2001-02 Women's Basketball Outlook
Oct. 26, 2001
The theme for the 2001-02 Stanford University women's basketball team is 'It's no secret.'
As in it's no secret that hard work and great attitude leads to championships. And in the Cardinal's case this season, the return of 10 letter-winners and the arrival of a nationally ranked freshman class doesn't hurt either.
'This is a go-for-it year,' Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. 'We've got great personnel, great depth and great experience - everything you need to have a shot at both regular- and post-season success. We need to have high expectations and work very hard to accomplish our goals.'
At the core of the Cardinal's depth is a five-player senior class that is hungry for a second straight Pacific-10 Conference championship and a run deep into the NCAA Tournament.
The group is led by a pair of players - Cori Enghusen and Lindsey Yamasaki - who were key member of the United States Women's Basketball Team that won the gold medal at this summer's World University Games in Beijing, China.
'Both Cori and Lindsey are playing with a lot of confidence after their experience at the World University Games. Like the rest of our seniors, they feel a real sense of urgency to get things accomplished this season. They want to do things they haven't done while they've been at Stanford.'
The rest of the senior class will play a huge role for Stanford this season. The trio of Bethany Donaphin, Enjoli Izidor and Lauren St. Clair all played prominent roles in the Cardinal's conference title run a year ago.
The combination of that senior class and a talented five-player sophomore class gives Stanford one of the nation's top groups of returners.
Nicole Powell, who has been named as one of 30 candidates for the 2002 Naismith College Women's Basketball Player of the Year, heads the sophomore class after putting together one of the best freshman seasons in Stanford women's basketball history. Last season, she was named a Freshman All-American, Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Pac-10 while also becoming both the first Stanford player and first freshman to ever lead the Pac-10 in rebounding. She was also a starter for the U.S. team that won bronze at the FIBA Junior World Championships in July.
Point guard Susan King made an immediate impact a year ago before suffering a season ending torn ACL in late December. King was averaging 11.3 points and 5.1 assists at the time of the injury, including a 21-point effort at Tennessee.
'We have so many returners that have experienced winning a Pac-10 Championship,' VanDerveer said. 'We got down in the beginning last year (1-3 in the Pac-10), but we did come back very strong. The returners talk about how well they dealt with the adversity. We went on to have a great spring where people worked extremely hard and really improved. This is an extremely hungry team.'
This group of 10 'hungry returners' are joined by a recruiting class that was ranked fourth in the nation. The quartet of Sebnem Kimyacioglu, Azella Perryman, Kelly Suminski and T'Nae Thiel gives the Cardinal a talented group of youngsters who could contribute immediately.
'I'm really excited about our freshmen. They're all very hard workers. They are coming in ready to compete, and will challenge people right away.'
VanDerveer also feels good about the strides her program made during the 2000-01 season. The Cardinal went 19-11 a year ago, in addition to capturing its 10th Pacific-10 Conference title and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.The accomplishments are all the more impressive considering that by January 1st, the Cardinal was without its pre-season starting backcourt of Jamie Carey (recurring concussions) and Susan King (torn ACL).
'Everyone just rallied together. Our players didn't get discouraged or frustrated and most importantly, didn't say, 'We have these injuries. We are going to give up.' Instead they saw it as a positive challenge and accepted that challenge.'
A new challenge presented to the Cardinal will be a schedule with a decidedly different look, thanks to the inception of the Pacific-10 Conference Tournament.
The inaugural Pac-10 Tournament, which takes place on March 1-4 at the University of Oregon, will be a four-day event that features all 10 schools in a single elimination bracket. The tournament will put conference teams in the unique position of possibly playing four games in as many days, or in the case of the first through sixth place teams, three games in three days.
'We have an outstanding schedule, and our team is very excited about the Pac-10 Tournament. I feel our depth will really pay off in a situation where we are forced to play three games in three days.'
The Cardinal will tune up for that possibility by playing in the eight-team Asahi Rainbow Wahine Classic in Hawaii over Thanksgiving weekend. Stanford will play three games in three days in Honolulu against the likes of Penn State, Hawaii and Oklahoma State.
The remaining non-conference schedule may be even more exciting. VanDerveer's squad opens the season by hosting the Stanford Invitational Basketball Tournament on Nov. 16-17. All four teams in the tournament were post-season qualifiers a year ago, with UC Santa Barbara joining the Cardinal in the NCAA Tournament and Indiana and Western Kentucky both participating in the WNIT.
