January 30, 2018

Fear the three's

The bench  celebrates yet another three scored against Arizona.
Fourteen three-pointers by six different players helped spark the Stanford women’s basketball team to a 79-42 victory over the visiting Arizona Wildcats on Jan. 28.

Senior guard Brittany McPhee, junior forward Alanna Smith and freshman guard Kiana Williams had three each. Junior guard Marta Sniezek and sophomore guard Anna Wilson had two each, while freshman forward Alyssa Jerome added one.

Kiana got the crowd of 3,136 going right away with a trey for Stanford’s first score. Just 3.5 minutes into the game, the trey total had risen to three. With slightly more than 4 minutes to go in the quarter, the score was 16-4 thanks to five three’s and a free throw.

Marta was first to score from inside the arc with less than a minute to go in the quarter.
As was true in the victory over Arizona State two days earlier, all 14 players were available, and all got into the game.

Bench finalizes win in fourth

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the game was safely in hand at 66-29, leaving bench players to wrap things up.

Starters again were Britt, Alanna, Kiana, Marta and senior forward Kaylee Johnson. Marta logged the most minutes with 24.

DiJonai and Nadia go after a loose ball.
Besides the three-pointers, other notable stats were that the Cardinal committed only seven turnovers while having 27 assists.

The home team dominated in nearly every other statistical category, including rebounds, 48-34; blocks, 4-3; and steals, 9-2. The only laggard area was free throws, five of nine, or 55.6 percent, while the Wildcats made seven of 10, or 70 percent.

Scoring was relatively balanced with 15 each from Britt and Alanna, 11 from Kiana and 10 from freshman forward Maya Dodson. By about midway through the third quarter, Maya had scored six points in quick succession.

Joined by her fan club and others, Amy  holds the plaque she got from Tara.
Amy honored for 32 years at Stanford

Before tipoff and after singing of the national anthem by Ragazzi Boys Chorus, members of the Amy Tucker Fan Club as well as former SWBB players went to center court to join in honoring Amy for her 32 years with the team. She was associate head coach until retiring from that post at the end of last season to become women’s basketball administrator.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer, whose mother was at the game, gave Amy a framed collection of photo highlights from her career. The team brought Amy into its pre-tipoff huddle, and several players hugged her as she returned to her seat at the scorers table.

According to an interview in 2007, Amy said the club “probably started as a lark a little bit, kind of a joke. They were giving me a hard time about not having a window in my office and were saying, ‘Don’t you rank at all? You’re the only assistant coach without a window. Can we do something about that?’

“So they drafted this letter to (then Athletic Director) Ted Leland. They actually sent it to Ted, I think, about how I needed to have a window, etc. It evolved from there, and they got a little serious about it. Actually, they’ve done some really nice fundraising for our program. They sponsor at least four or five lockers.”

Her fan club is still “the only fan club for an associate head coach in the nation before Amy’s retirement,” longtime member Lily Wong said in an email. It still sponsors lockers.

Stanford returns to rankings at 24

The weekend sweep over the Arizona teams returned the Cardinal to AP’s top 25 teams, coming in at 24. It also left the team still tied with UCLA for second in the Pac-12 Conference at 8-2 in league play. Oregon is first at 9-1.

Britt’s 24 points in the ASU game led ESPN-W to name her National Player of the Week.

Coming up, the Cardinal travel north to face Oregon State at 6 p.m. Feb. 2 and Oregon at noon Feb. 4.

(Photos by Bob Drebin, isiphoto.com)

January 27, 2018

Magnificent McPhee

Enroute to 24 points, Britt drives to the basket.
Scoring 24 points, Brittany McPhee led the Stanford women’s basketball team to a 74-50 home victory over Arizona State before a cheering crowd of 2,905 on Jan. 26.

In the process, the senior guard joined an elite group, becoming the 39th player in SWBB history to notch 1,000 points.

