Fussell, the 'Horns leading scorer, in check. Fussell made just four of 16 field goal attempts.

  • Amber was a pest on defense. She matched her career-high five steals and grabbed eight rebounds. She also scored 13 points.

  • Chiney came through as a strong leader after a frustrating first half. She ended with 18 points, six rebounds, an assist, two blocks and three steals.

  • The Cardinal took good care of the ball. In this fast-paced, fiercely defensive game, they turned the ball over only nine times — their season low.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford-Texas Postgame Notes from Stanford Athletics

A photo gallery from Texas Athletics,

And a couple more photos by Michael Thomas (Associated Press):

November 21, 2013

Next: Away in Texas

The Cardinal is on the road this weekend, playing the Texas Longhorns in Austin on Saturday morning at 10:30 am PT. The game will be telecast by Fox Sports Network and broadcast by KSZU.

Three years ago, 16th-ranked Texas came to Maples Pavilion and was trounced 93-78. The top four Cardinal scorers (Nneka, Kayla, Chiney and Sarah) made 71% of their shots. The Cardinal defense held the top four Longhorn scorers to 40%.

We've pushed the ball on everybody else but nobody's pushed it back on us," then-coach Gail Goestenkors said. "That was new for us for somebody to attack us the way we've been attacking other people."

The Cardinal won again (72-59), in Austin, the following season, but it was a much tougher game. Kayla and Jeanette had graduated, Nneka was injured and didn't play, and Chiney missed most of the first half with foul trouble.

Two Cardinal freshmen stepped up big in their first collegiate game. Amber ran the point for 25 minutes; her ball control wasn't great, but she drove to the basket for four layups, made all six of her free throws, grabbed six rebounds and had three steals. Taylor, who had earned a starting position with her play in the exhibition games, played for 29 minutes, scored nine points and an assist and stole the ball three times.

Amber and Nneka Enemkpali fight for possession in 2011

The rematch this Saturday will no doubt be a tough defensive battle for both teams. I expect that Chiney and Amber will lead the Cardinal — I wonder which freshmen will step up to help them.

The Longhorns play in a tough league — the Big 12, which was led by Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma last season. The Longhorns finished in ninth place.

The Longhorns are now coached by Karen Asten, who became just the fourth Texas women's basketball head coach when she replaced Goestenkors last season. She had been an assistant to Jody Conradt for eight years.

The Longhorns return all five of their starters and have been picked to finish fifth this season. They're off to a good start with three wins and have received 18 votes in the AP poll.

The Longhorns with the most playing time so far this season are:

  • #24, 5'10" senior guard Chassidy Fussell has led the Longhorns in scoring percentage in each of the last three seasons, entering her senior year with 1,405 career points (15.6 ppg). She's focused on being a team leader, as well as a sharpshooter, in her senior season.

  • #3, 6'1" junior forward Nneka Enemkpali led the team in total points (377), FGs (141), FTs (92-134), and co-led in rebounds per game (9.4) last season. She has 14 career double-doubles.

  • #34, 6'7" sophomore forward Imani McGee-Stafford was Big 12 Freshman of the Year last season and has been named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team this season. She averaged 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game and had 13 double-doubles in her freshman season. She suffered a hip injury last summer and had to withdraw from the USA U19 team. She's played more than 20 minutes in each of the Longhorn's three games this season, but perhaps isn't yet back to peak condition.

  • #4, 5'4" junior guard Krystle Henderson is a junior college transfer in her first season as a Longhorn. She's started at the point in each of the Longhorns' three games this season and has averaged 6.0 ppg and 5.3 assists with just 1.3 turnovers. She's expected to share the point guard duty with last season's starting point, junior guard Celina Rodrigo.

  • #32, 5'11" sophomore guard Brady Sanders came off the bench last season and played in every game for an average of almost 20 minutes per game. She's averaged 5.3 ppg and 3.7 rpg so far this season.

Here are the Texas statistics and roster.

November 19, 2013

Battle of the Ogwumike Sisters

From Otis Watson, FBC member

Greetings Cardinal Fans and Supporters of Women's Basketball,

Once again, the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks organization has invited the Fast Break Club back to Los Angeles in 2014. The event will be billed as "The Battle of the Ogumike Sisters"!

Assuming Nneka and Chiney Ogumike are on different WNBA teams next year, this will mark the first time the two sisters will have ever played against one another in their careers.  Which sister is the better player?

By traveling with the Fast Break Club, you will have an opportunity to witness the battle in person. A pre-game meal reception and post-game activities will be provided. Transportation and parking will not be a part of the package.

In preparing for such an event, we would like  you to answer the following survey questions: 

  1. Is this an event you would have an interest in attending? 
  2. If so, how many people would be a part of your party? 
  3. Would you prefer to attend such an event on the weekend (Saturday or Sunday) or on a week night (Monday thru Friday)? 
  4. What would be the best month for you to attend such an event (May thru September)? 
  5. Would a hotel package be of any interest to you or your party? 

Please reply back to me (Otis Watson) with your answers to the above questions as soon as you can. You will hear back from me in April or May of 2014, if such an event will in fact occur.

Thank you very much for your time.

