November 22, 2017

Up next: Thanksgiving in Vegas

The Cardinal are spending the Thanksgiving weekend Playing 4Kay in Las Vegas after eating their Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday.

Their first game is on Thursday at 5:30pm PT vs Kent State. On Friday afternoon or evening (3:00 or 8:00), they'll play either Gonzaga or Belmont.

Their final game, on Saturday, will be against a team from the other side of the bracket, where the winner is likely to be Ohio State (the other contenders are DePaul, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Memphis).

There will be no TV coverage of the tournament, but all the games will be streamed live by FloHoops. A $12.50 subscription is required. The Stanford games will be broadcast by Sidearm Sports at Stanford All-Access.

   The Kent State Golden Flashes
are located in Cleveland, Ohio and play in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). They won the East division of the MAC last season and have been picked to place second this season. They've begun the season with three wins and a loss.

The Flashes return a core of four starters from last season's team and are led by one of the MAC's most experienced frontcourt tandems: Senior forward Jordan Korinek (22.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and graduate forward McKenna Stephens (7.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg).

Also starting this season is sophomore guard Ali Poole , who likes to shoot the three and is currently their second-best scorer with 10.5 ppg.

Of their upcoming game vs Stanford, Poole said, “It’s a good opportunity. What do we have to lose? We’re not expected to win this game so we have to give them heck.”

Here are Kent State's roster and season statistics.

   The Belmont Bruins
are located in Nashville and play in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC).

Lindy began her coaching career at Belmont. She was an assistant coach for two seasons before returning to Stanford this season.

The Bruins won the conference title the past two seasons and have been picked to do so again although it may take time to adjust to a new coach. They're currently ranked eighth in the mid-majors by Graham Hays (espn) and ninth by CollegeInsider.

They lost their opening game of the season to No. 22 Oklahoma, then won the next three.

Belmont returns four starters from a team that went 27-6 and nearly upset Kentucky in the NCAA tournament a season ago:

Junior guard Darby Maggard is the reigning NCAA 3-point field goal percentage champion, registering a .487 mark from beyond the arc last season. She's at .480 this season and averaging 16.3 ppg and 4.5 apg. She was named OVC Preseason Co-Player of the Year, along with:

Senior center Sally McCabe (13.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg).

Senior guard Kylee Smith (18.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.8 apg) was named on the Preseason All-OVC team.

Junior guard Jenny Roy (6.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg).

Here are Belmont's roster and season statistics.

   The Gonzaga Bulldogs,
West Coast Conference (WCC) powerhouse, have won 12 WCC regular-season titles and seven WCC Tournament championships in the past 13 years. They've made it to the NCAA Elite 8 once and to the Sweet 16 four times.

For the fifth-straight season, the Zags were picked as the WCC preseason favorite. They're ranked second in the mid-majors by CollegeInsider.

They've played only two games this season, losing to Colorado State and beating Montana.

The Zags are led by a pair of juniors who were named to the All-WCC Preseason Team:

Guard Laura Stockton averaged 8.0 points and 4.4 assists per game with a 1.9 assist/turnover ratio last season.

Forward Jill Barta was the Zag's leading scorer (16.8 ppg) and second-best rebounder (6.0 rpg) last season.

The Zags lost a vital member of their team just before the season began when redshirt senior center Emma Wolfram suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Here are Gonzaga's roster and season statistics.

   The Ohio State Buckeyes
have continued their successful season start. Their record is now 4-1, with a loss only to No. 5 Louisville in "Countdown to Columbus", and they're still ranked ninth in the AP Top 25.

Should a Cardinal/Buckeye re-match occur, I won't be surprised if the Buckeyes win again. At this point in the season, they're still a better team than the young Cardinal. But I'm sure they won't out-rebound the Cardinal 64-41 this time nor limit them to two second-chance points.

Here are Ohio's roster and season statistics.

November 19, 2017

Running away from the Roadrunners, 57-34

Bird's dad Greg McCall brought his CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners into Maples, returning the visit we paid to the Icardo Center last December.

In the pre-game chalk talk, Coach Paye said that Brittany's "foot issue" was indefinite: "In a couple of weeks we'll see." (Post-game, Tara said much the same, indicating that they were in no hurry to rush Brittany back, and in fact, had she been playing this game, she might have, "taken minutes from some players who need the experience.")

Kate said that the "new" offensive scheme being taught this year is the "Princeton Offense" first taught by the famous Pete Carril. For those who'd like to know more, here is the Wikipedia description of the Princeton Offense, which needs "5 players who can each pass, shoot and dribble at an above average level," and for good reason, as "the ball is kept in constant motion through passing..."

While the ball did seem to be in pretty constant motion during Stanford possessions, apparently the full system was not being run because, as Tara noted after the game, Bakersfield played a defensive zone the whole time, and "This was the first time we've played against the zone this year."

In any event, the Cardinal quickly opened a 9-0 advantage, maintained it into the second quarter, and then steadily increased it to the end. In the first half, three-point shooting was notably better than in the prior game; at the half the Cardinal was shooting 37% from long range. Unfortunately a flurry of misses in the second half pulled that number down to 25% by the end — still an improvement from the dismal 11% of the prior game.

