December 30, 2015

Fine farewell to '15

The Stanford women’s basketball team completed its pre-conference schedule by defeating Chattanooga 73-30 at home on Dec. 28.

It was the team’s third consecutive rout at home, following victories of 93-38 over Cornell on Dec. 19 and 83-41 over Cal State Bakersfield on Dec. 22.

This most recent win improved the Cardinal’s record to 10-2 and represented payback against a team to which it had lost 54-46 a year ago in Tennessee.

Once again stingy defense was given much credit for the victory. Chattanooga was limited to 21.1 percent shooting, while the Cardinal shot a more respectable 42.9 percent.

Everyone gets in on the fun

And once again the lopsided score gave all available players a chance to get into the game. The only missing player was sophomore guard Brittany McPhee, who was in street clothes.

As she has in several previous games, head coach Tara VanDerveer tapped the team’s 

Tara instructs the team during a timeout.
five juniors to start: guards Briana Roberson, Lili Thompson and Karlie Samuelson along with forwards Kailee Johnson and Erica “Bird” McCall.

Because Brittany was unavailable, the coach used eight players instead of nine for the standard rotation. Coming in quickly off the bench were sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson, freshman forward Alanna Smith and freshman guard Marta Sniezek.

Band, Dollies, Tree return

With the return of the band, Dollies and Tree –- absent for the holiday break –-the atmosphere was livelier.

Motley Q, a men’s barbershop quartet, got things going by singing the national anthem as written, the way sounds best.

Bird hit the game’s first basket at the 8:46 mark, and it was off to the races. Chattanooga didn’t make its first basket until the 7:27 mark, making the score 7-2.

The score continued to widen with the first quarter ending 21-9, the half 40-18, the third 51-25 and the final buzzer at 73-30.

The final difference would have been even greater if a Chattanooga player hadn’t sunk a desperation 3-point shot with just fractions of a second left on the clock.

Before that, the Cardinal went on a 22-0 run that started in the third and continued into the fourth, capped by the first of senior forward/center Tess Picknell’s two baskets late in the fourth.

According to Stanford Athletics, “The Cardinal has held 11 of 12 opponents this season to below 40 percent shooting, five below 30 percent and one below 20 percent. Stanford is now limiting its foes to convert at only a 30.6 percent clip, the second-best mark in the country.”

Bird has 18 points

Bird led all scoring with 18 points to go with eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals in 29 minutes.

Also playing 29 minutes, Lili had 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal.

Karlie was the only other Cardinal in double figures, recording 10 points, three rebounds,

Karlie goes for the basket.

four assists and one steal in a team-high 32 minutes.

Indicative of its defense, the team had eight blocks and 11 steals.  Kaylee was the biggest disrupter with four steals to go with 8 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes.

Similarly, the team had only nine turnovers, while Chattanooga had 21. However, free-throw success was a mediocre 61.5 percent, and 3-point shooting was 22.7 percent – five of 22. Bri made all three of her 3’s. Karlie made two of her 10.

Jeanette, Mel watch the game

During the third quarter, the video board showed Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, in the stands. With her were her mother, Cindy, and Kerry Blake, ’11, who was the team’s manager for four years. She shot Kerrycam videos of some of the team’s travels.

During the class of 2011’s four years at Stanford, the team went 63-0 at Maples. Afterward Jeanette said she plans to continue playing for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever and to get married in July.

Yet another 2011 grad at the game was Melanie Murphy, who was spotted upstairs during the half. She’s coaching the varsity girls basketball team at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton. Her team has compiled a 7-1 record, with its only loss coming recently against Menlo-Atherton High, coached by Markisha Coleman, ’07.

The Cardinal will start Pac-12 play with a trip to the desert to play Arizona at 2 p.m. Jan. 2 and Arizona State at 5 p.m. Jan. 4. Both games will be televised by the Pac-12 network.

Photos by Hector Garcia-Molina, Stanford Athletics 

December 23, 2015

Second rout in a row

After coasting to a wide margin of victory over Cornell three days earlier, the Stanford women’s basketball team staged a near-repeat performance by defeating Cal State Bakersfield 83-41 at home on Dec. 22.

The unique aspect of this game was that the Roadrunners are coached by Greg McCall, father of junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Father and daughter had some moments in front of the crowd and Bird’s teammates before the game. Greg and head coach Tara VanDerveer presented her with a USA Basketball plaque honoring her performance in the World University Games in South Korea during the summer.

Bird holds the plaque presented by her father, Greg, and Tara.

Bird was co-captain of the gold-winning USA team, aiding its efforts by averaging 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.

By the time the final buzzer sounded against her dad’s team, she had led her Stanford team with 15 points and 10 rebounds, her eighth double-double of the season. In 22 minutes on the court, she also had a team-high four blocks along with one steal. One noteworthy aspect of her scoring is that she made some mid-range jumpers, a relatively new addition to her repertoire.

