December 30, 2016

Anna makes debut as team romps

It will be a long time before Anna Wilson forgets the Stanford women’s basketball team’s 102-44 home victory over Yale on Dec. 28.

Not only did the freshman guard see her first action in a Cardinal uniform, but also she was one of four players in double figures, racking up 11 points plus one rebound, an assist and a steal in 17 minutes.

Playing the point, she entered the game to loud cheers with about six minutes to go in the second quarter and the score 32-9. Less than a minute later, she stole the ball on a Yale inbound pass and scored her first collegiate basket to even more cheers. She followed that up with a 3-pointer with less than two minutes to go before the half.

As the team headed for the locker room for halftime, senior guard Karlie Samuelson draped her arm around her young teammate. By the time Anna was done playing in the second half, she had two more of the team’s 10 treys.

Finally recovered from an injury just before she was to play in the McDonald’s All American game last spring (with classmates-to-be forward Nadia Fingall and guard DiJonai Carrington), Anna was in uniform for the team’s pre-Christmas road trip to Tennessee and George Washington, but she didn’t play.

Four score in double figures

Besides Anna, those in double figures were Karlie with a game-high 21, senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall with 19 and junior guard Brittany McPhee with 15.

Karlie drives to the  basket on her way to 21 points. (Photo by Bob Drebin)
The bulk of Karlie’s scoring came from beyond the arc, shooting 4-of-5 on 3’s.  With just more than seven minutes to go in the third quarter, she made three in a row.

In addition to Karlie and Anna, players with successful 3’s were sophomore guard Alexa Romano with two and Bird one. As a team, Stanford was 10-of-18 on 3’s, or 55.6 percent. Overall, the team shot 54.5 percent, compared with the Bulldogs’ 26.6 percent.

The team had 49 rebounds, led by sophomore forward Alanna Smith with a career-high 13, to go with 7 points. Yale had 33 rebounds.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer used all 11 available players. Junior forward Kaylee Johnson was still out with a foot injury, but she was no longer wearing a boot. Freshman guard Mikaela Brewer had a boot on her foot.

Everyone played at least 11 minutes (sophomores Shannon Coffee, center, and Marta Sniezek, guard), and no one played more than 27 (Alanna). Everyone scored.

The starting lineup featured Bird, Karlie, Brittany, senior guard Briana Roberson and, for the first time, Nadia. Nadia contributed 8 points on 4-for-4 shooting, a career-high four assists, a block and six rebounds.

Defense helps to fuel win

Tough defense was a highlight of the team’s energetic play. Scoring began with three consecutive baskets made off Yale turnovers. Yale didn’t have its first basket until about seven minutes to go in the first quarter, making the score 8-2.

Several times the Cardinal disrupted Yale passes, contributing to the opponent’s 19 turnovers. For its part, the Cardinal had only seven turnovers. Stanford had 13 steals to Yale’s one. The assist edge for Stanford was 19-11.

Among the game’s highlights were savvy passes by Marta. Twice in the third quarter, she took an inbound pass and hurled it down court for baskets by Brittany and Bird.

The score was 24-6 after the first quarter, 50-18 after the second and 83-31 after the third. The final score marked the first time since a 100-71 win over Arizona on March 11, 2011, that the team had passed the century mark.

Alanna made sure of that by scoring with two minutes to go, capped off by a free throw by Brittany with just over a minute left.

Thus the team ended its pre-conference schedule and looked ahead to the Pac-12 season. It will start with a trip to the desert to face Arizona State at 3 p.m. Dec. 30 and Arizona at 1 p.m. Jan. 1.

And now for a bit of editorializing: As the crowd of 3,564 no doubt noticed, the game was missing the band, the Dollies and the Tree. Administrators have suspended all band activities because of some of its behavior over the years.

Speaking strictly as an SWBB fan, I appreciate the band’s enthusiasm and support of the team. Often it’s the largest student contingent at the games.

I missed its playing of “All Right Now” just before tipoff and after each win, followed by “Hail, Stanford, Hail.” (Recordings of the band playing those two songs did come after the Yale game.)

The band and its supporters have launched a letter-writing campaign to convince the administration to reverse its order to suspend the student-run band and reorganize it under professional leadership.

It’s urging people to write letters to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Provost John Etchemendy and incoming Provost Persis Drell and email them to,,  and

Use the subject line “In support of the Stanford band” followed by the sender’s name.

December 6, 2016

Victory over UCD ups record to 8-1

Despite a dearth of threes and frees –- plus no Tree –- the Stanford women’s basketball team handily defeated UC Davis 68-42 on Dec. 4 in Maples and improved to 8-1 on the season.

The team wore turquoise uniforms with red lettering and trim in honor of Native American Heritage Month. In Navajo culture, turquoise represents harmony, friendship and fellowship.

With junior forward Kaylee Johnson sidelined by a foot injury, the starting lineup featured sophomore guard Marta Sniezek, senior guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson, junior guard Brittany McPhee and senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Bird topped the team with 17 points and 13 rebounds to go with one block. The only other Cardinal player in double digits was Brittany with 11, plus four rebounds, one assist and 
one block.

Everyone scores

All 11 available players saw at least six minutes of action, all scored, and no one played more than 28 (Marta). As the game clock wound down, only sophomore center Shannon Coffee hadn’t scored. However, thanks to an unselfish assist from freshman guard DiJonai Carrington, Shannon scored the team’s final basket, evoking cheers from her teammates.

Never trailing, the team led 20-8 after the first quarter, 36-20 at the half and 47-26 after the third.

Defense was tight, limiting Davis to 23.4 percent shooting, compared with Stanford’s 44.4 percent. The Cardinal also had a rebounding advantage, 54-38.

