October 30, 2015

Tara is still learning new tricks ...

... as she closes in on her 1000th career win.

Coaches pick Cardinal 14th

For the 16th consecutive season, Stanford was ranked in the USA TODAY Preseason Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, this time checking in at No. 14, as it did at the end of last season.

More information:

October 20, 2015

Remembering a good Cardinal fan

Story by Harriet Benson, photo by Lily Wong

This Stanford women’s basketball season is finally underway, but without one of its staunchest fans: Jeanette Chang. Jeanette died this May.

Jeanette had been supporting Stanford since Jennifer Azzi’s freshman year (1986); she and her husband Wally were among the few who traveled from California to Knoxville for Stanford’s first NCAA championship in 1990. She was a key figure in the founding of the Fast Break Club. Her active support for the team continued until the last year when her health declined.

During the rebirth and reorganization of the booster club early in 1992, Tara asked Jeanette to serve as the Fast Break Club’s executive director. Tara probably selected Jeanette because of her obvious passion for the team. Other qualities apparent to those of us active in the booster club during those early years were Jeanette’s familiarity with volunteer organizations and personal acquaintances with other Stanford boosters who could contribute time and skills. Her leadership and communications skills helped our club’s success from the very first month.

One of the first jobs of the fundraising committee, which I headed, was to plan a golf tournament. If an outsider were to have looked onto our committee meetings, they surely would have said older, Asian/Hawaiian, Jeanette didn’t fit with the other members, some former golf pros. But that outsider would have been so wrong! Jeanette fit into any group, making friends, helping with organization and tasks, and generally making every encounter fun.

We all remember Jeanette’s sense of humor. Jeanette was also a great cook and contributed tantalizing items to our several gatherings. Her Chinese chicken salad was better than Chef Chu’s. I remember fondly her companionship at away games and walking with her at Baylands for exercise.

During the late 1990’s, when TV coverage for women’s basketball was a little disorganized, a cameraman pointed out Jeanette in the crowd as Lindsey Yamasaki’s mother. Again, so wrong! We laughed, and from then on, some of us called or thought of Jeanette as “Mom.”

Stanford women’s basketball lost a good fan; many of us have lost a good friend. Good-bye, Mom; I’ll miss you.

Harriet Benson

October 18, 2015

New season, new looks

Story by Judy Richter, photos by Dave Cortesi

The 2015-16 edition of the Stanford women’s basketball team had its first chance to play in front of fans thanks to an open practice Oct. 17.

At least 100 fans were there. After the practice, head coach Tara VanDerveer introduced the staff and players, then answered questions.

Fans take over Press/VIP box
Besides being the first time with fans present, it was the first practice against men. Coached by assistant coach Tempie Brown, the men were joined by SWBB alum Sebnem Kimyacioglu, ’05. She has been playing professionally in Turkey for the past six years, but with her law degree in hand, she’s job hunting in Los Angeles, Tara said.

Marta vs Sebnem
Also on Tempie’s team was senior guard Kiran Lakhian, who played at the point. Kiran was on the team as a walk-on her freshman year and has returned this year.

Kiran vs Alexa

Maples sports some new features

Fans began arriving while the scrimmage was under way. They had a chance to see the new scoreboard above the court as well as digital screens to display statistics in each corner of Maples Pavilion.

The screens have replaced the championship banners in those spots, but it is hoped that the information that was on the banners will be painted on the white walls behind the screens, Tara said.

Another new addition is railings that will make it easier for fans to get to their seats in the upper levels.

Ten women played against Tempie’s team. Junior guard Lili Thompson was absent because of “a family situation,” Tara said. Red shirt senior guard Alex Green, rehabbing from her second ACL injury, practiced her shot in the corners. She’s expected to return to action in mid-December.

Freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee was limited to practice shooting, too. Tara said she has a sore foot and is expected to return soon. She has been “doing well for us,” the coach said.

Several players hit 3-pointers during the 10-minute quarters (something else new this year). They included Kirin, sophomore guard Brittany McPhee and junior guard Briana Roberson, among others.

Posts get more involved in scoring

One offensive change that seemed clear was a greater effort to get the ball inside to the posts, who made aggressive moves to the basket. Chief among them were junior forwards Erica “Bird” McCall and Kailee Johnson along with sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson.

Speed is another hallmark of this team. It was evident not only after defensive rebounds but also during some nifty fast breaks.

After the scrimmage, Tara gathered the players in a circle and introduced Seb to them. She spoke briefly, but she couldn’t be heard upstairs.

Sebnem talks to the team

After a shooting practice, Tara introduced everyone, starting with the staff. The coaches include assistants Tempie and Kate Paye plus associate head coach Amy Tucker. Brittany Keil is sports performance coach.

