October 21, 2018

Progress and promise in open practice

Tara introduces the team and staff after the open practice. (Photo by Dave Cortesi)

Stanford women’s basketball season ticket holders got a sneak peek at the 2018-19 team during an open practice Oct. 19 in Maples. It was a session that showed much promise with more progress to come.

After warmups, the team scrimmaged for two quarters. Head coach Tara VanDerveer coached one group while associate head coach Kate Paye coached the other. Assistant coaches Tempie Brown and Lindy La Rocque refereed.

Senior guard Marta Sniezek was out of action with a right hand injury. Without elaborating on the injury, Tara said later, “Marta will be ready,” presumably for the season.

Freshman forward Lexie Hull was in practice garb but remained on the sidelines running sprints under the supervision of trainer Katelin Knox and sports performance coach Brittany Keil.

Jenna, Anna play point position

Everyone else got into action as freshman guard Jenna Brown and junior guard Anna Wilson played mostly at the point for their respective sides.

The crowd of several hundred applauded the many good baskets, rebounds and assists. There also were some turnovers, not so good.

Although it’s difficult to single anyone out at this early stage, it was clear that all of the returning players have greatly improved and the two freshmen who did play – -Jenna and forward Lacie Hull, Lexie's identical twin –- have great potential.

After the scrimmage, the players went to the eight baskets arrayed around the court and practiced three-point shots at various points around the arc. I couldn’t see everyone from my vantage point, but I did observe senior forward Alanna Smith nailing most of her shots.

Next came free throws, a weakness of last year’s team. Again, I couldn’t see everyone, but I did count 10 in a row by junior guard Mikaela Brewer.

Everyone circles 'round after practice. (Photo by Dave Cortesi)
Finally, the team and staff gathered at center court for some last words from the coaches before lining up to be introduced to the fans.

Four gain international experience

Tara made fairly quick work on the intros, but pointed out international experiences by four players during the summer.

Jenna plays for USA U-18. (USA  Basketballphoto)
Jenna helped the USA U-18 team win gold in Mexico City. Alanna contributed to her native Australia’s silver medal performance in FIBA World Cup competition in Spain, losing to the USA team, which featured Nneka Ogwumike, ’12.

Sophomore forward Alyssa Jerome played for her native Canada’s Senior Women’s National Team in China and Japan. Senior guard Alexa Romano was in the Peruvian Andes on an archeological dig.

While Tara paid tribute to Marian and Dave Cortesi to their long devotion to SWBB by maintaining this Fast Break Club website, the four seniors went into the stands to give them a thank-you gift.

Finally, Tara had several comments about the team. “We have a really deep team,” she said, adding that she believes it’s “a little ahead” of where last year’s team was at this time.

She expressed gratitude that some players have returned to good health. She also praised the team’s hard work and “great camaraderie.”

Fans will have their next chance to see the team in action during the home exhibition game against Vanguard at 7 p.m. Nov. 1. It will be followed by the first game that counts: a home encounter with UC Davis at 7 p.m. Nov. 7.

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