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.”

April 10, 2015

A look back: Part 3 of 3 -- Tournament time

Ending the season with a 13-5 conference record, Stanford entered the Pac-12 tournament at KeyArena in Seattle as the No. 3 seed, its lowest ever for the event.

Nevertheless, when the weekend ended, it was Stanford cutting down the nets and taking home the championship trophy.

The march to that celebration began with a nail-biting 67-62 win over No. 6-seeded UCLA on March 6. Starters were senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guard Lili Thompson, freshman guard Brittany McPhee, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

The Cardinal led most of the way, but UCLA pulled within 1 point, 63-62, with only 20.7 seconds left. After a break by the referees to determine possession, the ball went to Stanford. UCLA fouled Bonnie, who hit two free throws with 14 seconds to go. UCLA missed a trey with 4 seconds to go and fouled Lili, who made two free throws to ice the win.

Amber led the team with 18 points, followed by Lili with 14 and Bird with 10.

Payback against ASU, 59-56

Next up on March 7 was No. 2-seeded Arizona State, coached by Stanford WBB alum Charli Turner Thorne, ’88. Once again the score was close, 59-56, with the Cardinal on top.

Amber had scored all of the team’s points at the 13:55 mark, when Stanford led 12-6. The halftime score was 29-25, thanks in large part to 15 points from Amber and 9 from senior forward Taylor Greenfield.

The Cardinal had a fairly comfortable lead, 48-35, at the 11:08 mark, but had amassed 10 fouls to ASU’s one.

The lead kept shrinking until it was 57-56 with 39.5 seconds left. After another huddle to determine possession, the refs gave the ball to Stanford. ASU began fouling,

With the clock at 20.2 seconds, ASU, now with six fouls, forced Bonnie and the ball out of bounds. ASU got the ball and shot it, but freshman forward Kaylee Johnson blocked it. She was fouled, made her first free throw and missed the second, but Taylor rebounded it. She was fouled and made her free throw to clinch the victory at 59-56.

Amber had a game-high 18 points, followed by Taylor with 17. Kaylee had a team-high 10 rebounds plus a career-high five blocks. The team’s nine blocks were a season high (eight previously).

A big puzzle for Cardinal fans was the disparity in fouls – 21 on Stanford versus 13 on ASU, many of them deliberate in the final seconds.

61-60 squeaker over Cal leads to jubilation

As if the first two games weren’t suspenseful enough, the championship game against Cal on March 8 was even tighter, 61-60.

Before the game, the video board noted that Stanford was 36-3 all time in the tournament. Now it’s 37-3.

Stanford had an immediate edge because it had played the earlier game the night before, giving it more rest on a night when clocks advanced an hour for Daylight Saving Time.

Perhaps another difference-maker came less than 5 minutes into the first half when Brittany inadvertently collided with Brittany Boyd, sending the Cal point guard to the locker room with a facial cut. She returned late in the first half and wound up playing 27 minutes but had only 7 points. Cal forward Reshanda Gray played only 29 minutes because of foul trouble and finished with 6 points.

In the meantime, Taylor was on her way to a career-high, game-high 20 points, while Lili had 13 and Amber 12.

Kaylee finished with 12 rebounds for her 17th 10-plus rebound game this season.

Stanford led by no more than 6 points throughout the second half. With 8.4 seconds left, the lead was 61-57, so Cal’s 3-pointer left it 1 point short of forcing overtime.

With that, Stanford fans and players could celebrate.

Tournament honors for Amber, Taylor

Amber was named to the all-tournament team for the second time (2013 was the first). Besides her 12 points, she had a career-high six steals, tied for most steals in a championship game.

Taylor was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and received a curving, blue glass trophy. A similar but larger trophy was presented to head coach Tara VanDerveer for the team’s 11th tournament championship. Then it was time to cut down the nets.

Nicknamed “Tournament Taylor” by her teammates, Taylor was the first non-starter to be named MOP in the tournament’s 14 years.

Defense was critical in all three tournament wins with Stanford amassing 17 steals, three more than its opponents. The team also had a total of 20 blocks, compared with four by its opponents.