Needing just 14 points to reach that mark, she hit it early in the fourth quarter. She had scored a buzzer-beater in the third and then hit the team’s next three shots in the fourth. 
In all, she hit nine of 11 shots, including 1-1 on threes, while notching three rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and no turnovers in 32 minutes.

Also recording threes were freshman guard Kiana Williams with two and junior guard Marta Sniezek and sophomore guard DiJonai Carrington with one each.

Team takes care of the ball

Overall, the team did well in the turnover department, committing only nine to ASU’s 14 while dishing out 12 assists to ASU’s eight. Eleven steals by the Cardinal accounted for most of ASU’s turnovers. The Cardinal also recorded 4 blocks while ASU had none.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer once again started two seniors, Britt and forward Kaylee Johnson; two juniors, Marta and forward Alanna Smith; and Kiana.

Marta is interviewed by former guard  Ros Gold-Onwude, '10, of the Pac 12 Network after the game. .
Marta’s 13 points were a career high, and she dished out six assists, half of the team’s total.

The third player in double figures was DiJonai, who had 13 points plus eight rebounds. Her rebounds were second only to Alanna’s nine. In all, the team had 33 rebounds to ASU’s 27.

Everyone was in uniform, and everyone had a chance to play.

Britt, Alanna score four quick points to start game

The very first play was a harbinger of what was to come. Rather than tipping the ball to Marta in the visitors’ court as usual, Alanna sent it in the opposite direction to Britt, who streaked to the basket for an easy layup.

Alanna then added a basket after stealing the ball, and it was off to the races on both sides of the court. ASU didn’t score its first basket until about four minutes into the first quarter, which ended with Stanford ahead 17-12. It never trailed.

With less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne drew a technical. Britt made one of two of the resulting free throws before scoring another basket as Stanford won possession.

DiJonai, a solid defender, looks for an opportunity against ASU.
Defense was stingy, often preventing ASU from shooting until very late in the shot clock. Several times, however, the Cardinal bailed out their visitors by committing a foul and giving them a fresh clock or free throws.

In total, Stanford had 19 fouls to ASU’s 17. Kaylee accounted for five of them and had to leave the game with less than five minutes to go.

Nadia favors the band

During the first quarter, sophomore forward Nadia Fingall, who was the game’s featured player, was shown in the Get to Know the Cardinal video being asked what fires her up. The choices were Tara, dancing in the locker room, or the band. She named the band, bringing a cheer from the musicians.

A second-quarter time out honored the Stanford Graduate School of Education for its 100th anniversary. The video board subsequently named several SWBB alumnae who earned their master’s degree at the school.

The Northern California Special Olympics basketball team, comprised mainly of young adults, provided halftime entertainment.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, “No other team in the country has played as many games against ranked teams as Stanford, but Friday’s win was just its second against the top-25.” It also avenged the team’s 66-73 loss at ASU on Jan. 7.

Next up is Arizona at 5 p.m. Jan. 28.

(Photos by Bob Drebin/ISIPhotos.com)

January 16, 2018

Tara pleased after win over Washington

Although the 11-7 Stanford women’s basketball team soundly defeated visiting 6-11 Washington 71-45 on Jan. 14, head coach Tara VanDerveer said it still has a long way to go.

Britt talks with her teammates. (Bob Drebin (isiphoto.com)
Nevertheless, “I really love coaching this team,” she said during the Behind the Bench that followed the game. “Our team is taking pride in their defense, (and) our upperclassmen are leading the way.”

One of those upperclassmen is senior forward Kaylee Johnson, who contributed a game-leading 12 rebounds plus eight points and five blocks in 27 minutes.

She scored her team’s first six points. Tara called her the player of the week after she had notched 10 points and 15 rebounds in the win over Washington State two days earlier.

Alanna, Britt make their marks

Two other upperclassmen making big contributions were junior forward Alanna Smith with a game-high 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks; and senior guard Brittany McPhee with 15 points and three rebounds.

Also in double figures was sophomore guard DiJonai Carrington, who added 11 points, five rebounds and three steals while showing lots of hustle.