When the players in turquoise shot from beyond the arc, though, things weren’t so bright. Only three of 19 treys, or 15.8 percent, went through the net. Bri, sophomore guard Alexa Romano and freshman guard Mikaela Brewer accounted for them. Davis had more success, making six of 25, or 24 percent.

Free-throw shooting was deficient, too, with only nine of 24, or 37.5 percent, going in.

After the game, season ticket holders were invited to a gathering in Dallmar Court to enjoy refreshments and to hear from the coaches and players.

Tournament was good experience
Associate head coach Amy Tucker began the event by noting that the team had played and won three games in three days at a tournament in Cancun, Mexico, over the Thanksgiving break. “It really benefited our team,” she said.

She asked Alexa to talk about the three weeks she had spent in India as part of a service program with Duke during the summer. Paired with five Duke athletes and four others from Stanford, Alexa taught English and basketball in New Delhi.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer then took the microphone, saying, “This was a big win for us.” Davis had lost only one game coming into Maples. “We did a great job defensively,” she said.

The team had preceded this win with one at Cal State Bakersfield, coached by Bird’s father, Greg, in her hometown. “It was amazing” to beat her dad, she said, and she was pleased by the surprise visit of her sister, DeWanna Bonner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

Tara complimented Bird, saying she “runs the floor as well as any post player we’ve had.”

As for the two inactive players, Tara said she hopes to have Kaylee back soon. It hasn’t been decided if freshman guard Anna Wilson, who hasn’t played because of a concussion in the spring, will redshirt. “We’re hoping she plays,” Tara said.

Seniors name influential classes

She asked the three seniors which Stanford classes had been most influential. Karlie cited the autism class she’s taking, while Bird named cultural psychology and Bri listed ethics and politics of public service.

Before introducing each player, Tara said, “We’re just getting better and better. … Our freshmen are phenomenal. … This is a special team.”

Of sophomore forward Alanna Smith, the Australian who’s the team’s first international player, she said, “She has stepped up her game.”

The team’s second international player, Mikaela from Canada, is “very athletic (and) a quick learner.” She’s the oldest of six children.

Alexa is “a quiet assassin out there. She gets things done.”

Anna has been “working very hard on the sidelines (and) will be a great addition to our program.”

DiJonai is “very aggressive (and) coachable. She listens well.”

For Marta, also from a large family as the eighth of nine children, “the sky’s the limit,” Tara said. Earlier Tara called Marta “a phenomenally talented point guard (and) an extremely unselfish player.”

Bri, one of the team’s four captains, is “becoming a defensive stopper for us,” in addition to having “great offensive skills.”

Another captain, Bird, ‘is just scratching the surface.” She’s a “great leader,” too.

The next captain, Karlie, could be a coach. She’s “one of our glue players,” and “very unselfish.”

As for Kaylee, the fourth captain, “you know what to expect from her.” She’s a “blue collar player (and) a vocal team leader.”

Freshman forward Nadia Fingall “is off to a great start. She can score on anybody,” making about 75 percent of her shots.

Shannon “is another very smart player (who) passes the ball well.” She’s healthy this year, unlike last year.

What’s on tap for the team

Looking ahead, Tara said the game at Tennessee on Dec. 18 will be tough. “We’ve got a lot of improving to do.”

In the meantime, this is dead week at Stanford, to be followed by finals next week.

After the Tennessee game, the team will travel to the nation’s capital to face George Washington U on Dec. 21.

Players will have four days off to celebrate Christmas before returning Dec. 26 to host Yale on Dec. 28.

Pac-12 competition begins at Arizona State on Dec. 30 and at Arizona on New Year’s Day.

November 21, 2016

Tournament tuneup?

Perhaps looking ahead to the coming week, when the Stanford women’s basketball team has three games in a row, head coach Tara VanDerveer substituted freely and frequently in the team’s 88-54 victory over Cal State Northridge on Nov. 20.

The team will spend the Thanksgiving holiday at a tournament in Cancun, Mexico, facing Northeastern, Wichita State and Purdue on consecutive days starting Nov. 24.

Tara altered the starting lineup somewhat, sticking with senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall, junior forward Kaylee Johnson, senior guard Briana Roberson and junior guard Brittany McPhee but substituting senior guard Karlie Samuelson for sophomore guard Marta Sniezek.

Karlie returns to starting lineup

Karlie hadn’t started previous games after recently recovering from a hairline fracture in her left forearm, but she was usually first off the bench.

However, Marta came in about halfway through the first quarter, joined by freshman forward Nadia Fingall.

By the end of the first half, when the score was 41-23, 11 of the 12 available players had seen action. The only exception was that night’s featured player, sophomore center Shannon Coffee, but she came onto the court only 30 seconds into the third quarter and wound up playing a total of seven minutes.

The most anyone played was 25 minutes, logged by Bird.

Shannon goes up for a score. (Bob Drebin/Isiphotos)
Shannon shines in short time

Shannon’s seven minutes were the least by anyone. She made the most of her time, though, with a career-high 8 points on 3-for-3 shooting from the floor and 2-for-2 shooting from the free-throw line. She also added three rebounds and a steal to her stat line.

Bird led the scoring with 17 points plus five rebounds, two assists and one block. Brittany and Nadia were right behind her with 14 points each in 21 and 16 minutes, respectively. Brittany also had one each in rebounds, assists and blocks plus two steals. Nadia had seven rebounds.

Two of Nadia’s classmates, guard DiJonai Carrington, playing 13 minutes, and guard Mikaela Brewer, playing 15 minutes, chipped in with 7 and 3 points, respectively.