Bench players contribute 42 points

As has been true in recent games, Bird was in the starting lineup along with the team’s other four juniors: forward Kailee Johnson and guards Lili Thompson, Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson. Together they accounted for 41 points. Bench players added 42.

Coming off the bench first were the other four players in the usual rotation: guards Marta Sniezek, freshman, and Brittany McPhee, sophomore; and forwards Alanna Smith, freshman, and Kaylee Johnson, sophomore.

As a team, everyone played at least five minutes, and no one played more than Karlie’s 25.

The score was 18-12 after the first quarter, 42-18 at the half and 62-33 after the third. All of the starters were on the bench with slightly more than 3 minutes to go in the third.

Everyone except freshman guard Alexa Romano scored at least 1 point, but she had one block in her 5 minutes.

Alanna, Karlie, Kaylee in double figures with Bird

Close behind Bird in scoring was Alanna with 14 points plus three rebounds and two blocks. Also in double figures were Karlie with 13, plus five rebounds, two assists and a block; and Kaylee with 11, plus seven rebounds and an assist. This was Kaylee’s third consecutive game with at least 10 points.

Karlie made three of the team’s six 3-pointers, followed by Alanna with two and Lili with one.

Stanford dominated on the boards with 61 rebounds, compared with CSB’s 36. For the game, Stanford shot 50.8 percent, CSB 19.1 percent.

The team had 12 blocks, tying for second with three other games in Stanford single-game history. The record is 13, tallied against Arizona State in 1989.

Main rotation players cheer for bench players like Tess.

Tess has 4 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks in 7 minutes

Blocking was led by Bird’s four and senior forward/center Tess Picknell’s three in her 7 minutes. Tess, who doesn’t always get much playing time, also scored 4 points and had six rebounds. When she made her first basket at the 5:17 mark of the fourth quarter, the crowd and her teammates erupted into cheers.

While Stanford dominated in nearly every statistical category, two stats were less impressive. One was the 14 turnovers, compared with CSB’s 11.

The second was free throws. CSB made 10 of 12, or 83.3 percent. Stanford made 13 of 33, or 39.4 percent. Freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee made only two of her 10 shots at the line, but she had 4 points and four rebounds in 5 minutes.

After tossing the victory balls and showering, the players were free to begin their short holiday break. They’ll be back at Maples to take on Chattanooga at 7 p.m. Dec. 28 to complete the non-conference schedule.

Photos by Stanford Athletics

December 20, 2015

Cakewalk over Cornell

With everyone playing at least nine minutes and no one playing more than 19 minutes, the Stanford women’s basketball team easily defeated visiting Cornell 93-38 on Dec. 19.

With no starters taller than 6 feet and only 10 available players, the visitors were at a disadvantage right from the opening tip. On Stanford’s first possession, junior guard Lili Thompson launched a 3-pointer that kept the Cardinal ahead for the entire game, except for an early, 41-second tie.

Lili and her four classmates –- guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson along with forwards Kailee Johnson and Erica “Bird” McCall –- started for the Cardinal. Less than 4 minutes into the first quarter, the starters had racked up a 12-3 lead on 100 percent shooting.

It wasn’t long before the next four players –- freshman forward Alanna Smith, sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson, sophomore guard Brittany McPhee and freshman guard Marta Sniezek -- in the usual nine-player rotation sprang into action and continued to widen the lead.

Also coming off the bench in the first quarter were red-shirt senior guard Alex Green and senior forward/center 
Tess Picknell.
Alex plays tough defense, with Tess behind her. (Bill Dally, Stanford Photo)

Still-speedy Alex plays 14 minutes

Although Alex had seen very limited action in earlier games, this game marked her first significant playing time since recuperating from injuries. Although she didn’t score, she contributed a rebound, an assist and a steal in 14 minutes. Moreover, she seemed to be as speedy as she was before her injuries.

The first half ended with Stanford up 53-13.

The starters returned to open the third quarter, but all of them were done for the afternoon about midway through that period, which ended with a 72-28 advantage.

By early in the fourth quarter, all 14 players had gotten the nod from head coach Tara VanDerveer. In the meantime, those who had gone to the bench cheered loudly for their teammates.

One of their loudest cheers came when freshman guard Alexa Romano, who has played sparingly, made her first basket. She finished with 2 points, two rebounds and one rebound in 12 minutes.

For the first time since a road win over Oregon State in February, five players finished in double figures. Bird and Alanna had 12 each, Karlie and Lili 11 each and Kaylee 10. Almost there were Bri, Brittany and senior guard Kiran Lakhian with 9 each.

Kiran makes 75 percent of her 3’s

Kiran’s 9 points in her career-high 10 minutes came from shooting 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point line. Adding to the team’s total of 10 3’s were Karlie and Lili with three each and Bri with one.

Kaylee’s 10 points and team-leading 11 rebounds represented her first double-double of the season. It was the sixth of her career and her first in the past 23 games. She also had three assists, three blocks and a steal in 16 minutes.

Stanford dominated the stat line, leading 54-28 on rebounds, 20-9 on assists, 6-0 on blocks, 7-4 on steals and 49.2 - 22.6 percent in shooting.