Stanford will continue its annual rivalry with Tennessee on Dec. 16 at Maples Pavilion, in addition to road games at Rutgers (23-8 a year ago) and Pepperdine (20-11) and a home tilt with Santa Clara (20-8).
The addition of the Pac-10 tournament significantly alters the conference schedule. Instead of opening up Pac-10 play just after New Year's Day, the Cardinal will now play a pair of conference games both the week before and the week after Christmas.
Regardless of the dates, the Cardinal's road to an 11th-Pac-10 title will be a difficult one. Stanford, which was the run-away first place choice in the conference's pre-season coaches poll, will be challenged by Washington, USC and Arizona State, among others.
The following is a position-by-position look at the 2001-02 Stanford women's basketball team:
The point guard position once again belongs to sophomore Susan King, who has recovered from a torn ACL that forced her to miss the final 21 games of last season.
Although she played only nine games a year ago, King quickly established herself as one of the top young playmakers in the nation. She averaged 11.3 points, 5.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds, scored in double figures seven times, and had five or more assists five times. She was particularly impressive in the Cardinal's near road upset of then-No. 2 Tennessee on Dec. 19, as she had 21 points, five rebounds and three assists en route to Pac-10 Player of the Week honors.
'Susan being healthy is great for our team because of the quickness and competitiveness she brings to the floor. She can score, defend, and makes other people look great. Our team is different with her on the floor.'
Senior Enjoli Izidor was one player who came to the forefront after King's injury. The 6-foot-0 native of Seattle started 11 of the Cardinal's final 13 games last season, and finished the campaign with averages of 7.0 points and 2.8 rebounds. The versatile guard, who also was one of the team's top ballhandlers down the stretch, averaged nearly nine points a game over the final 14 contests.
'Enjoli's a versatile player who has seen time at the one, two, three and four. Our up-tempo style fits Enjoli's game very well.'
Kimyacioglu comes to Stanford from nearby Pinewood School and Mountain View, California. She led Pinewood to four consecutive Central Coast Section Championships, including a California Division V State Championship in 1999. As a senior, Kimyacioglu averaged 21.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.0 steals, 4.0 assists and shot 83 percent from the free throw line.
'Sebnem passes the ball really well, and can also score. She has an excellent understanding of the game and is a very hard worker. She will contribute for us.'
Suminski won the Gatorade New Jersey State Player of the Year honors each of the last two seasons, and was an Honorable Mention All-American as a senior. She led Mendham High School to a 114-6 record in her four seasons, and last year alone, averaged 20.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and shot 60 percent from the floor and 82 percent from the free throw line.
'Kelley is a steady player. She is very fundamental - she has great footwork, really understands the game, is a good passer and scorer and is very deceptive defensively. She understands where she should be and works very hard.'Posts
'Bethany and Cori give us a great 1-2 punch,' VanDerveer said. 'They complement each other very well -- Cori with her size and power and Bethany with her athleticism. They combine to give us a great duo.'
Enghusen was a solid player for the Cardinal in her first two campaigns, but showed vast improvement at the end of last season. She played the best basketball of her collegiate career in the NCAA Tournament last March, as she scored a career-high 14 points in back-to-back games vs. George Washington and Oklahoma, and tied a school record with six blocked shots against the Sooners. Enghusen then went on play an important role for the U.S. World University Games Team that won the gold medal this summer in Beijing. She was second on the U.S. squad in blocked shots, and started a pair of games at center.
'Cori had a big summer, and played really well for the U.S. Team in China. She is in excellent shape and is really running the floor well. I expect her to have a fabulous senior year.'
Donaphin has been one of the Cardinal's top post players in each of the last three seasons. She averaged 7.4 points as a freshman, 9.6 as a sophomore and 7.4 as a junior. She owns an impressive career field goal percentage of 52.0 (276-of-531), and is among the Cardinal's all-time leaders in blocked shots with 83. The New York City native is also averaging 4.9 career rebounds per game, including 6.3 as a freshman in 1998-99.
'Bethany is extremely athletic, and can really help us both on the boards and defensively. She can be a very big factor for us.'
In addition to the talented seniors, Stanford has three up-and-coming players who will add depth in the paint. VanDerveer looks for sophomores Becky Bonner and Chelsea Trotter and freshman T'Nae Thiel to all play important roles this season.