The team had a total of 52 rebounds, compared with 29 by the Matadors. Kaylee, Nadia and sophomore forward Alanna Smith each had seven.

The turnover picture was improved with 13, while free throw shooting was admirable, 17 of 20, or 85 percent.

The three-point percentage was only 33.3, with five of 15. The threes came from Brittany, Karlie, Bird, Mikaela and Alanna.

Halftime entertainment was provided by Native Boogie and Beats, a group of Native American dancers in colorful costumes accompanied by two men in street clothes drumming and chanting. The dancers were mostly women and a few children.

After returning from Mexico, the Cardinal travel to Cal State Bakersfield to take on the team coached by Bird’s father at 7 p.m. The next home game is against UC Davis at 2 p.m. Dec. 4.

November 19, 2016

Family's first for Joslyn

When Stanford WBB alum Joslyn Tinkle, ’13, returned to Maples Nov. 18, she was wearing a Gonzaga shirt and sitting behind the Gonzaga bench.

Why? Because her sister, Elle, a redshirt senior, was a starting guard for the Zags as they faced their Cardinal hosts. As it turned out, Elle also was her team’s second-high scorer in its 68-63 victory.

It wasn’t an easy game for either team. Gonzaga held one-point advantages, 15-16 and 27-28, at the end of the first and second quarters, respectively, but Stanford was ahead 51-46 after the third.

Sara, Joslyn recount recent doings

That’s when Joslyn and teammate Sara James, ’14, were interviewed. Joslyn said she’d been playing professionally overseas, but she’s taking this year off to keep up with her family. Besides Elle with Gonzaga, her dad, Wayne, is the men’s basketball coach at Oregon State, and her brother, Tres, is on the team.

Sara, who earned her master’s degree in the pediatric nurse practitioner program at Columbia in New York City, is now a nurse at Stanford Hospital.

Both were warmly greeted.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer kept the starting lineup intact with sophomore guard Marta Sniezek, senior guard Briana Roberson, junior guard Brittany McPhee, junior forward Kaylee Johnson and senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Bri scored first for the Cardinal, and freshman forward Nadia Fingall was the first player off the bench, subbing for Kaylee. Next came senior guard Karlie Samuelson, subbing for Marta.

Five players do the heavy lifting

Altogether, Tara used 10 of the 12 available players, but Bird, Bri, Brittany, Karlie and sophomore forward Alanna Smith had the lion’s share of minutes.

Brittany led the team with 22 points plus eight rebounds, three assists and one block in 32 minutes.

Bird gets the team ready to run onto the floor.  Bob Drebin/Isiphotos
Bird added 17 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. She also had one assist, one block and one steal in 34 minutes.

Also in double figures was Karlie with 10 points plus one rebound, three assists, one block and three steals in 37 minutes, but she fouled out late in the game.

Zags hot beyond the arc

Perhaps the most telling difference between the two teams is that the Zags were hot with their treys, making eight of 13, or 61.5 percent. Meanwhile, Stanford was cold, scoring on only three of 18, or 16.7 percent. Bird, Bri and Karlie each had one.

The team showed some improvement in turnovers, 11 for the game. However, the last one, an intercepted inbounds pass when Stanford had a final chance, proved to be a killer, combined with the Zags’ successful free throws after Stanford’s intentional fouls.

Overall, it was a tight game, but the home team couldn’t overcome cold shooting, 37.9 percent for the game, compared with the visitors’ 50 percent.

The team has a short time to regroup before hosting Cal State Northridge at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 20.

November 16, 2016

Father knows best

When Darren Smith, father of sophomore forward Alanna Smith, was asked what advice he had for the Stanford women’s basketball team during the third quarter of its game against Texas, he had just five words: “Get the ball to Brittany.”

Evidently the team heard the man who had played professional basketball in Australia for 12 years. Junior guard Brittany McPhee poured in a team-high, game-high and career-high 28 points to lead the 11th- ranked Cardinal to a decisive 71-59 victory over the visiting 8th-ranked Longhorns on Nov. 14.

Alanna’s father and mother, Simone, were visiting their daughter from their home in Australia.

Alanna drives to the basket.
As if heeding her dad’s advice, Alanna immediately dished an assist to Brittany, raising the score to 48-39 and giving Brittany her 25th point, one past her previous career high of 24.

A few minutes later, though, Alanna went to the floor during a scrum under the Texas basket and didn’t pop up right away until senior guard Karlie Samuelson helped her to her feet. Trainer Katelin Knox accompanied Alanna toward the locker room, but she returned to the bench a short time later.

She didn’t see any more action, but she eagerly joined her teammates in tossing victory balls after the game. Her stat line showed 5 points, one rebound and two assists in nine minutes.

Brittany gets a high five from Kate after the game.
Not content with merely scoring 28 points, Brittany had seven rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal in 39 minutes. Her scoring included two-of-two on treys. Also contributing 3’s were Karlie and senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall with one each.

Bird has six blocks

Although Bird’s 17 points were second on the team, they were almost overshadowed by her six blocks. For example, early in the second quarter she made two in a row during one Texas possession. She also had five rebounds, two assists and one steal in 39 minutes.

Bird, Brittany, junior forward Kaylee Johnson, senior guard Briana Roberson and sophomore guard Marta Sniezek started the game. In an encouraging sign, Marta scored the team’s first 2 points on a drive to the basket. A second drive was unsuccessful. She finished with 3 points, thanks to a free throw, but she also had five assists and one steal in 25 minutes.

Karlie was first off the bench, filling in for Bri.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer used eight of the 12 available players. Besides Karlie and Alanna, the only other player off the bench was freshman forward Nadia Fingall, who had one rebound and one assist in four minutes.