Winning the tournament gave Stanford an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. When tournament selections were announced March 16, its No. 4 seed gave it the right to host the first two rounds at Maples.

The Big Dance begins

Back on the Farm, the team logged wins in Rounds 1 and 2 of the NCAA tournament to advance to the Oklahoma City regional.

The first win came March 21 over Cal State Northridge 73-60. This was a milestone event as Tara enjoyed her 800th victory at Stanford. Thus she became only the 10th Division 1 men’s or women’s coach to amass that many wins at one school. She raised her overall Stanford record to 800-165 and her career record to 952-216 as of that date.

In addition, the victory marked the 500th for the program in Maples Pavilion against 87 losses.

Stanford jumped out to an 8-0 lead, holding CSUN scoreless until just after four minutes into the game. The lead ballooned for another seven minutes until CSUN made a run that put it ahead 29-28 at the half.

Once the second half got under way, the tide began to turn, thanks in part to Lili and Taylor. Lili had spent part of the first half on the bench with two fouls, but she returned to score 7 quick points. She finished second in scoring with 17 points.

“Tournament Taylor” scored 13 of her team-leading 19 points in the second half. Playing virtually the entire game, Bonnie added 14 points. Also in double figures was Bird with 10.

Amber had 6 points and figured in the highlight of the second half. She scrambled for a loose ball on the floor and flipped it to Lili, who sped to the basket for an easy layup.

Accounting for part of the 13-point victory margin were 19 of 25 free throws, compared with four of five by CSUN. Stanford had nine fouls compared with CSUN’s 19. Many of those came in the final two minutes, even in the final few seconds when CSUN had no chance of winning.

Oklahoma falls next

Oklahoma was the next to fall, 86-76, on March 23. The Sooners had advanced by beating Quinnipiac of Connecticut 111-84 two days earlier.

Tara used only eight of the 12 available players. As had been in the case in several previous games, sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson was out with a broken finger. Sophomore forward Kailee Johnson and redshirt junior guard Alex Green were unavailable for undisclosed reasons for both NCAA games.

The Cardinal trailed throughout the first half, leading to a 36-32 halftime deficit. That was nothing new. Counting this game, the Cardinal had been down at the half 14 times this season and had rallied to win nine times, including the previous six games.

Lili and Amber teamed up to move Stanford ahead in the second half. The lead stretched to as many as 14 points about halfway through, but Oklahoma kept trying to come back.

With less than three minutes to go, the Sooners deliberately fouled, but that tactic didn’t work because the Cardinal made most of its free throws.

For the game, Stanford made a season-high 30 free throws on 38 attempts, tying a season high. Thus it shot 78.9 percent from the charity stripe. Oklahoma had 28 fouls with two players fouling out. Stanford had 21 fouls; no one fouled out.

Stanford made only two 3’s in the first half but finished with a total of eight. Bonnie accounted for three, all in the second half. Lili also had three. Amber and sophomore guard Briana Roberson had one each.

Baranduin Briggs
Amber led all players with 24 points. Thus she became the 21st SWBB player to pass the 1,400-point mark with a total of 1,414 career points. Her career-high 11 field goals topped her previous high of 10.

Bonnie and Lili had 19 points each. Even though Bonnie got her fourth foul with 3:22 to go, Tara kept her in, giving her time to make a 3 and several free throws.

With 13 points, Bri was the fourth player in double figures. At that point, Stanford was 13-0 for the season when at least four players scored in double figures.

The victory upped Stanford’s NCAA record to 77-26 overall and 32-4 at Maples. This win was its 12th straight at home.

It also allowed the Cardinal to advance to its eighth consecutive Sweet 16.

End of the line in OKC

The season ended March 27 when No. 1 seeded Notre Dame defeated No. 4 seed Stanford 81-60 in the Oklahoma City regional.

With the Irish shooting 49.2 percent and the Cardinal 35.4 percent, Stanford was defeated by the better team, at least for that evening. Stanford finished the season 26-10 while Notre Dame improved to 34-2 and an Elite 8 date with Baylor.

