Thursday, February 26, 2015

Stanford Spoils OSU’s Pac-12 Plans

Well, we all know the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team won’t win the Pac-12 regular season title this year, ending a streak of 14 straight, but they weren’t about to let someone else have it. Stanford, at #19 came to #7 Oregon State’s home court and beat them 69-58.

Stanford did it by doing something they have not really down all year. They took (and hit) mid-range jump shots. Credit Stanford’s Hall of Fame Coach, Tara VanDerveer for taking away an opponent’s strength. OSU has a great shot blocker in 6’6 Ruth Hamblin. Stanford tried not to get near her to let her swat. This time the screens at the top of the three point line worked, as Stanford’s speedy guards used the screen and then pulled up for the jumper before their defender could catch them, instead of going to the basket only to have their path cut off. It worked.

Stanford pulled to an early lead and then did not play good defense on Jamie Wesinar. She scored 15 in the first half with open threes and drives to the basket. She was putting a dagger thought Stanford’s heart, and Stanford ended the half only up by one, 34-33.

However, Tara always has some magic words at half time (we imagine something like if you let her get another three, you’re getting benched) because she did not score a point until 3 minutes left in the second (it was a three). She finished with 18 for the game. Stanford’s other players also played lock down defense and held OSU to 25 second half points.

The three ball. Stanford only made one in the first, and three more in the second. However, Bonnie Samuelsson hit two in a row to start the half and that was all Stanford needed to keep their lead. OSU was 6-28 from behind the arc. Wow, that is a lot of misses.

Erica McCall
Erica had 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks
(photo courtesy of Stanford Women's Basketball)
Stanford had a balanced scoring attack with five players in double figures. Lili Thompson finished with 13 points and Erica McCall and Amber Orrange both added 12. Bri Roberson and Bonnie Samuelson both chipped in 11. Erica had 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks (and did two Nnekas, where she grabbed arebound in the air and shot an dmade it….twice!) and got to talk to Stanford alum Ros Gold-Onwude.

The game was very physical with the Pac-12 refs doing their lousy job of calling hard fouls. Bodies were flying. Karlee Samuelson hit the deck and hurt her shooting hand, and did not come back in the game, so we hope she is okay. We need her for the upcoming Pac-12 tournament, where Stanford has a shot at redeeming themselves to win the Pac-12 Tournament Title.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Battle of the Bay

Last week, Stanford came into Cal’s gym and beat them on their home floor 59-47, in their last game of the season, on senior night. That had to hurt Cal’s seniors. Well, turns out Stanford seniors got to feel what that felt like first hand. Cal came into Maples and beat them 63-53, despite Brittany McPhee’s 24 (more on that later).

Not only did Cal play the spoiler on Stanford’s senior night, but that win on Stanford’s home floor denied Stanford a chance at winning their 15th straight regular-season conference title. That’s right, Stanford had its consecutive streak of regular-season titles end at 14.

At the game at Cal, Stanford was down by nine at the half, but played great defense in the second. Stanford held Cal’s guard Brittany Boyd to six points and center Reshanda Gray to nine. Oh, Cal was 3-27 in that second half. Stanford’s guards, by contrast were hot, scoring the bulk of their points in the second half. Lili Thompson, after a mini-demoting, scored 18 and Amber Orrange scored 19.

Brittany McPhee
Brittany McPhee scored 24 points. (Photo by Bob Drebin/
But the star of the first Battle of the Bay was from an unlikely source in Stanford’s Brittany McPhee. She came off the bench and in a span of one minute scored six points. She was not afraid. She got the start in the second half and ended up with nine, but did a lot of intangibles for Stanford.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer liked what she saw and went to Brittany off the bench in the second Battle of the Bay at Stanford. Coach was rewarded with a career-high 24 points from Brittany. She was unafraid to mix it up and scored most of her points on drives inside against a very physical Cal team.

"She backed it up," VanDerveer said. "She was not a one-game wonder.”

The bad news was Stanford stalled on offense in the second half. Other than Brittany, they had no play. The high screen at the top of the three point line is expected by other teams and now happens further and further away for the basket, way above the three point line. The other team now has more time to catch back up to the speedy guards. Credit Cal with covering Stanford’s three point shooters, too. Amber Orrange added 11 points but no one else from Stanford got above five points. That is the difference right there.

So now Stanford needs to play to get a bye at the Pac-12 tournament and try to get home court advantage for the first and second rounds of the NCAA play offs, if it is not too late. Will be interesting.

