Depth, Experience Will Carry Cardinal in 2000-01
Oct. 23, 2000
PALO ALTO, Calif. -
The return of four starters and addition of a five-player recruiting class that was ranked among the nation's best gives the Stanford University women's basketball program high hopes entering the 2000-01 campaign.
'I think we should have improved depth this season,' Stanford women's basketball head coach Tara VanDerveer, who enters the season just three victories shy of 500 for her storied career, said. 'We obviously lost an important person in Milena (First Team All-Pac-10 selection Milena Flores), but this will also be one of our most experienced teams in several years. This will be one of our deepest teams going back to our Pac-10 Championship teams from 1995-97.
'With the depth we have, we can use just about any combination of personnel on the floor at any given time. We're looking to really do some different things offensively, involving running more and being more aggressive.'
VanDerveer's squad is coming off a season where it made great strides en route to a second round NCAA Tournament appearance and 12th 20-win season (21-9) in the last 13 years. The Cardinal, which is ranked anywhere from No. 10-19 in the preseason polls, will now look to go further in the postseason and regain the Pac-10 title for the first time since 1997-98 as the youth from last season (six of the top nine scorers on last year's team were freshmen and sophomores) turns into experience.
'We were in every game and were extremely competitive last year, now we just have to be more consistent,' VanDerveer said. 'The biggest thing for us physically is we have to improve our defense and do a better job of rebounding. And like last year, a real key will be keeping everyone healthy.'
Competitive was a perfect word to describe a Cardinal squad that saw eight of its nine losses come by seven points or less. In addition, the Cardinal's five Pac-10 losses came by a combined total of only 22 points. Stanford also won five of its eight games against ranked opposition, and lost a last-minute heartbreaker to eventual national finalist Tennessee. Stanford also snapped a three-game postseason losing streak with an impressive overtime upset of then-No. 24 Michigan in the first round before a hard-fought loss to No. 4 Georgia in the second round. VanDerveer hopes the experiences from last year carry over for her eight returning letterwinners.
'I hope that the NCAA Tournament win against Michigan is a stepping stone for us in that it has us going the right direction. We really stepped up in overtime and played well, and I think it was all of the close games we played during the season that prepared us for that kind of tight game in the NCAA Tournament. We then played up a level against a great Georgia team at Georgia. Hopefully in that game, our players saw from Georgia what it takes to get to the next level of the NCAA Tournament.'
Stanford will be going the right direction in 2000-01 with four returning starters-1999-2000 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Jamie Carey, 1999-2000 Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selections Lauren St. Clair and Carolyn Moos, and Bethany Donaphin, who ranked among the conference leaders in rebounds. Add in four other key contributors in Cori Enghusen, Sarah Dimson, Enjoli Izidor and Lindsey Yamasaki, and the Cardinal has eight players familiar with the rigors of both Pac-10 and NCAA Tournament competition.
But those eight players will not be alone, as VanDerveer and her staff has brought to The Farm a five-player recruiting class that was ranked among the top five in the nation. First Team Parade Magazine Prep All-American Nicole Powell (Phoenix, AZ), who led the U.S. Junior World Championship Qualifying Team in rebounding this summer, leads the way in a class that figures to make an immediate impact. Point guard Susan King (Richfield, MN) was a USA Today First Team All-American, and like Powell, was invited to participate in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association High School All-America game. Forwards Becky Bonner (Concord, NH) and Chelsea Trotter (San Dimas, CA) were also Parade All-Americans, while Katie Denny (Pacific Grove, CA) finished her prep career as one of the most prolific scorers in Northern California history.
VanDerveer will also look to her returners to continue the proficient shooting from the outside that rewrote both the Stanford and Pac-10 record books a year ago. Stanford made a conference and school record 213 3-pointers in 1999-2000-an average of 7.10 per game-to shatter the old mark set by the 1996-97 Cardinal of 205 in 36 contests (5.69 pg). Stanford also owned the second best 3-point percentage in Division I women's basketball at .408 (213-of-522), which was better than the overall field goal percentage of five schools in the Pac-10. The leaders of the charge were Jamie Carey, who set a Stanford record for 3-pointers in a season with 81, and Lauren St. Clair, who finished first in the Pac-10 and ninth in the country by shooting .466 (61-of-131) from behind the arc.
'We're a great offensive team with outstanding 3-point shooters. There's nothing better for a post player than having great 3-point shooters like Jamie and Lauren, because the outside game really opens up things on the inside. We have a lot of other great 3-point shooters, but to be successful this season we also need to have a great inside game. We need to go out, get people on the block and be more physical in the paint.'
As always, the Cardinal, which was picked to finish first in the conference in the annual Preseason Coaches Poll, will be challenged night in and night out in the rugged Pac-10. The conference race came down to the final weekend last March, with Stanford finishing one game behind conference champion Oregon, and a total of six teams finishing within four games of the top spot.
'I think the positive thing last year was that we were in the conference race right up to the end,' said VanDerveer. 'But we weren't as consistent as we needed to be. We're going to have to use our experience to our advantage this season, which is something we maybe didn't use as well as we needed to last year.
