June 05, 2018

2018 Season Highlights

Stanford Athletics honors the Cardinal's 2017-18 season with video clips of game highlights and other Memorable Moments:

May 15, 2018

Ten Months Hence: Who Wins This Fantasy Game?

Warren Grimes

Fast forward to March of next year. The Stanford women’s basketball team has just completed the Pac 12 tournament, and now awaits the opening round of the Big Dance. In preparation, TVD decides to schedule a vigorous practice game. She breaks down the team into two squads, as listed below.

Veteran Squad Youth Squad
Alanna Smith Maya Dodson
Nadia Fingall Alyssa Jerome
DiJonai Carrington     Lexie Hull
Kiana Williams Lacie Hull
Marta Sniezek Jenna Brown

Consider how much talent there is in this list of ten players (there are four more on the roster that could have been mentioned). Each of these ten could start for most teams in the country. Each of these ten, if not a starter, has a good shot at being in the rotation next year. That’s a deep roster (and a longer rotation than the nine players who averaged 10 minutes on the 2017-2018 team).

So who should be favored?

The Veteran team, I suppose -- it is made up of 2 seniors, 2 juniors, and one veteran sophomore. It includes the second (Smith), third (Williams), fourth (Carrington) and fifth (Sniezek) highest scorers from last season. Except for Fingall, each started for at least a portion of last season. Each can shoot the three ball, although Williams stands out. Kiana had 71 three pointers, more than twice the number of any other player. And she shot threes at a .384 clip. Williams averaged 10.4 points per game for the season, but, during six post season games, averaged 15.5 per game. Williams could be the team’s top scorer next year and is All American material.

The highest 3-point shooting percentage? That belongs to Nadia Fingall, who shot threes at almost a 42 percent clip.

This roster could win games against most any team next year. Not that there aren’t areas for improvement – there is, for example, the matter of free throws. Williams shot free throws at just short of 82 % last season. None of the other four made the 70% mark; and Smith, who drew a lot of fouls, made only 53% of her charity tosses. Rebounding will also be an issue – Stanford is losing a gifted boarder and defender in Kaylee Johnson.

To replace top scoring McPhee, the veteran team needs more offense from players like Fingall and Sniezek. But the Veteran sqiad should be favored in this fantasy match up.

So what about the Youth squad?

There are a lot more unknowns for this squad of two sophomores and three freshmen. But all of these players could be in the-end-of season rotation, and each has a possibility of breaking into the starting ranks next year. It wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of them did.

The two veterans from last year’s rotation (Dodson and Jerome) have great promise. In roughly 10 minutes per game playing time, Dodson averaged 3.5 points; Jerome averaged 2 points. Dodson was a proficient shot blocker and has exciting potential as a post player. The team needs Dodson to step up her game. Jerome is less flashy, but shows steadiness and also has the potential for a sophomore break through. Each of these players needs to develop confident interior moves.

Then there’s the three freshmen, each of whom knows how to shoot free throws. How nice is that! The three face major adjustments to the college game, but there are reasons to hope that each will adjust with aplomb. With four months of college experience, all three could be impressive players.

Jenna Brown has international playing experience on USA youth teams. In the two high school all star games this Spring, she showed steadiness and maturity in handing out assists. Unlike a number of other participants, she seemed a team player, more than willing to help her teammates look good.

Then there’s the Hull sisters, whom might be dubbed the “chemistry sisters.” According to their high school coach, the twins are gym rats who practice with reliable intensity. They are said to be quick learners and very coachable.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the twins have talent, reflected in the many high school accolades, not to mention their team’s championship in the GEICO Nationals.

So the Youth squad, by the end of next season, should give the Veterans all they can handle, and maybe more. Four of the five players shoot the three ball (Dodson is the exception). Lacie Hull shot threes at 41% last season, and made a lot of them. Lexie Hull didn’t take as many, but made 39% of her attempts.

Overall, on offense, the Youth team could be led by Dodson, Lexie Hull, and Brown. Defense? The Hull sisters were on a team that played great help defense. They, and Brown as well, should fit easily into the Stanford defensive scheme that relies on help.

Rebounding? Dodson needs to improve her rebounding skills, as does Jerome. Two of the incoming freshmen know how to board. Of note is that Brown, while scoring an average of 21 points as a point guard, also averaged almost 10 rebounds per game last year. And Lexie Hull was the number one boarder on her championship team.

Chemistry? The Youth squad should have it in spades, with Brown’s mature point guard skills and the enthusiasm and passing skills of the Hull sisters.

So who wins this matchup?

You choose! It’s a fantasy game. My pick is that a motivated Youth squad scores a narrow upset victory by outshooting the Veterans from the free throw line.

May 03, 2018

Farewell to Dee Dee

Dee Dee Zawaydeh-Johnson, who ran the Stanford Women's Basketball office for30 years, passed away a few days ago. Tara wrote this letter to the SWBB alums:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dee Dee Johnson. Dee Dee passed away yesterday morning after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Dee Dee became a member of the Stanford Athletics family in 1986 when she joined the department as an office assistant for the Track and Field program. From there, she transferred to Women’s Basketball where, for over 30 years, Dee Dee she was a mainstay. She ran the Women’s Basketball office, and did so with great pride. Dee Dee was an extremely hard worker and was fiercely loyal to the Women’s Basketball staff and team. She truly cared about the coaches, staff and student-athletes. One of her favorite nights was the year-end banquet where she shared her own inspirational, funny and creative review of the season to open the evening.

Dee Dee truly loved Stanford and even after she was unable to work, she still came to visit whenever she could, and when she could not visit, the Women’s Basketball staff would visit her. On their last visit to see Dee Dee, she was unable to speak so she wrote a note that said “I miss work and I love you guys.”

Dee Dee will be sorely missed, but her spirit will live on in the Women’s Basketball program.

Address to send cards to Dee Dee's family:
c/o Chi Chi Johnson
1935 Colony ST. Unit A
Mountain View, CA 94043

See also Tara's Reflection on Dee Dee

April 19, 2018

Paving the road for equal pay


It makes sense, statistically speaking, that there is an immense pay gap between the male and female side of sports. I am not here to demand equal pay. At the moment, it is not realistic. However, I... Read More »

April 18, 2018

2017-18 Season in Review

Click here to see Stanford Athletics' collection of season highlights.

