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