Sunday, December 28, 2014

Stanford Blows Out UC Santa Barbara

Stanford blew out UC Santa Barbara 90-34. The undersized gauchos only shot 20% the first 20 minutes, resulting in 13 points at the half. And what exactly is a gaucho, you ask? Well, we learned from a helpful person wearing a UC Barbara shirt that a gaucho is an Argentinean cowboy, and not stylish short pants.

Brittany McPhee
Brittany McPhee (12) rebounds next to teammate Amber Orrange (33) (GEORGE NIKITIN — AP Photo)
With the lopsided score, Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer got to rest her starters and play all 15 Stanford players, and 12 of them scored. Even with the limited minutes, four players were in double figures. Lili Thompson lead Stanford with 12, Karlee Samuleson and Briana Roberson each had 11, and freshie Brittany McPhee had 10. Loved Brittanys hustle, diving after balls, making blocks, and doing the little things to help her team. Bonnie Samuelson added nine. Speaking of the sharp-shooting Samuelson sisters (say that five times fast), each made three 3-pointers, going a combined 6-9 from downtown. Shout out to Erica McCall with a career high 12 rebounds and eight points. Double shoot out to Jasmine Camp who scored her first basket of the season, a three. She followed that up with a second three pointer.

And yet…

Here, let’s let our guest blogger, D, tell you about it (She got to take R’s place, who is out of town for the holidays).
D: Two things I noticed. When the Stanford posts screen, they are not effective. The other team sees them coming and can slip by the screen.
C: I heard the other team shout our “screen” as it was being set.
D: Exactly, the screen is telegraphed too much.
C: And you can’t discount the fact Stanford has been doing this high screen all season long and teams are noticing this on game film. What was the other thing?
D: Remember that cheer. BE aggressive, B-E aggressive!?
C: Yes.
D:  The post players are just not aggressive, in my opinion. They are not absolute ball hounds going for rebounds and when they catch the ball outside the paint, they are not a threat. They catch the ball and are on their heels looking for the next pass. They do not look like a threat to shoot or drive. The other team can back off of them on defense. They should be able to hit a shot outside the paint to keep the defense honest.
C: Yes, the lack of post play has been a concern of many who follow Stanford. Let’s hope they can keep working on this as Pac-12 play starts.
D: And what is up with the Stanford Tree?
C: That's three things, and I think he is supposed to be a palm tree.
D: I prefer the more Christmas-tree look of past seasons.
C: You gotta admit he is a great dancer.
D: That he is. Let me go take some video…

Enjoy the rest of 2014. We will see everyone back at Maples in 2015 for Pac-12 play (look out for Oregon State).

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Stanford Wins at Home vs UC Davis

The Stanford women’s basketball team won at home, after their not so successful trip to Tennessee, but the game was closer than the score indicates. The score was Stanford 71, UC Davis 59, but at the half Stanford only had a 34-30 lead. UC Davis played a tough game, out rebounded the Card, and hung around until late in the game.

Stanford also had a bit of a new look on offense. All five players stood on the perimeter. Not a single person in red and white in the key. Then guards would dribble penetrate and kick out to a waiting three point specialist. Most of the time it worked.

Samuelson Sisters
Stanford's Bonnie Samuelson (left) scored a career-high 30 points and teamed with her sister, Karlie (44), to help down UC Davis (Photo by Bob Drebin/
Stanford hit 10 out of 17 of their threes. The Samuelson sisters made nine of them. Speaking of the sisters, they both got the start in this game, and you know how Stanford loves sister combinations. This was the first time both of them have started in the two years they have both been at Stanford. Younger Karlie (KSam) usually gets the start, but this was older sister Bonnie’s (BSam) first start this year. And of course starting Bonnie made Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer look like a genius.