April 09, 2018

The Skylar Diggins Reverse -- And Other Recruitment Story Lines

By Warren Grimes

Jenna Brown

Some years back, high school senior Skylar Diggins executed the play. She feinted toward the West Coast, making a verbal commitment to play basketball on the Farm. Then she flew back to South Bend, never to return. The “Skylar Diggins reverse” is now painfully seared in the memories of many Stanford fans.

Well, what goes around, comes around. More recently, Jenna Brown offered a happier variation — “the reverse of the Diggins reverse.” In January of 2017, after visiting Notre Dame, Brown gave a verbal commitment to Muffett McGraw. That lasted about 6 months. In July, Brown’s father revealed that his daughter had decommitted and would announce her new choice shortly.

A few days later, Brown did exactly that: She chose Stanford.

A gifted high school athlete under intense recruiting pressure has every right to change her mind. Stanford fans can live with vacillation, but we prefer Maples as the end point.

There are other positive story lines associated with Jenna Brown. She was forced to take her junior year off to recover from a torn ACL. Recover she did, putting up her best career numbers as a high school senior. According to Prospects Nation, Brown, a former teammate of Maya Dodson on a youth national team, is the 13th ranked overall recruit, and the #4 point guard prospect. Hoopgurlz sees it only slightly differently: Brown is rated as the 20th overall recruit and the #3 point guard.

Ultimately, the rankings are inconsequential. What matters is that Brown is a gifted five-star athlete, an excellent student, and a person of substance. On the court, her senior year numbers compare favorably with the senior statistics of Kiana Williams, another McDonald’s All American and a top guard recruit of last year.

High School Senior Statistics
Points Boards Assists Steals
Kiana Williams (2016-17) 21 3.3 3.8 3.1
Jenna Brown (2017-18) 24 9.5 4 2.4

It is risky to draw comparisons on the statistics of high school athletes who played in different leagues in different parts of the country. Williams, who may have played in a more competitive league, was slightly higher ranked in her class (#8 overall player by Hoopgurlz and #12 by Prospects Nation). We do know that Brown is a couple inches taller than Williams, and may be more of a physical presence. Perhaps that is reflected in her superior rebounding performance. They are different athletes with different and likely complementary strengths. These two gifted players will be together in Stanford uniforms for the next three years — that’s good news.

A Hull of a Central Valley Story

Spokane is not the center of the universe. On the other hand, if asked to pinpoint the center of the girls high-school-basketball universe, Spokane would be high on the list. Spokane is home territory for Central Valley (CV) High School, which won the GEICO Nationals this year (the closest thing to a final four in high school basketball). The most heralded players on the CV roster are Lexie and Lacie Hull, the twins headed to Stanford in the Fall. Before the tournament, an undefeated CV was untested nationally, having played only one out-of-state opponent (the Idaho champion). CV came into the New York tournament with something to prove. The team was bracketed against the number 2 and number 1 seeds, each of them a state tournament champion.

CV beat second-seeded Westlake (Georgia champion) with a somewhat comfortable 13-point margin, then took down number one seed Hamilton High (Tennessee champion) in a more closely contested championship game.

In their starting five, Hamilton had a 6 foot 7 center and a tall and very talented point guard (McDonald’s All American) who will play for Tennessee this Fall. The tallest players in the CV rotation were Lacie (listed as 6' 2") and Lexie (listed as 6'1"). This was a Cinderella story, notwithstanding that CV had proven a dominant team in its home state. CV had lost only one game in the past three seasons (that was a state tournament loss a year earlier). Sandwiched around that one-loss season, CV had two undefeated, state championship seasons.

CV was a very well coached and disciplined team. On offense, their ball movement was superlative. On defense, CV’s help defense would be impressive even for a college team. And CV played defense all over the court, generating turnovers that led to a potent transition offense. For the season, CV’s average margin of victory was in the 40-point range.

Anyone watching the videos of CV’s championship run will be struck by the teamwork. Every player showed intensity and court awareness. This happened every moment on court — the players simply did not quit. Three-pointers were executed not just by the Hulls, but by a number of other CV players. (Hailey Christopher, another senior starter for CV, will be playing at Idaho next year).

So yes, Lexie Hull and Lacie Hull were critical cogs in CV’s astounding success, but they fitted seamlessly into the team fabric. They were quintessential team players. Here are the statistics for the Hull twins.

Hull Senior Year Statistics
Points Three Point % Free Throw % Boards Assists Steals
Lexie Hull 20.4 39% 81% 8.4 2.1 2.6
Lacie Hull 10 41% 76% 5.9 4.7 3.4

Lexie and Lacie are different players, but they do share common characteristics. They are both great shooters, have great court awareness and passing skills, and an uncanny ability to anticipate an opponent’s pass (they are theft artists). The statistics for these two athletes may be somewhat understated because, with typical 40-point victory margins, the Hulls tended not to play much in the fourth quarter. Scouting reports say they are gym rats and very quick learners. None of this touches on their contributions to team chemistry, readily evident in CV’s run to the championship.

In the GEICO Nationals, the Hulls played their best in crunch time. In the semifinal game, Lexie scored 31 points; in the finals, she knocked down 13 of her 26 points in the decisive 4th quarter. Lexie was 11 for 11 (and 20-21 for the tournament) from the charity stripe. Lacie had to contend with the opponent’s 6'7" center in the finals, and was forced to sit with foul trouble in the first half. She nonetheless contributed 9 points and 8 boards, including a critical three-pointer in the fourth quarter.

Lexie was the Washington State player of the year, an honor previously held by Brittany McPhee and Kate Starbird. In some ways, Lexie’s game might be seen as a cross between Starbird (a pure shooter and very good in transition) and McPhee (a streaky long-range shooter but a superlative shot maker in the paint, with a great nose for the ball). Lexie possesses potential in all those skill areas. Her free throw and long-range shooting shows the Starbird side; her drives to the hoop and rebounding the McPhee side.

Lacie was also first team all state. She was not the prolific scorer that her sister was, but quietly racked up 4.7 assists per game (by far the highest on the team). She also had more steals and a higher three-point shooting percentage than her sister (41% versus 39%). Lacie launched and converted a lot more threes (34 for 83 versus 19 for 49 for Lexie).