Despite the disparity in the final score, Stanford rallied several times but couldn’t pull ahead. With about two minutes to go, Tara sent in the bench, thus giving playing time to all 12 available players. (Karlie, Kailee and Alex were still in street clothes.)  

Lili went to the locker room for several minutes after hurting her knee in the first half. She returned to play for a while longer but logged a total of only 16 minutes and scored only 2 points.

Baranduin Briggs

Among the game’s highlights were Bonnie’s five 3-pointers. She scored a total of 17 points to lead the team. With Bonnie’s reputation as a great 3-point shooter, the TV announcer quipped that the opposition has to start guarding her coming out of the locker room.

Amber and Bird were the only other Cardinal players in double figures, scoring 12 points each. Bird had a double-double with a game-leading 10 rebounds.

With the season behind them, the players could focus more on academics as the spring quarter began March 30.

In the meantime, Amber was named a Senior CLASS Award Second Team All-American for excellence in the classroom, character, community and competition. She also earned an Associated Press All-America honorable mention nod and was one of five Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-Region VIII honorees.

Bonnie was one of eight senior women chosen to compete in the State Farm 3-Point Championship in Indianapolis prior to the men’s Final Four.

For a complete rundown of team and individual accomplishments, look at “In the Record Book 2014-15” under Stories of the Season on this site.

Looking ahead, fans may be optimistic about next season. At least nine players are returning, and the four incoming recruits come with strong credentials. Just wait ’til next year.

April 7, 2015

A look back: Part 2 of 3 -- Pac-12 play

Pac-12 competition began at home Jan. 3, when Stanford beat Colorado 62-55. Starters were senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guards Lili Thompson and Karlie Samuelson, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson.

Amber and Lili did much of the heavy lifting, teaming up for 43 points, 69.3 percent of the final score. Amber had a career-high 26 points, while Lili had 17.

The team had 16 turnovers, 11 of them in the second half, while Colorado had a total of 13. In just over seven minutes at the 11:06 mark of the second half, the team had eight successive turnovers. That’s just about when Amber took over, scoring 9 points in the final minutes.

Utah falls 55-44

Completing the opening round of Pac-12 play, Stanford defeated Utah 55-44 at home on Jan. 5. Amber and Lili again led the scoring with 17 and 14 points, respectively.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer was wearing a black brace on her left wrist during the Colorado and Utah games. She told the Associated Press that she broke a bone just above her left wrist during practice on New Year’s Eve. She had stepped in front of junior forward/center Tess Picknell to take a charge and fell backward, landing on the hand. Tara said that Tess apologized, but the 61-year-old coach blamed only herself.

Heading northwest, the team defeated Washington 60-56 on Jan. 9. With the score 57-55 with 27 seconds left, Lili iced the victory with a trey.

The team went on to beat Washington State in overtime 86-76 on Jan. 11. Amber and Bonnie led six players in double figures with 19 and 18, respectively. Also in double figures was Kaylee, who had a career-high 13 points plus 15 rebounds.

Balance helps in win over Arizona

Balance was the name of the game Jan. 16 when the team returned home to beat Arizona 77-47. Led by Bonnie with 14 points, five players were in double figures. Sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall had 13. Lili, Karlie and sophomore guard Briana Roberson had 12 each.

Combined with her career-high 16 rebounds, Bird had the first double-double of her Stanford career.

In a press conference afterward, she said that wearing glasses for the second consecutive game improved her court vision. She hadn’t worn glasses during previous games this season, and contacts don’t work for her.

Twenty-seven points came from 3’s, with Bonnie and Karlie making four each and Amber one.

ASU dishes out first Pac-12 loss

The team endured its first conference loss, 60-57, at the hands of Arizona State at home Jan. 19. 

At the half, Stanford was down 39-22. Tara altered the starting lineup, replacing the Samuelsons with Bri and Bird. The team went on to outscore ASU 35-21. It had a chance to tie with 2.6 seconds left, but there wasn’t enough time to get the ball from under ASU’s basket to make a trey.

A trip to Southern California resulted in two victories: 79-70 over UCLA on Jan. 23 and 71-60 over USC on Jan.25.

Washington schools fall at Maples

Five players were in double figures in the 76-56 victory over Washington State at home Jan. 31. 