'If we want to win the conference, we will have to win it every single day in practice. We all learned good things from our close games last year, including the wins over Michigan and at USC and Oregon State, and we'll have to keep that going. We beat every team in the conference last year, so it's not like there was a team that was head and shoulders above us. We're not intimidated by anybody, but we're also respectful of every team we'll play.'
A challenging non-conference schedule will also earn the Cardinal's respect, including road games at national powers Tennessee and Purdue. Stanford also faces NCAA Tournament qualifiers Oklahoma, St. Joseph's and Utah as well as Bay Area rivals Saint Mary's, San Francisco and Santa Clara.
The following is a position-by-position look at the 2000-01 Stanford women's basketball team:
'The number one thing for us is to have both Susan and Jamie healthy,' VanDerveer said. 'Both are capable of playing the point.'Carey and King, among others, will look to pick up the slack of departed two time First Team All-Pac-10 Selection Milena Flores, who now plays for the WNBA's Miami Sol. Flores enjoyed the best year of her collegiate career as a senior, in becoming the first player in Pac-10 history to win both three straight conference assist titles and back-to-back free throw percentage crowns. She also finished third in Stanford history and fourth in the Pac-10 record book with 644 career assists to cement herself as one of the top point guards in Stanford women's basketball history.
Carey emerged as Flores' backcourt mate a year ago by posting one of the finest freshman seasons in the history of the program. Despite a nagging left high ankle sprain that caused her to sit out the majority of the team's practices, Carey earned Freshman All-America and conference freshman of the year honors after averaging 11.0 points per game and setting a new school record with 81 3-pointers in a season. She really came to the forefront in Pac-10 play with a team-high 12.4 points per game and .478 (55-of-115) shooting percentage from behind the 3-point line. Following off-season ankle surgery, a healthy Carey will look to follow up on her freshman success.
'I think Jamie had an exceptional freshman year,' VanDerveer said. 'You recruit players and sometimes don't alwyas know what you're getting. With Jamie we knew she was an outstanding outside shooter but had no idea she played with such heart and was as good as she was defensively. It was disappointing for her that she wasn't able to practice most of last season because of her ankle, so it's amazing that she accomplished the things she did despite the injury. The biggest thing for her will be to stay healthy, because she has a great work ethic, great attitude and all the intangibles it takes to succeed at this level.'
King comes to Stanford after being one of the most coveted prep point guards in the nation last season. Besides earning First Team All-America honors from USA Today, King was named Minnesota Player of the Year by the same publication as well as being named Minnesota's 'Miss Basketball' for the 1999-2000 campaign.
'Susan is very athletic, very quick and extremely competitive. She can pass, shoot, and use her quickness to take people to the basket. She is crazy about the game of basketball and has a great work ethic.'
Versatility will be the name of the game as the Cardinal has several players who will contribute both on the wing and on the inside.
The Cardinal's wealth of options on the wings includes one of the best 3-point shooters in the country (junior Lauren St. Clair), the team's leading scorer two seasons ago (junior Lindsey Yamasaki), a talented senior (Sarah Dimson), one of the team's top contributors off the bench last season (junior Enjoli Izidor) and two impressive freshmen who can immediately contribute (Nicole Powell, Katie Denny).
St. Clair, who was plagued by injuries during her freshman campaign, burst onto the scene last season with one of the most impressive 3-point shooting displays in program history. The Philadelphia native, who attempted just one 3-pointer in her entire high school career, led the Pac-10 and ranked ninth in the country in 3-point percentage by converting on .466 percent of her attempts. Even more impressively, St. Clair shot .531 (43-of-81) percent from long distance in Pac-10 games and .625 (25-of-40) percent against ranked opposition. Those numbers earned St. Clair, who averaged 9.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per outing, Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 honors. The junior underwent off-season shoulder surgery, but is ready for the 2000-01 season.
Yamasaki-a Pac-10 All-Freshman selection two years ago-gives the Cardinal another offensive threat who can score from anywhere on the floor. Yamasaki averaged a team-high 14.0 points per game in that freshman campaign, and also ranked among the conference leaders in rebounds with 5.9. Last season, the Oregon City, Oregon native joined the team following the conclusion of the volleyball season (late December), and averaged 6.7 points a game. Yamasaki, who is expected to be fully recovered from a stress fracture suffered in the off-season, elected not to play volleyball this fall.
'The key for Lindsey is getting completely healthy and being able to go full speed. A lot of the things we are looking to do (up-tempo style) are among of the things that she does really well. She has great size and versatility and can play inside or outside.'
Dimson, a six-footer, is coming off a year in which she led the team in field goal percentage for the second consecutive season. She shot .555 (61-of-110) percent from the floor, and holds an even more impressive career mark of .560 (158-of-282) percent. Dimson played in all 30 games last season, including 18 starts, and averaged 5.1 points and 4.5 rebounds on the perimeter and in the post.
