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.