Alexa led all scorers with 13 points from 3 made 3-pointers, a nice two-point jumper when she had to step in over the line to avoid a defender, and a free-throw. That was her career high in points. In her 23 minutes Alexa also tallied three rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Anna got a healthy 21 minutes on the floor (no doubt thinking "Thanks, Brit!") and scored nine points on three made 3's. She also pulled in four rebounds and blocked a shot.

The Roadrunners' zone collapsed onto any "big" who got the ball down low. Nevertheless, Alanna scored eight on 4-7 shooting, plus four rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Maya also scored eight on 4-6 shooting, plus four rebounds and a block. And Kaylee scored seven, on two layups and three free-throws (and six rebounds and a block).

Dijonai played 31 minutes and, although coming up empty on 0-5 shooting, had seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals.

Alyssa, who was the featured guest at the post-game "Behind the Bench", played 17 minutes and scored four points.

Estella came into the game in late minutes and scored her first college points, hitting one of two three-point attempts.

With this comfortable home win behind them, the Cardinal packs up and flies to Las Vegas for the Play 4 Kay tournament. They'll get a team Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, because on Thursday they have a game against Kent State. On Friday they play against (probably) Gonzaga; and if they win that, they'll have a probable rematch against Ohio State on Saturday.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The video press conference with Tara, Alexs and Anna,

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (isiphotos.com).

November 17, 2017

Cardinal holds off the Highlanders

With Brittany and Nadia in street clothes due to unspecified injuries (Brittany wore a boot on her right foot), Stanford did not represent quite such a dominating force against the UC Riverside Highlanders as they might have done at full strength. However, a period of smothering defense in the first quarter — a quarter that ended 20-6 — opened a comfortable lead that held for the next 25 minutes of play.

In the fourth period, the Highlanders recovered their poise, and in the final minutes, with the Stanford B-team on the floor, closed to within 10 points, prompting Tara to bring back a couple of starters in order to stifle any possibility of an embarrassingly dramatic conclusion.

Stanford out-rebounded the smaller Highlanders 59-44, although the Cardinal conceded many more turnovers, 19-10. Both teams shot abysmally from beyond the arc, UC hitting only 1 of 21 tries, and Stanford hardly better at 3 of 28.

Dijonai was the player of the game. In 31 minutes she scored a team-high 13 points and pulled down a personal-record 22 rebounds, for her first career double-double. Except for Riverside's sparkplug Michelle Curry, who scored 15, Dijonai was the high scorer. She would have had more points had she connected on any of the eight three-point attempts she put up.

Alanna, who was consistently double- or triple-teamed, had eleven points, four rebounds, a steal and a block.

Kaylee had eight points on 4-6 shooting (she hit her first four attempts), and collected ten rebounds, three blocks and a steal.

Marta had six points, all on free throws. She drove to the basket five times, never connecting but being fouled three times. She tallied four assists against two turnovers.

Maya played 17 minutes, scored five points, found three rebounds and blocked one shot.

Kiana played 14 minutes at the point, hit one of Stanford's three, three-pointers, and tallied three assists with one turnover.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A video interview of Dijonai, "I tried to crash as hard as I could",

The audio press conference , with Tara and Dijonai.

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (isiphotos.com),

November 15, 2017

Up Next: At home with Riverside and Bakersfield

The Cardinal have climbed out of the deep end of the pool and returned to Maples for games against UC Riverside on Friday evening at 7:00 pm and CSU Bakersfield on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm.

It's almost Thanksgiving, and Stanford Athletics is collecting canned food at both games. Bring some non-perishable goodies to help out — you can get a free general admission ticket for each donation.

There will be a chalk talk before each game and a Behind-the-Bench session after the game on Sunday.

  UC Riverside Highlanders

Riverside plays in the Big West Conference, along with Hawaii, UC Davis, and six other southern California schools. They've been picked to finish fifth this season.

They played USC on Monday night and lost 46-64.

Riverside's two most productive players from last season graduated, taking with them almost 40% of the team's scoring and rebounding. They'll likely be led this season by redshirt senior guard Lauren Holt and senior guard Michelle Curry.

The Cardinal and the Highlanders have met just once before — at Maples in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2010 (game story).

Here is Riverside's roster.

This is the media coverage of the game:

  CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners

The Roadrunners play in the WAC and are the only California team in the conference. The other members are all over the western half of the country — Chicago. Phoenix, Kansas City, New Mexico, Seattle, Texas, Utah. The Roadrunners not only travel a lot — they also play some very tough teams.

The game on Sunday is the third consecutive one between Stanford and Bakersfield, but with just one McCall this time — Bird's dad, head coach Greg McCall.

Coach McCall likes to challenge his team in the non-conference season. The Roadrunners played four Top25 teams last season, and placed fourth in the WAC with a 24-6 record. They've been picked to finish second this season

The Roadrunners are led by senior forward Aja Williams, who was named to the All-WAC second team. She averaged 11.2 points and 4.1 rebounds last season.She took 40% of her shots from beyond the arc and made 30% of them.