Kaylee, Alanna and Britt were the starters along with freshman guard Kiana Williams and junior guard Marta Sniezek. Marta played 26 minutes even though she had to endure being knocked to the floor seven times plus one other near-fall. As one fan said during the game, there’s “a lot of chaos under the basket.”

Marta also spent some time on the bicycle before the team entered for its final warmups, late in the first quarter and again as the second quarter started.

Twelve players of the 14 were in uniform, including sophomore guard Mikaela Brewer. She didn’t dress for the WSU game. However, she was the only player who didn’t get into this game. Apparently referring to Mikaela, Tara said that everyone who had been cleared to play got in and that some were cleared only for warmups.

Sophomore guard Anna Wilson was in street clothes again, as she was against WSU, but this time she wasn’t wearing a boot. Freshman forward Maya Dodson was in street clothes, too.

Turnovers still an issue

Once again turnovers were a problem –- 20 in all –- but Washington managed only 13 points off those turnovers.

Other stats were more favorable, with the Cardinal having a 43-28 advantage in rebounding, a 16-9 edge in assists and an 8-3 edge in blocks.

The team shot 49 percent for the game versus the Huskies’ 29.3 percent. Free-throw shooting was a semi-respectable 68.4 percent.

The team was 44.4 percent on three-pointers, eight of 18. Alanna and DiJonai had two each. The others came from Britt, Kiana and freshman forwards Alyssa Jerome and Estella Moschkau.

Anna meets fans at the Behind the Bench. (Dave Cortesi photo)
Anna meets fans during Behind the Bench

Before Tara joined the Behind the Bench, associate head coach Kate Paye brought Anna out to meet the fans. Kate said Anna had tweaked her ankle in practice during the week, but called her “a great teammate … a beloved teammate.”

She also noted that Anna had decided on Stanford when she was a high school sophomore. Now that she’s a Stanford sophomore, she hasn’t yet had to declare a major, but Kate said she has a passion for photography and is leaning toward communications and journalism.

As for her basketball skills, Anna said in response to a question that she’s working on all aspects of her game, especially defense.

Amy “still very invested in the team”

Kate then invited her predecessor, Amy Tucker, to join her. Amy stepped down from her post at the end of last season and now is the women’s basketball administrator.

Amy Tucker (Stanford Athletics)
She said her duties including managing the Nike apparel contract for the team and helping Tara with correspondence and engagements. Although she no longer works with the team, she watches game video at night in case anyone is interested in her insight.

She sits at the scorers’ table during games, but she can’t say anything to the coaches or players while she’s there. “I get to be an objective observer while still very invested in the team,” she said.

Nevertheless, she has more spare time, so she rides her new bicycle more and reads more at home and during her travels with the team.

With a 5-1 record in the Pac-12, Stanford has sole possession of second place (to 6-0 Oregon) in the conference.

It faces its next tests in Southern California, meeting USC at 8 p.m. Jan. 19 and UCLA at 3 p.m. Jan. 21. The Cardinal defeated both teams during their games in Maples to open the conference season in late December.

January 13, 2018

A tale of two halves in win

It’s too bad the Stanford women’s basketball team can’t bottle the first half of its 70-57 victory over the visiting Washington State Cougars on Jan. 12.

The Cardinal shot a sizzling 64.7 percent in the first quarter and 58.8 percent in the second to go into the locker room with a 45-17 advantage.

The second half was a different story as the Cougars outscored their hosts 40-25. For the game the Cardinal shot 46.9 percent, while the Cougars shot 33.8 percent. The overall advantage, especially in the first half, was enough to assure the win and celebrate senior guard Brittany McPhee’s 22nd birthday.

Brittany displays the plaque she received from Tara for her summer with USA Basketball and the U23 National Team.
Brittany honored on her birthday

Britt contributed to the effort by recording 12 points, five assists and three steals. Before the game, head coach Tara VanDerveer gave her a plaque commemorating her summer with USA Basketball and the U23 National Team in Japan.  

Junior forward Alanna Smith was the game’s high-scorer with 20 points plus nine rebounds and two steals.

