Sunday, November 20, 2016

Stanford Starts the Season 3-1

Women’s Basketball is back, and even though UConn is supposed to have a “down year,” they still remain queens of the hardwood. But what about the Stanford Women’s Basketball team?
After a rousing exhibition win over UC San Diego (and Stanford’s head coach Tara VanDerveer beating her sister Heidi at the helm for San Diego), the regular season started with a bang. Here are small synopses of the games:

Cal Poly
Playing at home at Maples Pavillion, Stanford handily beat Cal Poly 83-55. The nice thing about this win was we got to see a lot of the freshmen, and for the first time in a long time, we can say there is not a huge drop off when we go deep in the bench. Everybody scored, almost, Shannon Coffee being the lone active player with zero points, and freshie Anaa Wilson was injured and not suited up for the game. See all the points scored in the box score here:

This was a huge test, as then No. 11 Stanford beat No. 8 Texas 71-59. How did they do it? Stanford drove inside. The score was actually pretty even until midway through the third quarter. Stanford found their groove and drove to the basket, in particular Brittany McPhee and Erica McCall. Stanford also benefited from the very bad “hand check” rule, where if an opposing player puts her hand on the player with the ball, it gets whistled as a foul. Never mind that the hand does not push or shove or alter the dribbling player’s trajectory at all. It is a bad rule, as bodies go flying on drives to the basket and on rebounds and nothing gets called, yet the refs have to whistle for the hand check. Once Stanford got their confidence in going inside, and Texas was on their heels, forget about it. Hats off to Brittany McPhee with a career-high 28 points, and Erica McCall with 17 points. Erica had six blocked shots, one off her career high. Box score here.

Texas highlights from Stanford Athletics::

Remember how we said Stanford found their groove against Texas by driving inside? Well, they lost that groove, and that driving mindset, to unranked Gonzaga, losing 68-63. Stanford could not get the ball inside and was trailing most of the game. Their offense was very stagnant. When you work the ball on the perimeter, you better make some threes. Stanford was 3-18 from beyond the arc. Well, if the threes aren’t falling, you better drive inside. And that’s what Stanford didn’t do for most of the game.

Finally, in the third quarter, Britany McPhee started to drive inside and Stanford was helped by a foul calls. Erica McCall hit some tough jumpers just outside the paint (she would end up with 17 points). Stannie took the lead with 2 minutes left in the third. Then they stopped going inside and Gonzaga got hot from behind the arc and took the lead back with 6 minutes in the 4th. Stanford had the ball and was trailing by 1 with 27 seconds and called a time out. What worked for Stanford the last few scoring plays? Brittany McPhee going left and driving to the basket. What did Stanford do for a must get basket? Britany McPhee driving left to the basket (she would score 22 total points). How many Gonzaga defenders beat her to the spot? Three, with a Gonzaga player named Tinkle blocking her shot (more on Tinkle below).

Wasn’t Britany’s fault, when you are one-dimensional, the other team can predict. Still, Stanford had a shot with 14 seconds and down by three. Not sure what play Tara drew up in the time out, but Alana Smith inbounded the ball and threw a rainbow across the key to three-point specialist Karlie Samuelson, and the high, arching pass was easily intercepted by Gonzaga.

Let this loss be an eye opener to diversify their scoring options. Know what else drove a dagger in Stanford’s heart? A Tinkle. Former Stanford Alum Joselyn Tinkle’s little sister Elle plays for Gonzaga and she scored 18 points and added three blocked shots (including the last one on Brittany). She was especially good in the fourth. Jill Barta, the Zags tall athletic center scored 26. Laura Stockton, daughter of NBA great John Stockton, played guard for Gonzaga and contributed 12 points and 4 assists. Full box score.

