November 29, 2018

A Massive Astronomical Event Was Just Announced - the Haley Comet!

Lovers of Stanford Women's Basketball - a Massive Astronomical Event Was Just Announced that
will brighten our lives through early 2023!!!!

The Haley Comet will be visible to the naked eye in broad daylight next summer in Palo Alto - and will be closely watched for years!!

Sorry for the cheap stunt to get your attention - but now that I've got it, I'll let you know (as if you didn't already) that Haley Jones just committed to Stanford. Haley may not be a comet, but she's the next thing to it - she's the No. #1 ranked recruit in the 2019 class in the U.S. I've heard her compared to Maya Moore at sixteen. They're both the same size - 6'-1" and built strong.

Remember Tara and Amy's last No. #1 recruit? I knew you would - you're right, it was Chiney. And see, you don't even need a last name - besides I still can't spell it. So years from now, I'll just say Haley - and you'll know who I mean.

She's a senior at Archbishop Mitty High School in Santa Cruz - in case you want a preview. Also, I've included a link to the video of the Under 17 Basketball World Cup Gold Medal Game against France from last summer that I think you'll enjoy. I'm still having trouble with the technical aspects of blogging, so you'll need to put your cursor on this link and hit control/click to access the link.

Stanford's recruiting class national ranking just went from No.# 3 to No. #2. How does our coaching staff do it? I remember reading that when Tara asked her dad about taking the Stanford job, he told her "Nah, it's a coaching graveyard." Stanford had had decades of losing seasons and were the perennial doormat for the PAC10 conference. NCAA tournaments?  Forgetaboutit.

Most fans excused the previous coaching staff, figuring (like Tara's father) that the microscopically thin layer of star talent available would head directly to the established powers, i.e. Tennessee or Old Dominion. Coaching on the West Coast in the 80's was akin to coaching in Australia, as far as the national sports media was concerned. (Believe it or not, it's better these days.)

But Tara could envision it. One of the top five academically ranked universities in the world with a major endowment, incredible alumni base, and magnificent plans for the future. And Silicon Valley, Baby. You probably bought a Macintosh like I did in 1985, her first year.

So, in one of the bravest coaching decisions in WBB history, Tara left Ohio State where she had a major contender in hand, for an absolute non-contender (Jeanne Ruark Hoff, their only All American in decades had just graduated.) Then, somehow she signed Jennifer Azzi from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, from under Pat Summit's nose, and then Kate Starbird, then Molly Goodenbour and things began to change - big time. But that's another story.

Obviously they're still changing. It's almost like the WBB magnetic field has had a polar reversal. Haley didn't go to UConn! Instead of the 251st academically ranked university in the world, she decided to come to the 2nd - according to Reuters. (Of course, being a British rating agency, they list Oxford as still No. #1.) Anyway - smart decision, Haley.

But that's not all! While you're watching the U17 game link, check out one of Haley's teammates who is also coming with her to Stanford next year, and is the No. #23 recruit in the nation - Fran Belibi. Her dunking videos on youtube have gone viral and she's 6'-1". How many 6'-1" people do you know that can dunk? 
Not on the U17 US team, but the No. #16 recruit in the nation, also coming to Stanford next year is 6'-5" post player Ashten Prechtel. And fourth, but certainly not least, Hannah Jump has also signed and is the 50th ranked recruit in the nation (that's out of tens of thousands). She stars at Pinewood in Los Altos. Her coach was recently quoted as saying, that in his unbiased opinion, she's the best three point shooter in the nation - currently playing in high school. The three point beat goes on.

A handful of recruits in the 2020 Class have already committed and two are coming to Stanford. No. #2 Cameron Brink is a 6'-4" All American wing out of Oregon and No. #37 Jana Van Gytenbeek is a point guard from Colorado who, I'm told, committed to Stanford in the seventh grade.

Don't you figure the WBB world is noticing. Something really big is going on out West. If you were one of those fabulously talented players on the 2020 list of the top 100 recruits in the U.S. - wouldn't you be erasing the top choice on your list of schools and writing in Stanford? Would you want to play against Stanford for the next four years? I didn't think so. 

So, sit back and buckle up fans! The thirty-four years of work by Tara et al are coming to fruition. Big Mo is moving into Maples. You think Gino hasn't noticed? 2020's No. #1 ranked recruit, Paige Bueckers, who also stars in the above link on last summer's gold medal winning U.S. team, is uncommitted. Don't you figure she's leaning toward Stanford? She's from Minnesota. Lindsey Whelan is probably sitting in her living room recruiting her this afternoon and it's 23 degrees outside. Paige is thinking, right now it's 75 in Palo Alto. They've got palm trees and everyone's drinking iced latte outside a sidewalk cafe in tank tops and flip flops. Besides, Tara's building a juggernaut out there in the sunshine. Hmmm. Think I'll join Haley and Fran.