Just how these two fine athletes will fit into next year’s team is unclear, but the prognosis is very rosy.

April 07, 2018

Way-too-early preseason rankings

Charlie Creme (espnW) wonders if any of this season's Final Four teams will get back to the NCAA tournament's final weekend in 2019, or will there be new blood in Tampa. Florida, a year from now.

Here is his early look at how 2018-19's top 25 shapes up: Fresh off NCAA title, Irish lead way-too-early top 25 for 2018-19

He has five Pac-12 teams in his top 25:

2. Oregon Ducks

The Ducks have reached the Elite Eight for two straight years and will be expected to take the next step with everyone back except sharp-shooter Lexi Bando. Sabrina Ionescu will be a top contender for every national player of the year award, and 6-foot-4 post Ruthy Hebard will be in every All-American conversation. Erin Boley, a 6-2 Notre Dame transfer who was the 2016 Gatorade national player of the year, will join Hebard and 6-5 Mallory McGwire up front, while 6-4 wing Satou Sabally could be ready to break out. Get used to seeing Oregon in a lofty spot: Guard Maite Cazorla will be the only regular rotation senior on next season's team.

6. Stanford Cardinal

With the graduation of Brittany McPhee, the offense will focus on Alanna Smith and Kiana Williams, who could be ready for a breakout as a sophomore. With seven players returning who averaged double-digit minutes, Tara VanDerveer will have plenty of depth and experience. The Hall of Fame coach is also adding another sister combination with incoming freshmen Lexie and Lacie Hull from Washington.

12. Oregon State Beavers

The Beavers were the most efficient 3-point shooting team in the country and return all of their chief contributors: Kat Tudor, Katie McWilliams, Mikayla Pivec, Taya Corosdale and Aleah Goodman. Coach Scott Rueck also adds Destiny Slocum, who was the 2017 WBCA national freshman of the year during her rookie season at Maryland, to the mix. The centerpiece of this year's Elite Eight team, 6-5 Marie Gulich, is gone, but 6-8 Joanna Grymek could take on a bigger role. Rueck also brought in 6-9 Paraguay native Andrea Aquino, a top-10 recruit and potential program game-changer.

21. UCLA Bruins

Coach Cori Close has to replace so much with the departure of Jordin Canada, Monique Billings and Kelli Hayes, the core of the recruiting class that brought the Bruins back to prominence. But the play of Japreece Dean in the NCAA tournament gave hope that the blow of losing Canada will be softened. Lajahna Drummer and Kennedy Burke, a pair of 6-1 forwards, are two more seniors Close will have to build around.

24. Arizona State Sun Devils

Coach Charli Turner Thorne returns the entire roster from a team that reached the second round of the NCAA tournament, something the program has done four of the past five seasons. The biggest returnee is junior guard Sabrina Haines, who missed all but nine games with a knee injury. Balance and depth, led by forward Kianna Ibis, will once again be a Sun Devils trademark.

April 02, 2018

Attitude, Resiliency, and The Future of Women’s Hoops

By Warren Grimes

I’m not a Notre Dame fan. That said, Muffet McGraw’s team did something noteworthy last Sunday evening. They won a national championship. They did so playing only six players in both the final and semifinal games. They did so despite losing four players to ACLs, at least two of whom would have been in the rotation and probably starters. They did so by beating U Conn, a team that carried an undefeated record. They did so by coming back from deficits. Against U Conn, Notre Dame was down by eight points in the fourth quarter, but came back to force an overtime, then won it in the final seconds of overtime on an Arike Ogunbowale shot. Against Mississippi State, they were down by 15 points midway through the third quarter, and came back to win in a last-second (literally the last second) shot by Ogunbowale.

All of this is good for women’s basketball. For two years and counting, U Conn went into the tournament with an unblemished record, but lost in the semifinal round. We have had three different national champions over the last three years. None of this means that U Conn will cease to be a formidable team. Geno Auriema continues to recruit the nation’s best players – and he can coach. But teams like Mississippi State and Notre Dame have proven that with resilience, attitude, and player development supplemented by good coaching, even teams with somewhat less illustrious recruiting classes can compete.

What does this mean for Stanford? Well, for one, Stanford beat Notre Dame a year ago in the Elite Eight (five of the six Notre Dame players that won the championship played against Stanford in 2017). Jessica Shepard, who did not play last year, got 6 boards and 19 points for Notre Dame (but the two additional Notre Dame players that played against Stanford in 2017 contributed 11 boards and 19 points).

But let's not get lost in history and statistics. The point is that Notre Dame played as a motivated and resilient team, and that’s why they won the championship. The Stanford team, a year ago, had those same characteristics. They beat Muffet McGraw’s team to get to Final Four.

More Stanford connections? One of the players that Notre Dame lost midway through this season was Lili Thompson. Thompson had played in all of the team’s previous 14 games, shooting .391 from the three point range and leading the team with assists (64) and steals (22).

Then there is Arike Ogunbowale. Her heroic down-to-the-wire shots won both the U Conn and Mississippi State games. And she almost did that against Stanford a year earlier. Agunbowale had 25 points, but had been largely silenced by Brittany McPhee’s second-half defense. With seconds left, and Stanford leading by one point, Muffet McGraw had her team inbound to Ogunbowale, who turned to launch a midrange two-point attempt. No dice, Erica McCall was there to block the attempt – and Stanford went to the Final Four.

Well, unlike Notre Dame, Stanford did not win a national championship, but two of its future players did.

Lexie and Lacie Hull played in a “Final Four” for high school teams in New York last weekend. Their Central Valley (Spokane) team was undefeated, and was one of four outstanding high school teams selected to participate in the GEICO National Championships. Central Valley won their semifinal game, then defeated Hamilton Heights (the #1 ranked high school team) in the final game. Both of the Hulls performed, making all of their free throws (Lexie was 11 for 11) and contributing three-pointers, boards, and great court sense. They both are gifted and smart players that should fit in well with Tara’s offensive and defensive blue prints. With either or both of these players on the floor, Stanford’s free throw shooting will improve.

Jenna Brown, Stanford’s other recruit, participated in the McDonald’s All American game. The free-for-all format of this game makes it difficult to assess how a player will fit in, but Brown showed quickness and game sense in dishing out assists. And, I understand, Brown also can shoot free throws.

These three future freshman, with attitude and resilience, can be part of the next great Stanford edition.