After a bad loss to an unranked team, Cal State Northridge was just want the doctor ordered. And you can bet Tara had the team work on getting the ball inside, and drives to the basket. Erica McCall scored 17 points, Brittany McPhee and freshie Nadia Fingall, benefiting from extended minutes also had 14 and Stanford beat CSUN 88-54. In fact, Tara gave extended minutes to everyone active, and 11 of 12 players scored and grabbed rebounds for Stanford. Passing was also crisp, and Stanford had 19 assists.

What’s next? Stanford will travel to the Cancun Challenge for Thanksgiving, and will take on Northeastern (Nov. 24), Wichita State (Nov. 25) and Purdue (Nov. 26). Guess who is following? C and R will be live tweeting from games…except if we book a snorkeling or boogie boarding excursion…or I can’t figure out how to do wifi in Mexico. Look for us over your Thanksgiving!!

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Women’s Basketball is Back!

The Stanford Women’s Basketball team had their first practice this week and games are right around the corner. Always fun to get a sneak peak at the freshmen, yet we are missing some familiar faces, too. Senior guard Lili Thompson opted out of playing, although she is still at Stanford and is on track to graduate with her class. Kailee Johnson will forego her senior season, graduate two quarters early and pursue a career in real estate investment. Gotta strike while the market is hot.

The Stanford Women's Basketball Team 2016-17
The Stanford Women’s Basketball website also has a new look and feel (thanks to them I had to redo all my links), and here is a cool page on Cardinal Facts.

Check out their first day of practice (and why is Karlie Samuelsson wearing a cast?)

Can’t wait for the season to start!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Stanford Season Recap

Okay, now that the sting has finally worn off of Stanford losing in the Elite Eight to Pac-12 foe Washington Huskies, we can look back at the year in review.

The season was up and down, with Stanford going exactly 5-5 against AP top 25 teams. The up was highlighted by an epic, 90-84 upset of top-seeded Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 in Lexington, Ky. And down; consider this chilling fact: This season was the first since 1999-2000 that the Cardinal did not win some form of a Pac-12 championship - regular season or tournament.

There were some post season awards for Stanford.  Erica McCall was named to both the All-Pac-12 squad and the Pac-12 All-Defensive team, Lili Thompson earned her second All-Pac-12 nod and was a Pac-12 All-Defensive honorable mention, Karlie Samuelson was picked All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, Kaylee Johnson earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Defensive honorable mention team and Marta Sniezek was a Pac-12 All-Freshman honorable mention pick. Stanford now boasts 70 all-time Pac-12 all-conference honorees, the top total in league history.

And, this being Stanford, not all awards are won on the hardwood floor. Some are won in the classroom (nerd nation).  A psychology major with a 3.53 cumulative GPA, Erica McCall was selected to the 2015-16 CoSIDA Academic All-District Women’s Basketball Team on Feb. 11. Her honor continued a run of five straight years with a Cardinal receiving academic all-district accolades, the longest streak in the Pac-12. Other players receiving academic honors: Kaylee Johnson landed on the Pac-12 All-Academic second team while Brittany McPhee, Erica McCall, Karlie Samuelson, Lili Thompson, Briana Roberson and Kailee Johnson each earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention squad.

And, Stanford’s victory over Oregon State on Feb. 26 was the 1,000th in Cardinal program history.

The Stanford program won their 1000 game this season. Coach Tara VanDerveer has 828 of those victories!

But don’t worry about Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. She is now 20 victories away from joining Pat Summitt as the only NCAA women’s basketball coaches with 1,000 career wins. And, according to sources, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer will have loaded team next season. Did we mention we are getting three McDonald’s All-American, including Russell Wilson’s sister?

Early Preseason polls have Stanford at #10, with five Pac-12 teams in the top 25. The even better news is UConn is not ranked number one. Or even number two. They are fourth. Wow.

Having Basketball withdrawals? The WNBA just started, and the Olympics in Rio is right around the corner!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Stanford’s Sweet, Sweet Sixteen

So the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team was playing Notre Dame in the Sweet Sixteen. No one, and I mean no one, thought they could win. In fact, for ESPN to fill the pre-game show they had to ask the analysts what Stanford could do to win the game and, well, the commentators, let’s just say, were all firmly in Notre Dame’s camp.