The evening opened with a well received operatic rendition of the national anthem from Steve Goodman, Stanford professor of medicine.

Shortly thereafter, Lili Thompson arrived and sat courtside opposite the Texas bench. Lili left the team for undisclosed reasons after last season but is completing her senior year at Stanford.

Despite all the bright spots and the victory, the team still has areas of concern, especially the 20 turnovers. It also was outrebounded 38-32.

The team made only 11 of 18 free throws, or 61.1 percent, but Texas was worse, making six of 14, or 42.9 percent.

Team edges ahead after first quarter

The game’s start wasn’t all that promising, with Stanford lagging 17-18 after the first quarter. The team pulled away during the second quarter, which ended 35-29, and the third, when the score was 58-50.

Attendance, 2,447, seemed sparse for a game between nationally ranked teams, but the 5 p.m. start time on a work night could have been a factor, as could have been the national telecast. Some fans arrived after the game had started.

Next up is another home game, this one against Gonzaga at 7 p.m. Nov. 18. It will be quickly followed by another home game against Cal State Northridge at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 20.

Photos by Don Feria IsiPhotos

November 13, 2016

Game one is won

The Stanford women’s basketball team opened its regular season with a decisive 83-55 win over Cal Poly in Maples on Nov. 11.

Except for the very first few minutes, Cal Poly never led. The closest the Mustangs got after that came late in the second quarter, when they trailed 25-23. That’s when junior guard Brittany McPhee knocked in two consecutive baskets to put the Cardinal ahead 29-23. There was no looking back after that.

The score was 38-27 at the half and 61-41 after the third quarter.

Bri led all Cardinal players with 16 points

Bri leads the way in scoring

Senior guard Briana Roberson was the night’s star, compiling 16 points, including four 3’s, to lead the team.

Also contributing to the team’s eight 3’s were senior guard Karlie Samuelson and freshman guard Mikaela Brewer with two each. Sharpshooter Karlie’s first 3 came late in the second quarter, a good sign for a player who had been cleared to play only a few days earlier after recovering from a hairline fracture in her left forearm.

She also was the first player off the bench, entering the game to loud applause about halfway through the first half. She finished the game with 10 points plus two assists and a steal in 19 minutes.

Besides Bri and Karlie, the other three players in double figures were senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall with 14, junior forward Kaylee Johnson with 11 and Brittany with 10.

Bird, Kaylee, Brittany, Bri and sophomore guard Marta Sniezek started the game. By the time it was over, all 12 available players saw action and contributed in some way. Freshman guard Anna Wilson has yet to be cleared.

Mikaela on her way toward making both of her 3's

Freshmen show their mettle

Fans were especially pleased at the other three freshmen’s contributions. Besides Mikaela’s 6 points, forward Nadia Fingall chipped in with 6 points, while guard DiJonai Carrington had 5. Moreover, Nadia had two blocks, and Di had one steal. In all, the freshmen scored 17 points, slightly more than 20 percent of the team’s total.

With everyone making at least two, the team had 45 rebounds, led by Kaylee and sophomore forward Alanna Smith with eight each. The team also had 21 assists, including 10 from Marta.

The 2,684 fans were joined by the band, Tree, Dollies and cheerleaders. The game opened with a presentation of colors by a Navy contingent in honor of Veterans Day.

Alexa talks about trip to India

Sophomore guard Alexa Romano was the featured player, speaking in a video about her experiences with a Stanford-Duke program in India during the summer. She also was featured in This or That questions with such queries as whether she liked pie or cake, or pancakes or waffles.

Although there were many bright spots for the team, there also were areas for improvement, such as free throws, only 7 of 15, or 46.7 percent; and turnovers, 16.

Next up is Texas at 5 p.m. Nov. 14 at Maples.

November 7, 2016

Team tunes up for new season

The Stanford women’s basketball team had lots of harmony and a few sour notes in its 85-41 exhibition defeat of UC San Diego on Nov. 4 in Maples.

First all the bright spots: All of the returning players seemed improved, especially sophomore guard Alexa Romano, sophomore center Shannon Coffee and sophomore forward Alanna Smith even though she fouled out with under five minutes left. Sophomore guard Marta Sniezek, who became so reliable at the point last year, seemed even more so this year.

The three available freshmen –- guards Mikaela Brewer and DiJonai Carrington and forward Nadia Fingall -- impressed the 2,660 fans with their hustle and energy.

Freshman guard Anna Wilson, still recovering from a concussion sustained last spring, didn’t play. Likewise, senior guard Karlie Samuelson stayed on the sidelines with a brace on her left wrist, which had been broken. Head coach Tara VanDerveer expects Karlie to see action at the next game.

Everyone contributes to win

All 11 available players contributed to the victory over the Division II school even though no one played more than 25 minutes, the time tallied by senior guard Briana Roberson. Everyone scored, and everyone played with urgency despite the lopsided score.

Still, there’s room for improvement, as Tara and her staff would undoubtedly acknowledge. For example, the team committed 14 turnovers, while UCSD had only 12. Part of the reason may be that Tara was freely subbing players. Thus there wasn’t quite the consistency and chemistry that one might expect with a more stable rotation.

The starting lineup featured Marta, Bri, junior guard Brittany McPhee, junior forward Kaylee Johnson and senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Bird had led the team onto the floor, and she, Kaylee and Marta represented the team as captains during the traditional pre-tipoff meeting with the refs.

Stanford got the tipoff, soon followed by the game’s first score –- a 3-pointer by Bri. UCSD’s first possession resulted in a turnover.

The subbing started early, with Alanna coming in for Bird and Alexa coming in for Bri with 5:31 left in the first quarter and the score 13-5. Nadia came with under two minutes left in the quarter after Alanna had collected her second foul. Shannon and Mikaela saw their first action in the second quarter.

