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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