November 23, 2014

Similar scenario, disappointing outcome

Just as it had done against UConn just three days earlier, the Stanford women’s basketball team scored more than 80 points in a game that ended in overtime, but instead of winning 88-86, the Cardinal lost to Texas 87-81 on Nov. 20 in Maples Pavilion.

And just as it had done against UConn, the team stayed behind but kept the game close until the final few minutes.

Regulation time ended with the score 75-75. Even with 1:27 left in OT, the score was 80-80, but Stanford managed only 1 more point while the Longhorns had another 7. Thus the visitors snapped Stanford’s home winning streak at 28.

Fatigue may have set in

Fatigue may have been a factor in this second OT game in less than a week.

The Stanford starters included two seniors – guard Amber Orrange and forward Taylor Greenfield – along with two sophomores – guard Lili Thompson and forward Erica “Bird” McCall. Freshman forward Kaylee Johnson was the other starter.

Freshman guard Taylor Rooks was in street clothes, but the other 14 players were available. Eleven saw action.

However, most of the heavy lifting on scoring was done by Lili with a career-high 28 points in a team-high 43 minutes

and Amber with 15 in 29 minutes. Amber’s time was limited by fouls. She fouled out in OT after deliberately touching a Texas player in a move designed to give Stanford a chance to get the ball back.

No one else got into double figures. The closest was senior forward Bonnie Samuelson with 8.

Cold shooting hurts

Cold shooting was a major factor in the loss. Stanford was 35.9 percent for the game, compared with 48.5 percent for Texas.

Stanford came away with seven 3’s – three by Lili, two by Bonnie and one each by sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson and freshman Brittany McPhee. However, the team had lofted 27 shots from the arc, giving it only a 25.9 percent success rate.

Texas made four of 11 3’s for 36.4 percent.

Texas had its biggest advantage with 34 points in the paint compared with Stanford’s 24.
Its post players consistently outmuscled their Cardinal counterparts, while its perimeter players limited Stanford guards’ drives to the basket. In short, it played better defense than Stanford did.

Free-throw shooting at 73.7 percent

Stanford’s free-throw shooting improved to 73.7 percent compared with 65.6 percent against UConn, but that still meant that the team scored 28 points on at least 38 tries. Texas was 17 of 23. Texas had 30 fouls, Stanford 21 in this closely called game.

Once again Kaylee was a major contributor on the boards with 13 rebounds, but she scored only 7 points, 5 of them on free throws.

The official crowd count was 3,674.

The usual student contingent of the Tree, band, Dollies and cheerleaders was on hand. Not only does the Tree have a new look with his multi-colored palm fronds, but he knows some of the Dollies’ routines.

Something else new this season: Instead of the traditional handshakes before tipoff, the starters fist-bump.

Next on the agenda is New Mexico in Albuquerque at 6 p.m. PST Monday, Nov. 24, before three games in the three days after Thanksgiving at a tournament in Honolulu.

November 19, 2014

Just one word – Wow!

It was an unforgettable sight. Hundreds of Stanford students poured out of the stands and onto the floor of Maples Pavilion after the final buzzer sounded, signaling the women’s basketball team’s hard-fought, overtime win over UConn, 88-86, on Nov. 17.

The victory not only ended the two-time defending national champion’s 47-game winning streak, it also extended the Cardinal’s home winning streak to 28. The student celebrants included former guard Toni Kokenis, ’14, who was on the team when it ended UConn’s record 90-game win streak at Maples in 2010. Now she’s studying for her master’s degree in sociology at Stanford.

With 2.6 seconds left in OT and the Cardinal ahead by 2 after a successful free throw by sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson, UConn had the ball under the Stanford basket. Sophomore guard Briana Roberson wisely restrained her joyful teammates on the bench so that they wouldn’t rush onto the floor and risk a possible penalty.

UConn couldn’t advance the ball fast enough to get a shot

and now it was time for the players to celebrate

with hugs, hugs and more hugs.

The official attendance of 5,367 included a bloc of several dozen UConn fans in the general admission section behind the Huskies bench.

