December 16, 2013

Tribute to Tara: 902 and counting

After a long road trip followed by 16 days off for finals, the Stanford women’s basketball team returned home to Maples Pavilion and defeated Gonzaga 73-45 on Dec. 14.

In the process, the team handed head coach Tara VanDerveer her 902nd career victory.

Because win No. 900 came against Florida Gulf Coast while the team was in Mexico for a tournament, the major celebration was saved for home court. It started when fans entered Maples and received signs and eyeglasses commemorating 900 wins.

At the request of their head coach, Kelly Graves, the Zags remained in their seats after the game while the video board flashed highlights of Tara’s career. In the meantime, the Stanford players donned red T-shirts emblazoned with “900.”

Tara gets her own jersey

As the Stanford players and staff looked on, Stanford president John Hennessy and athletic director Bernard Muir unveiled a framed white Stanford jersey with Tara’s last name and the number 900.

Taking the microphone, Tara introduced her mother, Rita, who had surprised her with a visit the night before. Tara then thanked the president and athletic director for their support and added, “I just want to keep it going.”

She said that the framed jersey would hang in her office, and she joked that it was the only way she would get a Stanford jersey.

After acknowledging her staff, she said, “It’s a little hard for me to wrap my head around 900.”

“Let’s get some more,” she concluded.

On behalf of her teammates, senior forward Chiney Ogwumike echoed the sentiment. “Here’s to 900 more.”

Win No. 800 was three years ago

Chiney and her two classmates – guards Sara James and Toni Kokenis (recently medically retired) – plus red shirt senior forward Mikaela Ruef were all on the team for Tara’s 800th win, which came on Dec. 22, 2010, when Stanford traveled to the University of San Francisco and won 100-45.

Those on hand who had contributed to the 800 wins included USF head coach Jennifer Azzi and associate head coach Katy Steding (now at Cal). They were in the first class that Tara recruited to Stanford after she arrived on the Farm in 1985. They went on to help Stanford win its first national championship in 1990 and played for Tara on the undefeated U.S. Olympics team that won the gold in 1996.

Contributors included Tara’s two assistant coaches, Stanford graduates Bobbie Kelsey (now head coach at Wisconsin) and Kate Paye.

Then there was the woman who has been associated with Tara the longest time – associate head coach Amy Tucker. She played at Ohio State for two of Tara’s five years as head coach there, was a graduate assistant coach for her for a year and an assistant coach there for another year. When Tara left Ohio State for Stanford in 1985, Amy joined her as an assistant coach.

Chiney didn’t play in that USF game because she had tweaked her ankle in the morning, but she high-fived the bench for each 3-pointer. She made that trip 11 times, thanks to four 3’s by Sara and one each by Toni and Mikaela, among others.

Balanced scoring by starters, bench

Fast-forward 102 victories to the Gonzaga game: Chiney, Sara and Mikaela all started, joined by junior guard Amber Orrange and freshman guard Lili Thompson.

The five of them scored a total of 42 points, while bench players contributed 31.

This time there were eight 3’s, with two each by Sara, redshirt sophomore guard Jasmine Camp and freshman forward Kailee Johnson. Amber and junior forward Bonnie Samuelson had one each.

Chiney led the team in scoring with 19 points. Also in double figures were Kailee with a career high 11 and Amber with 10.

Two juniors see first action

In addition to the victory, fans had two more reasons to celebrate. Junior forwards Taylor Greenfield and Erica Payne returned to action for the first time this season. Taylor played a total of 11 minutes, scored 4 points and made two rebounds. After making her first basket on an inbound pass with 10:47 to go in the second half, she ran up the court with a big smile.

Erica, who had just been cleared to play earlier in the week, entered the game with slightly less than two minutes to go. She and sophomore forward/center Tess Picknell, who played about four minutes, were the only two Cardinal players who didn’t score.

All told, 14 of 15 players were in uniform. Freshman guard Briana Roberson, still rehabbing from an injury, was suited up but didn’t play. Freshman guard Karlie Samuelson was in street clothes. It’s hoped that she’ll return for the Tennessee game at home on Dec. 21, Amy told the Fast Break Club after the game.

A fan at the gathering commented on the fine play of Kailee and fellow freshman forward Erica McCall, who had 5 points and seven rebounds. Amy responded that when the freshmen arrived for summer school, Bonnie, Sara, Taylor and Erica Payne weren’t able to play. Since those four often play the 3 position, Kailee and Erica M. got a lot of time in that spot.

Still, “we’re excited to have them back,” Amy said of the four upperclassmen.

Video salutes Nicole Powell

Yet another woman who contributed to Tara’s 900 wins was Nicole Powell, ’04, who’s in her first year as an assistant coach at Gonzaga after playing professionally for the WNBA and overseas.

“Fans, today we welcome back one of Stanford’s all-time greats,” announcer Betty Ann Boeving said shortly before tipoff. With that, the video board showed highlights of Nicole’s Stanford accomplishments, followed by a prolonged ovation.

An earlier video honored the Stanford football team for winning the Pac-12 conference and the right to play in its second consecutive Rose Bowl game on Jan. 1. “See you in Pasadena,” it concluded.

A subsequent video featured women’s basketball highlights. It ended, “Tradition never graduates.”

No comments:

Post a Comment