When a freshman basketball player joins the Stanford women’s team, it doesn’t take long before she has a favorite story to illustrate head coach Tara VanDerveer’s renowned dry wit. Usually it’s some admonition or word of advice. Last year, for example, guard Lindy La Rocque, now a sophomore, told the Fast Break Club that when she ventured too far from the perimeter toward the front court, Tara said something like, “Lindy, don’t you know there are alligators in there?”
Now freshman forward Joslyn Tinkle has her own favorite story, but this one is more at the coach’s expense. Joslyn, who hails from Missoula, Mont., said that as Tara was going out the door after the official home visit, Joslyn’s mother said jokingly, “Should we tell her about the bear?’ With that, Tara almost sprinted to her car, Joslyn said.
The personable Joslyn was speaking to the Fast Break Club on Nov. 19 after the Cardinal’s 99-50 victory over visiting Pepperdine – the Cardinal’s 30th consecutive home court win during the regular season. Unfortunately, Joslyn didn’t play because of a foot injury. An MRI showed that it has begun to heal, so it’s hoped that she can be back in action within a matter of weeks, said associate head coach Amy Tucker, adding that the coaches are eager to get her into the rotation of bigs. “She’s a great kid. She is a great player,” Tara added later.
Also sidelined were sophomore forward Sarah Boothe, who is recovering from foot surgery and might red-shirt, Tara said; junior forward Ashley Cimino, who has a sprained ankle but is expected back next week; and junior guard Hannah Donaghe, who continues to improve following knee surgery last season.
Commenting on the game, Tara said, “Our starting lineup and JJ (senior guard JJ Hones) really got after it.” JJ, who had knee surgery a year ago, is the first one off the bench and is considered part of the starting lineup. Even though she isn’t 100 percent, “she’s looking great,” Tara said. “It’s great to have Michelle back,” too, she said, referring to senior forward Michelle Harrison, who got her first playing time after back trouble.
The younger, smaller Pepperdine team pressed hard against the Cardinal, giving the home team a taste of what it can expect from other opponents. “We knew we’d wear them down,” but “we need to take care of the ball a little bit better,” Tara said, referring to the team’s 21 turnovers, compared with 17 for Pepperdine.
On the plus side, five players – JJ, junior forward Kayla Pedersen, senior center Jayne Appel, sophomore forward Nneka Ogwumike and sophomore guard Jeanette Pohlen – were in double figures. The team also knocked in nine 3-pointers.
Asked about the recently signed recruits, Tara said “we’re very excited.” Guard Sara James works hard and “is going to be great.” Toni Kokenis, a point guard, committed to Stanford as soon as she was accepted and will be a good complement to JJ when she returns for her final year (she red-shirted last season).
Forward Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka’s sister, was “very highly recruited. She is going to make an immediate impact,” Tara said.
Joslyn, who has a younger sister and a younger brother – both of them athletes -- was born in Europe and lived there for about eight years while her father played professional basketball. Now he’s the men’s basketball coach at the University of Montana in Missoula. He and Joslyn’s mother met when both played basketball there. Amy interjected that Joslyn’s mother and Joslyn’s high school coach were on the Montana team that Stanford played against in its first NCAA tournament game in 1988.
Besides Stanford, Joslyn considered Oklahoma, Texas, Duke and Georgia, making official visits to all of them. Stanford was last on the travel itinerary, and then “I was sold,” she said. In making her decision, she thought about “where I would be most happy outside of basketball.”
Now that she’s at Stanford, “I’m loving the experience. I’m super glad to be here.”
She’s finding time management to be her biggest adjustment from high school, but “everyone here is so helpful.” She jokingly said that one of the things she has learned from her new teammates is to “wear my mouth guard.” She regards being one of the bigs a challenge and sees herself backing up Kayla at the 3 spot.
Tara had this comment about the team: “We have something very special,” she said, citing the players’ unselfishness and maturity.