All players in uniform

All 15 Stanford players were in uniform, but only 10 played. Nine accounted for the lion’s share of minutes.

The starting lineup featured senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guard Lili Thompson, senior forward Taylor Greenfield, freshman forward Kaylee Johnson and sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Amber amassed the most minutes, 42, but sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson came off the bench to provide 40 minutes and some tough defense.

When it came to scoring, Lili led both teams with 24 points, followed by Amber with 17 and senior forward Bonnie Samuelson with 14.

Game stays close

UConn came out of the starting gate with the first 4 points, but Bird put Stanford on the scoreboard with two free throws. UConn stayed ahead by relatively small margins throughout the first half, which ended with the Huskies ahead 40-38.

The story was much the same through most of the second half with UConn’s largest margin, 10 points, coming with 6:32 to go. By the 1:19 mark, however, Stanford lagged by only 3 points, 68-71. With 12 seconds to go, UConn’s edge was still 3 points, 74-77.

That’s when the Cardinal got possession, passing the ball to Amber, who made a game-tying 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

The score seesawed during the five-minute OT. With slightly more than a minute and a half to go, Amber with a basket, Bonnie with two FTs and Karlie with one FT made the crucial points that sealed the win and set off the celebration.

Free throws a concern

As the game hung in the balance at the half, several fans commented that if the team had hit more of free throws, the score would be in its favor. In 11 tries at the charity stripe, the team collected only 6 points, for 54.5 percent. Since some of those tries were 1-and- 1’s, presumably there could have been more points if the first shots had been made.

Things improved somewhat in the second half with the team going 8 for 13, or 61.5 percent, but the OT tally of 7 for 8, or 87.5 percent, was crucial to the win. For the game, the team made 65.6 percent of its FTs. UConn wasn’t much better, 67.9 percent.

Stanford made 7 of 14 3’s, or 50 percent. Bonnie had two. Taylor, Amber, Lili, Karlie and Briana each had one. Bonnie’s first 3, her first of the season, came at the 3:53 mark in the first half. She followed with another at 1:44 to put Stanford ahead 36-35.

Stanford outrebounded UConn 41-37. Kaylee snared 13 to lead both teams. Amber and Karlie were next with five each for Stanford.

With the game so close and the crowd so big, the atmosphere at Maples was electric and loud. My ears were still ringing long after I got home.

Coaches rank Stanford No. 1

In the aftermath of the game, the USA Today coaches poll came out the next day, Nov. 18, and pushed Stanford up to No. 1 from No. 6 while bumping UConn down to No. 4 from No. 1. Notre Dame was ranked second, followed by South Carolina at third. Texas, Stanford’s next opponent, was 13th.

Before the game started, a men’s barbershop quartet, Motley Q, gave a fine rendition of the national anthem.

Three men and a woman from Oakland-based Showtime Dunk provided halftime entertainment with their athletic runs to the basket, aided by a trampoline and large cushion.

Betty Ann is back after marriage

And one final note: Announcer Betty Ann Boeving made a most welcome return after missing the first three games. She had a good excuse, though. On Oct. 11 she was married to Bob Hagenau before they went on their honeymoon to New Zealand and Fiji.

She said she is using his last name and intended to make some reference to it at the end of the game, but all the excitement apparently changed her mind.

In the meantime, Stanford players and fans don’t have a lot of time to bask in euphoria. Texas comes to Maples at 6 p.m. Nov. 20.

After that, the team takes to the road, playing at New Mexico on Nov. 24. After that, it’s on to Honolulu for three games in the three days immediately following Thanksgiving before a two-week break for Dead Week and finals.

November 17, 2014

Bright spots in season opener

While the game was far from perfect, fans of Stanford women’s basketball had reason for optimism as Boston College fell 96-63 in the season-opening game Nov. 14 at Maples Pavilion.

The win wasn’t quite as easy as the score might indicate, especially in the first half, when the Cardinal went to the locker room with only a 49-40 lead. Because of lapses in Stanford’s perimeter defense, BC unleashed nine 3’s, while the Cardinal managed only three.