Freshman guard Kiana Williams kicked in 15 points, including three of the team’s four 3-pointers (sophomore forward Nadia Fingall had the other). 

Britt and Kaylee battle for a rebound.
Kaylee records a double-double 

Senior forward Kaylee Johnson made her mark with a double-double: 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Britt, Alanna, Kiana and Kaylee were the starters along with junior guard Marta Sniezek.

All 12 available players got into the game. Sophomore guards Mikaela Brewer and Anna Wilson, who was in a boot, were both in street clothes.

Rebounds a plus, but turnovers a minus

Stanford recorded a big plus in rebounds, 53-31, but 22 turnovers compared with WSU’s 12 were a big minus.

It was a fast, physical game that saw two Cougars being helped to the locker room. The referees said sophomore guard DiJonai Carrington was responsible for the second one when she collided with the player while going for a rebound under the WSU basket during the fourth quarter. The refs charged her with a technical for an unsportsmanlike foul.

The Cougars were without head coach June Daugherty, who reportedly had undergone a minor medical procedure earlier in the week. Her husband, Mike, the associate head coach, took over the reins.

During halftime, the crowd of 3,696 saluted the dozens of youngsters from swim clubs who had watched the women’s swimming team practice earlier in the day.

Then girls from San Juan Dance took to the floor with their modern dance routines, 
starting with the eight youngest, followed by four preteens and finally eight teenagers.

WSU winless against Stanford

Stanford’s victory upped its all-time record to 63-0 over the Cougars.

WSU’s roster is quite international with seven players from other countries. One of them is Australian Louise Brown, who hails from Alanna’s hometown of Melbourne. They smiled warmly at each other before going for the opening tip, which Alanna won, a fitting opening to the game.

Ros interviews Alanna for the Pac 12 TV networks.
Afterward Alanna was interviewed by Ros Gold-Onwude, ’10, back on her home court as a Pac 12 TV commentator.

Photos by Bob Drebin (isiphoto.com)

January 8, 2018

Keeping track of the student in student-athlete

After the Stanford women’s basketball team won its regional final against Kansas State in Manhattan on March 20 last season, it had planned to fly back to Stanford before going to the Final Four in Lexington, Ky.

However, the team’s charter plane didn’t arrive. Instead, the team spent another night in Kansas before flying directly to Lexington, where players had to take their finals in the hotel.

Shannon Reader (Gonzaga Athletics)
That change required Shannon Reader, the team’s academic adviser, to spring into action, administering finals over a span of four days. Part of this effort involved coordinating practices and other activities with the coaches because each exam needed a block of three hours.

Mindful that something like this might happen, the players had already notified their professors about this possibility two weeks beforehand.

Spread sheets help with process

When it became a reality, Shannon created a spread sheet for the players and their professors. Thanks to emailing and scanning, everything got where it was supposed to go.

To top it off, this was Shannon’s first official week with the team. “We became really close really quickly,” she said during a recent interview on campus.

According to the Stanford Athletic Academic Resource Center (AARC), a team’s academic adviser “provides academic advising, programming and support for students as they shape their Stanford education.”

When a player arrives as a freshman, Shannon explains various courses and encourages exploration of potential interests and majors. Stanford’s quarter system helps this process.

Shannon keeps players engaged in class

As insisted by the coaches, all freshmen must spend time in a study hall at the AARC.
Shannon also makes sure the players are engaged in the classroom.

If a player is having problems with a particular class, the professor or her dorm’s resident adviser contacts Shannon. Shannon in turn contacts the player’s academic coach and head coach Tara VanDerveer.

Academic coaches encourage the players and offer strategies for improving study techniques and managing time, according to the vice provost for teaching and learning.

Advisers track players’ academic progress. At the end of each quarter, Shannon must certify that a player has maintained at least a 2.0 grade point average to remain eligible.

Besides working with women’s basketball, Shannon works with seven other teams for a total of 175 students. The other sports are men’s and women’s crew, field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s gymnastics.

