November 28, 2009

Basket, basket. Who’s got the basket?

Poor shooting by the Stanford women’s basketball team led to a low-scoring post-Thanksgiving win over Utah on Nov. 27. The score was only 24-11 in the first half, when the team shot 25.8 percent. The percentage rose to 41.9 in the second half, resulting in a 33.9 percent average and a 60-41 victory, the team’s 31st consecutive win at Maples.

“Today was just trying to find the basket,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer, speaking to the Fast Break Club after the game.

Senior center Jayne Appel was ailing, playing 21 minutes and scoring only two points, along with six rebounds, three assists and two blocks. “I’m surprised that she played,” Tara said. In the post-game press conference, Tara said that Jayne was sick most of the night before and received two IV bags of fluid before the game.

Also of concern to fans was the sight of guard Melanie Murphy on crutches, joining guard Hannah Donaghe (knee), center Sarah Boothe (foot) and forward Joslyn Tinkle (foot) on the sidelines. Tara said Mel hurt her knee in practice. The exact nature of her injury is unknown except that it’s not an ACL or MCL tear, Tara said.

On the other hand, forward Ashley Cimino was back in uniform and played for the first time after missing several games with a sprained ankle.

The FBC gathering was delayed because the football team was meeting in Kissick Auditorium. After the men had left, FBC members filed in and heard from alum Angela Taylor, ’93, vice president and general manager of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

Taylor spoke fondly of her Stanford days and praised the FBC as “second to none” in its support for WBB. After graduating from Stanford, she said, she was a graduate assistant at the University of Arizona, followed by a stint as an assistant coach at Texas A&M. She spent a year as an assistant at Stanford while Tara coached the USA Olympic team, then went to the WNBA’s New York office during the league’s first season. While in New York, she earned her MBA from NYU in 2002.

Her next stop was Minneapolis, where she was vice president of business operations for the Minnesota Lynx. She was “part of the team that selected Candice,” she said, referring to Stanford guard Candice Wiggins, ’08, who was drafted by the Lynx in 2008.

After going to the Mystics in 2008, she played a role in hiring Julie Plank as head coach. Julie had served as an assistant coach at Stanford from 1985 to 1995.

The Mystics are slated for the seventh pick in the first round of the 2010 WNBA draft, so Angela doesn’t expect her team will be lucky enough to get Jayne or UConn center Tina Charles, whom she called “two of the best” players in the country. She put forwards Kayla Pedersen (who led the team with 18 points Friday) and Nneka Ogwumike (who contributed 17) on her future wish list.

The WNBA is in its 14th season, but “the climate right now is very sensitive,” she said, referring to the nation’s economic malaise. The Sacramento Monarchs are looking for a new home after their owners put them up for sale. The WNBA hopes to keep going, though, and to have a team in the Bay Area, Angela said.

Also in her remarks to the FBC, Tara said, “This was not an inspired game for us. We weren’t playing as hard and as well as we wanted to.”

On the other hand, “We can learn a lot from this game.”

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