April 01, 2018

My Six Favorite Pac-12 Coaches

By Warren Grimes

I have watched with interest the strategies and demeanor of head coaches over the past few seasons. Not every coach wins the Good Housekeeping award.

Louisville Coach Jeff Walz would not be on my favorite list. His success is beyond dispute, but his court demeanor seems loud, aggressive, and at times even obnoxious. A good coach is also a role model.

I have come up with a list of six Pac-12 favorites, with one additional coach in the honorable mention category.

That leaves out the coaches from five schools: Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Washington and Washington State. The coaches from these five schools are relatively new (and in WSU’s case not yet appointed). Any of them might make the favorite list in the future.

Honorable Mention

June Daugherty came close to being an honorable mention selection. I’ve long considered her a class act. She had seniority after coaching first at Washington and then at WSU. Unfortunately, she struggled to get her teams into the Big Dance, fought health issues, and was terminated by WSU at the end of this season.

Mark Trakh, with two runs at the USC job, deserves honorable mention. I was disappointed when Trakh was fired after the first run. His team had a string of injuries, but had nonetheless performed at top-half-of-the-conference level. Trakh moved on to New Mexico State, where his coaching brought the school to the Big Dance and a near upset win over Stanford. The AD at USC must have had a “whoops, we goofed” moment, and asked Trakh to come back. This year, Trakh’s USC team had a very good out-of-conference record, then stumbled against top conference opponents. Playing with a reduced roster, USC still scared the daylights out of most of the conference heavies. USC should be back next year with a deeper roster. Trakh has taken Pepperdine, USC, and New Mexico State to the NCAA tournament, so he knows how to get it done.

The Top Six

Number 6 - Cori Close has a solid resume. She has proven herself an excellent recruiter. A few years back, she brought in the nation’s top recruiting class headed by Jordin Canada and Monique Billings. That class has now finished its four-year run with an Elite Eight appearance in the tournament. During those four years, UCLA was consistently one of the top teams in the conference, playing high pressure defense and fast break basketball that caused headaches for any opponent. Close would have been higher ranked if she had brought home a conference championship, a conference tournament championship, or a Final Four appearance. She has come up short on this count. But Close has some exciting recruits for next year. The story is ongoing.

Number 5 - Lindsay Gottlieb has a final four appearance and a conference championship on her resume. That was in 2013, when a second-seeded Cal team busted its way through to the Final Four. She has also recruited some excellent players. Her teams have not performed consistently against top opponents, but have, more often than not, been among the top four teams in the conference. This year, Cal seemed well positioned for a run in the conference and NCAA tournaments. Those hopes were thwarted when Kristine Anigwe was sick/injured and played sporadically in the Pac-12 tournament and not at all in the first round loss in the NCAA tournament. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Anigwe does not have a head injury or some other malady that would halt her very promising career.

Number 4 - Charli Turner Thorne, a VanDerveer protégé, has long been one of my favorites. She is second in conference seniority. With some consistency, Thorne’s teams have outperformed their preseason ranking. They have (my opinion) outperformed what their incoming talent would suggest. Her teams play with teamwork and intensity from the first day of the season, pulling off upsets, but occasionally faltering toward season’s end. This season, that faltering was evident, but ASU came back with an upset victory over OSU in the conference tournament, guaranteeing an NCAA bid. Her teams are regulars in the NCAA tournament, but have not broken the Final Four barrier.

Number 3 - Kelly Graves, Oregon’s well respected and relatively new coach, had already built an impressive record while coaching at St. Mary’s and Gonzaga. Now he has some serious talent, coaches in one of the top conferences in the country, and has an opportunity to attain elite status. His team won the conference and the conference tournament championships this year, garnered a #2 seed in the NCAA, and played to seed, losing to #1 seed Notre Dame in the regional final. Last year, Oregon entered the tournament with a #10 seed, and scored three upsets on the way to the Elite Eight. Will Graves be able to lead his talented team to a Final Four? Three of his colleagues (VanDerveer, Rueck, and Gottlieb) have been there. Graves must do this to be considered an elite coach.

Number 2 - Scott Rueck deserves his number 2 rank because of his amazing turnaround with the OSU program, winning the conference and the conference tournament titles and taking his team to one Final Four, two Elite Eights, and three consecutive Sweet Sixteens. He has achieved this despite losing a “best” player from his squad in each of the last two seasons (last year he lost his two best players). Rueck will confront that challenge again this year with the graduation of Marie Gülich, but it’s hard to bet against Rueck. This year they had an upsetting NCAA run, starting as a #6 seed but besting #3 Tennessee at home and then #2 Baylor in the Sweet Sixteen. Watch out for Rueck!

Number 1 - Tara VanDerveer is a role model, a legend, and the conference coach with the longest and most impressive resume. She does almost everything well — recruiting, motivating, strategizing, innovating — you name it. One of my favorite things about VanDerveer is how she consistently gets the most out of her teams at season’s end. She has some great new players coming on to replace Brittany McPhee and Kaylee Johnson.

Breaking News! Next year’s Stanford team is likely to shoot free throws better than this year’s version. And the same may be true for three-point shooting.

Three of the team’s best shooters will be back: Alanna Smith, Kiana Williams and DiJonai Carrington. Add to that the impact of incoming freshmen Jenna Brown and the Hull twins, all of whom are proficient shooters, and you have exciting potential. The biggest player development challenge facing Stanford next year may be finding a proficient offensive and defensive presence in the post to supplement Alanna Smith. That presence probably has to be found among Nadia Fingall, Maya Dodson, Alyssa Jerome, and Shannon Coffee. Each is an entirely different player. I look forward to seeing how the puzzle pieces will fit together. VanDerveer is really good at solving basketball puzzles.