The Roadrunners' strongest player is redhshirt senior center Jazmyne Bartee. She averaged 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 8.0 points last season.

The Roadrunners have added a 6'5" junior college transfer, Nandi Jorden, to their roster this season. She has played just a few minutes in the Roadrunner's first two games of the season.

Here is Bakersfield's roster.

This is the media coverage of the game:

The Cardinal will wear their N7-inspired turquoise uniforms at this game in celebration of Honor Native American Heritage Month. The N7 philosophy embraces the Native philosophy: "In every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Read more about N7 in: Stanford partners with N7 (last season's story).

Learning and growing

From the Stanford Daily

Mikaela Brewer hopes,
"to broaden the view of athletes, and exemplify the side what most often isn’t seen; in my opinion, these characteristics of people are what builds great teams – not just in sports, but in life as a whole. Here’s a look into the first weekend of the season for the women’s basketball team:"
Read more: Looking beyond the final score

Laura Anderson, Ellie Chen and Gregory Block discuss the performance of Stanford women’s basketball last weekend in Columbus, and what the team can do moving forward: What can the Cardinal learn from a tough road trip?\

November 14, 2017

Brit named to Wooden Award watch list

Brittany McPhee was named to the John R. Wooden Award Women's Preseason Top 30 today. The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation's top five players, will be announced the week of the Final Four.

Read more from:

Stanford Athletics: Under consideration
The Wooden Award: John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s announces 2017-18 preseason top 30

November 12, 2017

Hounded out of Columbus by Huskies, 53-78

This game was the inverse of the previous one. Against Ohio State, Stanford played equal in the first half but was stifled in the second.

Against the Huskies, the Cardinal was flattened in the first half, but in the second played at a respectable level. Although the final was a 25-point loss, it could have been much, much worse without a strong second-half recovery.

UConn's defense dominated the first half. The Huskies seemed to anticipate every Cardinal move. Pass after pass was deflected or intercepted. In one single Stanford possession, UConn deflected three successive passes, two recovered by Stanford and the third going out of bounds.

This extremely smart, active defense led to 24 UConn points off 15 Cardinal turnovers, and held the Cardinal to a dismal 16.7% field goal percentage in the half.

As a result Stanford scored only 10 points in the first quarter, and an abysmal four points in the second, to end the half at 14-49. During the halftime break we began wondering if this could be a record-bad game. Stanford seemed to be on track to match its previous records for lowest score (31) and worst FG percentage (19.3).

We'll never know what Tara had to say, or what adjustments were made, but the second half was a much better story, so that no bad records were matched or broken in this game.

In fact, Stanford outscored UConn 19-18 in the third quarter, and in the fourth, when Geno Auriemma was giving his reserves playing time, Stanford won the quarter 20-11.

During the second half Dijonai proved herself as an offensive threat, scoring a career-high 21 for the game on 8-15 shooting. She scored in the paint, and hit 3 of 8 three-pointers, as well as collecting seven rebounds.

No other Cardinal made double digits. Brittany had nine points, but only made 3 of 12 attempts: UConn was clearly ready for her usual slashing drives to the basket, and she hit only one of five long-range shots. Alanna had eight points and the game-high 10 rebounds.

Kiana had 26 minutes at point and although she notched no assists, she scored seven points, hitting a three, a layup, and two free-throws, and committed no turnovers. Marta, in her 14 minutes at the point, took a single three-point try and hit it, as well as dishing three assists. Shannon also hit her single three-point try.

This weekend has given the team what Tara expected: a clear illustration of what they need to do to be great. But it has also shown how close they can be to the elite level, having played even with OSU for a half, and with the Huskies for another half. In coming weeks we will see how well these lessons have been learned.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

And the audio press conference , with Tara.

November 11, 2017

Alanna named to Lisa Leslie Award watch list

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday that Alanna Smith is one of 20 players on the watch list for the 2018 Lisa Leslie Award. The award is named after the three-time All-American and 1994 National Player of the Year, and recognizes the top centers in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball.

Read more from:

Stanford Athletics: Smith up for Leslie Award
The Basketball Hall of Fame: Lisa Leslie Award

November 10, 2017

Over-boarded in Ohio, 64-85

Updated Nov 11: Added links to videos and audio press conference.

Both Ohio State and Stanford claimed to want to run a fast game with lots of running and ball movement. Tara welcomed this matchup, saying it would show the freshmen "what pace really means".

In fact, Stanford did run well with the Buckeyes, at least in the first half, which was a footrace from start to finish. The first quarter ended 24-27, with both teams on pace to score over 90. Early in the second quarter Stanford took their only lead of the game at 33-32. The first half ended with a score of 40-46, and the Cardinal could go to the locker room feeling they were doing respectably well.

Throughout the third quarter something other than speed came into play — rebounding. The Buckeyes simply dominated the glass, getting one second-chance point after another. Late in the game, the TV commentators noted that Ohio had a 28-2 advantage in second-chance points -- which was more than enough to account for the score differential.