Team lines up for introduction

Staff has two newcomers

One newcomer to the staff is trainer Katelin Knox. Hana Potter, who was an intern last year, has moved up to video coordinator. The new intern is Mary Merg, a 2014 graduate of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Next were the players: Kiran; Alex; Bird, who had “a great summer” (a gold medal winner for the U.S. in the World University Games); senior forward Tess Picknell; Shannon; and Kaylee, who’s “picking up where she left off” last year, Tara said.

Brittany had “a great week this week,” Tara said. Also introduced were freshman guard Alexa Romano, the program’s first player from New Mexico; and freshman forward Alanna Smith, an Australian who’s the team’s first international player, Tara said.

Rounding out Tara’s introductions were freshman guard Marta Sniezek; Bri, who had several family members rooting for her; Karlie and Kailee.

Marta, Alanna and Alexa

After dismissing the players to go to the weight room before showers, Tara answered questions.

Tara answers questions
One person asked who will start at the point. “One of them,” Tara said. “We’ve got some good choices. We’re going to use them all.”

“We would like to play a deep rotation” and to press more. “We’re looking to go inside more and run more,” Tara said.

Coach discusses freshmen

Asked to talk about the four freshmen, she said Marta is one of the best point guards ever to come to Stanford. Alexa is one of the fastest and has “a really nice pull-up” shot.

Shannon is “a classic big post.” Alanna, who can play the 3 or 4 spots, can hit 3-pointers and rebounds well. Because she’s still dealing with some fatigue, she was used sparingly in the practice.

Alanna first came to Stanford’s attention when her father contacted Amy. During the summer she played on Australia’s U19 team and was named one of the top five players in that international competition.

Tara complimented the upperclassmen for doing a good job of mentoring the freshmen.

“We’re excited about the year,” she concluded.

October 14, 2015

Open practice on Saturday

The doors in the NW corner (by the ticket window) of Maples will be open this Saturday, Oct 17, while the Cardinal practice from 11:00 - 12:30. Tara will introduce the team at the end of practice and rosters will be available.

These are the team members you probably haven't met yet:

#2 Shannon Coffee, 6'5" forward/center from Centerville High School in Dayton, Ohio. Shannan earned many state and district awards, including 2015 Ms. OHSBCA - the best player in the state as selected by Ohio high school coaches. She owns the Centerville record for most points scored in a season (533). In addition to being a standout basketball player, Shannon also played two years of varsity volleyball and three years of varsity track (she was a discus champion) at Centerville.

#22 Alexa Romano, 5'10" guard from La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Alexa was the 2015 New Mexico 6A Player of the Year. She owns the La Cueva record for both points (1,813) and 3-pointers made (193). She was also a state champion high-jumper and long-jumper and a member of La Cueva's champion 4x200 relay team.

#11 Alanna Smith, 6'3" forward from Wesley College in Melbourne Australia. Alanna represented Australia in three international competitions — the 2015 FIBA U19 Women’s World Championship, the 2014 FIBA Oceania U18 Championship for Women and the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women. Alanna is Stanford's first-ever international player.

#13 Marta Sniezek, 5'8" guard from National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Marta was the 2015 Washington D.C. Gatorade Soccer Player of the Year and a two-time Washington D.C. Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year (2014 and 2015). She owns the National Cathedral scoring record (2,346 points).

Tara is very enthusiastic about the freshmen. Following the first practice of the season, she said

They’re playing just like they’ve been here forever.

We’re real excited about Marta at the point.

We’re really excited about Alexa’s speed.

Alanna gives us a whole different dimension with her size and her three-point shooting ability.

Shannon, a great body inside, is doing a great job for us.

Although not yet listed in the roster, there is a fifth new player who you may recognize. Rumor has it, and the Week One Practice Video confirms, that she's:

#31 Kiran Lakhian, 5'10" guard from Plano, Texas, who played with the Cardinal on a one-year scholarship in her freshman year (2012-13).

Report from Pac-12 Media Day

Pac-12 Media Day was hosted by Ashley Adamson, who was joined by Mary Murphy, Ros Gold-Onwude and Chiney Ogwumike.

They all enjoyed the event very much, especially Chiney, who was the Director of Fun:

The major news of the day was the Coaches' Poll: Oregon State picked by coaches to win Pac-12 in 2015-16

The televised show consisted mainly of interviews of each team's coach and representative player. If you missed the show, you can watch or record a re-run at 3:00 am this morning.

There was also a non-televised round table press conference. Click here to listen to Tara's and Bird's interesting answers to unintelligible questions.

Bay Area sports journalists were at the press conference:

October 13, 2015

Pac-12 Media Day tomorrow

It's just four weeks and change until the Cardinal's first [exhibition] game of the season.

Tomorrow Tara and Erica will be in San Francisco with the other Pac-12 coaches and team representatives for Pac-12 Media Day.

