Winding up the 2016-17 season with a 32-6 record, the Stanford women’s basketball team posted several major accomplishments. They included the 1,000th win of head coach Tara VanDerveer’s coaching career, the Pac-12 tournament championship and the first trip to the Final Four since the seniors were freshmen.
Here’s how it all happened:
For most of the team, the 2016-17 season began with practices during the spring and summer.
Returning players had workouts in the spring and were joined by three of the four freshmen for summer school. The other freshman, guard Mikaela Brewer of
Canada, was playing for Team Canada, which won silver at U18 competition in . Chile
The freshmen on campus were McDonald’s All-Americans: guards Anna Wilson and DiJonai Carrington and forward Nadia Fingall. Anna and DiJonai couldn’t practice because of injuries. Nadia played in Pro-Am games in
, as did senior forward Erica
“Bird” McCall. San Francisco
Alexa goes to
Sophomore guard Alexa Romano was on campus but wasn’t taking classes because she was part of the new Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement Program. Alexa did some coaching and taught English and computer literacy at a youth center in
. New Delhi, India
When the team reconvened in the fall, it was missing two seniors. Guard Lili Thompson had left for undisclosed reasons but remained in school to complete her degree. She later committed to Notre Dame to play as a graduate transfer next season. Forward Kailee Johnson graduated early to begin a career in real estate investing.
Fans got their first look at the team during an open practice Oct. 24. Senior guard Karlie Samuelson, sporting a red cast on her left wrist, took part only in non-contact drills. Anna stayed on the sidelines as she recovered from a concussion suffered in the spring.
After the practice,
Tara introduced each player. She said the team
was perhaps a month ahead of where it was at the same time a year ago.
The team had its only competitive tune-up at home Nov. 4 when it defeated UC San Diego 85-41 in an exhibition. The Division II school is coached by
sister Heidi VanDerveer.
Anna and Karlie were still sidelined, but the other 11 players all contributed. Afterward,
Tara introduced the freshmen and said that “our future is
in great hands with” them.
Season opens with a win over Cal Poly
Competition began for real at home on Nov. 11 when Cal Poly fell 83-55. Senior guard Briana Roberson led the way with 16 points, including four 3’s Also contributing to the team’s eight 3’s were Karlie and Mikaela with two each. Karlie had been cleared to play only a few days earlier.
The starters were Bird, junior forward Kaylee Johnson, Bri, junior guard Brittany McPhee and sophomore guard Marta Sniezek.
|Britt is introduced before going on to lead the team over Texas. (Don Feria Isi/Photo)|
Gonzaga dishes out first loss
The outcome was different Nov. 18 when Gonzaga left Maples with a 68-63 victory. Still, Britt led the team with 22 points. Bird added 17 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
The team returned to its winning ways by downing Cal State Northridge 88-54 at home on Nov. 20. The starting lineup featured Bird, Kaylee, Bri, Britt and Karlie for the first time since recovering from her injury.
Perhaps because she was looking ahead to a Thanksgiving tournament with three games in three days,
Tara used all available players. Bird led the team with
17 points. Center Shannon Coffee logged only seven minutes but made a
career-high 8 points, going 3-for-3 from the floor and 2-for-2 at the
free-throw line. She added three rebounds and a steal to her stat line.
Three wins help team celebrate Thanksgiving in
Thanksgiving break found the Cardinal in
Cancun, Mexico, winning three games in three days: 74-45
over Northeastern on Nov. 24, 87-39 over
on Nov. 25 and 78-69 over Purdue on Nov. 26. Wichita State
Back on the road, the Cardinal visited Bird’s home town on Dec. 1 and came away with a 77-56 win over Cal State Bakersfield, coached by her father, Greg. She helped clinch the win with 18 points.
The team came home to defeat UC Davis 68-42 on Dec. 4. With Kaylee sidelined by a foot injury, the starters were Marta, Bri, Karlie, Britt and Bird. Once again all 11 available players scored.
After the game, season ticket holders adjourned to
Court to enjoy refreshments and hear from the
coaches and players.
After time off for finals, the team journeyed to
and lost 59-51 on Dec. 18. Then it was off to the nation’s capital for a 71-52
victory over George Washington on Dec. 21. Scoring 13 points, Bird became the
37th SWBB player to surpass 1,000 points. Tennessee
Anna cheered in her first action
Anna played for the first time Dec. 28 as the team romped 102-44 over Yale at home. 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 with about six minutes to go in the second quarter. Less than a minute later, she stole the ball on a Yale inbound pass and scored her first collegiate basket. She followed that up with a trey shortly before the half.
|Karlie scored a team high 21 against Yale. (Bob Drebin photo)|
Starting were Bird, Karlie, Britt, Bri and, for the first time, Nadia, who had 8 points on 4-for-4 shooting.
Band, Tree, Dollies suffer suspension
Noticeably absent from the game were the band, Tree and Dollies. Administrators had suspended all band activities because of its behavior over the years.