The advantage applied to free throws, too, with Stanford making 21 of 24, or 87.5 percent, while Cornell made four of 12, or 33.3 percent. Stanford had eight turnovers, Cornell 11.

Next up: CSU Bakersfield comes calling at 2 p.m. Dec. 22. The team then gets a short break before returning to host Chattanooga at 7 p.m. Dec. 28 to conclude 2015 and the non-conference schedule. 

December 18, 2015

Victory over the Lady Vols

“We love winning.” With those three words, associate head coach Amy Tucker summed up the feelings of Stanford women’s basketball fans following the team’s 69-55 victory over visiting Tennessee on Dec. 16.

It was a win with much to savor, such as the fact that except for the Lady Vols’ first basket and a tie early in the first quarter, Stanford led for the entire game.

The score was 17-11 after the first quarter and 35-20 at the half. The spread grew to 21 points early in the third quarter, which ended with the Cardinal ahead 48-30.

The visitors made a run in the fourth quarter, twice closing to within 7 points, but each time the Cardinal made clutch plays to widen the margin and clinch the win.

Juniors start the game

The team’s five juniors were the starters, with Lili Thompson, Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson as the guards and Kailee Johnson and Erica “Bird” McCall as the forwards.

Four other players subbed in: Freshmen Marta Sniezek at guard and Alanna Smith at forward; and sophomores Brittany McPhee at guard and Kaylee Johnson at forward.

All nine players scored, led by Lili with 19, Bird with 14 and Kaylee with 10. Bird also led in rebounding, snaring 10 of the team’s 42, followed by Lili with seven and Kaylee with five. The visitors had 31.

Kailee is introduced as a starter.
This game was Kaylee’s best this season, a hopeful sign from the player who had led the team in rebounding last year. “I think she’s back for good,” Amy said after the game.

Marta also got the crowd’s attention. Playing 29 minutes, she had 9 points, three rebounds, two steals and four assists. Her assist total matched Lili’s.

The team’s other five players were available and cheering from the bench.

Among the crowd of 3,768 was a smallish band, reflective of Stanford’s holiday break, along with a palm version of the Tree. Also on hand was the Rose Bowl-bound football team, which cheered loudly from the north bleachers before parading onto the floor with its Pac-12 championship trophy at halftime.

Krista, Brooke, Jayne visit the team

Three WBB alums were there, too: Krista Rappahahn Birnie, ’06; Brooke Smith, ’07; and Jayne Appel, ’10. They visited the team in the locker room after the game. Jayne’s parents and fiancĂ© were with her.

Although Stanford outscored and outrebounded the Lady Vols, it also recorded 20 turnovers, compared with the visitors’ 14. Tennessee held the edge in free-throw percentage, 70.6-63.3.

The visitors held their hosts to a mere two 3-pointers, one by Lili and one by Karlie. Points in the paint – 40 – helped to overcome the lack of production from behind the arc.

Black panels replace white championship banners

Fans who complained about the loss of the white championship banners that had adorned Maples got to see their replacements in three corners.

Women’s basketball is in its usual spot in the southeast corner. The information appears on three wall-mounted black panels.  The words are in red, the numbers in white.

The first panel reads STANFORD WOMEN’S BASKETBALL. The second lists conference championships. The third lists national championships and Final Four appearances.

Women’s volleyball in the northeast corner and men’s basketball panels in the northwest corner have the same design.

Alanna, Alexa introduced at Behind the Bench

Amy opened the Behind the Bench session after the game by introducing Alanna and a fellow freshman, guard Alexa Romano.

Even though Alanna is a long way from her home in Melbourne, Australia, she has relatives in Ohio and will spend her holiday break with them.

Her father, whom she credited for drilling her on her hook shot, will visit next week. He and her uncle played professionally, and her uncle played in the Olympics.

Her main adjustment to playing in America was learning new terminology. Otherwise, “the fundamentals are pretty much the same,” she said.

As for academics, she graduated from high school in December, so she had eight months off before facing the rigors of college.

Unlike most of her teammates, she didn’t go to summer school because she was in Russia playing for Australia in the U19 world championship. Her team lost to Russia in the semi-finals but beat Spain for the bronze medal. She was one of five all-star players for the tournament. Overall, it was “an awesome experience,” she said.

Alexa’s relatives attend game

Alexa, who comes from New Mexico, noted that her parents, brother and a friend were at the game. She said her biggest adjustment to college playing was “the pace of the game.” She also said, “I’ve never played with such great,  smart people” before.

She’s working on “running out of my lane on offense” and being “a more disruptive defender.”

Commenting on the game, Amy said, ‘We played really well for three quarters” against a team that had pressed for nearly 40 minutes.

“We’re a work in progress,” but she said she’s pleased to see different players contributing.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer said essentially the same thing. “We’re very excited about it,” she added. “Any time you beat Tennessee and you’re Stanford, it’s a great night.”

“We (just) have to keep our focus,” she concluded.