There'll be predictions, previews and photographs all day on pac-12.com and a live broadcast from noon to 2:00. Click here for the full schedule.

October 10, 2015

Tara's coaching tree

The topic of yesterday's Forum on KQED was "Challenges Persist for Women in Coaching" (Click here for the podcast).

The percentage of women coaching women's collegiate teams is at an all time low, down from more than 90% in the early 1970s to about 40%; the number of women assistant coaches is now less than 50%.

The panel explored the reasons women are leaving the coaching profession and what can be done to keep them in the game.

Tara was one of the guests on the panel. She thinks that a lot of women believe they need men on their staff. She’s not one of them. In her 31 years of coaching at Stanford, all of her assistant coaches have been women. She said, “I’ve hired women to mentor them and a lot of them have gone on [in the profession].”

Tara’s coaching tree is flourishing. These are her former assistant coaches and students who are currently women's/girls' basketball coaches or professional basketball executives.

Charli Turner Thorne (1984-88), head coach at Arizona State, 19th season.
June Daugherty (asst coach 1985-89), head coach at Washington State, ninth season.
Jennifer Azzi (1986-90), head coach at the University of San Francisco, sixth season.
Katy Steding (1986-90), head coach at Boston University, second season.
Angela Taylor (1989-93, asst coach 1995-97), President and General Manager of the WNBA Atlantic Dream, tenth year with WNBA
Renee Brown (asst coach 1989-90), WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations, 20th year with WNBA
Molly Goodenbour (1989-93), head coach at Cal State Dominguez Hills, third season.
Kate Paye (1991-95), assistant coach at Stanford, ninth season.
Bobbie Kelsey (1991-96, asst coach 2007-11), head coach at the University of Wisconsin, fourth season.
Amy Wustefeld Brooks (1992-96), WNBA Executive Vice President, Team Marketing & Business Operations, 11th year with WNBA
Charmin Smith (1993-97, asst coach 2004-07), associate head coach at Cal, seventh season at Cal.
Vanessa Nygaard (1993-98), Senior Associate Athletic Director and Girls' Basketball Program Lead at Windward School in Los Angeles, seventh season at Windward.
Milena Flores (1996-2000), assistant coach at Princeton, ninth season.
Karen Middleton (asst coach 1997-2007), associate head coach at Cal State Fullerton, first season
Tia Jackson (asst coach 1999-2000), assistant coach at University of Miami, first season
Jamie Carey (1999-2002), assistant coach at the University of Colorado, second season.
Nicole Powell (2000-04), assistant coach at the University of Oregon, second season.
Markisha Coleman (2003-07), head coach at Menlo-Atherton High School, second season.
Melanie Murphy (2006-11), head coach at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, second season.
Lindy La Rocque (2008-12), assistant coach at Belmont University in Nashville,TN, first season.
Trina Patterson (asst coach 2011-13), assistant coach at Old Dominion, third season.

October 08, 2015

Alanna is standout Aussie freshman in U.S.

The Pick and Roll is a website about Aussies playing hoops the world over. Damian Arsensis, who writes about Aussies in U.S. college, has picked his top five NCAA freshmen women. His #1 pick is our own Alanna Smith:

Such is the talent of Alanna Smith, she arrives in Stanford as their first ever women’s international recruit, and she is unlikely to disappoint.

Smith boasts an impeccable pedigree with a father who played professionally in the Australian NBL and SEABL for well over a decade and an uncle who captained the senior national team. However Smith has been making a name for herself.

The dynamic forward excelled at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships where she earned selection to the All-Star 5 after leading her country to a bronze medal. Her performances on the world stage in 2015 followed an outstanding 2014 FIBA Oceania U18 Championships where she was also the tournament standout.

Quite simply, Smith is the complete package. She can rebound, defend, block shots, run the floor and score efficiently; a future Australian Opal in the making.

Expect Smith be the standout Aussie freshman in NCAA Division I hoops this season.

Here is the whole article: NCAA Women: The top 5 freshmen Aussies

October 05, 2015

Football fun and first practice

Thanks to Stanford Women's Basketball Facebook for reporting these events:

Tara served as the honorary captain Saturday night as Stanford Football defeated Arizona 55-17. It did not count as her 954th career win.

Following the first quarter, the women's athletic program was honored for winning the 2014 Capital One Cup as the best in the country. Student-athletes from many sports gathered on the field to accept the award.

Capital One Cup

Tara wasn't the only one with a field pass tonight »

Posted by Stanford Women's Basketball on Saturday, October 3, 2015

Work began today with the first practice. Warriors warmed up the court for the Cardinal.

Then the Cardinal got down to business with a solid three hours of practice, as reported by Stanford Athletics: IT BEGINS Cardinal starts 2015-16 campaign with first official practice