March 30, 2018

In the record book, 2017-18

Although the 2017-18 team fell two steps short of its Final Four goal, it was, Tara said, "perhaps the most-improved Stanford team ever," and earned a good many entries in the Stanford Record Book:
  • Kayl earned one entry in the Stanford Record Book this season and ends her college career with two records and an additional 11 entries in the Stanford Record Book
  • Britt earned many accolades for her excellent play and academic achievements and ends her career with one entry in the Stanford Record Book.
  • Alanna has earned five entries in the Stanford Record Book.
  • Marta earned no entries in the Stanford Record Book this season, but retains the three entries and the Pac-12 tournament record that she earned in the past two seasons.
  • Dijonai earned one entry in the Stanford Record Book.
  • Anna earned two entries in the Stanford Record Book.
  • Kiana set one record this season and earned five additional entries in the Stanford Record Book.
  • Maya earned one entry in the Stanford Record Book.
  • The team unfortunately set two downside records, but earned 15 other entries in the Stanford Record Book.
Note: You can see the complete Stanford Record Book online at Women's Basketball History, section Records, and the Pac-12 Record Book at Pac-12 Conference: 2017-18 Women's Basketball Media Guide, section Records (it has not yet been updated with records for the 2016-17 season).

Kaylee Johnson

Kaylee earned an entry in the Stanford Record Book in her senior season, and retains the entries she earned in her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Blocks

Kaylee blocked 166 shots in her career, which places her fifth in Career Blocks, behind Erica McCall in fourth.

She is in 14th place in Single-Season Blocks with the 54 she had in her sophomore season and in 16th place with the 51 she had in her freshman season.

She blocked six shots at Cal on February 17, 2018, which places her in a 12-way tie for fifth in Single-Game Blocks.

She is in third place in Freshman blocks with 51.

Rebounds

Kaylee snatched 992 rebounds in her career, which places her seventh in Career Rebounds, behind Val Whiting in sixth.

She averaged 7.4 per game, which places her eighth in Career Rebounds per Game, behind Jeanne Ruark Hoff in seventh.

She is tied with Jayne Appel for tenth place in Single-Season Rebounds and holds tenth place in Single-Season Rebounds Per Game.

She grabbed 22 rebounds twice in her freshman season, which places her in a tie with DiJonai Carrington and Mikaela Ruef for third in Single-Game Rebounds. She also grabbed 19 once in her sophomore season, which places her 19th in the category.

She holds the Freshman Rebounds record with 344 and the Freshman Rebounds Per Game record with 9.6.

Brittany McPhee

Points scored

Brittany scored 1,250 points in her career, which places her in a tie with Lili Thompson as 29th among the 40 members of All-Time Scoring Leaders (previously known as the 1,000/2,000 Point Club).

Alanna Smith

Points scored

Alanna has scored 1,004 points in her first three seasons and has crept into All-Time Scoring Leaders as the 40th member.

Blocks

Alanna has blocked 147 shots in her first three seasons and stands in eighth place in Career Blocks. She is in reach of taking over second place, which is held by Chiney Ogwumike with 202.

She blocked 62 shots this season, which places her in a tie with Chiney Ogwumike for seventh place in Single-Season Blocks. She is also in a tie with Jayne Appel for ninth place in this category with the 61 shots she blocked last season. (Appel is also in first and second place.)

She blocked six shots once last season, which places her in a 12-way tie for fifth in Single-Game Blocks. (The record is eight, held by Kristen Newlin).

Marta Sniezek

Assists

Marta dished 150 assists this season and has a career total to-date of 428, which do not earn places in the Stanford Record Book. But with another 150 next season she would displace Nicole Powell from fifth in Career Assists.

She retains the entries she earned in the past two seasons: A tie with Sonja Henning and Jennifer Azzi for third place in Single-Game Assists, eighth place in Freshman Assists, and ninth place in Freshman Assists Per Game.

And her 13 assists vs Washington in the 2016 Pac-12 Tournament still holds as the Pac-12 Tournament Single-Game record.

DiJonai Carrington

Rebounds

DiJonai increased her defensive skills this season with steals, rebounds, and other disruptive moves.

She grabbed 22 rebounds vs UC Riverside on November 17, 2017, which places her in a tie with Kaylee Johnson and Mikaela Ruef for third in Single-Game Rebounds.

Anna Wilson

3-Pointers

Anna displayed her prowess as a long-range shooter early this season before a foot injury took her out of the action.

She attempted 15 3-pointers vs. Western Illlinois on December 18, 2017, which places her in a five-way tie for second in Single-Game 3-Point Attempts. (The record is 16, held by Lindsey Yamasaki.)

She made seven 3-pointers vs. Ohio State on November 25, 2017, which places her in a nine-way tie for sixth in Single-Game 3-Pointers Made. (The record is nine, shared by Lindsey Yamasaki and Molly Goodenbour.)

Kiana Williams

Field Goals

Kiana took 309 shots this season, which places her eighth in Freshman Field Goals Attempted.

3-Pointers

Kiana took 185 of those shots from beyond the arc and now holds the Freshman 3-Pointers Attempted record. This also places her in a tie with Bonnie Samuelson for 12th in Single-Season 3-Pointers Attempted.

She made 71 of those attempts, which places her in a tie with Jamie Carey for second in Freshman 3-Pointers Made.

She made those 3-pointers at a rate of 38.4%, which places her ninth in Freshman 3-Point Field Goal Percentage.

Minutes played

Kiana played for 899 minutes, which places her eighth in Freshman Minutes Played,.

Maya Dodson

Blocks

Maya blocked 27 shots this season, which places her in a tie with Joslyn Tinkle for sixth in Freshman Blocks.

The Team

The 2017-18 team won 24 games, took second place in the Pac-12 season, placed second in the Pac-12 Tournament, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the 25th time.

The team allowed its opponents to make just 36.7% of their shots, which places it 13th in Team Single-Season Lowest Opponent Field-Goal Percentage.

The team was the best at long-range shooting in 14 years. It made 249 3-pointers, which places it third in Team Single-Season 3-Point Field Goals.

It blocked 186 shots, which places it sixth in Team Single-Season Blocked Shots

It grabbed 1,433 rebounds, which places it 13th in Team Single-Season Rebounds

The team also earned these entries in Team Single-Game Records:

Ninth in Fewest Points Allowed with 33 vs UNLV and eleventh with 34 vs Bakersfield.

Third in 3-Point Field Goals with 15 at San Francisco and ninth with 14 vs Arizona.

Second in 3-Point Attempts with 39 vs Arizona, fifth with 38 at Baylor, and eleventh with 34 vs Western Illinois.

Ninth in Rebounds with 59 vs UC Riverside.

Third in Blocked Shots with 12 vs New Mexico State and 14th with 10 at Arizona.

Tenth in Personal Fouls with 27 at Arizona State.

