Monday, March 24, 2014

Stanford in Sweet Sixteen

Give credit to Florida State University. They had a definite game plan on defense that gave Stanford trouble. But credit Hall of Fame and Olympic coach Tara VanDerveer with a better defensive game plan, even if her assistants all thought she was crazy.

To recap, the Stanford Women’s Basketball team was playing Florida State for the right to advance to the Sweet Sixteen that just happens top be held at Maples in PA CA (Palo Alto, California) and is Stanford’s home court.

A very athletic Florida State came out in what is called a pressure half zone. Around the three-point perimeter. Stanford couldn’t get the ball inside to all-everything Chiney Ogwumike and Stanford certainly couldn’t get open for a three. And oh, they were committing turnovers left and right that were resulting in easy scores for FSU. Soon Stanford was down 14-6.

Then Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said, let’s go to a standard 2-3 zone even though we have lived on playing man-to-man all year long. Well, we don’t know what she said exactly, but the Associated Pres reported that her assistants wanted to say in man and Tara insisted on the little used zone. Guess what, she outranked them.

Chiney Ogwumike
Stanford traps a Cheetah
(Photo: Associated Press )

Then Stanford went on 26-2 run to end the half 32-16. Really, it was a 30-2 run if you count the start of the second. FSU was held scoreless for nine and a half minutes in the first. Still not impressed? FSU only scored ONE basket in the final 12 and a half minutes. FSU was 7-28 in the first, missing 20 of 22 shots to end the period. Chalk that up to good Stanford defense and a coach who knows to stick to her guns when she is right.

Stanford’s unsung hero of the season, Mikaela Ruef, was matched up with FSU high scoring post player, Natasha Howard, even when in the zone. She was held scoreless in the first and scored her first basket of the game with 17 minutes left in the second. Howard ended up with nine points for the game, usually averaging 21.

Speaking of Ruef, she banged her head last game and was held out as a precaution. This game, she wanted it. She was diving after balls, taking charges and hitting the deck often and with abandon. She scored eight and grabbed seven tough boards.

Stanford’s leading scorer, Chiney Ogwumike, did not disappoint when she was left one on one, or alone under FSU’s basket. She had 21 points and nine rebounds. She also got help from her supporting cast. Freshman guard Lili Thompson added 14 points and Bonnie Samuelson had 11 with three 3-pointers (she even made a rare two). Team-wise, Stanford had 17 assists on 22 field goals. Now that’s good teamwork.

See everyone back at Maples on Sunday and Tuesday, rain or shine.

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