Amber had 15; Bird 14, Bri 11, and Lili and Karlie 10 each. Everyone got into the game.

Amber had six assists. One of them in the first half was the 500th of her career, making her only one of seven Cardinal players to reach that level.

Fans had been missing announcer Betty Ann Hagenau (Boeving), who was in a bicycle accident and recuperating at home. They were asked to sign a get-well card for her.

Washington was next to fall, 82-69, on Feb. 2 at Maples. Once again, five players were in double figures, led by Bonnie with 17. She was followed by Bri with 15, Amber with 14, Kaylee with 11 and Karlie with 10.

Kaylee also had 17 rebounds, resulting in the fifth double-double of her first year on the Farm. To that point she was the leading freshman rebounder in the NCAA with an average of 10.5 per game. On top of that, she tied her career-high of four blocks, giving her a season total of 30 to that date.

She finished the entire season with 51 blocks, ranking third behind Val Whiting, ’93, with 57 and Jayne Appel, ’10, with 61 when they were freshmen.

A trip to the desert turned out to be dry with the Cardinal, falling 53-52 to Arizona State on Feb. 6 and 60-57 to Arizona on Feb. 8.

SoCal teams leave with losses

After those two squeakers, the team came home to defeat USC 79-60 on Feb. 13 behind a revised starting lineup. Amber, Bonnie and Kaylee were joined by redshirt junior guard Jasmine Camp and senior forward Erica Payne.

UCLA was the next to fall, 68-50 at Maples on Feb. 15. The Samuelsons contributed 12 3’s to the score, with eight from Bonnie and four from Karlie.

During a timeout at the 7:56 mark in the second half and Stanford ahead 60-40, it was announced that Bonnie’s trey just before that was her seventh of the game and a career high.

Her eighth trey raised her career total to 215, third for a Stanford career, behind Candice Wiggins, ’08, with 295 and Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, with 268.

Scoring wasn’t her only contribution. She tied her career high of three blocks, most on the team, and was second with six rebounds.

With 11 rebounds, Kaylee recorded her 14th game with double-digit rebounds for a total of 268 through that date. By then, she ranked third for a Stanford freshman behind Chiney Ogwumike, ’14, with 281 and Kayla Pedersen, ’11, with 329. When the season ended, she had moved into first place with 344.

Her 4-point, 11-rebound performance against UCLA, combined with 9 points and five rebounds against USC, resulted in her being named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the third time.

Cal, Stanford go1-1 in Battles of the Bay

After crossing the bay on Feb. 18, the team faced a 28-17 deficit at Cal with 3:56 to go in the first half. That’s when Tara sent in freshman guard Brittany McPhee, who immediately scored 6 points to cut the deficit to 32-23 when the halftime buzzer sounded.

That was just the start of a Stanford rally that didn’t just lead to a 59-47 victory. The second half saw defensive and offensive efforts that led to no Cal field goals during the final 12:59 minutes, leaving Cal with a shooting average of 11.1 percent in that half and 27.3 percent for the game. Only free throws added to Cal’s score.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal shot 48.3 percent in the second half and 45.3 percent for the game. Amber poured in 19 points, followed by Lili with 18.

The starting lineup was altered again with Amber, Lili, Karlie, Bonnie and Kaylee.

Cal got its revenge on Feb. 22 when it visited Maples and won 65-53, spoiling Senior Day, the last regular home game for Stanford’s six seniors.

Brittany got into the game at the 15:41 mark when Cal was ahead 7-3. She finished with a game-high, career-high 24 points and a team-high six rebounds. She was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the first time on Feb. 23.

Stanford was ahead 29-27 at the half, but the Bears outscored the Cardinal 36-24 in the second half.

Turnovers, fouls and rebounds contributed to the loss. The team had 17 turnovers, several of them shot-clock violations, while Cal had 13 TO’s. Cal outrebounded Stanford 35-31.

The refs called only nine fouls on Cal, while whistling Stanford for 16, with the final ones coming in an effort to get the ball. Cal got 13 points from its 20 trips to the charity stripe. Brittany got Stanford’s three shots and made two.