The team set two downside Stanford records:

It made just 42.4% of its field goal attempts, which breaks the Stanford record for Team Single-Season Lowest Field Goal Percentage — 42.6%, set in 2015-16.

It made just 64.2% of its free throws, which breaks the Stanford record for Team Single-Season Lowest Free Throw Percentage — 64.8%, set in 1978-79

The team extended Stanford's Pac-12 record for Most 20-Win Seasons to 29 and retained the record for Most Conference Championships (23).

March 29, 2018

Another honor for Britt

Brittany received WBCA All-America honorable mention recognition the Women's Basketball Coaches Association announced Thursday afternoon.

Read more:

The Pac 12: Still Underappreciated?

By Warren Grimes

In the women’s tournament this year, three Pac 12 teams made it to the Elite Eight (none of them Stanford). All three lost, but one could deduce from this event that three of the top eight teams in the country came from the Pac 12 conference. Or, based on reaching the Sweet Sixteen, one could conclude that four of the top 16 teams were in the conference. These are credible assertions, but they were not accurately reflected in the tournament seedings.

For the third year running, Pac-12 teams outperformed their tournament seeding. That’s compelling evidence that the conference is still underrated by those who do the seedings. That underappreciation is surely linked to the national press and those who do the weekly national ratings of women’s teams.

Taking the longer view, the conference has a spotty record. Stanford won the national title in 1990 and in 1992. Since then, Stanford has been to ten additional final fours, and reached the championship game on two occasions (2008 and 2010). But for a 27 year period no other conference team has reached the end round (USC finished in the Final Four in 1986 and Cal in 2013). The conference was dominated by Stanford for two reasons: (1) Stanford was very good and (2) the other conference teams were not.

By 2013, the Pac-12's somnolence was ending. That year, the Cal Bears were given a second seed in the tournament and went all the way to the Final Four. More impressively, in 2016, two Pac-12 schools reached the final four for the first time (OSU and Washington). And in 2017, a second-seeded Stanford team butted its way back to Final Four. These events seemed to put the world on notice that the conference was for real.

Unfortunately, the tournament seedings of Pac-12 teams, at least over the past three years, have lagged behind performance. For example, in 2016, the year that two conference teams reached the Final Four, both Washington (given a #7 seed) and Oregon State (given a #2 seed) outperformed their seedings.

In 2017, seven Pac-12 teams headed for the tournament. Three of those schools performed better than their seed (and only one, OSU, underperformed — OSU was a second seed and lost to third-seeded Florida State in the Sweet Sixteen). Stanford was a #2 seed and bested #1 seed Notre Dame to get to the Final Four. Even more impressively, Oregon, a #10 seed, had three consecutive “upset” victories (including wins over #2- and #3-seeded teams) to get to the Elite Eight.

In 2018, six Pac-12 teams were selected (USC felt underappreciated). And once again, all but one of the six teams performed as well or better than their seed. California (a #7 seed) lost to #10-seeded Virginia, but that result could well have turned on Cal’s best player being held out of the game for medical reasons. Two teams bested higher-seeded rivals: UCLA, with a #3 seed, bested #2-seeded Texas; and OSU had a banner run to the Elite Eight — with a #6 seed, OSU beat #3-seeded Tennessee on its home court (The Vols first ever NCAA loss on their home court), then took down #2-seeded Baylor in the Sweet Sixteen. The remaining three Pac-12 teams, including Stanford, played to seed.

So for three consecutive years, the Pac-12 has outperformed its seedings. Is this a statistical anomaly? An accident?

I doubt it. The Pac-12 conference is as good or better than any conference in the country, with some really talented players, and the best lineup of coaches that I can recall. The conference is super competitive. So why this underappreciation?

To really get the conference on the map, the Pac-12 needs another national championship, lacking for the last 26 years. Recognizing UConn’s dominance, even a runner-up status would help — Stanford last played in the championship game 8 years ago (2010). No other Pac 12 team has reached the end game in decades. Teams like Stanford and Oregon have to assert themselves — and climb into the rarefied air of the top four teams in the country. That could happen soon, and I hope it does.

March 27, 2018

Britt honored by Associated Press

Brittany received Associated Press All-American honorable mention recognition the organization announced Monday.

Read more:

March 23, 2018

Stanford loses Sweet 16 game to Louisville, 59-86

The Stanford defense was good as usual and was clearly causing Louisville trouble, especially in the first half. Unfortunately for Stanford, the Louisville defense and offense were more athletic, more aggressive, more skilled, and sometimes luckier than Stanford's.

The game started out as a high-speed shooting match, with both teams hitting their shots. The score at the first media timeout was 10-13, with Stanford hitting 5 of 7 shots and Louisville 6 of 10. Alanna had hit all three of her first attempts. The quarter ended Louisville up 6, 19-25, but Stanford looking competitive.

In the second quarter it became apparent that Louisville was simply faster and more aggressive on both offense and defense. The most noticeable difference was in offensive rebounds, where by the end of the half Stanford had two, and Louisville, eight. The halftime score was 31-42.

If the coaches made any "adjustments" over halftime, Jeff Walz's were more effective. From the start of the second half, Stanford's offense simply stalled. There was one single possession on which Stanford had seven O-boards. That was the good news; the bad news was that they missed all eight shots before Louisville finally grabbed the ball. If you set aside that string of seven consecutive O-boards, the final count would be Stanford 3, Louisville 14.

The Cardinals completely shut Alanna down after her promising first quarter. From the mid-third quarter on, it seemed to a fan that everything Stanford put up, bounced, while everything Louisville put up, swished. It wasn't quite that bad, but the outcome was so clearly inevitable that Tara began to substitute bench players at the 6:00 mark of the fourth quarter, and pulled the last starter, Kiana, before the 2:00 point. This was sad because Brittany and Kaylee left the floor for the last time well before the scattering of Stanford fans realized they were gone.

Brittany had 15 points, six rebounds, a steal and a block in her last game in a Stanford uniform.

Kaylee had two points, four rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block.

Next year's team had some good moments.

DiJonai had 14 points, four rebounds, and amid her usual disruptive defense, three steals.

Alanna had eight points, five rebounds and a block.

Kiana had an off-night (or maybe was well-scouted by the Cardinals) and scored seven points on 3-11 shooting.