Bonnie scored a career-high 30 points, including six three pointers. It was the fifth time she scored six three and her previous game high was 21 points. She also scored 8-10 free throws. Normally that is a great percentage, but Bonnie had a 44-staight streak going on. So to miss once on FTs for her is rare, twice, doubly rare. She had not missed a FT since December 28, 1990. Although when UC Davis played the foul game at near the end Stanford smartly gave her the ball to absorb the foul.And oh, Bonnie’s 30 was the first non-Ogwumike 30-point game at Stanford since Jeanette Pohlen on December 30, 2010.

Freshmen Kaylee Johnson added 11 points and 11 rebounds for Stanford (7-4). Her second double double game. No one else got in double figures, which must vex Tara, and strangely, the other three was made by Lii Thompson but was her only points for the game. She started out the year with a couple of great games including 24 against UConn, (‘member that game?). Not sure what has happened to make her production go down.

Next game is after Christmas on December 28 back at Maples. Hope the players get to go home for the holidays and refresh before the Pac-12 conference games start in January.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stanford Trampled by Tennessee

The good news? The Stanford Women’s Basketball team held Tennessee to 27 first half points. The bad news? Stanford only scored 15 in the same period. Stanford shot 23% in the first, making five of 21. They shot 25% for the game. To be fair, both teams struggled early on. Tennessee shot 35 % in the first before heating up in the second. How bad was it for Stanford? They were stuck on 10 points for eight minutes, from 10:24 to 2:10 left in the first. Stanford scored one basket over the last 10 minutes of the first half.

Erica McCall
Tennessee guard/forward Jaime Nared (31) and Stanford forward Erica McCall (24) get tangled up (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

The good news? When Stanford did score in the first, it was guards driving on high ball screens. The bad news? Tennessee finally caught on to the play and cut off drives or contested shots when the guards did make it to the blocks. Tennessee is always known to be physical, and there was contact many times without whistles, but you still have to finish. A lot of missed shots (13-51). Once that drive was cut off, Stanford once again did not have a post option to go to all game. That was coupled with Tennessee’s long bodies and athletic ability to rush Stanford at the three point line to limit good looks. Stanford made 6 out of 18 for the game from three point land.

Let’s just say Tennessee’s defense made Stanford offense look bad.

Second half was just more of the same. Both teams struggled early on and no one scored in the first 3 minutes. Then Tennessee finally got hot, and Ariel Massengale started bombing threes. She made four of them and finished the game with 18 points. When Stanford would make a shot, or even a three, they could not get a defensive stop on the other end.

The final score was Tennessee 59, Stanford 40. Both teams combined to miss 75 shots and commit 37 turnovers.

The good news
Lili Thompson scored 13 points, including two 3-pointers.
Kaylee Johnson lost a contact, continuing the Ogwumike trend. Let's hope this translates to Ogwumike rebounds and points (She was held to eight boards and four points in this one).

The bad news
No one else from Stanford was in double figures. Take out Lili’s 13 and the rest of the starting five scored 10 points. The next highest scorer for Stanford was a tie with four points. Stanford had not lost consecutive games since December 2010.  Also, it was the first time Stanford has scored below 50 points in consecutive games since 1976-77 season. Fewest points (by 8) for the Cardinal in 32 all-time games against Tennessee, and fewest points by an opponent ranked in the top 10 against Tennessee.

Stanford comes back to Maples Monday, so we hope they can get a win for Christmas and build up some confidence and better inside presence.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stanford Can’t Score Against Chattanooga

So the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team traveled to Tennessee and played an unranked team they have never played before, and…lost. Stanford, ranked #7 lost to Chattanooga (UTC) 54-46 (and just what is a “Moc,” that school’s nickname?).

So what happened is…well, I don’t know what happened really, as my boss pulled me into an impromptu meeting at 3 PM Stanford time, just as the game was starting (and we hate these starts during work hours). When I came out, Stanford was down by 1, 29-28 at the half despite going on a 10-0 run. Talk about low scoring. Looks like UTC kept themselves in the game by making a bunch of threes (7 out of 15 in the first half).