Next up: Cornell at 2 p.m. Dec. 19 and Cal State Bakersfield at 2 p.m. Dec. 22, both at home.

Photos from Stanford Athletics

November 26, 2015

Turnovers overturn team

Twenty-six turnovers proved costly as the Stanford women’s basketball team fell 61-58 to Santa Clara at home on Nov. 23.

Santa Clara capitalized on those turnovers to the tune of 24 points. Conversely, the Cardinal scored 8 points off Santa Clara’s 13 turnovers –- a difference of 16 points right there.

Guards were responsible for most of the turnovers, with junior Lili Thompson committing six. Junior Briana Roberson, sophomore Brittany McPhee and freshman Marta Sniezek had four each. Junior Karlie Samuelson had one.

Forwards accounted for the rest, with freshman Alanna Smith tallying three, and junior Erica “Bird” McCall and sophomore Kaylee Johnson two each.

Lili leads all scoring with 21 points

On the other hand, Lili had a game-high 21 points. Her only teammate in double figures was Bird with 12. She also had 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.

Bird goes on the defensive. (Santa Clara photo)
Ten 3-pointers accounted for just over half of the team’s points. Lili had five, while Bri and Karlie had two each and Brittany had one. The team attempted a total of 32 3’s, perhaps because Santa Clara’s zone defense limited guard penetration or passes to the posts.

Stanford led Santa Clara in rebounds, 45-43; assists, 13-9; and blocks, 7-2. Santa Clara led with 15 steals compared with Stanford’s five.

Thirteen players were available, and 10 got into the game. Junior forward Kailee Johnson was unavailable for the second straight game. Along with Brittany, the starters –- Kaylee, Bird, Lili, Bri and Karlie –- accounted for the bulk of the minutes, although Karlie was limited to 21, fewest of the starters, because of foul problems.

The first quarter was a low-scoring affair, ending in an 8-8 tie. The second quarter wasn’t much better, ending in a 22-22 tie.

Shot-clock problems delay the game

That second quarter was plagued by shot-clock problems that stopped action at the 4:06 mark. After a delay, new equipment was installed. By then it was 7:50 p.m. in a game that had started at 7 p.m.

The shot clock acted up again with slightly more than three minutes to go and again with less than three minutes to go and Stanford behind 17-19. By then the Cardinal had begun full-court pressure. The team stayed with it for the rest of the quarter, but not for the rest of the game.

The third quarter ended at 8:41 p.m. with Stanford behind 33-41. That’s when some people left.

The score got tighter in the final quarter, but not enough to pull out the win. The game ended shortly after 9 p.m., making it longer than usual.

Attendance was 2,668, including the band and a palm version of the Tree.

Uniforms, entertainment honor Native American Heritage

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, the team wore turquoise uniforms with red lettering. The warmup T-shirts were white with an Indian profile in front.

According to Stanford Athletics, “turquoise represents harmony, friendship and fellowship in Native American culture.”

Nike provided the uniforms as part of its N7 program, a “longtime commitment and mission to inspire and enable 2 million Native American and Aboriginal youth in North America to participate in sport and physical activity. The N7 philosophy embraces the Native philosophy: ‘In every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations,’ ” Stanford Athletics says.

In keeping with the evening’s theme, halftime entertainment was provided by two Native American dance troupes.

The first was Calpulli Tonalehqueh, an Aztec dance and cultural diffusion group based in San Jose. The seven-member troupe included two drummers and five barefoot dancers, all wearing headdresses with long feathers.

The second was Native Boogie and Beats, a group that celebrates “the beauty and pageantry of Native American social dance and singing styles commonly viewed at Pow Wows,” according to the website for radio KTNN, which bills itself as “the voice of the Navajo Nation.”

This was a larger group with costumed male and female dancers of all ages plus singing drummers in street clothes.

Florida tournament coming next

The team will spend most of Thanksgiving week at the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament in Estero, Fla. Cardinal action starts at 10:30 a.m. PST Nov. 27 against Missouri State.

Other schools in the tournament are Dayton, Maine, Louisville, Marist, Louisiana State and Purdue. Go to to view the brackets. All times there are EST.

November 22, 2015

Cardinal settle the Colonials

Returning home from a successful road trip, the #15 Stanford women’s basketball team extended its season-opening record to 3-0 with an 84-63 defeat of #22 George Washington University on Nov. 21.

After trailing 15-19 to end the first quarter, the Cardinal outscored the Colonials 31-11 in the second to enter the halftime break with a 46-30 lead. The team never looked back after that, ending the third quarter with another 16-point advantage, 61-45.

Lili gets her first start this season. (Stanford Athletics)
Head coach Tara VanDerveer altered the starting lineup, inserting junior guard Lili Thompson in place of freshman guard Marta Sniezek. Lili immediately opened Stanford’s scoring with a 3-pointer, the first of nine for the team. She went on to score two more 3’s to finish the game with a team-high 21 points in 33 minutes. She also had five rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Also scoring double figures were starting junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall with 18, starting junior guard Karlie Samuelson with 17 and, off the bench, freshman forward Alanna Smith with 10.