With 6:16 to go in the first half, the score was just 30-29 in Stanford’s favor following a series of BC 3’s. Head coach Tara VanDerveer called a time out, but shortly thereafter, BC popped in another to make the score 34-32 with 4:55 to go.

Halftime adjustments pay off

Thanks to the necessary adjustments at halftime, though, BC hit no more 3’s, while Stanford added four to its total of seven.

Sophomore guard Lili Thompson had three for the game, followed by sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson with two. Senior forward Taylor Greenfield and freshman guard Brittany McPhee added one each.

Brittany’s trey marked the first official points of her Stanford career. She added a free throw to give her 4 points in nine minutes. She has recently returned after recovering from a foot problem.

Stanford had been outrebounded in the first half, too, but the second half went better, leading to a final total of 38 rebounds for Stanford and 27 for BC. Senior guard Amber Orrange had nine, while junior forward/center Tess Picknell had six in seven minutes of action.

Taylor, Amber and Lili were in the starting lineup along with sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson. All five logged double-digit minutes, led by Amber with 29.

Also getting double-digit playing time were Karlie, sophomore forward Kailee Johnson and redshirt junior guard Alex Green.

Everyone gets in on the fun

All 15 players were dressed, and all had played by the time the final buzzer sounded. The starters were on the bench to stay with just over seven minutes to go.

In keeping with a tradition in which one player is featured on the video board at each home game, Taylor was the season’s initial honoree as her parents observed from the family section.

Finishing with 10 points, Taylor showed more offensive aggressiveness than in some past games. She also displayed defensive leadership, often directing her teammates to appropriate spots.

Except for the perimeter lapses in the first half, the players seemed more aggressive on defense, making concerted efforts to steal the ball. Their efforts paid off in 11 steals. Amber and Lili had three each, followed by Bird and Kailee with two each and Alex with one. BC had only three steals.

The steals helped the team amass 12 fast-break points, compared with 2 for BC. BC had 17 turnovers, while Stanford had 15.

Stanford also led in blocking with six -- three by Kailee, two by Bird and one by Kaylee.

Lili, Bird tally career-high points

When it came to scoring, Lili’s 26 points and Bird’s 16 were both career highs. Amber had 11 points to go with a team-high six assists.

Among boosters in the crowd of 3,278 were the band, cheerleaders, Dollies and Tree as well as pairs of students waving red Stanford flags during timeouts. One of those students in the second half was an enthusiastically cheered man in a wheelchair.

Because the men’s basketball team was scheduled to play at 9 p.m., everyone had to leave Maples. However, fans with ticket stubs to the women’s game were given free general admission seats.

In the meantime, the ever-energetic band entertained fans outside.

While this game was a nice way to start the season, the new-look Cardinal with its emphasis on speedy guard play will face an acid test at 6 p.m. Nov. 17. That’s when the team will play host to two-time defending national champion UConn.

November 10, 2014

Big sis prevails in sibling matchup

Rita VanDerveer, visiting from Colorado, wore a gray sweatshirt diplomatically emblazoned with Stanford on the first line and UC San Diego on the second at an exhibition game between the two women’s basketball teams Nov. 8 at Maples Pavilion.

That way she could show support for both her oldest daughter, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, and her youngest daughter, UCSD head coach Heidi VanDerveer. It was Tara who guided the winning team with the Cardinal winning 74-51.

The two sisters have a close family and basketball relationship, with Heidi usually serving as an unofficial consultant as the Cardinal go through tournaments. Therefore, she’s familiar with Tara’s coaching style and players.

UCSD challenges Stanford

Heidi has a good team, one that gave Stanford a more challenging game than the previous exhibition against Vanguard, when the score was 105-50.

UCSD got 27 points from 3-pointers, more than half of its final score. Miranda Seto of Redwood City connected on four toward her total of 24 points.

Stanford benefited from six 3’s. Sophomore guard Lili Thompson and senior forward Taylor Greenfield each had two. Two seniors, guard Amber Orrange and forward Bonnie Samuelson, had one each.

