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.”

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