Defense proves strong

Defense was stingy throughout the game, especially in the second quarter, when the Cardinal outscored UCSD 20-3. Those 3 points came with just 1:20 to go before the half.

The team amassed made 8 of 19 3’s, or 42.1 percent. Bird, Brittany and Mikaela had two each. Bri and Alanna had one each.

Brittany led the team in scoring with 19 points in 21 minutes. She also had a team-high nine rebounds and tallied two assists, two blocks and one steal.

Also scoring in double figures were Bird with 16 in 17 minutes and Shannon with 14 in 20 minutes.

It’s worthwhile noting that all 11 players had at least one rebound. Just behind Brittany’s nine were Kaylee’s eight and Nadia’s seven. The team as a whole had 59, dwarfing UCSD’s 25.

Even though it was an exhibition game, it had some of the trappings of regular season game with the band, Dollies and Tree on hand. During the singing of the national anthem, the Dollies and the Tree signed the words.

A new wrinkle came after the first quarter when the Tree led a conga line of kids around the court. The Dollies assisted by keeping some of the littlest ones on track.

Tara's mom, Rita, with Tara's sister Beth, doesn't play favorites.
The game was a family affair for Tara since her sister Heidi coaches UCSD. Their mother, Rita, was in the stands with their sister Beth. Mom diplomatically wore a sweatshirt featuring Stanford on the top half and UCSD on the bottom half. She told a group in the elevator after the game that she didn’t want to play favorites.

Tara introduces freshmen

During the Behind the Bench that followed the game, Tara introduced the four freshmen, starting with Mikaela. 

“Mikaela did a great job out there,” Tara said, noting that Mikaela is the team’s first Canadian recruit.

She didn’t join the team for summer school because she was playing for the Canadian team that won silver (to the USA’s gold) in U18 competition in Chile.

Even though she had missed that bonding team with her new teammates, “I was surprised at how fast they welcomed me,” Mikaela said.

Anna said she had expected to meet special people at Stanford, but “the amount of them is tremendous,” she said.

“Every day we learn something new,” Anna added. Mikaela seemed to echo that thought, noting “how much we don’t know.”

Stanford students don’t have to declare a major until they’re juniors, but Anna said she’s considering communications and science, technology and society. 

Nadia said that she observed “how close the team seemed,” during her official visit, and found out it was true when she arrived for her first quarter.

Nadia said that as the best player on her high school team, her coaches didn’t correct her much. At Stanford she’s “corrected on every little thing,” she said, giving a nod toward assistant coach Tempie Brown, who works with the bigs along with associate head coach Amy Tucker.

Calling herself “the biggest nerd,” Nadia said she’s interested in chemistry. 

DiTara said that DiJonai didn’t play during her senior year or practice at first at Stanford because of knee injuries. However, DiJonai said she likes that everyone helps everyone else to succeed, but the biggest challenge is that “the pace of the game is a lot quicker. You have to go every play.”

DiJonai wants to major in psychology and minor in either sports broadcasting or criminal justice. Mikaela’s undecided.

Tara complimented Heidi’s coaching, while Heidi said that Tara has helped her team. At Stanford, “there’s no drop-off when someone comes in,” Heidi said. She called Stanford “a really fast and exciting team.”

Coach pleased with team

“I’m excited about how well everyone is doing,” Tara said. “Our future is in great hands with the freshmen. … It’s a heady time for us” with four promising recruits lined up for next season and two for the season after that.

Visiting from Australia, Alanna’s parents were at the game.

Also observing were Karlie’s mother, Karen, and older sister, Bonnie, ’15. Bonnie has just completed her first quarter in the four-year doctoral program at Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, thus earning her white coat.

The regular season opens at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 against Cal Poly at Maples.

Photos by Dave Cortesi

July 27, 2016

Summer produces high hopes for team

With the summer term more than half over, optimism runs high for the 2016-17 Stanford women’s basketball season.

“It’s been a good team to work with this spring and summer,” associate head coach Amy Tucker said.

Returning players had workouts after the most recent season and were joined by three of the four incoming freshmen for summer school. The only freshman not on campus is guard Mikaela Brewer of Canada, the team’s second international player after sophomore forward Alanna Smith of Australia.

Mikaela plays in Chile

Mikaela played for Team Canada and helped it win the silver medal in U18 competition in Chile this summer. (The USA won the gold.) She will join her new teammates this fall.

From left: Assistant coach Kate Paye, guard DiJonai Carrington, associate head coach Amy Tucker, forward Nadia Fingall, guard Anna Wilson, assstant coach Tempie Brown (Stanford Photo)
The other three freshmen are McDonald’s All-Americans.

Guard Anna Wilson is still recovering from a concussion sustained shortly before the McDonald’s game, so she’s working out but isn’t allowed any contact. The same is true of guard DiJonai Carrington, who is rehabbing from knee surgery. She’s expected to be able to play by September, Amy said.

Forward Nadia Fingall is playing in Pro-Am competition in San Francisco, where she impressed fans at a recent game. Amy expects big things from her.

All four sophomores are much improved, as one might expect, Amy said. Alanna and guard Marta Sniezek have been fully involved, while forward Shannon Coffee was just recently cleared for five-on-five play after foot surgery.

Alexa going to India 

Alexa (Stanford photo)
Sophomore guard Alexa Romano has been on campus but not taking classes because she’s going to Dakshinpuri, New Delhi, India, for three weeks in August.

She and 18 other Stanford athletes are taking part in the new Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement Program. It provides one-time funding for accepted Stanford and Duke University students to take part in summer service with an international partner.