Central to OSU's rebounding was the play of Stephanie Mavunga, who in the third quarter reached a career high of 18 rebounds but didn't slow down, ending the game with 26 rebounds, 14 of them offensive. (Mavunga also had 17 points, 4 blocks, 3 assists and 2 steals.)

The final tally on rebounds was 41-64. Most other team stats were close, so that was the deciding factor. For example, field goal percentage was 36.9 for Stanford, 34.5 for OSU. However, thanks largely to O-boards, OSU took 19 more shots than Stanford (29 of 84, vs. 24 of 65).

If Mavunga was OSU's heart, Brittany was Stanford's. She played 34 minutes and scored 24 points, including a game highlight that we will see often in the future: At the end of the first half she took an inbound with 4 seconds on the clock. With 1.4 seconds left she launched a shot from mid-court that dropped in on the buzzer.

No other Cardinal was in double-digits. Alanna and Nadia had eight. Also with eight points was Alyssa, who played 17 minutes in her freshman debut and dropped in two three-pointers, and had two rebounds and a block.

Maya had seven points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in 26 minutes on the court. Dijonai had six points and five rebounds. Marta played 33 minutes, had the team-high eight rebounds, three points (on free-throws), and five assists (but five turnovers).

All other players had some time on the court but were unable to affect the outcome.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics.

The game highlights video,

And the audio press conference , with Tara and Brittany.

November 09, 2017

Up next: Buckeyes and Huskies in Columbus

The Cardinal are in Ohio this weekend, playing what may be their toughest season-start ever.

This weekend also marks the debut of the first-ever professional audio coverage of Stanford Women's Basketball. This season, there will be live audio broadcasts of all women's (and men's) games available via Sidearm Sports. Read more in the Stanford Athletics announcement: Enhanced Basketball Coverage.

First up is a game at Ohio State on Friday at 3:00 pm PT (6:00 pm ET). The game will be Tara’s first game back in Columbus since she coached the Buckeyes from 1981-85.

Media coverage:

TV: Big Ten Network
Video: BTN2GO
Audio: Sidearm Sports
Live Stats: Game Tracker

The Buckeyes made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year, where they lost to Notre Dame. They've won 15 Big Ten championships and have been picked to win again this year. They're ranked 5/8 in the preseason national polls.

They're a very experienced mature team, but a bit short-handed. Eight of the eleven players are upperclassmen.

The Buckeyes are led by the shooting and ball-handling of All-American senior guard Kelsey Mitchell who averaged 22.6 ppg last season and made 115 three-pointers. She enters this season with 2,553 points and has a chance to break Kelsey Plum's NCAA scoring record (she's 974 points shy, and she scored 889 in 34 games in her sophomore year).

Mitchell also averaged 3.9 assists per game with a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio last season

Redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga averaged a double-double (11.4 ppg, 10.8 rpg) last season, but missed 13 games due to injuries.

This summer she decided she needed to slim down, gain muscle and get in better shape. Head coach Kevin McGuff said, "She’s really taken her physical stature to another level. I’ve actually never been around a player, in over 20 years coaching, who’s done more in terms of her diet to change her body."

Mavunga credits her brothers and her sister-in-law, Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga, for helping her stick to her new healthy regime.

In their opening exhibition game this season, the Buckeyes completed their starting lineup with three more guards: redshirt junior Sierra Calhoun (9.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg), redshirt senior Linnae Harper (8.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg), and senior Asia Doss (5.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg).

Here is Ohio State's roster.

On Sunday, the Cardinal head to the Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus (the site of the 2018 Final Four) to kick off the Countdown to Columbus event with a game vs Connecticut at 10:30 am PT (1:30 pm ET).

Media coverage:

TV: ESPN
Video: WatchESPN
Audio: Sidearm Sports

Maturity ... youth ... the Huskies, who have been deemed better than ever this year, have both and are picked to win it all again.

All the key contributors are back: Senior guard Kia Nurse (12.7 ppg, 3.9 apg), senior forward Gabby Williams (14.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 5.1 apg), junior guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (20.2 ppg, 3.2 apg) and junior forward Napheesa Collier (20.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg).

And redshirt junior forward Azurá Stevens, a 6-foot-6 Duke transfer, could be the best of the bunch.

Depth, the one area that could be seen as a UConn vulnerability the past few seasons, is now just another strength when you add in sophomore guard Crystal Dangerfield, the No. 1 recruit in 2016 who has reportedly improved in the offseason and a stellar freshman class: Guard/forward Megan Walker, this year's top high schooler, and two more top-20 recruits.

I'm sure they would all like nothing better than starting a new winning streak with a victory over their nemesis.

Here is the Connecticut roster .