Bird, Kaylee have 10 rebounds each

Bird and starting sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson had 10 rebounds each.

Karlie’s 17 points included 12 from four 3-pointers. Also scoring 3’s were two freshmen, Alanna and guard Alexa Romano, with one each.

Tara stayed mainly with an eight-player rotation: the four starters already named plus junior guard Briana Roberson. Playing considerable minutes off the bench were Alanna, Marta and sophomore guard Brittany McPhee.

Coming off the bench when victory was assured were Alexa, senior forward/center Tess Picknell, freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee and senior guard Kiran Lakhian.  Altogether, the bench scored 21 points, compared with GW’s 6.

Alex available for first time this season

Thirteen players were available. They included redshirt senior guard Alex Green, who was in uniform for the first time this season after rehabbing from ACL surgery last season. Junior forward Kailee Johnson was not in uniform.

Since this was the first regular home game, 2,854 fans got their first look at a new lead-up to introduction of the starters. Maples was darkened except for a spotlight on the Stanford logo at center court. This was followed by a new video featuring some highlight plays.

The fan contingent included the band, Tree and Dollies.

Also on hand was Karlie’s sister Bonnie, ’15, with their parents. Bonnie said she’s hoping to become an optometrist. She received a big round of applause when she was shown on the video board during the third quarter.

Clock issues briefly halted the game several times, but they weren’t significant.

GW had only two players in double figures, including 6’4’’ Jonquel Jones. She had 27 points -– including five 3’s -– and 17 rebounds.

Karlie goes up against GW's Jonquel Jones. (Stanford Athletics)
Karlie guards taller player

Despite being 4 inches shorter, Karlie -– known for her defense -- was eventually assigned to guard her. When Jonquel fouled out toward the end of the fourth quarter, the crowd applauded her in recognition of her performance.

Free throws, which hadn’t been a strong point in previous games, were better this time, with the team making 15 of 18, or 83.3 percent. GW made four of six, or 66.7 percent.

Overall, Stanford shot 46.2 percent, compared with GW at 29.4 percent. The taller Colonials had the advantage in rebounds, 50-46.

Stanford had fewer turnovers than GW, 12 vs. 14; and fewer fouls, 10 vs. 14. Stanford had more steals, 9 vs. 5; assists, 16 vs. 6; and blocks, 8 vs. 4.

The game had started at noon, apparently to limit traffic since the Big Game against Cal was slated for 7:30 p.m.

Next up: Santa Clara University at home at 7 p.m. Nov. 23.

November 16, 2015

Third quarter clinches season-opening victory

The Stanford women’s basketball team took to the road to open its new season, defeating UC Davis 74-45 on Nov. 13.

Davis stuck around for the first two quarters, allowing Stanford only an 18-15 edge at the end of the first and a 29-24 edge at the second.

Then whatever head coach Tara VanDerveer said in the locker room during halftime sent the Cardinal into the third quarter totally energized. Davis didn’t score its first point, a free throw, until the 5:49 mark. Its only basket, a 3-pointer, was logged at 3:06.

Press aids third-quarter surge

In the meantime, Stanford’s lead ballooned to 60-32, thanks not only to better shooting but also to fierce defense. That defense was hallmarked by an almost unrelenting press that resulted in turnovers and only 8 points.

For the game, Davis had 21 turnovers, while Stanford had 11. Stanford had 24 points off turnovers, Davis 12.

Thirteen of Stanford’s 14 players were available for action and got into the game. Redshirt senior guard Alex Green, still rehabbing from ACL surgery, didn’t make the trip.

The team gathers in a circle before tip-off.
Starting for the Cardinal were freshman guard Marta Sniezek at the point; junior guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson; sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson and junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

By the end of the half, nine had played. Junior forward Kailee Johnson and sophomore guard Brittany McPhee were first off the bench, followed by freshman forward Alanna Smith and junior guard Lili Thompson.

Stanford fans in the crowd were glad to see Lili, who had worn a boot while sitting out the Nov. 7 exhibition win against Academy of Art University. She played 14 minutes.

When the final buzzer sounded, all 13 players had made at least one positive contribution to the stat line.

Bri scores team-leading 15 points

Bri led the team with 15 points, followed by Alanna with 13, and Bird and Lili with 10 each. Karlie was close behind with 9. Bird led the team with 11 rebounds for a double-double.

Notable among the bench players was freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee, who was last off the bench (she’s reportedly recovering from a sore foot) and played slightly less than three minutes.

She made the most of that time, though, going 2-for-2 from the field and 1-for-1 from the free-throw line to put up 5 points. More exactly, she entered the game at the 2:53 mark and made layups at 2:11 and 1:29, followed by her free throw at 1:28 –- a span of less than 90 seconds.

In all, Stanford’s bench contributed 38 points, slightly less than half the team’s total, compared with 11 points from the Davis bench.