So, C and R asked each other what does Stanford need to do to win??

Stanford would have to take control early in the game and play lock down D and outscore ND. If we do that, we gonna win.

Have to hold ND’s Brianna Turner to zero points in the first half, then we gonna win.

Get high flying ND guard Lindsey Allan in foul trouble and send her to the bench and limit her to six points in the first half, then we gonna win.

Have Erica McCall get going early and score 19 by the half, we gonna win.

Be up by 11 at the half, we gonna win.

If Kaylee Johnson is scoring, we gonna win.

Get Kaylee Johnson involved in the offense, score early and have a double double, then we gonna win.

Have Erica McCall keep the scoring up and score a career-high 27 points and drain at least one 3-pointer and go 12-18 from the field…we gonna win.

Erica McCall
Erica McCall, whom coach Tara VanDerveer calls the most improved player in the nation, led all players with 27 points. Photo: Mark Zerof/USA TODAY Sports

Cut off ND’s screen to the elbow play. Do that, and we gonna win.
Shoot 59% from the floor, we gonna win.

Shoot 55% from the three point line, including one from Marta Sniezek, only her second made three of her young career… we gonna win.

Score 11 3-pointers, we gonna win.

Have Karlie Samuelson go 5-6 from behind the line, gonna win

Have freshie guard Marta Sniezek drive in for lay ups and get in double figures for a career high..gonna win.

Heck, if Stanford gets four players in double figures, we gonna win.

Keep a double digit lead for most of the game, we gonna win.

Hold off ND when they make a run, not once, not twice, but THRICE…then we gonna win.

Have Lili Thompson give out a career high in assists, we gonna win.

Have Kaylee Johnson score 17 and gran , say 12 boards, then we gonna win.

Score 90 points… we gonna win.

And if Karlie can score 20 points and make some key baskets just when Stanford needs them…we gonna win!

Have Karlie Samuelson heave, and I mean heave a throw WELL beyond the three point line with time expiring on the shot clock, with a minute and a half to play, and have it bank off the glass for three to make it 84-78 Stanford lead and stop a ND run……WE GONNA WIN!!


So that, Ladies and Gentlemen, are all Stanford needs to do to win…..and they did. They beat Notre Dame 90-84, with four players in double figures, career highs in points for Erica and Marta and assists for Lili, a double double for Kaylee, 11 threes and whatever else we said above. Next up is a familiar Pac-12 foe, Washington, on Sunday (yes Easter Sunday) at 10 AM Stanford time. This will be the rubber match, and I don’t think Tara has been beaten by Washington twice in one season since the 80s. We gonna win!

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Stanford Sends South Dakota State Packing

March 22 Stanford Sends South Dakota State Packing

For a #12 seed playing an #4 seed, this was not a slam dunk. First of all, even though the #4 seed Stanford Women’s Basketball Team was playing on their home court, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits brought the loudest people in All the Dakotas. SDSU beat #5 seed Miami two days prior, feeding off of their crowd’s energy, and they nearly knocked off Stanford, too, with that same energy.
Stanford enjoyed a slight lead at the half, 33-27 yet their offense stalled when Erica McCall went to the bench with three fouls in the third. SDSU rode their standing, cheering crowd to a lead mid-way thought the third quarter. It also didn’t help that Stanford was 10-22 from the free throw line. Then, Stanford fans, who tend to be quiet observers instead of rabid cheerers, came to life, with about four minutes left. Stanford fed off that energy, stealing and flying bodies and all, and went on a 12-3 run in the final minutes.

(apologies, embed code for videos not working, please follow the links)
Then, with the clock running down, and Stanford needing a score….wait, why listen to us prattle on when you can see for yourself. Lili with the lay up and one with 8 seconds left! Nothing but net!