Trotter made an impression in her freshman campaign, as she appeared in 28 games and made three starts. The 6-foot-3 Trotter averaged 3.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and shot 52.4 (43-of-82) percent from the floor despite nagging injuries that slowed her most of the year.
'We need Chelsea healthy. She's a go to post player who scores on the block really well, is an excellent passer and can rebound. She's a player who works hard defensively and helps us on both ends of the floor.'
Bonner had a strong freshman campaign, and proved that she can score both inside and outside. She shot over 50 percent from 3-point range (8-of-15, .533), and continued to improve over the course of the year. She came up with her biggest performance of the year when she scored 10 points in a crucial win over UCLA in the regular season finale.
'Becky is a hard worker with a positive attitude. She really understands the game well and does a lot things well away from the ball, like screening and boxing out. Becky also give us an inside dimension - she can score on the block and facing up.'
Thiel comes to The Farm as one of the most decorated high school players from the state of Texas. The 6-foot-1 forward was a consensus Prep All-American last season, and participated in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association High School All-American Game. She averaged 20 points and nine boards as a senior en route to Texas 5A Player of the Year honors.
'T'Nae is a strong passer and scorer. She is a smart player who runs the floor well. Our team will be much better because of her.'
As mentioned, Powell was simply spectacular in her freshman campaign. She was named First Team Kodak All-District VIII and First Team All-Pac-10, in addition to earning Freshman All-American and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors. She led the Cardinal in points (14.1 pg), rebounds (8.5 pg), assists (4.7 pg) and steals (1.8 pg), and ranked among the Pac-10 leaders in seven of a possible 12 categories. Despite playing out of position at point guard for most of the season due to injuries in the Cardinal backcourt, she became both the first Stanford player and first freshman to ever win the Pac-10 rebounding title. She followed up her freshman season by starting for the U.S. squad that won the bronze medal at the FIBA Junior World Championships in the Czech Republic in July. She averaged a team-high 6.3 rebounds for the U.S., and ranked among the tournament leaders in that category.
'I think Nicole has a chance at being Stanford's first three-time All-American. She had an outstanding freshman year, and we are counting on her to build on that confidence and that success. She did a great job for us on the boards, and proved that she's an extremely versatile player.'
Yamasaki, who was a teammate of Enghusen's on the gold medal winning World University Games Team this summer, earned Pac-10 Honorable Mention honors last season after averaging 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season. She had an excellent second half of the season, despite a nagging foot injury, and averaged 14.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in conference play. Yamasaki, whose career scoring average of 11.4 points ranks among the best totals in school history, also had an impressive summer in international competition as she led the U.S. in 3-pointers made at the World University Games.
'Lindsey is very talented, and knows that her senior year is her last chance to wear a Cardinal uniform. Lindsey is very important to our team's success. She really helps us offensively, because she can get red hot and the basket just gets bigger and bigger for her.'
St. Clair has established herself as one of the top 3-point shooters in the history of the Pac-10. The 1999-2000 Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection owns the seventh best career 3-point percentage in Pac-10 history at 40.0 (114-of-285), and ranked ninth in the nation in that category two years ago at 46.6 (61-of-131) percent. She appeared in 30 games last season, including 21 starts, and averaged 7.3 points and 2.8 rebounds.
'Lauren has been a very consistent performer for us. She gives us a defensive presence, does a lot of little things people don't notice and makes big plays. I think that Lauren is a player who will definitely benefit from our improved guard play.'
Powell, St. Clair and Yamasaki are joined on the wings by sophomore Kate Denny and freshman Azella Perryman.
Denny, who is from nearby Pacific Grove, California, gave the Cardinal much needed depth in the backcourt at the tail end of last season. She appeared in 21 games off the bench and is expected to see even more time this season.
'This could be a great year for Katie. She gives us an offensive threat because she has a nice 3-point shot and can put the ball on the floor. She also is very athletic, jumps well and can help us on the boards.'
Perryman was the two-time Alaska State Player of the Year and a two-time Street & Smith's Honorable Mention All-American. She averaged 26 points and 11 rebounds as a senior and led East High School of Anchorage, Alaska, to a 27-0 record and second consecutive state championship.
'Azella is an athletic player who can rebound. She can shoot from the inside or the outside. I like that she doesn't back down and is very aggressive.'