After the game, the six seniors – guard Alex Green, Jasmine, Erica, forward Taylor Greenfield, Amber and Bonnie -- were honored. A video featured highlights from each one’s career.

“It goes really fast,” Tara said before each senior spoke. Taylor’s comment was typical of her classmates’ love for their teammates and appreciation of the fans’ support. “Thanks for sticking with the senior class for four years,” she said.

Split outcome in trip to Oregon schools

Wrapping up the conference season, the team traveled north to face the Oregon schools for the only time this season.

The trip began with a 69-58 win over conference-leading Oregon State on Feb. 26. Apparently based on her play in recent games, Brittany made her first start, joining Amber, Lili, Bonnie and Bird.

The victory was costly, though, because Karlie broke a finger on her right hand, resulting in surgery and her loss for the season.

Playing Oregon on March 1, Stanford lost 62-55 to complete Pac-12 play with a 13-5 conference record.

Two days later, the league’s coaches named Amber to both the All-Pac 12 squad and the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team. Lili was named to the All-Pac 12 squad, too, while Bonnie was an honorable mention. Kaylee was chosen for the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.

Coming next: Part 3 –Tournament time

April 2, 2015

A look back: Part 1 of 3

The Stanford women’s basketball team finished its 2014-15 season with a 26-10 record and several notable accomplishments, including the Pac-12 tournament championship and its eighth consecutive trip to the NCAA’s Sweet 16.

With the graduation of forwards Chiney Ogwumike and Mikaela Ruef in June, this team didn’t have the strong post presence it had enjoyed over the years. What it did have was a supply of speedy guards.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer took advantage of that strength with a new approach to the offense – an approach that she and her staff studied in depth over the summer.

Instead of Stanford’s time-honored triangle offense, which focuses on getting the ball inside to the post, Tara installed a more guard-oriented approach with the posts setting screens to allow the guards to penetrate to the basket.

It took some time for everyone to adjust and for Tara to find the right combination of players. In the meantime, there were ups and downs in this roller-coaster season.

The team would win a game against a strong team, then turn right around and lose to a weak one. For example, it went on the road to beat conference-leading OregonState 69-58 on Feb. 26 only to lose 62-55 to cellar-dwelling Oregon on March 1.

It trailed in several games, only to rally and win. Several victories were narrow, between 1 and 5 points. Its scoring margin for the season was +8.8 points per game.

What fans might best remember is the 88-86 overtime win over two-time defending national champion UConn at home on Nov. 17. It was the Huskies’ only loss of the year.

Although senior guard Amber Orrange and sophomore guard Lili Thompson were the team’s leading scorers, both averaging 13.3 points per game during the season, several other players emerged at various times to help lift the Cardinal.

Here’s a look at how it all unfolded.

Journey begins in June

For the players, the adventure began in June, when 12 returnees and three freshmen arrived on campus for practice and, for 13 of them, summer school. The other two, senior forwards Erica Payne and Bonnie Samuelson, had internships.

The newcomers were guards Taylor Rooks and Brittany McPhee and forward Kaylee Johnson.

Players could practice two hours a week with the coaches and spend another six hours a week with strength and conditioning coach Brittany Keil.

They often played in pickup games, and several worked in head coach Tara VanDerveer’s hoops camps. Two sophomores -- guard Briana Roberson and forward Erica “Bird” McCall -- played in San Francisco’s Pro-Am program.

Bonnie, Lili, sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson and sophomore forward Kailee Johnson were limited while rehabbing from off-season surgery.

Summer school ended Aug. 16, giving the players and staff time off until returning Sept. 15. Classes began Sept. 22.

Fans meet team in open practice, exhibition games

Fans got their first look at the team during an open practice Oct. 17. Afterward,Tara introduced each player and the staff, which had two newcomers. One was Evan Unrau, special assistant to Tara. The other was Hana Potter, intern. Also new were sports information director John Cantalupi and Shelley Heward, manager of fan experience and community relations.

Competition began Nov. 4 and 8, when the team breezed through exhibition games at Maples. First to fall was Vanguard, 105-50. All 15 players were introduced, and all except Brittany got into the game. She was recuperating from a foot injury.