Marta had four points and dished out five assists.

Maya played good defense and had two assists, a steal, and two solid blocks. Against the Louisville secondary in the closing minutes, Shannon sank a pretty three and Alexa went 3-3 for six points.

Stanford began this season with more losses than we are accustomed to having, and for a while didn't look as if they would rank high enough to host the first round, or even be competitive in their league. In the closing month they beat a string of quality teams — including UCLA and Oregon State, teams that are now in the Elite Eight after today's results — and contended for the league championship.

Next year's squad will add three promising freshmen to the base of players — Alanna, Kiana, Marta, DiJonai, Nadia and Alyssa — to name just the ones who played in regular minutes in this final game.

How will that team do? Will it start out winning? Will it reach the Sweet-16? Of course we can't know, but we can confidently expect that they will be, as always, confident, articulate young women who play with skill, who do astonishing things on the court, and who provide excitement and entertainment for their fans.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A transcript of the press conference with Tara, Britt and DiJonai,

The game highlights video.

And a gallery of photos by Adam Padgett (isiphoto.com),

March 22, 2018

The Dance continues in Lexington

Stanford heads to Rupp Arena for the third consecutive season to compete with Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen with Oregon State taking on Baylor in the other game.

Will the Cardinal face the Beavers in the Elite Eight? Not likely — Five Thirty Eight gives Stanford just a 13% chance of upsetting Louisville and Oregon State a 10% chance of upsetting Baylor.

Here's how the four teams in the Lexington Regional match up statistically:

Stanford Louisville Baylor Oregon State
Points per game 71.7 76.9 86.7 73.6
Scoring margin 15.2 20.0 31.0 15.5
Field goal % .445 .484 .510 .485
Opponents field goal % .350 .372 .321 .345
3-pointers per game 6.2 6.2 4.6 8.4
3-point % .356 .378 .378 .403
Free throw % .692 .752 .721 .711
Rebounds per game 41.1 38.7 49.1 42.4
Rebounding margin 7.4 7.8 19.1 10.2
Assists per game 15.4 16.9 20.3 19.1
Turnovers per game 13.9 14.1 13.1 14.1
Assist/turnover ratio 1.1 1.2 1.5 1.4
Steals per game 7.2 8.1 6.9 4.0
Blocks per game 5.6 3.5 6.8 6.0
Overall record 24-10 34-2 33-1 25-7
Conference record 16-4 15-1 18-0 14-4
RPI 13 3 4 42
Schedule strength 4 13 21 73

  Stanford Cardinal


Tara begins at 1:40. Britt and Kayl at 18:55.

Stanford sends Florida Gulf Coast home, makes Sweet 16 date with Louisville

Five things to know about Louisville women's NCAA Sweet 16 opponent, Stanford

Stanford starts to shine ahead of another Lexington Sweet 16

After rough start to season and some doubt, Stanford is back

Alanna Smith’s shooting gives Stanford a shot in the arm in NCAA Tournament

Stanford wants to earn an "A" in aggressiveness in Lexington

A teammate’s struggles helped Stanford keep its perspective

Roster
Season Statistics
Game Notes

  Louisville Cardinals

Top-seeded Louisville women run past Marquette 90-72 in NCAA

Louisville braces for dangerous Stanford

Roster
Season Statistics
Game Notes

  Baylor Lady Bears

Baylor women to 10th Sweet 16 in row with win over Michigan

Kalani Brown looks to help lead Baylor back to the Final Four

Challenged post player helps Baylor women to Sweet 16 again

Oregon State, Baylor meet again in NCAA tourney

Roster
Season Statistics
Game Notes

  Oregon State Beavers

Tennessee loses in NCAAs for first time at home

Beavers one of four nonhosts to advance

Beavers take different journey to this Sweet 16

Baylor win brings back good memories

Preview: Oregon State battles Baylor in Sweet 16

Beavers have been building up Marie Gülich for this moment

Roster
Season Statistics
Game Notes

March 20, 2018

And the Best Three Point Shooting Team of the Sub-Regional Was?

By Warren Grimes

If you watched the games on TV, you could have no doubt about the answer to this question. The commentators, who were quite knowledgeable and balanced overall, could not say enough about Florida Gulf Coast University and its national record for long range bombing. The Eagle fans favorite T-shirt ("Raining Threes") was mentioned too many times to count.

And yes, it is true, midway through the fourth quarter, FGCU did in fact break the national season record for the number of converted three point shots. Against Stanford alone, FGCU launched a mind-numbing 47 three point attempts. They converted 36.2 % of these, or 17 in total. The percentage is not exceptional, but still very good. That's 51 points. That's 73% of the Eagles 70 point total. Throw in a bit of defense, and you will win most of your games with that sort of performance.

For the weekend, FGCU shot even better, or 37.5% from the three point line. But that figure does not even approach Stanford's weekend three point shooting percentage (51.3%). Against Gonzaga, Stanford was 11 for 22 (50%); Against FGCU, Stanford was 9 for 17, or 52.9%. Wow, that's pretty good shooting. Stanford shot three balls almost as well as it shoots free throws (ouch!).

The commentators had plenty of praise for Stanford, but I heard no acknowledgment of the team's three point shooting performance. In the Gonzaga game, one commentator declared flatly: “Stanford is not a good three-point shooting team.” Silly. She made the mistake of relying on season statistics.

The tournament is a new season. Want proof? Three Stanford players stood out in their three point shooting over the weekend. Kiana Williams was 6 for 10, or 60%. Alanna Smith was 7 for 13, or 53.8%. And DiJonai Carrington was 3 for 5, for 60%. Imagine what could have been if streaky-shooting Brittany McPhee had found her touch from outside.

Stanford's weekend long-range barrage may have been aided by the Maples factor. Stanford tends to shoot the three ball better at home, but seldom above 50%. Part of the high conversion rate doubtless stems from Stanford's well-executed Princeton offense, which leaves players with a lot of open shots. Stanford's ability to continue converting threes is a key for how they fare in the Lexington regional.

Another key to Stanford's victory over FGCU was the tactical decision to shut down the Eagles inside game. Against Missouri, FGCU had 32 attempts inside the three point arc, many of them layups. The Eagles converted 52.9% of these, for a total of 36 points. Not so against Stanford. The Eagles frequently could not even launch their interior shots. When they did, they missed more often than not, converting just 38.9 percent for 14 points. Stanford had 7 blocks.