The Jackrabbits, who were well coached, advanced the ball to half court and dribbled to the key where they met…wait, just looky here: Yes, Erica McCall and looks like Kailee Johnson blocked that ball and all of SDSU’s hopes and dreams.

Stanford survives 66-65!  Sweet Sixteen Bound!

Hear the Tara VanDerveer interview, and what Lili Thompson: had to say about the close game:

C and R will float on this game until March 25th, when Stanford meets #1 seed Notre Dame.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stanford (Lovingly) Beats USF

What to say about the Stanford Women’s Basketball team’s 29th time in the NCAA tournament? Fans all said what a shame we had to play USF, coached by the beloved Stanford alum who started it all, Jennifer Azzi. Well, you can say head coach Tara VanDerveer likes to win. Heck, Tara said it herself after her team handed Jennifer’s team their worst loss of the season (85-58): “I love Jennifer but I love winning more.”

Tara VanDerveer and Jennifer Azzi
Tara VanDerveer and Jennifer Azzi share a lot of history
Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP.

First some context. Before the game, Jennifer Azzi sat alone on the opposing team’s bench at Maples, a very different view than one she was used to, in a place where she has so many memories. In her line of sight was a list of two National Champions. The team she led in 1990 when she was a senior was listed first. Winning a national championship must hold special memories for a player. To build a program from 12 fans and no NCAA appearances, in Jennifer’s freshmen year, to a national championship with sold out crowds in her senior year, well, let’s just say not many players can claim that sort of impact. And here she sat getting ready to face the woman who got here there, perhaps the biggest influence in her life, the woman who thought so much of her that she asked her to be her emotional captain on the 1996 Olympic team that won Gold in Atlanta.

How weird was it for Azzi, coaching her first NCAA game? She said she was unsettled that her parents were at this game, not in their usual Stanford gear, but in yellow USF shirts. She and Tara shared a long and sincere hug at midcourt during player introductions. Don’t think Tara would hug Geno for that long…or at all. Afterwards, Tara’s mom, Rita, was crying for Jennifer. Even Tara had enough of the sentimentality, scolding her mom, “But I’m blood!”

About the game, Jennifer said they were not used to that level of physicality, and the rest of the NCAA field might have politely snickered, as Stanford is usually known as “the Good Girls.” Do keep in mind this is Jennifer’s first NCAA game, so if she keeps up the success and comes back, she will need to know her players will face this level of physical play, or more, in subsequent years.
And they don’t call them Trees for nothing. When USF’s 6-3 center went to the bench with foul trouble, they didn’t have anyone on the floor over 6 feet. Stanford had Erica McCall, Kailee Johnson and Alanna Smith, all 6’3. At one point Stanford had more rebounds (43) than USF had points. The rebounding total was doubled in Stanford’s favor, 49-24.

Stanford accolades:
Lili Thompson scored 17 points, Erica McCall had 14 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, plus a three-pointer for the big! Karlee Samuelson had 11, on 2-4 shooting beyond the arc, her specialty. Starter Kaylee Johnson was more aggressive going to the rim and scored 13. Add in her 9 boards and she almost got herself a double-double. Stanford will need her to score in double digits every night to advance in the tournament. It was good to see bench players Marta Sniezek and Aussie Alana Smith score as well, eight and nine points respectively. Marta had a game, giving out nine assists and hitting her first collegiate three! She’s only a freshman! Throw in Brittany McPhee’s eight and you have everyone contributing.

Speaking of our Aussie player, we thought we were hot stuff having our first international recruit from down under. Well, here Jennifer has beaten her former coach. She has seven players on her roster representing five different foreign countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia and Sweden.

See all the pretty Stanford assists!