The afternoon started with the addition of the band, Dollies and new-look Tree. This one sports multi-colored palm fronds, perhaps a salute to the scenic Palm Drive approach to campus.

The national anthem was delightfully harmonious, thanks to Counterpoint, a student vocal ensemble of women.

Senior forward Erica Payne was the only one of the team’s 15 players not in uniform. Tara said after the game that she had a knee problem.

The starting lineup fielded Lili, Amber, sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson, freshman forward Kaylee Johnson and sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall. Karlie scored her team’s first point with a free throw.

Brittany gets first taste of competition

As Tara continued to look at various combinations of players, she first inserted Taylor and freshman guard Brittany McPhee, who was seeing her first collegiate action after rehabbing from a foot problem.

Brittany scored her first collegiate points with two successful free throws with less than a half-minute left in the first half. She finished with 4 points in nine minutes. Tara said after the game that she had been playing full-court for only three days.

Others who came off the bench during the first half were redshirt junior guard Alex Green, Bonnie and sophomore guard Briana Roberson.

Four players finished in double figures – Bird with 18, Taylor with 16, Amber with 11 and Lili with 10. Amber had 12 rebounds for the only double-double. Bird had five of the team’s 12 blocks, while Kaylee had three to go with her 12 rebounds. She and Taylor each had two of the team’s seven steals.

The first half ended with the score at 37-25. UCSD pulled within 3 points during the second half, but Stanford clamped down to seal the 23-point victory.

During the game’s final minutes, Stanford got the ball out of bounds under its own basket with only 2 seconds left on the shot clock. Tara called a time out to call a play. The ball went to junior forward/center Tess Picknell, who easily scored, much to the delight of the team and fans.

Fans meet team Behind the Bench

The Behind the Bench after the game started with associate head coach Amy Tucker telling the fans that Tara would join them after visiting with Triton players in their locker room.

Amy then introduced the three freshmen – Kaylee, Brittany and guard Taylor Rooks. “They all did exceptionally well in summer school both academically and athletically,” Amy said. She noted that Brittany, who comes from Normandy Park, Wash., has a twin sister, Jordan, who’s playing basketball at Seattle Pacific University.

Tara then took the microphone to say that UCSD “did a great job.”

Before introducing the rest of the team, she noted that Kaylee is “doing a great job on the boards.”

Bird “has big shoes to fill” with the graduation of leading post scorers Chiney Ogwumike and Mikaela Ruef. Karlie “is back 100 percent” after dealing with an injury. Sophomore forward Kailee Johnson (no relation to Kaylee) is working hard.

After introducing the other sophomore guards, Lili, who “hit some big shots,” and Briana, who’s “one of the hardest working guards,” she went on to Tess, congratulating her for “a nice out-of-bounds play.” As she continues to improve, she’ll contend more, Tara said.

Erica, Amber, Jasmine serve as captains

“Taylor (G.) had a great game today,” Tara said, moving on to the six seniors. Erica, a team captain, is “a leader invested in our whole team.”

Another captain, redshirt junior (senior academically) guard Jasmine Camp is “a vocal leader of our team.” Amber, the other captain and “an excellent defender,” puts in a lot of time outside of practice and has “real quick hands.”

Alex “prides herself on being a great defender,” Tara said. Overall, “we’re quicker, more guard-oriented,” she said before excusing the players and introducing Heidi.

“I was impressed with how her team played,” Tara said, adding that she was pleased no one was hurt on either team.

Heidi said, “We knew everything because I’ve been watching Tara for 30 years. You guys are spoiled in a good way.”

“Our team is a very young team,” Tara countered. “Their team came out very motivated and very prepared,” while “I wanted to play a lot of different people.”

“We’re trying to find different combinations” she said later. “We gave them too many easy baskets.”

Still, “it’s a win-win” because both teams learn, Heidi said.

She verified published reports that she had twice refused requests to provide Stanford-UCSD game tapes to UConn, Stanford’s Nov. 17 opponent.