Stanford had 47 rebounds, Davis 45. Stanford had 10 blocks, with two each from Kaylee, Bird, Kailee and senior forward/center Tess Picknell. Alanna and freshman guard Alexa Romano had one each. Davis had two blocks.

Each team had seven steals. Stanford’s came from Marta with two; plus Kaylee, Bird, Bri, Brittany and Kailee with one each.

For the game, Stanford shot a less-than-stellar 38 percent, but Davis lagged at 23.6 percent.

Free-throw shooting needs improvement

Free-throw shooting also was underwhelming, 13 for 21, or 61.9 percent. Davis made 14 of 20, or 70 percent, of its charity tosses.

Continuing on the debit side, Stanford missed many apparently easy layups and made only seven of 24 3-point attempts, or 29.2 percent. Bri accounted for three 3’s, followed by Karlie with two, and Lili and Alanna with one each.

Back on the plus side were the assists, 16 for Stanford, eight for Davis. Marta accounted for four assists; followed by Bri with three; Karlie, Lili and Tess with two each; and Kaylee, Brittany and Kailee with one each.

The game was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., but because the Davis men’s game preceding it went into overtime, it didn’t start until about 8:13. (The men lost, too, 79-71 to North Dakota State.)

Official game attendance was 3,366 with Davis students accounting for the majority. Dozens of Stanford fans filled seats in two sections behind the Stanford bench. Some of them had attended a pre-game mixer sponsored by Stanford Alumni at a nearby sports bar, the Davis Graduate.

According to Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations, the Stanford women began their trip with a four-hour bus ride (heavy traffic) the day before the game. They planned to stay overnight in Sacramento after the game. They then were to fly from Sacramento to Spokane via Seattle on Nov. 14 in preparation for their Nov. 15 game against Gonzaga.

November 9, 2015

Potential on parade

The outcome of the Stanford women’s basketball team’s Nov. 7 exhibition game against Academy of Art University was expected. The Cardinal won 81-48.

Likewise, the 2,479 fans at the game got their expected look at the team’s first outing, albeit against a Division II school.

Most important, the coaches had a chance to see various individuals and combinations to start figuring out how to use their players’ talents.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer went with four returning players and one freshman to start the game, but that freshman, guard Marta Sniezek, played the all-important point position. Joining her on the floor were junior guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson along with sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson and junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Everyone scores, led by Bird

By the end of the game, all 12 available women had played and scored. Bird led the way in both points and rebounds with 19 and 16, respectively, plus two blocks. Karlie was right behind her with 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one block.

Alanna had 12 points

Coming off the bench, freshman forward Alanna Smith chipped in 12 points, nine rebounds, one assist and two blocks.

Redshirt senior guard Alex Green, still recovering from an ACL injury, was unavailable. Also out of action was junior guard Lili Thompson, who had a boot on her right foot. Tara told a gathering in Kissick Auditorium after the game that Lili was held out as a precaution and that she hoped to have Lili back this week.

Maples gets new video board

Fans got their first look at the new, larger video board over center court. It displays a large image of the action along with a smaller space for the score, team fouls and time outs left.

Individual stats – points, fouls and rebounds – are shown on smaller screens in the corners. The southeast and northwest screens display Stanford’s numbers. Visitor numbers appear in the other corners.

These screens replace the championship banners. Instead, teams’ championship lists will be painted on the walls, Tara said. The banners won’t come back.

Fans who aren’t happy about the changes should send their thoughts to Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations, who will forward them to the right place, Tara said.

The band, Dollies and Tree were on hand to cheer the players as they ran onto the court, led by Marta.

Betty Ann (Boeving) Hagenau was back in the announcer’s seat after missing much of last season while recuperating from a bicycle accident.

Karlie and Lili are this year's captains

Karlie, Lili captain the team

The team sported a new look with red sleeveless warmup jerseys. As team captains, Karlie and Lili met with the referees and AAU’s captains at center court before the game.

Bri scored Stanford’s first basket after the team had turned the ball over twice. She was replaced by sophomore guard Brittany McPhee at the 7:50 mark and the score tied 5-5.

Brittany’s minutes were limited because she had been ill during the week, Tara said later.
Nevertheless, she made one of the team’s six 3-pointers. The others came from Karlie with three, while Bri and senior guard Kiran Lakhian had one each.

Next in was junior forward Kailee Johnson for Bird at the 5:23 mark.

The first quarter ended with Stanford ahead 30-18. During that quarter, it appeared that getting the ball to Bird under the basket was a priority.

Getting the starting nod for the second quarter was freshman guard Alexa Romano along with Karlie, Kailee, Bri and Alanna. By the end of that quarter, which ended 51-25, everyone had played except for freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee. She hadn’t scrimmaged in the team’s open practice last month, when Tara said that she had a sore foot.

The third quarter began with the initial starting lineup and ended with the Cardinal up 65-36.

Veterans on the bench cheer for the freshmen 

Freshmen play most of 4th quarter

With the veterans cheering from the bench, much of the fourth quarter featured all four freshmen plus Kiran, who rejoined the team this season after playing her freshman year. “Kiran is very determined,” Tara said after the game. “She wanted to play.”