However, you can’t keep a good Card down, and the Stanford faithful stayed after the game to honor the six seniors. Lots of hugs and tears and shared thoughts on sisterhood, including the real life Samuelson sisters (and C and R got to talk to Stanford alum Toni Kokenis!). Most of the seniors are thinking about medical school, law school or grad school after graduation. Wow, not bad for ballers.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Stanford Loses Two in a Row in Arizona

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team did something they haven’t done in a time. Was it…

A. Lost two in a row
B. Lost two to Arizona State in the Same Season
C. Lost to Arizona on their home court

The answer is D all of the above. This weekend in the desert State was not kind to Stanford.

There was a similar theme to these two game. Stanford got a double digit lead, and was up at the half. Then went on scoring droughts as dry as the Northern California Hills. It comes down to post play, or lack of it. The only play Stanford has is a high screen at the top of the key, guard penetration, and a kick out to a player on the three point line. Guess what? The other teams know the screen is coming, and are anticipating the pass to the wing. Once the scouting report shows that, teams quickly figure out how to shut Stanford down.

Stanford lost to ASU first, 53-52. Neither team scored in the final 4:35. Stanford guards Amber Orrange had 15 points and Lili Thompson added 11. No one else, post or otherwise could crack 10 points. Stanford did get a shot off in the final seconds but it was off the mark.

Against Arizona, Stanford lost 60-57. Arizona scored 14 of the game’s final 17 points to earn its first win over Stanford since 2004. In fact, Arizona closed the game on a 10-0 run, scoring all 10 in the game’s final minute. This time Stanford had the ball out of bounds on the baseline with 1.9 seconds left, a daunting task to be sure, but they shot themselves in the foot by throwing it out of bounds and did not even get to attempt a shot. Amber Orrange and Lili Thompson led Stanford with 13 points apiece. No one else, post or otherwise could crack 10 points. Sensing a theme here?

Well, if anyone can right the ship, it is Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. Hope she can solve this offensive riddle. The world is just so much better when Stanford wins.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Stanford Wallops Washington State

So usually when you play Washington State, you have to be aware of the Tia and Lia show. WSU has two great players in guard Lia Galdeira and Tia Presley. Lia showed why she deserves lot of defensive attention, scoring 18 before fouling out with two minutes left in the game. However, Stanford’s defense held Tia to four points, 15 below her average. She was 1-10 from the field. Lia and Tia didn’t get much scoring help from their teammates, either.

Or maybe a better headline would be Stanford is basketball’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stanford would make a brilliant play and then follow it up with a boneheaded play. Or else WSU was just that good at forcing turnovers, which they did well in the first half. WSU forced 13 turnovers in the first half, and converted that into 14 points. A lot of them came off a full court press. Stanford was lucky to only be down 39-37 at the half.

However, Stanford must be slipping something in to the Gatorade at half, because again it was a different story in the second frame. Turnovers for Stanford were kept to a manageable five. WSU shot just 7-36 in the second. This time in the second half when WSU used their press, a Stanford guard would just drive coast to coast with an open path to the basket, instead of a turnover. Plus Stanford got WSU into foul trouble in the second and went to the line 16 times for the game. WSU only went to the line once in the second half.

Amber Orrange
Amber Orrange surpassed 500 career assists against WSU (Norbert von der Groeben/
Always steady Amber Orrange scored 15 and had six assists. Amber became the seventh Stanford player to reach 500 assists. She now has 503 and counting.

Also today the post game got going, with good looks insides, especially by Erica McCall. Stanford also won the rebounding game, 47-30 (In the first half it was a 22-9 Stanford advantage). Erica McCall scored 14 and grabbed seven boards, with most of her points were from inside.  Bri Roberson added 11, despite having to sit with foul trouble, Lili Thompson and Karlie Samuelson each added 10, so having five players in double figures is always good. Freshie Kaylee Johnson chipped in seven pints and a game-high 11 rebounds. That makes 10 games for Kaylee with 10 or more rebounds in her young Stanford career.

Oh, by the way, WSU is now 0-59 against Stanford, proving to be the Washington Generals of the Pac-12.

Next up is Washington at Maples on Monday.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stanford Sweeps LA Schools

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team continued their line-up of three guards and two bigs against USC and told themselves not to get down early as they did the last two games. They listened to themselves and beat USC 71-60.