Alexa and four other Stanford students will be among those in New Delhi, where they “will serve as teaching and coaching assistants for sports activities, English as a second language courses, and computer literacy initiatives for youth at a community center” there, according to Stanford  Athletics.

Of the two juniors, Amy said the coaches have high expectations for guard Brittany McPhee, who just “needs more time on the floor” as part of the regular rotation.

Forward Kaylee Johnson is doing great both athletically and academically. “You can count on her,” Amy said, adding that her offense has improved.

Kailee has internship

Three of the four seniors are on campus while forward Kailee Johnson, a science, technology and society major, is home for an internship in Portland, Ore.

Forward Erica “Bird” McCall is healthy after minor knee surgery. She’s Nadia’s teammate on a Pro-Am team. Both had double-doubles in a recent game.

Guards Karlie Samuelson and Briana Roberson are both doing well.

Amy confirmed unofficial reports that guard Lili Thompson is no longer on the team, but that she is returning to Stanford for her senior year on athletic scholarship.

Updating the class of 2016, Amy said guard Kiran Lakhian will be in graduate school at Southern Methodist University in her home state of Texas and will play basketball there this coming season.

Guard Alex Green is home in Texas and hoping to play overseas, and forward Tess Picknell is home in Oregon. Amy wasn’t sure what she was doing.

Rules for summer activities

During the summer, players are allowed eight hours a week of official activity. Two of them are basketball-related with coaches. The other six are spent with strength and conditioning coach Brittany Keil.

The players may work on skills on their own and play in informal pickup games that don’t involve the coaches.

Besides working with the players, the coaches have been overseeing head coach Tara VanDerveer’s annual summer camp. The various sessions started June 21 and ended July 26. Some players helped there when they had time, Amy said.

In addition, the coaches have been on the road recruiting. Assistant coach Kate Paye spent two days in June in Atlanta for the Women Basketball Coaches Association’s Center for Coaching Excellence program for assistant coaches.

Stanford summer session ends Aug. 13, giving everyone, coaches included, a break before returning to campus Sept. 15. Classes start Sept. 26.

Looking ahead, Amy praised the leadership provided by Bird, Karlie and Kaylee. Moreover, “there’s good chemistry among the players and coaches,” she concluded.

April 20, 2016

Season reflections --- Part 3 of 3

The Stanford women’s basketball team entered the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle as the 4 seed.

Stanford and UCLA had identical 14-4 conference records for third in the conference, but the Bruins’ defeat of the Cardinal during the season led to the 4 seed.

Therefore, the Cardinal faced 5 seed Washington on March 4. Suffering a 73-65 loss to the Huskies, the team went home early and empty-handed.

Junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall scored 22 points to lead the team, followed by junior guards Karlie Samuelson and Lili Thompson with 14 each. Freshman guard Marta Sniezek didn’t score, but she set a tournament record with 13 assists and no turnovers.

Easy win over USF opens NCAA play

With a 4 seed, the Cardinal fared far better in the NCAA tournament, hosting the first two rounds on March 19 and 21.

In the first round, Stanford easily defeated the 13th-seeded University of San Francisco, 85-58.

Before the game started, photographers clustered around head coach Tara VanDerveer as she chatted with USF head coach Jennifer Azzi, ’90, one of Stanford’s first great WBB players.

Starters featured four juniors –- Bird, Lili, Karlie and guard Briana Roberson –- plus sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson. Lili led the scoring with 17 points, followed by Bird with 14, Kaylee with 13 and Karlie with 11.

Marta, who had been known mainly for assists, showed more assertiveness in shooting, scoring 8 points, including a 3. Her 3 was one of the team’s eight. The others came from Karlie and Lili with two each and from Bird, Bri and freshman forward Alanna Smith with one each.

Stanford dominated USF in every statistical category, especially rebounds, with a 49-22 advantage. Bird had 10, while Kaylee had nine.

Everyone got to play except for freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee, who was in a boot, as she had been in recent games.

Squeaker for Tara’s 1,000th game at Stanford

Tara issues instructions in her 1,000 game on  The Farm. (Stanford Athletics)
The next game, against South Dakota State on March 21, was Tara’s 1,000th at Stanford. Beyond the number itself, it will be memorable for the score –- 66-65.

It took a mighty effort in just under 5 minutes to erase an 8-point deficit against the 12th-seeded Jackrabbits, and victory wasn’t assured until the very last second.

The final heroics came from Lili and Bird. Lili made a driving layup to tie the game 65-65 with 8.2 seconds left. She was fouled in the process and made the free throw to put the Cardinal ahead. SD State got off one last shot, but Bird blocked it.

It wasn’t a pretty game. Poor free-throw shooting, 10 of 22, or 45.5 percent, nearly sabotaged the team. SD State was more successful at the line, making 7 of 13, or 53.8 percent.

The starting lineup remained the same as against USF, and it did most of the heavy lifting, scoring 61 points. Four bench players got into the game but made only 5 points.

Lili, Karlie and Bri celebrate the squeaker win. (Stanford Athletics)
Lili played all 40 minutes and scored 19 points. Bird had foul trouble and played 32 minutes, but scored 20 points.

Cardinal upsets Notre Dame in Sweet Sixteen

The win earned the team a Sweet Sixteen berth against 1-seeded Notre Dame in Lexington, Ky., on March 25.

The result was a huge upset win for Stanford, 90-84, led by Bird with 27 points, Karlie with 20, Kaylee with 17, and Lili and Marta with 11 each.

Bird and Karlie rejoice after the Notre Dame upset.
Success beyond the arc helped a lot with a total of 11 3’s. Karlie had five, Lili three, and Bird, Bri and Marta one each.