The lineup shifted slightly throughout the quarter, but ended with the freshmen plus senior forward/center Tess Picknell.

The post-game session began with Eileen talking about the team’s earlier closed scrimmage against the visiting University of Texas at El Paso. The session gave the teams experience with new rules and a chance to run through agreed-upon situations for a half-hour, she said.

Most significant among the new rules are four quarters instead of two halves. Two shots replace one-and-one free-throw shooting.

If there’s less than one minute left in the game, the team that gains possession can take a time out, and then, if it informs the refs, advance the ball from in front of its bench instead of the far end.

Fans meet Marta, Shannon

In keeping with tradition, associate head coach Amy Tucker joined the post-game session to introduce Marta and Shannon.

Marta was the starting point guard

Marta scored 2 points but had seven rebounds, four assists and one steal in 23 minutes.  Shannon had 2 points along with two rebounds and one block in six minutes.

Marta, who comes from Washington, D.C., has eight siblings. She’s the second youngest. She attended a private girls high school, National Cathedral, the alma mater of Grace Mashore, ’12. She started playing AAU basketball at age 8.

When asked why she chose Stanford, she answered, “Why not?” She had other offers, but with academics a high priority, she narrowed her choices to Stanford, Harvard and Princeton. When she visited Stanford, though, she “fell in love with the school.”

Now that she’s with the team, she’s finding the pace to be the biggest adjustment. She also hadn’t done any weight lifting – a big part of the players’ conditioning – before this.

Although she doesn’t have to declare a major until her junior year, she’s interested in science and math and is taking a chemistry class this quarter.

In addition to basketball, she played soccer, earning all-American and D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year honors.

Shannon goes in for a layup

Shannon graduated from a large public high school, Centerville, near Dayton, Ohio. She has a sister who graduated from Ohio State and a brother who goes there.

She initially wanted to go to school closer to home, but like Marta, she said, “Why not come here?” It may have helped that her great-uncle had coached Mikaela Ruef, ’14, who talked to her about Stanford.

She started basketball with CYO in kindergarten followed by AAU in third grade.

She agreed with Marta about the faster pace of college ball. Academically, she’s interested in hospital administration.

Both Amy and Tara praised Marta. She “does a tremendous job of pushing the ball in transition,” Amy said. “Marta has had phenomenal practices,” Tara said. She’s “an extremely intelligent point guard.”

Tara pleased with freshmen

“We’re really excited about our four freshmen,” Tara said, noting that Shannon and Marta like to pass, while Alanna and Alexa like to shoot.

Alanna, the team’s first Australian, has adjusted well, Tara said. She has been ill and has had some homesickness, but the older players are helping her adjust. “She’s going to be a really great player for us.”

“We have a great group,” but “we’re going to have to improve a lot quickly.” The team had 18 turnovers compared with the Urban Knights’ nine. On the plus side, the players get along well and care for each other.

Strategy-wise, “we’re definitely looking to run … We’re real excited about this year’s team,” Tara concluded.

All photos from Stanford women's basketball

May 18, 2015

Tempie optimistic about next season

Looking ahead to the 2015-16 Stanford women’s basketball season, assistant coach Tempie Brown is upbeat.

Fans can expect “a younger team, a quicker team,” Tempie said. She spoke briefly at a tailgate party for men’s and women’s basketball season ticket holders preceding a Stanford baseball game the afternoon of May 17.

Also speaking was men’s assistant coach Tim O’Toole.

Reflecting on the past year, Tempie said, “This season was very exciting. We had a great bunch of kids.”

Now she’s looking forward to working with the 10 returning players as well as the four promising freshmen-to-be. 

She noted that freshman forward Kaylee Johnson, sophomore guard Lili Thompson and sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall spent the weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo.,  for the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s Pan American Games and World University Games team trials.

At the end of the weekend, Bird was named to the 12-member WUG team that will compete in South Korea in July. “We’re looking for great things for her,” Tempie said.

Updating the condition of two sophomores, she said that guard Karlie Samuelson is improving after suffering a broken finger late in the Pac-12 season, and forward Kailee Johnson is rehabbing from “an ongoing injury. ... We could really use her,” Tempie said.

Returning players are working on skills and conditioning. The coaches can spend two hours a week with them.

In the meantime, the coaches are staying in contact with the incoming freshmen, who have been given workouts to follow before they arrive June 20. Summer school classes begin June 22.

April 18, 2015

Players take on a different look

Those tall, glamorous young women at the Stanford alumni center were women’s basketball players attending the annual spring banquet April 15.

Some people had to look twice to recognize them with their fashionable dresses, nicely styled hair and, in some cases, high heels, like the stilettos worn by senior guard Jasmine Camp.

All photos by Dave Cortesi

Two hundred people enjoyed the buffet dinner and the chance to socialize with the players, fans, coaches and staff members. The event was planned and coordinated by DeeDee Zawaydeh, longtime administrative assistant and emcee for the evening.