Expressing her love for Heidi, Tara said they attended hoops camps together, and “we talk all the time.”

Heidi responded: “Tara’s the biggest influence on my life. She says things just to help me get better.”

November 4, 2014

New season opens with first taste of competition

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a new Stanford women’s basketball season.

It starts with the donning of my red apparel – from red earrings and a red top right down to red socks. Next it’s off to the Farm and the familiar chime of tickets being scanned by friendly ushers in red vests.

Then into the Maples Pavilion, where familiar faces are seen in their customary spots, ready to cheer the Cardinal.

In the case of the 2014-15 season, the beginning came Nov. 2 with an exhibition game against Vanguard in the freshly painted facility. Because it was an exhibition game that doesn’t apply to the team’s season record, a few elements, especially the band, cheerleaders, Dollies and Tree, were missing.

Cardinal win 105-50 against Vanguard

Likewise, the crowd was relatively sparse, an official 2,605. Probably some fans were lured by the 49ers’ game against the Rams. However, those fans didn’t have nearly as much fun as the Maples crowd, which saw the Cardinal win 105-50, while the Niners lost 13-10.

To give Vanguard its due, it’s not a Division 1 team, only 10 players were available, and it had played (and lost to) Cal the afternoon before. Nevertheless, it was a plucky team that didn’t quit despite the odds.

All 15 Stanford players were introduced and were in uniform. Fourteen saw action before the final buzzer. Only freshman guard Brittany McPhee, recovering from a foot problem, remained on the bench.

2 seniors, 2 sophomores, 1 freshman make the start

The starting lineup featured two seniors – point guard Amber Orrange and forward Taylor Greenfield. They were joined by two sophomores – guard Lili Thompson and forward Erica “Bird” McCall. Freshman forward Kaylee Johnson got the other starting nod and took the opening jump.

Taylor opened the scoring with a basket and free throw. Playing 13 minutes, she finished with 9 points and two rebounds.

Lili was a virtual scoring machine with 26 points in 27 minutes. She also contributed two rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal.

Sophomore Karlie Samuelson, who was first off the bench, added 17 points plus a rebound and two assists in 19 minutes.

Bird with 15 points and 10 rebounds and Kaylee with 12 points and a team-high 16 rebounds were both in double figures.

Karlie was joined off the bench at the 15:54 mark by sophomore Kailee Johnson. Also coming off the bench during the first half were redshirt junior guard Alex Green, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and sophomore guard Briana Roberson.

First half ends 52-22 in Stanford’s favor

The score was 52-22 at the half, thanks to speedy play and a tough defense that sometimes included full-court presses.

The same five starters took to the court for the second half, but Bird made an early exit after apparently tweaking her ankle. After going to the locker room, she soon returned and appeared to be walking normally, but stayed on the bench.

Seeing their first action of the season during the second half were redshirt junior guard Jasmine Camp, senior forward Erica Payne, freshman guard Taylor Rooks and junior forward/center Tess Picknell.

Tess, who received enthusiastic cheers from the crowd, finished with 3 points and was third on the team with seven rebounds in her 10 minutes.

Jasmine had the honor of upping the score to 100 with a free throw at the 3:47 mark.

A few minutes after the final buzzer sounded, the players tossed the coveted victory balls before exiting the court.

Team makes 33.3 percent of 3’s

The team made seven of its 21 3-point attempts, or 33.3 percent. Karlie had three, Lili had two, and Alex and Jasmine had one each.

Free-throw shooting was respectable in the first half, with eight of nine, or 88.9 percent, going through the hoop. Accuracy was down to 57.1 percent in the second half for a game average of 69.6 percent.

After the game, most fans seemed to agree that Kaylee was impressive in her freshman debut.

Although it’s far too early to tell how this team will fare during the regular season, it seems that head coach Tara VanDerveer’s new offensive strategy, which focuses on the team’s speedy guards, is headed in the right direction.

Note: Photos are by Baranduin Briggs. See more Vanguard game photos in FBC FanPix.