Gonzaga grad played against Stanford

Originally from the Portland area, Shannon is a 2012 graduate of Gonzaga University, where she played basketball. As a 6’ 2” senior, she was named to the West Coast Conference all-academic women’s basketball team with a 3.26 GPA in public relations and served as president of the student-athlete advisory committee.

Shannon (31) and her teammates wave to their fans after losing to Stanford 83-60 in the Spokane regional on March 28, 2011. (Colin Mulvany, The Spokesman Review)
During her four years at Gonzaga, her team lost five times to Stanford. “Part of that’s on Lindy,” she said, referring to assistant coach Lindy La Rocque, who played at Stanford during those years.

After receiving her degree in public relations at Gonzaga, Shannon stayed on as a graduate intern for men’s and women’s basketball. She was promoted to academic coordinator in June 2014, working with women’s basketball and baseball. She started working at Stanford in October 2016.

As she learned the ropes, she shadowed Lauren Reid, who was serving as SWBB’s adviser, and sat in on every meeting that Lauren had with the players. Lauren is still with Stanford as an adviser to other teams.

The team’s frequent travel schedule requires the players to do much of their studying online while waiting in airports or flying. “They keep up with it,” Shannon said.

She added that the faculty is supportive of this process.

Undoubtedly making her job easier, it also helps that “we have extremely bright students,” Shannon said.

January 1, 2018

Team celebrates New Year's Eve with win

The Stanford women’s basketball team ended 2017 on a winning note, defeating USC 72-65 on Dec. 31.

Thus the victory returned the host Cardinal to AP’s top 25 after it had fallen out the previous week for the first time in 17 years. The Jan. 1 poll ranked 8-6 Stanford No. 24.  

The win left the Cardinal 2-0 in Pac-12 play.

Winning didn’t come easily. USC ended the first quarter up 20-15 and the half up 34-33. Thereafter the Cardinal edged ahead, ending the third quarter up 53-50 and going on to 

Game has three ties, six lead changes

In this highly physical, seesaw game, the score was tied three times and the lead changed six times. However, Stanford led for just over 23 minutes while USC led for just over 14 minutes.

Sharpshooting proved to be one of the differences, with Stanford making 45.5 percent of its shots to USC’s 35.5 percent. Rebounding also was a plus, 41-31; along with assists, 19-13; and blocks, 8-1.

On the negative side, turnovers were still a problem, 18 for Stanford, 12 for USC. Free throws also were lacking, 70 percent for Stanford versus 93.3 percent for USC.
But Stanford nailed eight threes for 42.1 percent, while USC hit seven, 29.2 percent.

Brittany goes for a layup against a USC defender. (Richard Erstad/isiphotos.com.)
Brittany helps make a difference

Senior guard Brittany McPhee was responsible for three of the treys, while freshman guard Kiana Williams had two. Junior forward Alanna Smith, junior guard Marta Sniezek and sophomore forward Nadia Fingall had one each.

Brittany led the team with 21 points plus eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in 30 minutes.

After missing several games with an injury, she has scored at least 21 points in each of the three games she has played since returning. Because of her outstanding play, ESPNW named her its National Player of the Week.

Alanna and Kiana had 13 points each. Marta led the team in rebounds with 10 and had 8 points along with a team-high six assists.

The starters were Alanna, Brittany, Marta, Kiana and freshman forward Maya Dodson. Except for Maya, the starters logged at least 30 minutes each.

Twelve players get into the game

With the team at full strength again, head coach Tara VanDerveer had the luxury of using 12 of the 14, while short-handed USC fielded only nine. During the third quarter, one USC player let a referee know she didn’t like a call and was assessed a technical.

Many in the crowd of 2,494, which included the band and Tree, apparently didn’t like some of the other calls or non-calls, loudly booing several times.

With the winter quarter not scheduled to begin until Jan. 8, the team has some time away from the books, but not from basketball. A trip to the desert awaits with Arizona at 5 p.m. PST Jan. 5 and Arizona State at 1 p.m. PST Jan. 7.