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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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Stanford Crushes Arizona

The nice thing about playing a team that is 0-4 in the Pac-12 team is, if you do your job right, you get to rest your starters and play your bench. The Stanford women’s basketball team did their job and beat Arizona 77-47 and rested their starters.

First of all, if a drinking game broke out that ruled you had to take a drink every time someone from Stanford either missed a layup or hit the deck, you would be blotto. Stanford had on their track shoes and had a lot of fast breaks, steals and fast breaks, and pretty passes on the fast break, but a lot of uncharacteristic misses on layups. Also C and R are getting concerned about those big ol’ brains of the players and the fact they keep hitting the floor. Love your willingness to take a charge, but remember what happened to your coach.

Erica McCall
Erica McCall scored 13 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds (Photo by Norbert von der Groeben/Isiphotos.com)
Speaking of coaches, much has been written about Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer running a guard oriented offense this year and not having the post players be as prominent as past years. The only problem was that the post players were all but forgotten. Well, not forgotten, just not finishers. At times the post play of freshie Kaylee Johnson and sophomore Erica McCall showed the right moves but just couldn’t get the ball in the basket.

That put too much pressure on the guard tandem of Lili Thompson and Amber Orrange to score. TVD must have seen the errors of her ways, or at least said we need SOME post play. Tonight Erica McCall took that to heart and looked like a woman on a mission. Early on the crowd could tell she was in to it when she missed her shot, got the rebound, put it back up ,missed, grabbed the rebound in the paint and did a 360 and put it up again. This time she did find the bottom of the basket. She found it so much that she finished with 13 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for a double-double (We think her first double-double of the season). She also had three blocked shots. That is called establishing your presence.

Oh, just saw this article that Erica cresdits her new sports googles with giving her better court vision. She wore them in the summer and didn’t like the, Now they are back on, she is feeling confident! Future’s so bright, she’s gotta wear shades!

-Shout out to Bri Roberson with 12 points, and going 4-4 from the foul line. She keeps improving with every game. She matched her career-high for points and rebounds (3) and set career bests in assists (5) and minutes played (28).

-Shout out to Lili Thompson for also scoring 12, and taking many hits to the floor.
-Shout out to the sharp-shooting Samuelson sisters (say that seven times fast). Younger Karlie Samuelson had 12 points, on 4-5 shooting from behind the line. Senior sister Bonnie has 14 points, on 4-7 shooting from behind the arc, and one great drive to the basket.

Five Stanford players scored in double figures, and nine players total scored, which is good since we are playing a very tough Arizona State on Monday. We will need all those points and all those missed lay ups better go in!

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stanford Wins in OT over Washington State

Just a quick write up about Stanford’s overtime win over Washington State, as there was a LOT of football on today. Did you know that Stanford has played three overtime games this season, and are two out of three? Did you also know Stanford has NEVER lost to Washington State, and had a 57-0 record going into this game? Think if they lost!

Stanford leaves the state of Washington with a win over Washington State and Washington. Both games had similar themes. In this game vs WSU, Stanford lived and died by their guard play. The post players continue their struggles to finish, but got some better results. Kaylee Johnson got it together and scored 13. Erica McCall also pulled down six rebounds. This game, though, Stanford’s Taylor Greenfield stepped up in the first, scoring seven, which earned her a starting spot in the second. She would end the game with eleven points. It was nice to have more players in double figures than just the guards.

Amber Orrange
Kaylee Johnson had 13 points and 15 rebounds in Stanford's overtime win. (Photo by Hector Garcia Molina/stanfordphoto.com)
In the first half both teams were pretty evenly matched, with both teams shooting around 38%, the difference being WSU forced Stanford into eight turnovers which lead to nine points. WSU by comparison only had two turnovers and Stanford got no points from them. Stanford also was 4-8 from the 3-point line, in the first, but WSU kept pace, going 4-9.

The Stanford guard play of Amber Orrange and Lili Thompson, as we mentioned, was well scouted by Washington. When Amber drove left, they were on to it and were able to limit it. It didn’t help matters that Lili Thompson started out cold and didn’t score in the first half. She would make up for it in the second.
WSU has a pretty impressive pair of guards as well, so nickname the Tia and Lia show. Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira can score, too. However, Stanford can scout, too, and held them to 3-12 shooting in the first.

Stanford had several long stretches in the first where they could not score, and were lucky to only be down by five, 28-33, at the half.

In the second, Amber Orrange played lock-down defense on Lia, but Lili had a more difficult time with Tia. She got hot and scored 16 in the second, totaling 23 for the game. Washington lead for most of the game, and at one point Stanford was down by 11, but good ol’ three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson knocked down a three with 2:19 left in regulation to put Stanford within one. Then she knocked down some free throws a few seconds later to give Stanford a one point lead.  Both teams kept trading the lead, mostly on free throws in the final two minutes until Bonnie hit a three with 10 seconds left to put Stanford up by two. But then Stanford made the rookie mistake of not stopping ball and Lia scored a jumper to tie it in the final seconds, 71-71.

When overtime started, one of the Washington State, Mariah Cook players got called for her fifth foul and went down hard. After being helped off the court, all the life seemed to go out of WSU. Stanford’s Briana Roberson iced the game with 6 free throws in the final 44 seconds and Stanford would win 86-76.

Shout out to Six Stanford Scorers in Double Figures (say that seven times fast):
-Amber Orrange scored 19, including a three
-Bonnie Samuelson scored 18 and was 5-of-7 for 3-pointers, her second time this season with at least that many 3-point makes
-Lili Thompson added 13, including 2-4 from three point land
-Kaylee Johnson notched her third career double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds and one block
-Taylor Greenfield scored a season-high 11, and was 4-4 from the line
-Roberson was a perfect 8-8 from the line, to end up with 10 points.