Anyway. It's happening. I can feel it. 

Malcolm McFall

November 26, 2018

Three Days After Baylor - Stanford Takes On Tennessee In Knoxville

That's what you sign up for when you come to Stanford. After a maximum effort on Saturday and a long flight, you suit up on Tuesday to do battle in one of America's toughest venues - Thompson Boling Arena where 15,000 rabid fans decked out in garish orange await in full voice. The decibels assault your senses like few college players ever experience - one reason the Lady Vols rarely lose at Rocky Top.

It takes a special kind of athlete to meet this massive back-to-back  challenge - two of America's best in three days. Then, with self-assurance and a joyful heart, you embrace this battle on Pat Summit's court and enjoy the environment their fans, band and spirit squad create. Those special athletes come to Stanford - and a tough venue brings out the best in them.

The Lady Vols are rebuilding this year, but they're tough. Few teams could lose what they lost from last year and be ranked #9. In their game against the Texas Longhorns on Sunday their guards, Meme Jackson and Evina Westbrook, went off for 56 points. They're not going to give anything to anybody - you've got to go in there and beat them. Press Control/Click to access the link below:

We'll have to play especially tough on their home floor. Nothing comes easy in Thompson - Boling Arena.

Everyone needs to be on.

We can do it.

November 23, 2018

Cardinal heads north to play the 4-1 Gonzaga Lady Bulldogs on Dec. 2nd

Gonzaga Logo - Link to homepage

On December 2 the Stanford Women's Basketball Team Heads up to Spokane to take on the Gonzaga Lady Bulldogs (4 - 1). On the same day that their men's team defeated No.#1 Duke, the Lady Bulldogs lost to No.#1 Notre Dame in a Thanksgiving Tournament in Vancouver. They played the Irish tough early, but ended up losing by sixteen - too much rebounding, points in the paint, and fast break scoring. John Stockton's daughter, Laura, had eight points and seven assists while Zykera (look for blue hair) Rice had sixteen points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. A freshman named Melody Kempton had fourteen points.
Zykera Rice
Gonzaga has a pair of identical twins also - Jenn and Leeanne Wirth. It sounds like Lexie Hull will be missing in action again due to her foot problem. We sure feel her absence. Maybe this will be the game her twin, Lacie, gets rolling offensively. That would be a big help. She always plays great on the defensive end.

The Zags always fill that building when the Cardinal come to town and they play well in front of their home crowd. This will be another strong challenge for the Stanford women, who show flashes of the power we're hoping to see manifested for entire games sometime soon.

November 22, 2018

Baylor is coming to Maples in two weeks.

Some large hungry  bears are coming to Maples on December 15th.  Stanford’s biggest challenge of the pre-conference season will be the No.#4 Baylor Bears from Waco, Texas. That Saturday game will be the first big test for the 2018/2019 Cardinal women’s basketball team and will answer some important questions. How tough are they? What kind of fight do they have in them? How determined are they? It isn’t easy to face down a bear, and that game is going to show the nation this Cardinal team’s true colors.

The Bears have the biggest and best high/low post combination in the country – hand’s down. Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown come in at a stout 6’-4” and 6’-7” – both loaded with talent, strength, and skill. Last year, Baylor easily handled the Cardinal down in Central Texas. Between them Kalani and Lauren had 43 points. Sounds pretty grim doesn’t it? Our leading scorer was Shannon Coffee who hit four threes. Oh yeah, Brittany didn’t play and Kiana hadn’t really come into her own yet. 

So forget about last year. In early October when asked about goals for her final season at Stanford, the first four words out of Alanna's mouth was, "Winning the National Championship" – and she meant it. So, this mid-December rumble is going to give America a clear indication of just how serious our Senior Aussie and her mates are this time around.

What’ll it take?

You probably know, one of Tara’s former point guards coaches down in the desert – and Charlie always has her undersized Devils primed for big challenges. Two weeks ago, ASU held Baylor to 65 points in Waco, and lost by six. They had a lead at halftime and fought hard the whole way. Their offense put all five players above the free throw line and forced the Baylor bigs to play away from the basket.  That opened up driving lanes, mid-range jump shots and offensive rebounds. Kalani was forced to guard guards off of screens and that's not her specialty. She picked up her second foul in the middle of the first quarter and left the game for the rest of the first half. 