Enough said. From here on out, every opponent will be higher seeded, starting with the region's number 1 seed Louisville. From here on out, I hope it will not be said of Stanford, that they "rained three balls." Rain falls all over the place. Instead, I hope it is said that Stanford continued to "launch well-aimed guided missiles."

March 19, 2018

Cardinal cages Eagles 90-70 to advance to Sweet Sixteen

In the pregame press conference Tara spoke generously of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles' abilities, and how despite their "raining threes" slogan they also scored well in the paint — which in fact we had seen in their upset of Missouri in Friday's game.

In this game, the Cardinal defense caged the Eagle's inside game so effectively that of their 70 points, exactly 14 came from two-point field goals. Time and again an FGCU player would drive and find herself fenced off from the basket by two larger players, and have to pass the ball out.

In the early minutes the game seemed close, with FGCU hitting timely threes to stay in the game. However, almost every time an Eagle dropped a three, a Cardinal would respond soon after. For example, around the 3-minute mark, the Eagles' Lisa Zderadicka hit a three, bringing the Eagles within four at 19-15. Seconds later, DiJonai hit a three to restore the prior lead, and a possession later, Kiana hit one.

An exciting, entertaining first quarter ended with Stanford up 33-17. At this point the Eagles' 17 points comprised five three-pointers and two free-throws — nothing in the paint.

In the second quarter, Stanford's offense sputtered while FSGU kept shooting threes and making enough of them to catch up to within five, 40-35, with a minute left. The teams went to their locker rooms at 43-35 and the Eagles, presumably, felt they had a chance at the upset.

A few minutes into the third quarter came the highlight of the game. With the Eagles on offense, Brittany poked the ball away from their guard. Marta grabbed the loose ball and fired a three-quarter-court outlet pass toward Kiana racing toward the opposite goal. The pass was a bit too long and it looked as if it would go out of bounds, but Kiana overtook it and, while leaping over the end-line, fired backward behind her to Brittany for an easy layup.

(If video clip doesn't appear, click here to view it.)

This quarter ended with Stanford up 66-48. In the fourth, the Eagles hung on behind four three-pointers by China Dow, but Alanna, Brittany and DiJonai kept scoring to hold them off to the final minute, when both coaches put in their subs and the crowd stood to applaud the starters coming off the floor.

Alanna dominated the scoring early and late, with 28 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks. She hit four of seven three-point shots and hit 11-21 overall (and incurred only two personal fouls).

Brittany had 17 points on 6-13 shooting, plus nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

DiJonai had 14 points in only 20 minutes of playing time, hitting 5 of 9 tries, including two of two three-point shots. She disrupted the Eagle's offense with three gaudy steals.

Kiana scored 12 points and recorded six assists (one of them, the highlight-reel save described earlier) against one turnover.

Marta had eight points, from hitting one three-pointer and five of six free throws. She had four assists against three turnovers.

Kaylee had six points, collected 12 rebounds and had two assists and two blocks.

Stanford now heads to Lexington KY to play Louisville on Friday evening. For the first time ever: Cardinal vs Cardinals!

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The video press conference with Tara, Alanna and Britt,

The game highlights video,

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

March 17, 2018

Cardinal advances to second round with a shower of 3's

The first half of this game was fast and somewhat sloppy with frequent steals and turnovers. And it was close at first, with Stanford up only four, 22-18, at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter Alanna hit a three, Kiana hit a three, Alanna had a layup, and the Gonzaga coach, suddenly facing a 32-20 deficit, had to call time. The teams played even the rest of the period and at the half it was Stanford by 11, 47-36.

In the third quarter the Zags made a bit of a run, coming within eight, but then, starting at the 4:00 mark, Alanna made a three, Kiana made a three, and Nadia made a three. Meanwhile Gonzaga went scoreless. The 9-0 swing closed the quarter at 65-48 and the game was pretty well decided.

Kiana just edged Alanna for top scorer, hitting 5-8 threes and 8-16 shots in all for 21 points. She caught two rebounds, and recorded two assists and two steals, against one turnover.

Alanna hit 3 of 6 threes, 8-13 overall, for 20 points, and recorded six rebounds, two steals and four blocks.

Brittany had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, plus six assists and two steals.

DiJonai had 11 points on 4-8 shooting, and five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in limited minutes.

Kaylee went 3-4 to get six points, plus eight rebounds a steal and three blocks.

The team as a whole hit 50.8% of their shots, and exactly 50% of their long shots (11-22). Unfortunately they hit almost the same proportion of free throws, at 55% (11-20). For a brief while, the field goal percentage was higher than the free throw percentage, but they did better at the stripe the second half.

In the closing minutes, Gonzaga fouled repeatedly to get the ball. Even so, there were a total of 39 fouls called in this game. Note that number for contrast to the other game of the day.

In the first game of the day, #12 FGCU upset #5 Missouri, 80-70.

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles have a team slogan, "Raining Threes" and that is supposed to be their offensive style -- and one would think appropriately so, as none of the team are taller than 5-11, while at least a third of the Missouri Tigers are over 6 feet. However, right from the start of this game, the Eagles took the ball inside again and again, and succeeded, either scoring or getting fouled. Their defense was also disruptive, causing many more turnovers than they conceded.

It is not clear if the referee squad for this game was calling it very tightly, or if both teams were being intentionally physical. At any rate, there were a total of 56 fouls whistled in this game (as against 39 in the Stanford-Gonzaga game). Both teams were in the bonus in every quarter, and many free throws were shot.

The Eagles did attempt 17 threes, making 7 of them (compare to Stanfords' 11-22 in their game). Meanwhile the Tigers had an abysmal shooting day, going 4-24 on threes. The Floridians pulled out a 9-point lead in the first half. Despite a heroic effort by Missouri's Sophie Cunningham -- who played 40 minutes and ended with 35 points, 14 of them from free-throws -- the Eagles held on to their lead to the end of the game to secure the upset.

Stanford and FGCU will play for the right to advance to the Lexington Regional at 6pm Monday.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video from the Pac-12,

The game highlights video from Stanford Athletics,

The video press conference with Tara, Alanna, and Kiana,

And a gallery of photos by Al Chang and Don Feria (isiphoto.com),