Ten Schools in Ten Days: Stanford Women's Basketball Preview
Nov. 7, 2005
The 2005-06 Stanford Women's Basketball team will have a fresh new look, with the departure of five seniors and the addition of three new freshmen. Despite the loss of Susan King Borchardt, Sebnem Kimyacioglu, Azella Perryman,Kelley Suminski and T'Nae Thiel,a quintet who contributed nearly half of the squad's scoring and rebounding last year, thesquad retains starters Brooke Smith and Candice Wiggins.
'Obviously, we lost a lot to graduation,' noted head coach Tara VanDerveer. 'We're going to have a whole new look, and it's going to take some time to get our young players up to speed. Having said that, we also return Candice and Brooke - they're the backbone ofour team.'
The Cardinal will experiment with a myriad of combinations around Smith and Wiggins as Stanford seeks a trip to the Final Four in April.
'We're going to put a lot of different combinations around them,'commented VanDerveer.' For us to be successful, we're really going to have to focus on our rebounding and our defense. Yes, we will still shoot the ball well,but we're going to have to be a moreaggressive team. That's our focus.'
Stanford will have another challenging schedule this season, as the Cardinal opens the season at the Minnesota Tournament before hosting Fresno State, Tennessee and Rice. Stanford will also travel to Texas Tech and Boston College and will begin the Pac-10season on Dec. 20 in Washington. After the regular conference season, Stanford will attempt to win its fourth-straight Pac-10 Tournament title before beginning its quest for theNational Championship.
The Cardinal enters the 2005-06 season as the five-time defending Pac-10 Champions and is coming off back-to-back Elite Eight appearances. But past successes have onlymade this team hungrier.
Although Smith and Wiggins are the only returning starters, the rest of the team has plenty of experience and talent and are ready to compete. The entire team is strong and well conditioned coming into fall practice, and ready to hit the floor and compete againstthe nation's best.
The Cardinal will have another strong year at guard, as Wiggins returns for her sophomore year as the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year and a Kodak All-American. She will be a key part of the Cardinal's offense, using her intensity on the defensive side of the ball to spur her momentum. Junior Clare Bodensteiner, who redshirted last season, will be back on the floor and will bring her signature enthusiasm and experience to the court. Freshman Rosalyn Gold-Onwude will also challenge for time at the point, as she returns to the court after missing her senior season in high school due to a knee injury.
Junior Markisha Coleman has continued to make major strides and will compete for more court time. Stanford has relied heavily on the prolific three-point shooting from Borchardt, Kimyacioglu and Suminski over the past four years, but the Cardinal will be looking for new shooters to step up this season. Senior Krista Rappahahn is looking for an exciting final season, while Cissy Pierce will utilize her tremendous athleticism in her sophomore campaign. Christy Titchenal missed much of her freshman season due to a foot injury and illness, but is stronger and healthier than ever and ready to make an impact. Freshman Jillian Harmon will also add to the mixture on the perimeter, and will look to contribute immediately.
Smith, a returning First-Team All-Pac-10 selection, will continue to be a force under the basket with her combination of consistent shooting, excellent passing and strong rebounding. Kristen Newlin was one of the most productive players last season, contributing more than eight points in less than 17 minutes per game. In her junior campaign this season, Newlin will be relied upon even more. Senior Shelley Nweke, who has been sidelined much of her career with injury,will look to make an impact in her final season,as she provides extra depth at center. Junior Eziamaka Okafor has been rehabbing since tearing her Achilles'tendon last January, and will be a force to be reckoned with this season. She is expected to provide an athletic and aggressive dimension inside. Freshman Morgan Clyburn will round out the posts, as she brings great intensity and commitment and will challenge for playing time early on in the season.