'Sarah is coming off a good junior year. She brings us an aggressive style, and I think what we want to do in terms of an up-tempo game is up Sarah's alley. Playing a more aggressive, fast-paced game is better suited to Sarah. The important thing for us is being able to take advantage of both her size as a perimeter player and versatility as a post player.'
In Izidor, VanDerveer has another player who caters to the up-tempo style that the Cardinal will feature this season. The 6-foot-0 junior averaged 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds a year ago as she came off the bench in all 30 games. She also played a big role in the Cardinal's near-miss upset of Tennessee when she played a career-high 37 minutes, and tallied seven points and five rebounds.
One of Powell's main weapons is her versatility. VanDerveer will look for the freshman to do anything from handle the ball to be a factor in the paint. A prolific scorer (2,478 career points in high school), Powell also figures to give the Cardinal a big lift under the glass after grabbing over 15 rebounds per game as a senior. The consensus Prep All-American, who was ranked as one of the elite recruits in the country, averaged 8.2 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds for the gold-medal winning United States World Junior Championship Qualifying squad this summer.
'The best statistic I saw from the junior national team was that Nicole was their leading rebounder, because that is an area of need for our team. If she's able to carry that over this season it will really help this team out. She also has good size (6-foot-2), and passes, shoots and sees the floor extremely well.'
The 6-foot-1 Denny, who is from nearby Pacific Grove, is an explosive scorer who was one of the top high school players in Northern California the last few seasons. She set the Monterey County single game scoring record when she poured in 52 points last Jan. 15, and already ranks as one of the top female athletes in the history of that region.
'Katie is a talented player with a great work ethic. She is a very good outside shooter who can also post up or face up to the basket. We're very excited to have Katie, and are looking forward to her having a great freshman year.'
The return of 6-foot-6 senior center Carolyn Moos, who led the Cardinal in scoring last year and has led the team in rebounding each of the past two seasons, gives VanDerveer a legitimate threat in the paint. Moos, who has started 59 of the Cardinal's 60 games over the last two seasons, was named Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 last season after averaging 12.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Her scoring and rebounding numbers both ranked among the Pac-10's leaders, as did her 0.90 blocked shots per contest. The Minnesota native also came into her own from the outside last season to give the Cardinal yet another shooting threat from behind the arc.
'Carolyn gives you her best effort each and every night. She has some real special skills in terms of her outside shooting ability for a player her size. The biggest obstacle in terms of where we are as a team and where we need to go involves developing an inside presence, and that is an area where we will look to Carolyn. If we can play more of an up-tempo, aggressive full-court style this season that could really play to her advantage because she runs the court so well.'
Along with Moos, the Cardinal has two returners-juniors Bethany Donaphin and Cori Enghusen-and two freshmen (Becky Bonner and Chelsea Trotter) who figure to make an impact as Stanford steps up its inside game.
The 6-foot-2 Bonner is a two-time Prep All-American and four-time all-state selection out of Concord, New Hampshire. She averaged a triple-double of 28 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists as a junior, and averaged over 20 points per game in each of her four seasons. Bonner also has the skills to help Stanford either on the inside or outside.
'Becky comes from a family with a good basketball tradition (brother Matt plays at Florida), and really loves the game. Becky is a very good fundamental player, who shoots and handles the ball well. She is a blue-collar player who plays hard every trip down the floor.'
The 6-foot-2 Donaphin emerged as a scoring threat last season, finishing just shy of double figures at 9.6 points per game. She made 21 starts at power forward, including a career-best 26-point performance in the upset win over No. 7 Iowa State, and also led the team in rebounding on a team-high 11 different occasions. Donaphin, who finished 15th in the conference last season with 5.4 rebounds per game, owns a career .528 (187-of-354) field goal percentage to go along with 8.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 58 games over two seasons.
'Bethany gives us some excellent athleticism in terms of her jumping ability. She's done the things we've asked of her - running the floor well, playing solid defense and grabbing rebounds. We'll also be looking at her to become a consistent scoring threat. She will be asked to do a lot of things that weren't asked of her the last couple of years, like facing up to the basket and working on her passing skills.'
Enghusen, who at 6-foot-7 is the tallest player in Stanford women's basketball history, continued to improve throughout last season. The junior averaged 3.4 points per game in 29 appearances off the bench in 1999-2000, which doubled her scoring output from her freshman season. She also continues to improve as a shot blocker, with 40 over her two seasons at Stanford.
'Cori gives us a great presence inside with her size,' VanDerveer said. 'The positive thing for Cori is that she's coming off a great game in the NCAA Tournament vs. Georgia (10 points). We're counting on her to really help us this year, and to pick up where she left off in March.'
Trotter is a 6-foot-3 forward/center that comes to Stanford from three-time defending California Division II State Champion Brea-Olinda High School. She was a Fourth Team Parade Magazine All-America last season, as she completed an impressive recovery from an ACL injury following her junior year. She also had an outstanding junior campaign, averaging 20 points and 10 boards a game en route to All-America honors from Street & Smith's and Parade.
'Chelsea's a very skilled player who we recruited to help our inside game. She's also a skilled passer with great back to the basket moves.'