ASU fronted Kalani with someone tall and quick off the floor. They face-guarded Lauren and made shots and entry passes tough for her. Help defense and double-teaming were critical and kept both bigs under their season average. Consistent effective blocking out was imperative. 

Neither of the Baylor bigs are fast and ASU did a lot of scoring before they got down the floor. Once the bigs got there ASU still attacked and caused foul problems.  Turns out Baylor is not as potent when their star is on the bench. The Bear’s coach Kim asked her, “How are you going to be an All American sitting next to me?” That was how the Devils ended the half in the lead – they hit mid-range jumpers, they drove and made the bigs commit, then dished to who was open underneath. Their defense was tough, scrappy, and effective. Basically, to beat the Bears you have to be aggressive and tough as hell. 

If the Sun Devils had had Alanna – they would have won.The good news is we have her – and Tara, and a whole host of other dangerous women. Oh, and this time we’re playing in Maples. Come and see. We're gonna win.  

Malcolm McFall

November 19, 2018

Preview of the Rainbow Wahini Showdown

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Nov. 19, 2018

On Friday in Hawaii the Cardinal take on the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast from Fort Meyers, Florida.

Stanford WBB fans may remember Florida Gulf Coast from Stanford’s second round opponent in last year’s NCAA tournament played in Maples. Their tallest player was 6’-0” and they were fresh off of an upset win in the first round game against the  Missouri Tigers. FGCU is all about three point shooting and team speed and Missouri didn’t appear to have read the scouting report. The whole evening was small strong girls in green and blue either shooting and hitting a lot of their three point shots, or faking the three and driving the paint and making acrobatic layups. Stanford watched and prepared. The first half saw Alanna working down low and either scoring or getting fouled over and over by smaller defenders. The Cardinal players were in their face all night making it tough to hit their usual fifteen three’s, and played great help defense to stop most of their drives to the basket. It was a long night for the Eagles.
FGCU lost most of their starters from last year and have reloaded with graduate transfers. They’re still undersized and still depend on three’s and speed. It’ll be an interesting game, but FGCU isn’t used to playing an opponent capable of hitting fifteen three’s themselves.

The Hawaiian Tournament is three games in three days. On Saturday the Cardinal will play American University - AU is located in Washington D.C., was founded in 1893, and has 8137 undergrad students (plus about 5000 grad students.) They’re in the Patriot League and compete quite well against the likes of Navy, Bucknell, Lehigh, and Boston U.   

The Eagles have won 22 straight home games and recently beat George Mason by fifteen, so take them lightly at your peril.

On Sunday Stanford will take on the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahines (which has to be one of the great mascots). The Bows have had a tough preseason so far and play in the Big West Conference, so things won’t get much easier going forward. Sure is a great way to escape hazardous air quality and watch some good women’s basketball. University of Hawaii website -

Malcolm  McFall, FBC Feature Writer

November 12, 2018

Stanford Wins Central Valley High School Reunion

Stanford Wins Central Valley High School Reunion

Warren Grimes, Stanford FBC Feature Writer

It was a reunion of three starting players on what may have been last year’s best high school team.   Central Valley High School, in the Spokane Valley, went undefeated last season, winning their state tournament; they also won the GEICO post season tournament in NYC, defeating two of the nation’s other top teams.  

Senior starters and stars on that team were the Hull twins, Lexie and Lacie, and Hailey Christopher, now playing as a guard/forward for Idaho.  In the reunion, Lexie stole the show.  She started, played 25 minutes, and scored 17 points while converting 5 of 8 three point shots, grabbing 5 boards, blocking 2 shots, and stealing the ball twice.  Lexie’s outside shooting was reminiscent of the Karlie Samuelson, but perhaps a Karlie Samuelson plus because of other strengths of her game. Lexie’s numbers were emblematic of her team’s performance.  Stanford won 115 to 71.  

The other Central Valley alums were also notable contributors.  Lacie played just 13 minutes, scored no points, but had 2 boards, an assist and a block.  Neither of the Hulls had any turnovers. Hailey Christopher played 19 minutes for Idaho, scored six on 3-4 shooting and had 3 assists for an Idaho team that could not get boards but shot 60% from the three point line.  Oh, and Christopher blocked one shot – one of former teammate Lexie Hull’s efforts.