Lili Thompson
Couldn’t find a photo of Lili Thompson, so used this older one (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)
Let’s correct that and say they listened to Hall of Fame Coach Tara VanDerveer. She told Lili Thompson, who did not score a basket against UCLA last game that she needed to make better decisions on offense and better shot selections. She listened. She got her first points, a layup, right away. Then she continued to attack the basket.

This game she was pump faking and putting the ball on the floor to get to the basket. And it worked. She got to the rim practically whenever she wanted. And when she didn’t she was fouled. She went 10-10 from the free throw line before she got a miss. She finished the night shooting 12-14 from the line (both career highs, BTW) and had 21 points.

Erica McCall listened, too. She has had an up and down season. Some of it could be the new offense focusing on the guards driving and kicking out ot the three point specialists. When McCall has been in she has either been ineffective or made great post moves but could not finish. Today she got some good finishes and scored 11 solid points for the game and grabbed six boards (with authority).

Strangely, though, after Lili’s hot start to make up for last game, her back court teammate Amber Orrange, who had 20 points last game, didn’t score in the first. Those two need to sync up on offense instead of taking turns. Granted, Amber likes to come through and make the acrobatic shots when no one is scoring, so maybe she didn’t feel the need to score with Lili carrying the load. She did have a much better second half and ended up with 10 for the game.

Speaking of post play, Stanford again was called for moving screens on their bigs. I believe they had three in the first half. Coach Tara questioned the calls again on the Pac-12 Half Time TV show. Hope she doesn’t get fined.

In the first, instead of waiting for the second half to make their move, Stanford went on a 15-0 run. USC didn’t help themselves, missing eight straight shots in first. USC also couldn’t hit threes. They went 4-15 from behind the line compared to Stanford’s 5-12. USC also did not get to the free throw line much, and when they did, they missed, going 8-16 for the game compared to Stanford’s 20-24.

Stanford has two other players in double digits to match Lili’s 21. Erica McCall scored 11 and Amber Orrange added 10 points for Stanford. Bonnie Samuelson made 2-4 3-pointers and scored eight total. Freshie Kaylee Johnson also added eight points, and three of the buckets came from easy walk-in lay ups when USC’s defense swarmed the top of the key trying to stop the guards and the three ball. The first time Kaylee turned near the top of the key and thought about a jump shot and was surprised to see no one in front of her. She paused and finally put the ball in the ground to the backboard and had the uncontested shot. She was ready when it kept happening.

Even with the win and leading most of the way since seven minutes in the first, C and R read these startling statics: USC outscored Stanford 36-22 in the paint, held a 20-5 advantage in offensive rebounds and scored 20 second-chance points.

Yikes. Stanford will need to shore that up with their post play. Everybody hear that?

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Stanford Women's Basketball Beats LA

Once again it was a tale of two halves for the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team. At least this time after finding themselves down early in the first they dug themselves mostly out of it before it got too late.

Stanford traveled to the land of Beat LA, oops, we mean UCLA. UCLA, boasting the best recruiting class in the country, came out hot. Their freshmen, Jordin Canada is something special, playing with a broken nose and the dreaded mask. She scored 14 in this game, mostly on drives to the basket. Keep your eye on her in the coming years.

For the first half, Stanford went with their three guards and two bigs like they did in the second half against Arizona State when they had that incredible comeback that fell thisssss short. Bri Roberson got the start as the third guard, and it was Bonnie Samuelson instead of Erica McCall joining Stanford’s freshie Kaylee Johnson in the paint.

Bri Roberson
Couldn’t find a photo of Bri Robersonb in action, so here she is hugging Lili Thompson (Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle)
Bri Roberson is just a breath of fresh air, with her speed and quickness. Her drives to the basket make you ask “how did she score that?” Stanford’s play this year is the dribble penetrate by the guards and if nothing is there, kick out to the three point line.

Bonnie Samuelson is Stanford’s go-to shooter, and although she made two 3-pointers in the first, surpassing Jennifer Azzi and Lindsey Yamasaki for career threes, she missed a whole bunch more. Well, the whole team did, going 4-14 from the 3-point line in the first. And when they missed, Stanford didn’t get the rebound. What was worse, UCLA made their threes, six for ten, or 60% for those of you scoring at home.

UCLA also doesn’t waste time after a made basket. They go straight to the other hoop and no one with an “S” on their chest stopped ball or got in front of the ball handler. UCLA really used that to their advantage in the first and got up by 10 over Stanford in the first.

