The Stanford women’s basketball team’s 66-51 defeat of Washington at home on Jan. 16 left fans unsettled and the coaches scratching their heads over what head coach Tara VanDerveer termed lackadaisical play.
On paper, it should have been an easy win. However, Tara was able to use only seven players because the Cardinal let a 35-21 advantage in the first half slip to only a 31-30 edge in the second. That was enough to win, but not enough to satisfy Stanford fans.
With a wider lead, guard Hannah Donaghe could have played for the first time since knee surgery last winter, associate head coach Amy Tucker told the Fast Break Club after the game. She was dressed for the Washington State game for the first time and has been practicing with the team.
In Stanford’s defense, the team was playing without starting guard Jeanette Pohlen, who aggravated her sprained ankle in the Washington State win two days earlier, and best off-the-bench guard, JJ Hones, who’s resting her swollen knee. Lindy La Rocque replaced Jeanette as a starter, joining the other starting guard, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude. Melanie Murphy then became the off-the-bench guard, but she has a sore knee, too, and hasn’t been practicing.
With JJ and Jeanette out, others had a chance to step up, but “that didn’t happen,” Amy said. “We didn’t compete. We weren’t tough,” she said, citing “uninspired play and lack of aggressiveness.”
“It’s good you can play a game like this and win,” she said, but the team can’t play like this and expect to get to the Final Four for the third straight year. “We set the bar to our standards. … There was nothing about this game that the coaching staff can be excited about,” she said. “We have way too many turnovers,” many of them unforced, caused by such problems as poor passing and poor decisions.
“That was torture” were Tara’s first words to the Fast Break Club. Like Amy, she lamented the turnovers and lack of aggressiveness. “We were less than scintillating today.” (On the other hand, Marian Cortesi hits the highlights in Stories of the Season.)
“We set a really high standard not just for winning but how we play,” Tara said. “We are definitely not peaking early.” It’s uncertain whether JJ and Jeanette will be able to play when the Cardinal visit the Oregon teams this week, she added.
In my report on the Washington State game, I was remiss in not mentioning the impressive performance by the women’s gymnastics team at halftime.
Also, fans are wondering about the “Put a ring on it” T-shirts that were given to students that night. A student told me that the words come from a Beyoncé song and refer to hopes that the WBB team will finish the season with championship rings.