Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Stanford Tops Tennessee

Well, that was a pleasant surprise. The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team came out of the gate aggressive and focused, and walloped Tennessee 69-55. (C and R are boycotting the “lady” team name). This was a VERY different team we saw that lost to #5 Texas and unranked Santa Clara.

What changed? Well, for one thing, Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer can learn new tricks. Stanford’s player to player (wow, aren’t’ we being politically correct tonight?) defense was NOT working in past games. They could not help out when a faster player was able to beat the first defender. So Tara changed them to a zone, and boy did they help each other out, sometimes double and triple teaming the orange jersey with the ball.

Stanford Tops Tennessee
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The fun started early when NC transfer Diamond Deshields shot an air ball. The Rose Bowl-bound Stanford football team, who was in attendance to be honored at half time, started chanting “Airball.” Except they kept remembering to chant it EVERY time she touched the ball on offense! The second time they chanted it, she scored on a drive and gestured to the whole team, “Bring it!” Yikes. You don’t gesture to a whole section of 250 pound big boys all dressed in black on the road. Who is going to back you up? The water girl? The football team kept up the chanting the whole half! Six man assist to them. Diamond was held to 12 points in the game (and also shot an airball in the second half!).

As C and R said, Stanford was more aggressive on the boards, outrebounding 42-31. Still was a little distressing Stanford only had two offensive rebounds in the first half. But the zone enabled them to box out better. Plus Tenn was not making any threes (sadly, neither could the Cardinal, both teams going 0-5 in the first half).

Defense was excellent. Stanford limited Tenn to the second-lowest point total in the series between the two teams. Stanford held Tenn to 25% FG shooting in the first quarter and nine points in the third quarter. Nine.

So we love the new aggressiveness. C and R know Tennessee plays in the rougher SEC, but they showed little body control when Stanford was in the air on offense. Even thought they were taller and more athletic, they never went straight up for the block, always reaching across and fouling. Strangely, Stanford did not take great advantage of that. When they got the ball and started a drive, it seemed as if they were afraid to take it inside on 6’6 Mercedes Russell.  However, when they did, they drew contact almost every time.  Tenn had 25 total fouls for the game. BTW, Stanford led the block party 4-2, so who’s afraid of 6’6 now?

So here is Standard enjoying this 21 point lead in the third quarter, shooting 60% or so, and feeling some new-found confidence when the second half started and Tenn pulled out the ol’ full court press. We. Cannot. Handle. Pressure. Period.

Several steals and lay ups and a rattled Cardinal found themselves only leading by 7 late in the second half. Twice. However, Stanford showed some poise. And Freshman Marta Sniezek (pronounced Sneeze-ix by the announcer, it sounded like) showed great poise and ball handling skills. Once they got it across mid-court a few times without turning it over, they settled down and then Tenn had to play the foul game. Eight FT attempts in the last minute. Card cruises to the win.

Shout outs:
Lili Thompson scored 19 points, including seven during a crucial stretch
McCall had 14 points and 10 rebounds (another double-double, we might add)
Kaylee Johnson added 10 points. Good for her after she lost her starting job
Marta almost joined the double digit club, scoring nine

Awesome! Keep it up!

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