Stanford stayed with it and got some defensive stops and some buckets by Amber Orrange. Stanford also go UCLA’s bigs in foul trouble and they had to sit while we shot. Stanford attempted 29 free throws in this game. By half time Stanford was only down 37-40.

Okay, funny moment when Karlee Samuelson was fouled and sister Bonnie, who makes her free throws 90% of the time, went to the line to shoot. The refs caught it and made Karlee take the shots. Still.

Like the last game, Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer did some great adjustments and got her team fired up to open the second. Same thing here. Stanford started the second half with an 11-2 run and did not trail the rest of the game.

Also, UCLA was not hitting their threes, we think they got one with about eight minutes left but that was it .Stanford by contrast WAS hitting threes; for the game, they made 11 on 26 tries. They were patient on offense, working the clock, waiting for that open shot.

UCLA battled back and got within six but there was only two minutes left and then they had to play the foul game. Final score 79-70.

Shout outs:
-Well, there were four Stanford players in double figures, three in the 20s.
-Briana Roberson earned her first start of the season and scored a career-high 21 points. She averages around six points.
-Bonnie Samuelson added 21 points and went 4-10 from the 3-point line.
-Amber Orrange had 20 before she fouled out shortly before the end of the game. She also had four steals and stellar defense.
-Freshie Kaylee Johnson had her 4th double-double with 10 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.

On to USC.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Stanford Cannot Outrun Arizona State

A tale of two halves, too little too late, ran out of gas, came up short, all those expressions would be apt in describing the Stanford Women’s Basketball team’s three point loss to Arizona State. Granted the teams were very similarly ranked, so at least this does not qualify as an “upset” except for the fact ASU had not won on the Maples floor for 31 years. Thirty-one years!! Dang, having a streak broken hurts: usually Stanford is the streak buster.

Amber Orrange
Stanford could not stop ASU's speedy guards in the first (Photo: Steve Rodriguez/ASU sports information)
So tale of two halves let’s go with that for now. C and R want to read out some statistics to show just how bad Stanford had it in the first. Stanford shot 29% in the first half (7 for 24) and made only two of its ten 3-point tries. Arizona State used a 14-2 run late in the first and outrebounded Stanford 24-10 in the first half. Stanford also gave up 20 points in the paint. Post play, post play, post play. Stanford has to score in the post and stop the other team’s post play.

What went wrong? The Stanford defense could not stop the drive down the middle or keep anyone out of the paint, there was not help defense when the ASU guards penetrated and no one could grab a rebound. ASU held Stanford without a field goal for nearly 4½ minutes late in the first half. ASU had 11 of their 20 offensive rebounds in the first half. When Arizona State outscored Stanford 19-6 over the final 10 minutes of the first half, Stanford was lucky to be only down 39-22 at the break.

But we have said this before: Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer is the master of the half time adjustment, and she also is not shy about letting the team know they are letting her down. So when the second half started, Stanford was all fire and brimstone.

Now let’s go over some second half stats. Stanford forced seven turnovers in the first 9½ minutes of the second half and opened with a 20-7 run. ASU only scored 21 second-half points on 6-of-23 shooting. ASU shot 51% in the first and only 26% in the second. They also made four 3-pointers in the first and in the second, only one. Stanford, by contrast shot 29% overall in the first and 56% in the second.

So what changed? First Tara put in three guards and two bigs. They had some speedy guards, but so do we. That helped stop the drives down the middle. The Stanford guards also limited the three point shots and forced turnovers. They rattled ASU. Stanford got it to within one point with five minutes left, but couldn’t score for the next three minutes while ASU slowly added to their lead. ASU was up by seven with 46 seconds left but Stanford still rallied. A three by Briana Roberson, an off-balance layup/jumper by Amber Orrange and it was a two point game with 12 seconds left. But Stanford was forced to play the foul game and ended up losing 57-60.

If Stanford had a few more points in the first….
Or grabbed a few more rebounds. ASU outrebounded Stanford 44-22 for the game, with 20 offensive boards. Usually Stanford is the one out rebounding everyone, but to be doubled up like that? Stanford needs to grab the ball with two hands. There were a lot of tips that should have been rebounds.
Shout out to three Stanford players in double figures. Lili Thompson, Amber Orrange and Taylor Greenfiled all scored 12 points apiece.

Still more Pac-12 games to play. If Stanford can play like that second half in the first…or for 40 minutes, they will be strong come tournament time.

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