Hailey Christopher is a very good player, but, at least in high school, not the equal of Lacie Hull, the less productive of the two twins on Sunday. Coach VanDerveer clearly has confidence in Lacie – she was one of the first players off the bench.  The thing about Lacie is that, like her twin, she plays hard and intensive defense, takes care of the ball (and steals it from opponents), passing wisely, and potentially shooting very well (from distance, she shot better than Lexie in high school).  Lexie shot 63% from the three point line against Idaho.  Lacie can do that too.  I’m waiting for her break out game.

The Hulls are just the right players for this year’s high potency offense with quick ball movement and lots of transition points.  Against Idaho, with the wide open Princeton offense clicking, Lexie Hull was just one six players to score in double digits.  Alana Smith and Kiana Williams led the way with 19 points each, while Nadia Fingall was close behind with 16 points. Stanford scored over 100 points for the first time since 2016.  This offensive balance will be difficult to defend and suggests that the team has the potential to climb from its current number 7 national ranking. 

Kiana Williams played the point most of the time she was in the game (28 minutes), and she played it very well (9 assists).  But Stanford’s other highly touted freshman, Jenna Brown, came in off the bench to play 13 minutes, contributing 7 points, 3 assists and 3 boards. Jenna can score from anywhere: three pointers, pull ups, and creative lay ups.  She demonstrated that on Sunday.  She’s gonna play.

This is a very good, very talented, and very deep Stanford team. They can shoot from the three point line and the free throw line, defend, run with the ball, score in transition, and put up points, lots and lots of them.   More 100 point games in the making.  What fun to watch!

November 09, 2018

Unhullstering Stanford’s Freshmen Weapons

Unhullstering Stanford’s Freshmen Weapons 

By:  Warren Grimes, longtime Stanford Women's Basketball fan

             Stanford played its first regular season game on Wednesday.  All three of the team’s freshmen played: Twins Lexie and Lacie Hull and Jenna Brown. They came to Stanford with sterling credentials.  The Hull twins were co-players of the year in Washington State.  Jenna Brown was very highly rated by all the recruiting services, played in high school all star games, and was a key member of a U.S. youth team in international competition over the Summer.

            The addition of the Hull twins continues a tradition of top Washington State players on the Farm, including Kate Starbird and Brittany McPhee.  If memory serves, all of these players had state POY status as high schoolers. McPhee was a Stanford senior last year, so comparisons between the Hulls and McPhee are inevitable.  They are all roughly the same size (6' or 6'1"), all were gym rats, prolific scorers in high school, strong rebounders, and fun to watch.   

            Brittany McPhee dazzled fans with her acrobatic, how-did-she-make-that shots in the paint.  She also became a steady defender.  As a freshman at Stanford, McPhee averaged 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, but did not earn a starting role until the last 8 games of the season.  By her junior year, McPhee was a star, putting up big numbers in that come-from-behind victory against Notre Dame in the NCAA regional final.  In her senior year, McPhee averaged 16.7 points and 5.4 boards per game, while playing an average of 31.7 minutes.  She was a mainstay and a fan favorite.

            Last Spring, Lexie Hull’s high school coach, reflecting on how his player stacked up against McPhee, said that Lexie was a more developed player as a high school senior.  That judgement may have been borne out in Lexie’s performance in the season opener.   She started, played 27 minutes (the most of any player on the team) and got a double-double (11 points and 11 boards) while contributing 3 steals and a block. That’s very promising.  And Lexie is likely to be a superior free throw shooter, an area where McPhee sometimes struggled.  Both Lexie and Lacie were deadly from the charity stripe in high school.  

            Lacie Hull played just 17 minutes, but contributed a basket, 3 boards and 2 steals.  In high school, Lacie was the better twin in three point shooting, but she missed her first three attempts against UC Davis.  I’m expecting improvement there.  Both of the Hulls are high energy, never-lose-focus players. Lacie may not start, but she is for real and will contribute.

            Jenna Brown had the highest recruitment rankings of the three freshmen.  After missing the preseason game with an injury, Brown came off the bench against UC Davis, playing for 18 minutes and converting both of her field goal attempts. Brown also chalked up 2 assists and 3 boards.  She has an opportunity to be a starting point guard, particularly while Marta Sniezek is recovering from injury.  Brown is smart, focused, unselfish, and brings athleticism to the team.  Her potential is great, particularly if she can be a scoring threat as a point guard.   

            It’s way too early to draw conclusions about these three freshmen.  But the arrows point sharply upwards. 

Warren Grimes