Expectations of the new season

Alexandre Bucquet (Stanford Daily) evaluates the roles that the upperclassmen will play this season: Women’s basketball season preview: Seniors stepping up

Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle) writes about the freshman and their first look at big-time college hoops: Stanford women’s basketball: Heralded freshmen will have to wait their turn

Laura Anderson, Gregory Block and Ellie Chen (Stanford Daily) discuss what the team needs to do to succeed this season: Women’s basketball roundtable: Season preview

Michelle Smith (Pac-12) summarizes the non-conference schedule of each of the Pac-12 teams: Preview of the non-conference Pac-12 women's basketball slate

Scott Wolf (Orange County Register) includes lots of fun trivia in : Why the Pac-12 is among the best in women’s basketball

November 07, 2017

Brit makes Drysdale watch list

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today that Brittany McPhee is one of 20 players on the watch list for the 2018 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award. This is a new award that recognizes the top shooting guard in women's college basketball.

Read more from:

Stanford Athletics: McPhee makes watch list
The Basketball Hall of Fame: Ann Meyers Drysdale Award

2018 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Candidates
Darby MaggardBelmont
Katie Lou SamuelsonConnecticut
Ashton MillenderDePaul
Rebecca Greenwell Duke
Asia Durr Louisville
Chloe Jackson LSU
Natisha Hiedeman Marquette
Allazia Blockton Marquette
Kaila Charles Maryland
Victoria Vivians Mississippi State
Arike Ogunbowale Notre Dame
Lexi Bando Oregon
Jovana Nogic Providence
Jaycee Bradley South Dakota
Kitija Laksa South Florida
Akina Wellere St. John's
Brittany McPhee Stanford
Dannie Williams Texas A&M
Kennedy Burke UCLA
Tynice Martin West Virginia

Preseason rankings

Charlie Creme's first bracket of the 2017-18 season includes six Pac-12 teams.

Albany Region
5 Arizona State
7 Oregon State
Lexington Region
4 Oregon
Kansas City Region
4 UCLA
Spokane Region
1 Stanford
6 California
Here's the complete bracket.

espnW's Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel place the same six Pac-12 teams in their top 25 with these evaluations:

6. Stanford Cardinal

The Cardinal reached their 13th Final Four a year ago because of senior leadership and a few underclassmen raising their level of play when it mattered most. Opening the season with Ohio State and UConn will immediately tell us if McPhee, a senior, and Smith, a junior, can be the leaders Stanford needs. McPhee broke out in the NCAA tournament, averaging better than 17 PPG, including 27 points in an Elite Eight comeback against Notre Dame. The 6-3 Smith has a chance to become one of the top post players in the country. Nadia Fingall, a 6-3 sophomore, also figures to be improved, and Johnson, a senior, rebounds, defends and does all the little things. Freshman forward Maya Dodson figures to be a major contributor by the time Pac-12 play rolls around. Marta Sniezek (4.4 APG in 2016-17) is back at the point but will get help from top-10 recruit Kiana Williams.

8. Oregon Ducks

Reaching the Elite Eight last March might have accelerated Kelly Graves' rebuilding plan by a year or two. Now come the expectations. His two best players -- Hebard and Ionescu -- are still only sophomores, and the top seven scorers from a year ago are back. Bando and Maite Cazorla are more than just 3-point shooters, but that is their biggest strength. Along with Ionescu, they made the Ducks the most accurate long-range team in the Pac-12 (the Ducks averaged 6.1 3-pointers per game and shot 39.2 percent from beyond the arc). Hebard, already a calm, steady force in the post, led the conference in field goal percentage. The Ducks might have gotten even more versatile with the addition of athletic 6-4 freshman wing Satou Sabally of Germany. With a nonconference schedule that includes games against Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and possible matchups with Louisville and Michigan in the Preseason WNIT, Graves' talented bunch will be even better prepared for a deep tournament run.

12. UCLA Bruins

The Bruins are coming off back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances for the first time in school history. Merely reaching a third straight would be a disappointment. Much of what Cori Close has done to rebuild the program was pointed to this season, Canada's senior year. The ultra-quick, All-American point guard directs much of what the Bruins do on offense but also has plenty of veteran help around her. The 6-4 Billings is one of the best and most versatile post players in the country, while Burke gives UCLA a third double-figure, veteran scorer. Close brought in a top-notch recruiting class headlined by athletic 5-11 forward Michaela Onyenwere, but none of the newcomers address the Bruins' biggest weakness: They shot just 30.5 percent from 3-point range a year ago, and the two shooters who combined for 125 of UCLA's 216 made 3-pointers last season are gone.

22. Oregon State Beavers

No one single player was as important to her team last season as Sydney Wiese was to the Beavers. She led the team in minutes, scoring, assists, 3-point shooting and free throw percentage. Wiese dictated everything Oregon State did -- and now she's gone. That opens the door for the next wave of talent in the program coach Scott Rueck has built from scratch. Sophomore guard Pivec looks like the player ready to take the mantel from Wiese. Pivec's aggressiveness coupled with added opportunity should translate to more production. Gulich, a 6-5 senior, will have to dominate for longer stretches but could have some help inside from 6-3 freshman Taya Corosdale.