Next game for Stanford is Monday night at 6PM, against the upstart #12 seed South Dakota State’s Jack Rabbits. They beat #5 Miami 74-71. C and R only caught the last 5 minutes of the game, but from what we saw, Miami played listless and with no energy, compared to SDS intensity. It didn’t hurt that they had a whole section of fans right next to the court action and were very rabid. C and R are worried those fans will be louder than the polite Stanford fans. So please get off work and come on out!

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Stanford Closes Out Season with Wins

The Stanford women’s Basketball Team closed out their regular season with two Pac-12 wins. The first one was an emphatic win over #7 Oregon State. And it wasn’t just a win, it was a spanking. Once Stanford took the lead just before the end of the first quarter, they kept it and beat them by 22, the final score being 76-54. At one point Stanford lead by 30!

C and R were in doubt before the game, having just found out that leading scorer Lili Thompson would miss the game to attend her grandfather’s funeral. Brittany McPhee got the start and made the most of it, scoring in double digits. She had 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, adding four rebounds and a career-high four assists.

More importantly, she played lock down defense on OSU’s Jamie Weisner. Jamie was held to just four total points and one made field goal. She usually averages 17 points a game. The Stanford team held OSU below their season average, too.

Shout out to Erica McCall. Not only did she score a career-high 25 points, she hit three 3-pointers. Yes, from behind the arc. Before this game she had attempted one 3-pointer, when the shot clock was going to expire. This game she attempted FIVE, and made three! Couple that with Stanford’s three point specialist, Karlie Samuelson leading all players in REBOUNDS with 12, the world definitely has gone topsy-turvy. Karlie scored 13 points to go with her career-high 12 rebounds. She also made three of four 3-pointers. Annnd, her first double-double of her career! What an entertaining game that was. And where has this energy been all season?

Special game? Yes, as it was, as the Cardinal got their 1000th win in its 40-plus year history, moving the program into an elite group of seven schools that have reached the 1,000-victory mark. Current Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer is responsible for 824 of them.

The Stanford Team
Stanford Wins 1,000th
Photo courtesy of Stanford Official site.

Speaking of Coach TVD, she knew OSU had a tall, 6’-6 center in Ruth Hamblin. Having Bird (Erica) stay out on the three point line and take threes meant several things. Their center was not used to coming out to guard someone that far away for the basket, so left her open and two, drew the tall rebounder away from the basket. Genius.

Oregon Game:

Speaking of Genius, let’s rinse and repeat for Oregon, says TVD. We were without Lili again, however Oregon was sadly playing without their lead scorer and rebounder, Jillian Alleyne, who tore her ACL in practice this week. It was hard for the Ducks to recover from that blow.
Oregon also has a tall center just like OSU, and Erica stayed out around the three point line, first gaining confidence hitting long twos, and then a three. She would end up with her 15th double-double of the season (by halftime!) and finish with 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. Bri Roberson added 10 and Alanna Smith had nine points. Stanford would beat Oregon 69-42.

This game was senior night and it was great to see walk-on Kiran Lakhian get some quality minutes. She made several very nice passes for baskets and scored five.  Seniors Alex Green and Tess Picknell also got in the game and Alex scored a basket, too. It was great to see the whole bench rooting for them.

Lovely ceremony after the game, too. Also great decision years ago to do this after the game, as it gets so emotional. Tears did flow. We learned Kiran plans to go to medical school like her mother and Tess was almost bitten by a rattle snake, and her mother said they shot, cooked and ate the snake. Not sure if she was kidding or not.

With these two wins Stanford is the number four seed going in to the Pac-12 Tournament, which means a first round bye and then playing the winner of Washington/Colorado on Friday. As for the regular season standings, well, C and R are a little confused about where everyone ended up. UCLA upset ASU, so Oregon State and Arizona State tied for first, and Stanford and UCLA tied as well. So are we tied for third, then? Or tied for second if ASU and OSU are co-winners. So confusing.
Well, tune into the Pac-12 tourney next week. Remember last year, when Stanford did not win the regular season but won the tournament? That was awesome! Anything can happen in this year’s deep Pac-12.

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