The main part of the program featured head coach Tara VanDerveer introducing each player by academic class and handing out thanks to the dozens of people behind the team and mostly behind the scenes. It made one realize how many people are needed to build and support an outstanding team.

Young fan had serenaded team

Tara began by introducing one of the team’s youngest fans, 4 ½-year-old TJ Louie. TJ had been so taken with the team that he wrote a song that named every player and sang it to the team one day in the locker room.

He was seated with his favorite player, junior forward/center Tess Picknell, and his grandmother, Marianne Austin. He was wearing a red T-shirt with a picture of the team on the front and all the players’ names on the back.

The coach called the just-concluded season “a great year, a very different year” with a different offense, varying starting lineups and nine different players as game-high scorers.

Freshmen are first for praise

She then called the players to the front for praise, starting with the three freshmen:
Guard Taylor Rooks, who has “a positive attitude.”
Guard Brittany McPhee, who was the team’s best free-throw shooter and “loves the game of basketball.”
Forward Kaylee Johnson, who was the team’s best rebounder and shot blocker and who set the Pac-12 freshman rebounding record previously held by some Stanford greats.

Sophomores, junior come forward

After more thanks, the sophomores went to the front for Tara’s kudos:

Guard Lili Thompson, who is “an outstanding player with glimpses of brilliance.”
    Guard Karlie Samuelson, who is “one of the most intelligent basketball players I’ve ever coached” and who is a “fearless competitor.”
               Guard Briana Roberson, who went “from a practice player to a gamer” and who “gives the team speed and quickness.”
               Forward Erica “Bird” McCall, who was the team’s second-leading rebounding and shot blocker, who is a “leader by example” and whom “I love coaching.”
               Forward Kailee Johnson, who had a tough start because of injuries but who is intelligent and versatile. 
Karlie, who broke her right pinky finger before the start of the Pac-12 tournament, was wearing a device to immobilize it and the adjacent finger after starting off with a cast and a sling and then just a cast.

Next came Tess, the team’s lone academic junior. “Tess is one of my favorite players” and contributes to the practice and scouting teams, Tara said.

Seniors are thanked, give thanks

Finally, it was the seniors’ turn. The group that had started as what was termed the six-pack four years ago was down to just five at the banquet.

Missing was guard Amber Orrange. Having completed the course work for her degree, she’d had to move out of her dorm just a few days before, so she returned home to Houston to await the outcome of the next day’s WNBA draft. (Amber was drafted by the New York Liberty as the overall 23rd pick.) “We wish her well,” Tara said.

Among the accomplishments of the class of 2015 was a 127-19 overall record and a 59-5 record at home in Maples Pavilion.

Tara called Jasmine “nurturing, unselfish and dedicated, … a quintessential teammate.” In the program, which includes the other players’ salutes to the seniors, several referred to Jasmine as the team mom. Jasmine has another year of eligibility, but has decided to move on to graduate school or a job.

Like all of her classmates, Jasmine thanked everyone for their support, adding, “This has been so special for all of us.”

Alex to return for final year of eligibility

Guard Alex Green also has another year of eligibility and will return. She was on crutches and wearing a heavy brace. 

She tore an ACL in practice a week before the start of the NCAA tournament and had recently undergone surgery. This was the second ACL tear for her, but a different knee. She “worked really hard all season,” Tara said.

Referring to forward Taylor Greenfield, Tara said that Taylor had had some good games in the past, but “this year’s Pac-12 tournament took the cake,” resulting in her being named its Most Outstanding Player.

Taylor, who is from Huxley, Iowa, noted that “coming to Stanford all the way from Iowa wasn’t easy,” but her mother supported the move. She thanked associate head coach Amy Tucker for going to Iowa, despite its wintry weather, to see her play during the recruiting process. “This has been a special four years,” she said.

Erica to work in San Francisco

Forward Erica Payne, who already has a job lined up, is a “very high energy, positive person,” Tara said. Erica will work as a consultant for Deloitte in San Francisco after graduation.

She thanked the coaches for the “opportunity to go to one of the best schools in the country.” And she thanked the fans, who “always made me feel like a starter.”

Tara noted that with the change in offensive strategy, forward Bonnie Samuelson was moved from the 3 position to the stretch 4. One of the program’s all-time best 3-point shooters, she had 81 treys this season. Her 237 career 3’s trail only Candice Wiggins, ’08, and Jeanette Pohlen, ’11. Bonnie plans to go to medical school and become a doctor.

Speaking of her sister, Bonnie said, “Karlie’s always there to put me in my place.” As for her teammates, “You’re my sisters through life.”

Jasmine, Taylor, Erica and Bonnie got to take home their framed jerseys displayed behind the podium. Presumably Amber already has hers, and Alex will get hers next year.

Next came a video that highlighted each player’s performances and accomplishments as well as video recaps of the season.

Tara closed the evening by saying, “Tomorrow we look forward to next year.” She named the four incoming freshmen and said, “Great players are made in the offseason.”