23. California Golden Bears

With a roster full of returning veterans and Anigwe, a junior forward, primed to ascend to the top players in the game, the Bears should have an easier time reaching the NCAA tournament than they last season, when they were among the last four in. Much of that will depend on the guard play and perimeter shooting that lacked consistency a year ago. Point guard Thomas should get more help if sophomores Mi'Cole Cayton and Jaelyn Brown are improved, and freshman Kianna Smith plays like the top-20 recruit she was. Cowling, a senior wing, was Cal's leader in assists, steals, free throw percentage and minutes a year ago and is the glue.

25. Arizona State Sun Devils

During South Carolina's run to its first national championship, the toughest game the Gamecocks faced in the tournament was against Charli Turner Thorne's Sun Devils. Arizona State always seems to be a tough out. That shouldn't change in 2018 even though Turner Thorne will have to orchestrate a transition from a post-oriented offense to one dominated by the backcourt. Hard-nosed and highly regarded guards Richardson and Ryan move into their sophomore years and will have all-time ASU great Briann January to help them in her first season as an assistant coach. The duo, along with junior guard Haines, will have to score more to compensate for the nearly 29 PPG lost with the graduations of the reliable frontcourt trio of Sophie Brunner, Quinn Dornstauder and Kelsey Moos. The healthy return of 6-1 sophomore Jamie Ruden and the early development of 6-5 freshman Eva Rubin will determine how guard-heavy the Sun Devils will have to be.

Here is espnW's entire Top 25: UConn returns to top spot in espnW preseason rankings

And, finally, here are the national polls, which place Stanford at 10/9.

November 04, 2017

Cardinal tentative in exhibition opener vs. UCSD

Let the record show that the first basket of the 2017-18 season was a layup by Brittany from a pass by Alanna — and the second was another layup by Brittany from her own steal.

After this exciting start, Cardinal offense in the remainder of the first half was tentative and confused. The new, "Warrior-ized" offense that Tara is trying to create was only partially evident. Ball movement was fast and free; even the freshmen were passing the ball with confidence. And the defense baffled Heidi Vanderveer's UCSD Tritons and kept them from scoring for long stretches.

However, the ball wasn't going into the basket at the Stanford end of the floor, and the Division II Tritons were able to tie the score at 17 near the end of the second quarter. At the half, Stanford led by only 21-17. Also at the half, rebounding was almost even, and UCSD had more offensive rebounds.

There may have been some crisp words spoken in the locker room; at any rate early in the third quarter Stanford opened a 12-point lead. After that the two teams pretty much traded baskets the rest of the way to the final score of 60-46.

All four freshmen got playing time, and indeed during the final two minutes of the game, the squad on the floor consisted of four freshmen plus Mikaela Brewer. Of the frosh, Maya Dodson was the most impressive. Although she scored only a single free-throw, she had three blocks and seven rebounds, and impressed everyone with her speed and great wing-span. During the post-game presentations, Tara compared her to a young Nneka Ogwumike! (So, no pressure, kid.)

The scoring was mostly done by the upper class. Alanna led all scorers with 13, even though she missed all of her three-point attempts.

Alexa had eleven points, mostly from 3-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Alexa appears to have the green light to shoot whenever she likes; and if she can maintain a high average, other teams will have to defend her on the perimeter, opening the center.

Brittany had ten points. She no doubt would have had more, but she played only 13 minutes after she tweaked her ankle in a collision in the second quarter. (Post-game she was all smiles and said she was fine.)

Following the game Tara introduced the team, showering praise on everyone, and all the players seemed loose and happy.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score,

The audio press conference , with Tara, Marta and Alanna,

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (isiphotos.com).

November 02, 2017

Up first: VanDerveer vs VanDerveer

The fun starts again at Maples on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 with a family affair — an exhibition game between the Cardinal and Heidi VanDerveer's UC San Diego Tritons. This will be the third time that Tara and Heidi oppose each other as head coaches.

This is Heidi's sixth season as head coach at UCSD, an NCAA Division II school. The Tritons have won 70.5% of their games during Heidi's tenure. She was named the CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) Coach of the Year last season for the second straight time.

If you're a season ticket holder, stick around after the game for a "Meet & Greet" event organized by the Stanford ticket office. (Note: There will be several "Behind the Bench" sessions open to everyone this season. See the FBC Schedule for dates.)

Can't make it to Maples? You can listen to the KZSU broadcast and check live stats.

November 01, 2017

Leaders and the start of a journey

From the Stanford Daily:



Gregory Block completes the Daily's preview of the team with a look at the upperclassmen who are redefining themselves as team leaders this season: Women’s basketball preview: Leaders



Mikaela Brewer writes about how the definition of this season's team began in Italy: The journey to a new season

October 31, 2017

Newcomers and Up-and-comers

From the Stanford Daily:



Gregory Block takes a look at the freshman class — the young guns who may be the ones that help Stanford return to the Final Four this year: Womens basketball preview: Newcomers



Alexandre Bucquet writes about the players that should see more action this season after coming back from injury or playing in the shadow of last year's three superstar seniors: Women’s basketball preview: Up-and-comers

October 28, 2017

Tara honored by Women's Sports Foundation

Last week, the Women's Sports Foundation held its 38th annual salute to women in sports.