Now back home against the Arizonas.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Stanford Hangs on to Beat Washington

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team traveled to the state of Washington to play Washington for a Pac-12 match up.

In this game, Stanford continued their experiment of perimeter play with less emphasis on the post players. To their credit they are executing it well. The Pac-12 announcers nailed it when they described it as “Four out one in, dribble drive” and “stretch four.” By having all players spread the floor instead of hanging out in the paint, the guards could either drive to the basket or kick out to a perimeter player. Washington was aware of this game plan and tried to stop it. The rest of the game was seeing if Washington’s defense could stop the guard drive and three ball, or if Stanford would execute. Let me tell ya, it was close. Stanford only shot 22% in the first.

Let’s talk for a moment about Stanford post play. The young post players of freshie Kailee Johnson and sophomore Erica McCall were both in great position to score down low and made some great moves, but still kept missing. Finish, Finish, Finish. Let’s hope with time….

Now let’s talk about Stanford defense. Stanford played great defense on Washington’s great Kelsey Plum. She is left handed like Stanford’s Amber Orrange and Stanford stopped her from going left. She was so uncomfortable, she only scored four points in the first.  She also did not get any foul shots in the first half, something she normally utilizes for points. She did heat up in the second and sunk two 3-pointers and finished the game with 16. Credit Stanford; they held the Pac-12's top scoring offense to just 56 points, 24 below its season average. Now that is some defense.

In the first half, Stanford held Washington scoreless for long stretches in the first, however Stanford was dry as well, going 8-35 in the first, and making only 3 out of 15 threes. C and R know Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer is trying new personal on the floor, but some bench players in the first half who could not get in rhythm and contributed to that long drought.

It was 22-24 Washington at the half, both teams struggling.

In the second, both teams would go on drought/runs. Washington was up by seven at one point. Then Stanford’s Amber Orrange started chipping away, penetrating and getting to the rim or drawing the foul. And Stanford’s second guard, Lili Thompson was not to be outdone. She scored seven of Stanford’s final 13 points. Both guards really stepped up in the second. Lili scored 13 of her 15 in the second, and Amber scored 12 of her 14 in the second as well. Bonnie Samuelson added 12 points and freshie Kaylee Johnson grabbed 13 boards.

Lili’s biggest contribution, though was a desperation heave about five feet behind the three point line and the shot clock winding down with 27 seconds left and Stanford clinging to a two point lead, 57-55. The ball banked straight off the glass and went in the hoop, and there went Washington’s hopes. A meaningless Stanford foul with one second left and a free throw made the final score 60-56.

Lili Thompson's three
We just had to show the Stanford Bench reaction to Lili's 3! (ELAINE THOMPSON — AP Photo)

Shout out Karlee Samuelson for the old trick play, inbounding the ball off the unsuspecting defender, and gathering the rebound.
Shout to Erica McCall rocking the new sports goggles. Those were new.
Shout out to Bonnie Samuelson for scoring all 12 points from three point land (4-9).
Shout out to freshie Brittany McPhee, local Washington girl, who had her family in attendance and made two free throws.

That’s enough shouting, now on to Washington State.

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Stanford Wins Defensive Battle over Utah

Two Pac-12 games gone, two wins for the Stanford Women’s Basketball team. This second win was over visiting Utah, the final score 55-44. You could say it was a defensive struggle, the half time score 20-14 with the edge to Stanford, or you could say both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net. Both teams combined to go 14 for 59 for the first half.

Stanford shot 36% from the field for the game. Utah was worse, shooting just 28% from the field, and was 4-21 for 3-pointers. Stanford went back to their full court press again and while they didn’t force many turnovers, (Utah had eight to Stanford’s ten) they still got them out of rhythm. Utah, conversely, had a hard time keeping up with the Stanford guards, especially in the second half, and fouled them when they drove, which they did a lot. Stanford as a team attempted 20 free throws, making 15 of them.

Amber Orrange
Amber Orrange scored 17 points to lead Stanford past Utah (Photo by Bob Drebin/stanfordphoto.com)
Speaking of guards, it really was the guard show for Stanford, the two starting guards combined for 31 points. Senior Amber Orrange again was high Stanford scorer with 17 and Lili Thompson easily keeping pace with 14. Speaking of Lili, she went down hard under the basket with 5:40 remaining and left the game after being called for an offensive foul. She appeared to hit her head on the court and didn't return. We wish her the best and hope it is not a concussion.

Stanford is trying a new offensive set this year, one that includes many high screens by the post players, and they certainly tried that again in this game. Sometimes the screens were not effective, and if there was a shot, the post players were out of position to get the rebound. Speaking of screens Utah did a fairly good job of switching on the screens defensively, but the few times they were too slow to switch or lost their player, Stanford made them pay.
It is tough to beat Stanford when both guards are driving and clicking. Just hope they can get some more of the bigs involved and in double figures.

Shout out to freshie Kaylee Johnson, who made it her mission to contribute tonight. She did not score the last game versus Colorado and in this one had seven points and seven boards. She also had a career-high four blocks. Another shout out to another freshie, Brittany McPhee who had three blocks in ten minutes.

This just in, we learned Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer broker her left wrist New Year’s Eve. The 61-year old Hall of Fame coach purposely took a charge from 6’5 Tess Picknell, a Stanford reserve. Man, she still got it! And Happy New Year to you, coach!

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