Washington plays spoiler again

Washington again proved to have the knockout punch, downing Stanford 85-76 in an Elite Eight game on March 27.

The Cardinal couldn’t overcome a slow start, ending the first quarter with a 22-7 deficit. During the rest of the game, Stanford bested Washington by 4 in the second quarter, while Washington had only 1 more in the third quarter, and Stanford had 3 more in the final quarter.

With the outcome clear, Tara made sure that the three seniors –- forward/center Tess Picknell and guards Alex Green and Kiran Lakhian –- had their final chance to play.

Lili had 19 points, Bird 17, Karlie 12 and Marta 10.

Washington went on to the Final Four, losing to Syracuse in the semi-final game in Indianapolis.

Although it had been an up-and-down season, the team rewrote parts of the record book. Its 211 blocks broke the Stanford record of 196 in 2001-02, and its 13 blocks against USC on Jan. 22 matched the record set in 1989 against ASU.

Despite winning neither the Pac-12 season nor tournament, it extended its Pac-12 record for most 20-win seasons with 27 and advanced to the Elite Eight for the 18th time.

Lili and Bird were named to the All-Pac-12 team, while Karlie received honorable mention. Bird was named to the All-Defensive team. Honorable mention went to Kaylee and Lili.

Banquet honors team one last time

The team and fans had one last chance to celebrate at the annual banquet April 10 in Dallmar Court.

It gave Tara a chance to thank everyone who contributed to the team’s success in some way and to praise each player individually. Lili did not attend the banquet.

Shannon was on crutches following recent foot surgery.

The seniors came in for special praise for their big contributions as practice players. They also had a chance to speak to the crowd and give their thanks.

Kiran, Alex and Tess each received her framed jersey with her photo and team accomplishments.

Tara expressed her hope that the returning players would dedicate themselves to improvement before next season, starting the next day.

April 18, 2016

Season reflections --- Part 2 of 3

After wrapping up its pre-conference schedule with a 10-2 record, the Stanford women’s basketball team began Pac-12 competition with two games in the desert.

The team defeated Arizona 59-34 on Jan. 2. This game gave all 14 players a chance to get in on the action, and no one played longer than the 26 minutes logged by junior guard Lili Thompson and sophomore guard Brittany McPhee.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer went with an all-junior starting lineup featuring Lili along with forwards Erica “Bird’ McCall and Kailee Johnson and guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson. Brittany led the team with 21 points, followed by freshman forward Alanna Smith with 16.

Loss to ASU represents a program low

Moving on to Arizona State on Jan. 4, the team suffered a 49-31 loss, scoring the fewest points in its history. The previous low was 32 points against Missouri in 1984, before Tara’s arrival on The Farm. No one was in double figures. Lili led the team with 7 points.

The team returned home to better results Jan. 10, defeating Colorado 71-56. It was a good time for sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson to post two career highs.

Bri (10) and Kaylee go for a rebound. (Stanford Athletics)
With the score 0-7 in favor of Colorado, she came off the bench with the clock at 6:36 in the first quarter. Just seconds later, she gave the team its first basket. She went on to score all six of the team’s points until Karlie and Brittany hit successive 3’s.

Logging 32 minutes, Kaylee recorded team and career highs of 17 points plus 11 rebounds. Also in double figures were Bird with 16, Lili with 12 and Karlie with 11.

With Bird adding 11 rebounds to her stat line, she and Kaylee became the first SWBB duo with double-doubles since Chiney Ogwumike (29/15) and Mikaela Ruef (11/13), both ’14, in the 82-57 Sweet Sixteen victory over Penn Sate on March 30, 2014.

Lili joins 1,000 point club

Not be overshadowed, Lili logged the 1,000th point of her career at 3:08 in the second quarter, becoming the 36th SWBB player to do so.

Lili was featured in the post-game Behind the Bench. Among other things, she said she was honored to be in the company of the other members of the 1,000 point club.

Alanna also was featured. “She will have a great future here,” said associate head coach Amy Tucker.

About 350 fans were treated to an open practice and a locker room tour on Jan. 13. The redecorated lounge in the locker room is adorned with action shots of past SWBB greats, photos of Tara and Amy cutting the net after championships and lists of the team’s accomplishments over the years

Squeaker and loss in Oregon

It was again time to hit the road as the team traveled to Oregon for a tight 64-62 win over the Ducks on Jan. 15. Bird didn’t play because she wasn’t feeling well. Lili made two baskets in the final 35 seconds to tie and then win the game. She finished with 16 points, as did Kaylee. Karlie led the way with 18 points. Freshman guard Marta Sniezek got the nod to start at the point.

Oregon State handed the team a 58-50 loss in Corvallis on Jan. 17. Kailee with 14 and Bird with 12 were the only Stanford players in double figures. The team had been ahead until the fourth quarter, when its shooting went cold and Oregon scored 28 points to Stanford’s 10.

Travel continued on Jan. 22 when the team downed USC 57-47. Its 13 blocks, led by Bird’s five, tied a school record. Bird and Karlie each had 14 points to lead the scoring, while Lili had 11. The team was shorthanded with Bri and senior guard Kiran Lakhian in street clothes and freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee feeling ill and staying in the hotel.

Next up, UCLA dominated the visiting Cardinal 56-36 on Jan. 24. The second quarter was particularly painful as Stanford was outscored 16-4. Only Bird with 11 was in double figures. Kailee and Kiran were unavailable.

First quarter surge leads to win over Washington

After those two weekends on the road, the team returned to Maples to rack up a satisfying 69-53 win over Washington on Jan. 29.