Tara was honored with this special tribute:

With tremendous admiration, tonight the Women’s Sports Foundation recognized Stanford Women’s Basketball Head Coach Tara VanDerveer for her storied career and milestone achievement of her 1,000th career coaching win, reached in the spring of 2017. VanDerveer is now the third Division I coach in NCAA basketball history to reach 1,000 wins, joining the late Pat Summitt and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.

As head women’s basketball coach at Stanford since 1985, VanDerveer has led the Cardinals to two NCAA championships (1990, 1992) and 11 Final Four appearances, while also helping Stanford win 22 Pac-12 regular-season titles and 12 Pac-12 tournament trophies. In 1996, VanDerveer took a year-long sabbatical to coach the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team, leading the team to a 60–0 record, including eight wins and a gold medal in the Games. VanDerveer was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Chiney introduced Tara at the event:

October 26, 2017

October 20, 2017

Pac 12 Preview: Stanford

Sue Favor writes all about women's basketball in her blog, They're Playing Basketball, including an annual season preview series of the Pac-12 teams. Here's her take on Stanford:
Pac-12 preview: Stanford University

October 12, 2017

More from Media Day

By Glen Reeves (Palo Alto Online): Stanford women hoopsters have an appetite for Final Four

Brit and Alanna enjoyed every minute of Media Day:

October 11, 2017

News and more from Pac-12 Media Day

The major news each Pac-12 Media Day is the Coaches' Poll. Today Stanford and the University of Oregon were picked to finish second, after UCLA:
UCLA Women's Basketball tops Preseason Poll

Other major news for Cardinal fans is Tara's disclosure that she has a new three-year contract extension that takes her through the 2019-20 season:
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer receives new 3-year deal

Here are two feature stories from the Pac-12 on media day:
Trips to the outdoors helps team bonding for Stanford
Storylines from Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Day

And a video featuring Tara, Brittany and Alanna:

October 04, 2017

Italy in Photos

Stanford Athletics has posted a big gallery of photos of the WBB trip to Italy taken by Alexa and Brittany. Many of them have not been posted earlier. Click here.

This is my favorite one:

October 02, 2017

Complete 2017-18 schedule announced

Stanford Women's Basketball announced its complete 2017-18 schedule today.

The Cardinal is scheduled for 30 regular-season games. 22 of them will be televised — 17 on the Pac-12 Networks, three on the ESPN family of networks, one on Fox Sports and one on the Big-10 Network.

In conference play, Stanford plays Oregon and Oregon State only away and Colorado and Utah only at home. It plays the other seven Pac-12 teams both at home and away. As has been the case since the Pac-10 became the Pac=12, traditional rivals meet twice in a single week. Stanford and Cal play each other in the next-to-last week of the regular season.

The conference schedule is more user-friendly than in the past few seasons. All the conference games are scheduled for Friday/Sunday, except for the Cal games which are Thursday/Saturday.

This is the schedule from the FBC. Game information includes links to each opponent's women's basketball website and maps of the venues. Links to other media coverage (away-game radio and live stats) and FBC post-game events will be added as soon as the information is available.

This is the announcement and the schedule from Stanford Athletics.

See the FBC Travel page for information about travelling to the away games.

September 30, 2017

Stanford working to capitalize on experience in Italy

Stanford had its first practice Monday since returning from an invaluable trip to Italy that included five games in 10 days and countless memories off the court ...

Read more from Jacob Rayburn (Cardinal Sports Report).

September 17, 2017

Stanford Athletics new Home of Champions

Dallmar Court in the Arrillaga Family Sports Center has been repurposed to become Stanford Athletics splendid new "Home of Champions".

This article from Advent, the company that designed the Home of Champions, describes some of the interesting technology and displays: Former basketball gym becomes Stanford Athletics ‘Home of Champions’

The Home of Champions is set to open to the public next Saturday, Sep 23,from 11-6. Thereafter, it will be open on weekdays from 10-4 (except closed on Tuesday) and on weekends from 11-4.

September 14, 2017

Cardinal loses game five

The Cardinal led by one at the half (29-28), and the game was tied (54-54) at the end of regulation, but Vigarano won the overtime period (10-3) and the game (64-57).

Alexa was the Cardinal's leading scorer today with 13 points on 5-10 shooting, including 3-7 three-pointers. Kaylee grabbed 11 rebounds, her best performance of the week. And DiJonai had another strong game with eight points and eight rebounds.

Alanna, Brit and Estella did not play.

Karlie made six of her 11 shots, including two of five three-pointers for a total of 16 points. She also had five steals.

Here is the Stanford (and Karlie) box score.

Waiting for game five

Before the result of the Stanford/Vigarano game is made known, here is a bit of fuzzy news clipped from the pregame video:

Brit and Alanna are sidelined. But three of Vigarano's players, including two starters, are also sidelined due to fatigue or illness.

Karlie's shot is unmistakeable,no matter how fuzzy.

Neither Brit nor Alanna is wearing a boot or showing any other visible sign of injury.