The starters were Amber, Lili, Bird, Kaylee and senior forward Taylor Greenfield.

Next on the exhibition schedule was UC San Diego on Nov. 8. Coached by Tara’s younger sister Heidi, the Tritons lost 74-51. The sisters’ mother, Rita VanDerveer, who lives in Colorado, attended the game.

Tara tweaked the lineup a bit, with Karlie replacing Taylor. After the game, Taraintroduced each player.

Season opens with home win over Boston College

The first game that counted was a 96-63 victory over Boston College at home Nov. 14.
Taylor was back as a starter.

Among the game’s highlights were a career-high six rebounds by junior center/forward Tess Picknell in seven minutes.

Lili and Bird had career-high point totals of 26 and 16, respectively. All 15 players saw action.

Mighty UConn falls in OT at Maples

Then came the highlight of the season, the game that had people talking for the rest of the year. Playing at home Nov. 17, Stanford defeated UConn 88-86 in overtime.

The victory not only ended UConn’s 47-game winning streak, but also extended the Cardinal’s home winning streak to 28.

The game was tight through both halves. With 12 seconds to go, UConn was ahead 77-74, but Amber made a 3-pointer to force overtime.

With 2.6 seconds left in OT and the Cardinal ahead by 2 after a free throw by Karlie, UConn couldn’t advance the ball fast enough to shoot.

This game marked the return of longtime favorite announcer Betty Ann Boeving. She had missed the first three games because she was honeymooning after her marriage to Bob Hagenau.

Euphoria over the UConn win and the home winning streak were both snapped three days later, Nov. 20, when the Cardinal fell to Texas 87-81 in overtime.

Just as it had done against UConn, the team kept the game close until the final few minutes. Regulation time ended with the score 75-75. Even with 1:27 to go in OT, the score was 80-80, but the Longhorns prevailed after that.

Lili led 11 Cardinal players with a career-high 28 points in a team-high 43 minutes.

Travels take team to New MexicoHawaii

Going on the road for the first time, Stanford defeated New Mexico 70-65 on Nov. 24.

The journey continued in Hawaii for a tournament in Honolulu. It started with a 70-54 loss to North Carolina on Nov. 28. It ended on a more positive note with an 86-73 victory over host Hawaii on Nov. 29 and an 88-45 win over Prairie View A&M on Nov. 30.

After a two-week hiatus for finals, the team returned to Maples Dec. 14 and came away with an 82-43 victory over Santa Clara University.

Except for Taylor, who reportedly was held out as a precaution because of a sore foot and who was replaced by Karlie as a starter, everyone got in on the fun.

Kaylee recorded the second 22-rebound game of her fledgling career. She had done so the first time against New Mexico.

Trip to Tennessee results in two losses

The season’s next road trip sent the team to Tennessee and two losses. The first was Dec. 17 against Chattanooga, 54-46. The second was Dec. 20 against Tennessee, 59-40.

Just two days later, on Dec. 22, the team was back home and back on the winning track, defeating UC Davis 71-59.

Bonnie, replacing Bird, got her first start this season and the sixth of her career.

This was the first time that both she and Karlie started. They responded with more than half of the team’s points. Bonnie had 30, including 18 from 3’s, while Karlie had 9, all from 3’s.

Bonnie’s total made her the first non-Ogwumike to score at least 30 points in a game since Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, had 31 in the memorable home win over UConn on Dec. 30, 2010.

Pre-conference play ends with home win

After a short holiday break, the players were back at Maples, where they defeated UC Santa Barbara 90-34 on Dec. 28. With the wide disparity in scoring, everyone played at least five minutes.

Brittany had 10 points, five rebounds, three blocks and three steals, playing with energy and hustle that impressed the 4,041 people in the stands.

Bird had a team-high and career-high 12 rebounds. The team had 10 3’s, with three each from Bonnie and Karlie, two from redshirt junior guard Jasmine Camp and one each from Bri and Taylor.

Based on her games against UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara, Bonnie was named Pac-12 Player of the Week.

Coming next: Part 2 – Pac-12 play