Erica Payne
Stanford’s Erica Payne-(Billy Weeks-AP Photo)
What I did see of the second half was no presence in the post for Stanford. Stanford tried the high screens for the guards at the top of the circle, but like so many other teams that have the advantage of watching game film, UTC was on to it and cut off the guards’ drive to the basket. Then there was nowhere to go with the ball. Plus Stanford’s three ball was not working, going 4-17 for the game, and making only one in the second half. Stanford only shoot seven free throws for the game, so the lack of a drive was also not creating trips to the free throw line. Stanford was averaging something like 80 points a game, so to be held to under 50 is either good defense on UTC's part or shall we say lack of scoring on Stanford's part, or both.

Wanna hear something weird? UTC did not score a single basket in the final 11:26 of the game. That’s right, not a one. Their defense did hold Stanford to just 12 points in that same time frame. However, UTC went to the line and made 11 of 12 free throw in that basket drought. Don’t know if we have ever seen that before. Wanna hear another weird fact? For the second game in a row, the other team did not shoot a free throw in the first half. Is that a testament to Stanford’s tough defense without fouling?

Lili Thompson was the Stanford high scorer with nine, so that goes to show you no one was in double figures. The Stanford site says “It's the first time in nearly two decades that the Cardinal has not had a double-digit scorer in a game.” A #7 ranked team needs someone to step up in these games. Shout out to senior Erica Payne who played a season-high 18 minutes and went 3-4 for six points. Freshmen Kaylee Johnson continues to rebound in the double digits, grabbing 12.

Well, Stanford shouldn’t feel too bad, Chattanooga did knock off another ranked team in their last game. It was, yep, Tennessee, which was ranked #4 at the time. Stanford will meet them Saturday, maybe they can commiserate.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stanford Beats Santa Clara After Long Lay Off

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team shook off the rust of a two week vacation, if you call studying and taking finals at Stanford a vacation, and beat neighbor Santa Clara in a not very neighborly fashion. Although the final score was 82-43 and Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer got to play everyone healthy, Stanford really did look rusty.

Stanford came out slow, and played from behind for the first four and a half minutes of the game. Stanford also did not make many threes, just going 4-9 for the game. In fact, Stanford’s three point specialist Bonnie Samuelson made the first Stanford three with about one minute to play in the first half. However Stanford did finish the first half strong, going on a 22-4 run.. Santa Clara had zero free throw attempts in the first (and went 1-4 for the game).

Kaylee Johnson
Kaylee Johnson had 22 rebounds. (Photo by Bob Drebin/
What was working in the first half was freshmen Kaylee Johnson. She was a rebounding fool. She has 11 boards in the first half, and finished the game with 22, which tied her career high set at New Mexico this year. She also scored nine points. In only eight games so far this season, she has two 20+ rebounding games. Quick, can you name another outstanding Stanford rebounder who had multiple 20+ rebounding games in a season? Answer, Chiney Ogwumike, who holds the Pac-12 rebounding record. Kaylee’s high school coach said she would break that record, and now we know he was not blowing smoke! But wait, there’s more. Kaylee Johnson is the only player in the whole NCAA with multiple 20-rebound games this season.

What was working for Stanford as a team in the second half was better ball movement, points off turnovers and second chances on put backs. They won the rebounding war 57-33. And Tara rested her starters to give her bench playing time.

Other career highs
Amber Orrange scored a season high 20 points and it was her 4th career game of at least 20 points. Her career high is 22, I believe set against UConn (‘remember that game?). Freshmen Brittany McPhee scored a career high 11 points (Bonnie Samuelson was the only other player besides Brittany and Amber to score in double figures. She added 11 from the bench).

So now Stanford travels back east to the land of too early games and too cold weather to play two Tennessee teams. They first play pardon me boy, is that the chattanooga choo choo (Chattanooga) and then the Tennessee Lady Vols. Pat Summit might be gone, but they physical style of play is not. Will be another big test on the road for Stanford. Hope they pass.

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