Here's the pregame video:

September 13, 2017

Cardinal loses game four in Italy

Famila Schio, which has placed either first or second in the Italian Serie A1 League for the past six seasons, gave the Cardinal a drubbing today: 71-45

DiJonai again led the Cardinal in scoring (but with only nine points) and in rebounding(10). Here are the Stanford stats.

Following the game, Famila Schio posed with the Cardinal for the official photo:

And then gifted them with a huge basket of goodies and a memorial plaque:

Earlier today, SWBB posted 30 more photos to album Italy 17 — mostly taken in Orvieto and Florence — beginning with this one of Maya taking in the view from Orvieto's city wall:

And here is the pregame video:

September 12, 2017

Cardinal loses game three in Italy

The Cardinal moved on from Florence to Venice today and played a game in the evening vs Reyer Venezia, the Italian Serie A1 League team based in Venice.

This is the pre-game video:

It was a close game for three quarters, at which point Reyer was ahead 55-54. Then Reyer blew past Stanford with a 22-8 fourth quarter and won 77-62.

For the third game in a row, DiJonai was Stanford's leading scorer — with 13 points this time. Here are the Stanford stats.

The Cardinal will spend two more days in Venice before returning home on Friday. They will enjoy some grand sight-seeing and play two more games against Italian Serie A1 teams: Famila Schio on Wednesday and Pallacanestro Vigarano (Karlie's team) on Thursday.

September 10, 2017

Trip to Italy, days 4 & 5

Yesterday, the Cardinal travelled north from Rome to Orvieto, the gorgeous city on a hill, ...

... where they took a brief walking tour:

... then continued on to Florence:

They toured Florence on Sunday and took a bus to Lucca in the evening to play their second basketball game. There are no Cardinal alums on the Lucca team this season, although Jillian Harmon and Kayla Pedersen played there last season and the one before. Jillian came to Lucca to watch the game:

The teams warmed up, listened to each other's national anthem, and exchanged t-shirts before the game:

Lucca beat Stanford 60-58.

Here are the Stanford stats and the game report from Lucca: Lucca wins the Memorial Coast woolen yarn

If I've interpreted Google's inept translation correctly:

Lucca took a big lead (20-10) in the first quarter and kept that margin through the second and third quarters. Stanford began to closely e the gap in the fourth quarter. DiJonai (who was again Stanford's top scorer) tied it up at 55-55 with 1:36 left to play. Then Lucca pulled ahead again to 59-55. Brittany sank a three-pointer and Lucca made a free throw to end the game at 60-58.

By the way, Lucca is a top-notch team. They won the Italian Women's Basketball Series A! league championship last season.

September 08, 2017

Cardinal wins first game on third day in Rome

The Cardinal spent their third day in Rome touring the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel:

In the evening, they defeated Stella Azzurra Basketball Adademy 89-29. The Cardinal had a significant height advantage — Shannon had a 14-point/16-rebound double-double. DiJonai led the Cardinal scoring with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 three-pointers. Here is the Cardinal box score

September 07, 2017

The Cardinal has landed

... in Rome, as the team begins its summer trip.

Jacob Rayburn (Cardinal Sports Report) reports:
Italy trip will be full of great food, sightseeing and invaluable games

See more photos in SWBB album Italy 2017.

August 31, 2017

2017-18 nonconference schedule announced

The 2017-18 nonconference schedule has been announced. The season begins with an exhibition game against Heidi VanDerveer's team (UCSD) before the Cardinal travels to Ohio for games against Ohio State and UConn.

This is the announcement from Stanford Athletics. Tip times and broadcast information along with Stanford’s Pac-12 schedule will be announced later once television arrangements have been finalized. In this year’s rotation, Stanford will play the Oregon schools and the Rocky Mountain schools (Utah and Colorado) just once.

This is the schedule from the FBC. Game information includes links to each opponent's women's basketball website and maps of the venues.

Pac-12 games, links to media coverage (TV, live streams, radio, live stats) and FBC pre-game and post-game events will be added as soon as the information is available.

Hard work pays off for Alanna



Lachy France (The Pick and Roll) recounts Alanna's journey from a frustrated Stanford freshman to an Emerging Opals star in 2017 FIBA Asia Cup and looks ahead to Alanna's goals for the future:

Alanna Smith: Overnight success years in the making

August 20, 2017

Alanna is not playing in World University Games

The Australian Opals were [are] in two international tournaments this summer: FIBA Asia Cup and World University Games (WUG).

Early this summer, Alanna was on the WUG roster and not on the Asia Cup roster. Later, just before Asia Cup began, Alanna was added to the roster to replace an injured player.

The World University Games have just begun and Alanna is not on the Australian team.

August 15, 2017

Four Nations: USA 103, Japan 71

With a 103-71 win over Japan, the USA U23 Women’s National Team was crowned tournament champion.

Brittany was a beast on defense. She grabbed ten rebounds (in 16 minutes) — the most of any USA woman throughout the tournament. She added seven points with a field goal and five free throws, three assists and a block.

More: