No. 15/15 Stanford Hosts Santa Clara Wednesday Night
Nov. 28, 2006
No. 15/15 Stanford Cardinal (2-3, 0-0 Pac-10)
- vs. -
Santa Clara Broncos (4-2, 0-0 WCC)
225 games have passed since Stanford last owned a sub-.500 record, so the Cardinal is in some unfamiliar territory at the moment. Ranked No. 15 in both polls this week, Stanford (2-3, 0-0 Pac-10) owned a similar record through the first five games of the 1999-2000 campaign. An upcoming three-game homestand comes at a good time, with Stanford hosting Santa Clara (4-2, 0-0 WCC) on Wednesday night. Later in the week, the Cardinal squares off against No. 25/23 Texas Tech (5-1, 0-0 Big 12). Stanford went 0-2 during last week's SEC road swing against No. 4 Tennessee and No. 8 Georgia.
Stanford returns to Maples Pavilion on Sunday for a 2 p.m. tip-off against Texas Tech. The Lady Raiders have won five of their first six games and check in at No. 25 and 23 in this week's Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN coaches polls, respectively. Following almost a two-week break, the Cardinal hosts Utah on Saturday, Dec. 16.
Wednesday's game against Santa Clara can be heard live on KZSU 90.1 FM and Stanford's official athletics website, www.gostanford.com. Live statistics and a webcast are also offered.
Scouting Santa Clara
Santa Clara (4-2, 0-0 WCC) faces Stanford to begin a two-game road trip that also includes a contest at Cal State Northridge. The Broncos earned an 80-72 win over Washington State in their last time out and have won three of four overall since a tough 85-83 loss to Miami. Santa Clara has traditionally been a strong three-point shooting team and this year's squad is upholding that reputation. The Broncos are 57-125 from three-point territory, translating to 45.6-percent. However, Santa Clara is getting outrebounded by an average of 8.5 boards per game and has committed 108 turnovers compared to 87 assists. Players to keep an eye on include: Chandice Cronk (18.2 ppg, 20-23 free throws, team-best 23 three-pointers), Ashley Graham (13.7 ppg, 28 assists, 16-31 from three-point territory) and Jen Gottschalk (10.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 11 steals). Head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson is in her fifth season.
Stanford All-Time vs. Santa Clara
Stanford owns a 25-4 all-time record against Santa Clara. These two Bay Area rivals last met on Mar. 21, 2005, when the Cardinal cruised to a 94-57 win in an NCAA Tournament first round contest played in Fresno. Stanford has won three straight in the series, which dates back to the 1974-75 campaign. Santa Clara's last victory in the series came back on Dec. 4, 1998, as the Broncos notched an 81-65 win in Santa Clara. Stanford is 12-2 all-time at home against Santa Clara.
It's Been Awhile
Stanford has started the season 2-3 for the first time since 1999-2000. That's also the last time the Cardinal was under the .500 mark. Stanford has lost three games during the month of November for the first time since an 0-3 start to the 1998-99 campaign. The two-game losing streak is not as unusual, as Stanford dropped back-to-back games at Washington and No. 24 Boston College in late December of last year.
Post Players Providing Production
Stanford's talented post rotation is one of the deepest in the entire country, as evidenced by some impressive early performances. Senior Brooke Smith ranks second in scoring (17.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg) while shooting 51.5-percent from the field. Smith has scored in double-figures in four of Stanford's five games. Senior Kristen Newlin has been just as good, posting two double-doubles while averaging 7.8 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds per game. Newlin is shooting 51.6-percent from the field. Throw in highly-touted freshman Jayne Appel, who currently ranks third in scoring (12.3 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg), and you have the recipe for a dominating front line.
Wiggins Leading The Cardinal
Junior Candice Wiggins has picked up right where she left off in 2005-06. The two-time All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year, Wiggins has notched two 20-point games and did put together an outstanding three-game stretch last week against Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia by averaging 21.0 ppg with 10 three-pointers overall. Wiggins is shooting 44.4-percent from the field, 69.2-percent from the foul line and remains tied for the team lead in assists (19) and steals (10). The preseason accolades continue to pile up, as well. Wiggins was named to the list of 30 preseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award. That comes on the heels of being named to the 25-player watch list for the Wade Trophy.
Appel Enjoys Breakthrough Weekend
Last week's road trip against No. 4 Tennessee and No. 8 Georgia was supposed to serve as a nothing but a learning experience for freshman Jayne Appel. However, the Cardinal rookie instead put on a clinic against some of the best competition in the country. Against Tennessee on Nov. 24, Appel led the Cardinal with a season-best 23 points on 10-17 shooting to match five rebounds and five blocks in 30 minutes. Two days later, she nearly recorded her first double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
What's Going Right
Through just five games, Stanford holds a statistical edge over its opponents in a few key categories. The Cardinal is averaging 68.8 points per game while allowing only 65.4. Stanford is shooting 45.6-percent from the field and limiting its opponents to just 40.6-percent. The Cardinal has posted a rebounding margin of +4.0 while dishing out 92 assists compared to just 62 by its opponents. Stanford leads the Pac-10 with an assist/turnover ratio of +2.6 and also in blocked shots (26).
What Needs Improvement
Of course it's still early, but Stanford will be looking for increased production in a couple of areas. The Cardinal has made just 22-68 three-point attempts, translating into a 32.4-percent rate. Meanwhile, opponents have knocked down 36-80 opportunties for a 45.0-percent clip. The Cardinal will also be looking to improve at the free throw line, having made 34-61 tries for an uncharacteristic 55.7 percentage. Opponents are shooting 80.3-percent (61-76) from the foul line. Candice Wiggins, a career 82.9-percent free throw shooter, is just 9-13 while Brooke Smith and Kristen Newlin have attempted almost as many three-pointers (13) as free throws (17).
Finding A Way To Contribute
Head coach Tara VanDerveer must be pleased with the collegiate debuts of the four freshmen on the Cardinal roster. The newcomers may not have produced jaw-dropping numbers so far, but each has contributed in a reserve role. Michelle Harrison has enjoyed success, shooting 53.8-percent (7-13) while scoring eight points in 13 minutes in the season opener. JJ Hones has made three consecutive starts and leads the team with 19 assists. Melanie Murphy has given the club a boost off the bench, with eight assists in limited playing time. Jayne Appel had her way with Tennessee's post players, pouring in a career-best 23 points with five rebounds and five blocks.
Home Sweet Home
Tara VanDerveer's teams have compiled a 274-30 record at home during her tenure, including a 169-11 mark all-time against Pac-10 foes at home. Stanford has won 70 of its last 75 games at Maples, although a 55-52 upset loss to No. 24 BYU on Nov. 13 snapped a 12-game winning streak. With a 78-47 win over Washington State on Feb. 25, 2006, Stanford improved its Pac-10 home win streak to 46 games. Stanford's last conference loss in Maples was on March 1, 2001, when USC posted a 62-59 victory over the Cardinal.