Pac-12 play for the Cardinal began with a 64-57 win at
on Dec. 30. It was
at tight game with six ties and six lead changes. Staying in the desert, the
team began 2017 by defeating Arizona
77-55 on Jan. 1. Arizona
Back home, Alanna stepped into the limelight by leading her team to an 81-60 victory over
on Jan. 6. She
scored 24 points in just 20 minutes, snared four rebounds, dished two assists
and stole the ball the twice. She was a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity
Kaylee and Mikaela were back in action with limited minutes, but Britt was out, reportedly from a sprained ankle.
One well received new twist for fans came between the third and fourth quarters, when T-shirts attached to white mini-parachutes fluttered from overhead into the crowd.
Double OT leads to loss to OSU
The season’s toughest game to date came Jan. 8 when the
visitors came away with a win in double overtime. It was the first time in 30
tries that the Beavers had defeated Stanford at Maples. Oregon State
Regulation play ended 51-51, the first OT 63-63 and the second OT 72-69 in the visitors’ favor.
Stanford had a chance to clinch the game at the end of regulation when Britt hit a layup to tie the score and was fouled, but she missed the free throw.
Next it was off to
and a 77-58 win on
Jan. 13. Utah
was the next host to fall, losing 84-70 on Jan. 15. The game was notable for 11
treys on 20 attempts, 55 percent. Karlie led with five. Colorado
Karlie pours in 201st career trey
Karlie joined some distinguished company on Jan. 20 as she logged her 201st career 3-pointer during the 73-46 defeat of
at Maples. She tied for seventh all time with Nicole Powell, ’04. The record is
295 set by Candice Wiggins, ’08. Arizona
She was a starter, along with Bird, Britt, Bri and Nadia. All 11 available players saw action.
|Marta, Britt and Kaylee team up on defense against ASU. (Nhat V. Meyer, Bay Area News Group)|
Stanford completed its sweep of the
Arizona schools by defeating 66-56 at home on Jan. 22. Stifling
defense limited ASU to 29.6 percent shooting, while the Cardinal shot 45.8
percent. Arizona State
Kaylee resumes starting role
Kaylee returned to the starting lineup after missing several games and coming off the bench for several more. Playing 25 minutes, she logged 6 points and four rebounds. Also starting were Bird, Bri, Karlie and Britt.
Halftime started with the men’s soccer team parading onto the court with two NCAA championship trophies –- one for last season and one for this. A few minutes later, the always-popular agility dogs wove through poles, jumped hurdles and scooted through tunnels.
One scary moment came shortly before the half when Britt fell under the south basket and gripped her ankle. She was assisted to the locker room, so fans assumed she was done for the day, but she was back to start the third quarter.
After the game, Pac-12 Network commentator Mary Murphy assessed the team as “getting better and better.” Associate head coach Amy Tucker cited a little-known statistic: Stanford was leading the Pac-12 in free throw percentage in conference games. Stanford also was the only conference team undefeated on the road to date.
The road record remained spotless with a 76-54 win over
State on Jan. 27 and a 72-68 win over on Jan. 29.
game featured a sellout crowd of 10,000, the first in program history. The win
also exacted revenge against the team that had knocked the Cardinal out of the
Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments in 2016. Washington
Confetti rained down and cheers resounded from nearly 4,500 fans as the team’s 58-42 victory over visiting USC gave
Tara her 1,000th
career win on Feb. 3. She became only the second women’s coach to reach that
milestone, preceded by the late Pat Summitt at . Tennessee
|Tara gets a 1,000-win keepsake from Karlie, Bird and Bri|
The team donned “
Tara 1,000” T-shirts and held up four giant numerals -–
1000. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott gave Tara
a trophy, and the three seniors --- Bird, Bri and Karlie --- gave her a framed
Stanford jersey with 1,000 on it.
As fans left Maples, they were entertained by the band, Dollies and Tree outside the northwest entrance. After being suspended, they were expected to return to action before the winter quarter ended in late March.
In observance of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, the national championship women’s volleyball team was honored during halftime, followed by seven of Stanford’s female medal-winning Olympians of 2016.
The euphoria ended three days later when UCLA left with an 85-76 win on Feb. 6. All 13 players were suited up, and nine played. Starters were Bird, Karlie, Bri, Kaylee and Britt, a lineup that remained constant thereafter.
Britt helps save the day against
With all 12 players contributing, the team defeated visiting
87-51 on Feb. 12. As Utah Tara has said, this is a
team that wins by committee rather than relying on one superstar. Different
players step up at different times. This time it was Alanna, who contributed a
game-high 16 points in 20 minutes.
The latter was a fitting farewell for the seniors, who were playing their last game at home, but of course not their last game.
All 13 players were there, but Mikaela and Anna were in street clothes.
As had been the case in the game at
where she scored a career-high 27 points, Alanna led the team with 17 points and
eight rebounds. Cal
After the game, the seniors, joined by their families, were honored. In keeping with tradition, one underclassman was selected to salute a senior. So it was Britt for Bird, Kaylee for Bri and Shannon for Karlie.
The regular season ended with a 65-59 victory at
on Feb. 26. Oregon
Two days later, Bird, Britt and Karlie were named to the all-Pac 12 team. Bri was named to the all-defensive team, and Nadia was an honorable mention for the all-freshman team.
Next: Tournament time