Otis Watson 
Day: (408) 556-5967
Fax: (408) 556-5976
Cell: (408) 314-7934

November 18, 2013

Honors for Tara and Chiney

Tara will be inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame tomorrow night as someone who, "contributed in some extraordinary way to the greater San Jose community in a sports-related program or project." Click here for her bio.

Tara will join another elite group soon — Division I women’s basketball head coaches who have reached 900 wins. There are only four other members in this group — Pat Summit, Jody Conrad, Sylvia Hatchell and C. Vivian Stringer. There is no induction ceremony for this group and I dare say Tara is glad that her 900th win will probably happen in Puerto Vallarta with no hoopla.

Paul Gackle (SF Examiner) wrote this tribute: Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer on the doorstep of elite coaching club

Chiney scored three double-doubles last week and earned her second consecutive Pac-12 Player of the Week award. It's the eleventh one of her career. Read more in the Stanford Athletics and Pac-12 announcements.

November 17, 2013

Cardinal puts away the Aggies

Updated Nov 18: Added Stanford Daily game report, corrected Chiney's career-record stats.

This was not a game for the Cardinal Season Highlights video. Stanford managed to win 66-48, but it wasn't an easy victory.

The Aggies played fast, hard, and with skill for the entire 40 minutes. Their zone defense kept the Cardinal off-balance and struggling for shots. The Cardinal got to the line for 24 free throws, but missed just under half of them. Although the Cardinal won by 18 points, the scoring differential in the second half was just four.

Chiney and Amber accounted for almost 60% of the Cardinal scoring.

The Aggies tried their best to deny the basket to Chiney, but they weren't big enough or strong enough and she got another big double-double (28 points, 15 rebounds). She's now just 92 rebounds away from breaking the Stanford career record.

She also tallied two assists, three blocks and two steals.

Amber got through the Aggie zone with drives to the basket and pull-up jumpers. She scored ten points and got four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Mikaela hobbled off the court, grimacing in pain, about four minutes into the game and headed for the locker room. Happily, she returned about five minutes later and subbed back in. She played for a total of 22 minutes, but not in peak condition (We learned later that she had rolled her ankle). She managed eight points and eight rebounds.

In spite of the Cardinal still being too dependent on Chiney and Amber, Tara is pleased with the freshmen's adjustment to collegiate play.

Karlie, "played like a senior," said Tara. She came off the bench for 33 minutes, sank two of the Cardinal's three 3-pointers and a just-inside-the-line 2-pointer for eight points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out the team-high six assists with just one turnover, and was strong and effective on defense.

Lili started again. Although not as productive as she was against Cal Poly, she again displayed her quickness and tenacity. She kicked off the Cardinal scoring with a long 2-pointer two minutes into the game and didn't hesitate to launch several other quick shots (that didn't find their target). She's an active defender against opponents of any size.

Erica M got her first collegiate start. She's strong under the basket on both offense and defense. She puts the ball up with Chiney-like moves, but she doesn't have Chiney's nose for the basket (does anyone?) and made just one of five. She also made three of four free throws and grabbed six rebounds.

At the postgame behind-the-bench session, she said that because there are two Ericas on the team, she's called out during practice as, "McCall! McCall!" Repeat that quickly and you'll know why her nickname is Bird.

Kailee didn't score today, but she played good defense for 13 minutes. Briana has a slight hamstring problem and didn't play.

Tara is also pleased that the injured upperclassmen are recovering. Bonnie played for 15 minutes and sank the Cardinal's third 3-pointer. Sara played for nine minutes. Taylor and Erica P — not yet.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford-UC Davis postgame notes from Stanford Athletics

The game highlights video,

November 15, 2013

Cardinal corrals the Mustangs

Somes lessons learned in Storrs and a less formidable opponent led Stanford to a comfortable 86-51 victory over Cal Poly.

The Mustangs' quickness and good defense gave the Cardinal trouble for about the first ten minutes. The Cardinal turned the ball over nine times, and the Mustangs took a 15-14 lead.

Then the Cardinal settled down and took over the game with a 27-4 run in the next nine minutes.

As expected, Chiney led the way. She scored her career-high 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for her 61st career double-double.

But it wasn't all Chiney tonight. Nine of her teammates tallied 50 points and 36 rebounds.

Mikaela had a complete game with another almost-double-double. She grabbed her career-high 14 rebounds and also scored nine points, seven assists and a steal.

Lili's play last weekend earned her a place in the starting five. She ran the point for 20 minutes tonight. She played excellent defense, scored six points and dished out five assists (with only two turnovers).

The Cardinal made 31% of their long shots tonight with two from Karlie and one apiece from Kailee, Lili and Bonnie.

The best part of the box score is 27 assists from nine different players — seven from Mikaela, five from Lili, four from Amber, three from Karlie and Chiney, two from Kailee and one from Alex, Sara and Bonnie. Tara sent many different combinations to the floor tonight. They made lots of entertaining and effective plays with fast, crisp passes and good shots.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Stanford-Cal Poly Game Notes from Stanford Athletics,

The game highlights video,

A gallery of photos by Don Feria (Stanford Photo),

And photos by Tony Avelar (Associated Press):

Chiney puts up one of her impossible shots
Lili on the move
Amber chases a loose ball
Erica puts up a shot
Karlie on defense
Mikaela's ready for the rebound
Chiney clears a path to the basket