Abandoning its penchant for slow starts, the team surged to a 26-13 first-quarter lead. Lili led the way, scoring the team’s first 8 points and finishing the quarter with five 3-pointers and another basket for 17 points. The crowd gave her a standing ovation when she left the game for good near the end of the fourth quarter. By then, she had amassed 27 points, just 1 point shy of her career high 28 on Nov. 20, 2014, against Texas.

It was more than a one-woman show, though. Bird and Brittany pitched in with 12 points each, while Karlie had 10. Kaylee did her part with a game-high and season-best 14 rebounds and matched her career high with four assists.

Lili scores 30 in win over WSU

As if her performance against Washington weren’t enough, Lili topped that game and her previous career high with 30 points, leading her team to a 69-52 victory over Washington State at home on Jan. 31.

Lili, with Amy, at a Behind the Bench. (Dave Cortesi)
The team overcame a slow start in which its first 9 points came from free throws. Lili finally made the first basket with 27.3 seconds to go in the first quarter, which ended with the Cardinal trailing 11-18. The deficit narrowed to 25-27 at halftime.

Then came the third quarter, when Lili launched an early 3 to tie the score at 28-28. During the second half, she scored 24 points, going 9 for 11 overall and 5 for 5 from beyond the arc.

Bird scored 11 points and snared 14 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season. Other major contributions were Karlie’s 10 points and Kaylee’s 19 rebounds.

Bird was featured at the Behind the Bench. “Bird is having a breakout junior year,” assistant coach Kate Paye said. “Her other nickname is Double-Double.”

Cal falls in both Big Games

The first round of the WBB Big Game came Feb. 2 when the visiting Cal team fell 53-46.

Lili had a relatively quiet game but finished with 11 points. Karlie had a team-high 15 points, going 3 for 4 from beyond the arc. Bird had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Kaylee had 15 rebounds for the third consecutive game in which she had more than 10 boards.

The second round, this one at Cal, again led to a win, 60-55 on Feb. 5. Stanford started slowly, trailing 34-27 at the half, but the third quarter clinched the victory, when the Cardinal held the Bears to 4 points while scoring 15.

When the final buzzer sounded, five were in double figures: Bird, 14; Brittany, 12; Kaylee, 11; Lili and Kailee, 10 each. In a rare night for her, Karlie didn’t score.

Balanced scoring in win over Arizona

Arizona came calling on Feb. 12 and left with an 82-58 loss. This time the team got off to a fast start with all five starters –- Bri, Lili, Karlie, Bird and Kaylee –- scoring within the first 4 minutes. Stanford then dominated the rest of the way.

All 14 players got in, and no one played more than 22 minutes.

Scoring was balanced with Bird adding 12 points, Lili 11 and Kaylee 10. Alanna had a career-high four blocks. Freshman guard Alexa Romano, who plays sparingly, had 7 points, including a 3.

Marta played 18 minutes and had one of her best games of the season, scoring 4 points by going aggressively to the basket and dishing out five assists. Redshirt senor guard Alex Green made her first basket of the season after rehabbing from ACL surgery.

Valentine’s Day not so sweet

Valentine’s Day found the team nearly upsetting visiting Arizona State in overtime, but an ASU basket at the very last second dealt the Cardinal a 63-61 loss.

Stanford had trailed in the first three quarters but rallied in the fourth to tie the game at 55-55, resulting in OT.

Three-pointers by Karlie, who had 14 points, and Bri came at critical times. Rebounds hurt the most, going 47-30 in ASU’s favor. Free throws also hurt, with ASU making 11 to Stanford’s five.

Road games came next, with Stanford prevailing 80-49 over Colorado on Feb. 19 and 72-54 over Utah on Feb. 21.

Team upsets Oregon State for 1,000th program victory

Returning home and ranking #13 nationally, Stanford upset #7 Oregon State 76-54 on Feb. 26.

The team and staff celebrate SWBB's 1,000th win. (Stanford Athletics)
Moreover, the game represented the SWBB’s 1,000th victory, setting off a joyous post-game celebration. The only other Division 1 schools to reach that milestone are Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, James Madison, Old Dominion, Texas and Stephen F. Austin.

“The Cardinal’s overall record since its first varsity season in 1975 is 1,000-310 (.763) and 824-172 (.827)” under Tara, Stanford Athletics reported.

Bird led both teams with a career-high 25 points, including the first, second and third 3-pointers of her career.

Karlie had a career night of her own, snaring 12 rebounds, twice her previous high. With 13 points, including three 3’s, she posted the first double-double of her career.

Brittany started in place of Lili, who missed the game because of the death of her paternal grandfather. The sophomore guard contributed 15 points and 6 for 7 shooting.

Seniors honored after defeat of Oregon

The Pac-12 schedule wrapped up Feb. 28 with a 69-42 Senior Day victory over Oregon.

Stingy defense held the Ducks scoreless for just under 7 minutes in the first quarter, while the offense poured in 15 points.

Lili missed this game, too, and Shannon was in a boot for the second straight game.

Bird matched her career high of 25 points, including another 3, and added a career-high 18 rebounds. This was her 14th double-double in the past 15 games. The team tied its season high with 22 assists, led by Karlie with five.

Tess, Kiran and Alex are saluted on Senior Day. (Stanford Athletics)
A post-game ceremony honored Alex, Kiran and forward/center Tess Picknell. Although they don’t get much playing time, Tara stressed their importance to the team by serving as the scout team. During practice, they run the next opponent’s plays, and they still have to know Stanford’s plays.

Thus Stanford ended conference play with a 14-4 Pac-12 record (24-6 overall) for a third-place tie with UCLA and the No 4 seed in the conference tournament in Seattle because of its season loss to UCLA.

Next: The Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments