Women's Hoops Back From Break; Hosts Utah Saturday
Dec. 13, 2006
No. 14/15 Stanford Cardinal (4-3, 0-0 Pac-10)
- vs. -
Utah Utes (5-4, 0-0 Mountain West)
Fresh off a 13-day break, No. 14/15 Stanford (4-3, 0-0 Pac-10) makes its return to the hardwood against Utah (5-4, 0-0 Mountain West) on Saturday, Dec. 16, in a 2 p.m. contest at Maples Pavilion. Winners of back-to-back games for the first time this year, the Cardinal will look to remain undefeated during an extended three-game homestand that already includes convincing victories over Santa Clara and Texas Tech. Saturday's game against Utah figures to be a challenge, as the Utes have rebounded nicely from a 1-4 start to the season with four consecutive wins.
The Pac-10 regular season begins next week, as Stanford hits the road for the first time since Nov. 26 with contests at USC and UCLA. The Southern California trip begins on Wednesday, Dec. 20, as the Cardinal makes its first-ever appearance at the Galen Center against USC. Two days later, Stanford faces UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in a 2 p.m. tip-off.
Saturday's game against Utah can be heard live on KZSU 90.1 FM and Stanford's official athletics website, www.gostanford.com, with Jake Kelman handling play-by-play duties. Live statistics and a webcast are also offered.
Utah enters Saturday's game with a 5-4 overall record, thanks to a recent surge that has the team over the .500 mark for the first time this season. One year after finishing 27-7 and advancing to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, the Utes dropped four of their first five contests. Since a 1-4 start, Utah has rattled off four straight victories to improve to 5-4. Included in the winning streak are home triumphs over USC (70-66) and Arizona (66-60). Utah holds an edge over its opponents in scoring (60.4 ppg to 56.3), rebounding (39.4 rpg to 32.3) and field goal shooting (40.4 to 35.1). Players to watch include: Morgan Warburton (15.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 34-37 free throws), Joh-Teena Filipe (9.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Kalee Whipple (9.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg). Head coach Elaine Elliott is in her 24th year.
Stanford All-Time vs. Utah
Eight games have been played between the two programs, with Stanford winning all eight. The two teams last met on Mar. 21, 2005 in an NCAA Tournament second round game played in Fresno, with Stanford earning an 88-62 victory. This series debuted on Jan. 13, 1986. Stanford is 2-0 all-time against Utah in games played at Maples Pavilion.
Homestand Highlighted By Defense
Stanford's current three-game homestand has been highlighted by consistent pressure and an opportunistic defense. Over the last two home games combined, Stanford's opponents are averaging only 52.5 points per game while shooting an average of 30.8-percent from the field. Furthermore, the Cardinal has forced 44 combined turnovers while allowing only 13 assists. In an 88-56 rout of Santa Clara on Nov. 29, Stanford held a 54-39 rebounding edge and limited a potent Bronco offense to just 33.3-percent shooting. The 49 points surrendered to Texas Tech in a 73-49 win three days later represented a season-low for a Cardinal foe. The Lady Raiders were held to just 19 second-half points, a 28.3-percent field goal rate and a 3-10 mark from beyond the arc.
Cardinal Finds Scoring Balance...
Five different players scored in double-figures during Stanford's 88-56 victory over Santa Clara on Nov. 29, representing the first time that has happened since six Cardinal players accomplished the feat in a 109-58 win at Pacific on Dec. 1, 2005. In fact, at least three Stanford players have reached double-figure scoring in every game this year with the exception of Nov. 13 against BYU. Candice Wiggins (16.9 ppg), Brooke Smith (14.7) and Jayne Appel (10.7) are all averaging double-figure scoring for the Cardinal.
Not So Much For The Opposition...
Stanford's success in placing multiple players in double-figure scoring has not been duplicated by its opponents. A stout Cardinal defense has allowed just 61.7 points per game while holding four opponents to 60 points or less. Opponents are shooting only 37.9-percent from the field and only two teams have shot better than 40-percent in a game. The most recent example came in a 73-49 rout of Texas Tech on Dec. 3, as the Cardinal held the Lady Raiders without a double-digit scorer. The last time a Stanford opponent failed to place at least one player in double-figure scoring occurred last year, when Krystal Frazier led Rice with nine points in an 83-53 Stanford rout on Dec. 17, 2005.
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 (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg) while shooting 48.9-percent from the field. Smith has scored in double-figures in six of Stanford's seven games. Senior Kristen Newlin has been just as good, posting three double-doubles while averaging 8.0 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game. Newlin is shooting 50-percent from the field. And don't forget about freshman Jayne Appel, who ranks third in scoring (10.7 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg).
Wiggins Leading The Cardinal
The two-time All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year, junior Candice Wiggins leads the Cardinal in scoring (16.9 ppg), three-pointers (15) and steals (15). A 44.6-percent shooter from the field, Wiggins also ranks second in assists (23) and is pulling down 4.3 rebounds per game. She has scored in double-figures in five straight games and six overall. Wiggins has scored at least 20 points in two games this year and poured in 19 against Texas Tech in her last outing on Dec. 3.
Harmon Makes The Hustle Plays
Candice Wiggins will score. Kristen Newlin will rebound. JJ Hones will rack up assists. But perhaps no player on the roster is more capable of making her mark in multiple stat categories than sophomore Jillian Harmon. A Pac-10 All Freshman Team honoree last year, Harmon's hustle and intensity provides the Cardinal with yet another versatile weapon. She currently ranks fourth in scoring (8.4 ppg), fifth in rebounding (3.6 rpg), second in steals (14), fourth in assists (14), and is shooting 46.3-percent from the field.
Road Trip Carries Over For Appel
Stanford's first road trip of the year to No. 4 Tennessee and No. 8 Georgia was thought to be a learning experience for freshman Jayne Appel. Instead, Appel put on a clinic against some of the nation's best competition. Against Tennessee, Appel led the Cardinal with a season-best 23 points on 10-17 shooting to match five rebounds and five blocks. Two days later versus Georgia, she nearly recorded her first double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Since that road trip she has been just as impressive, averaging 10.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while leading the Cardinal with 15 blocked shots.
Last Time Out:
No. 14/15 Stanford 73, Texas Tech 49 (Dec. 3, 2006 at Stanford, Calif.)
Candice Wiggins scored 19 points and Brooke Smith added 14 in helping No. 15 Stanford to a 73-49 victory over No. 25 Texas Tech. Jayne Appel added 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocks for the Cardinal, who won their third straight over the Lady Raiders. Stanford shot 42.4-percent from the field compared to Texas Tech's 28.3-percent. Wiggins triggered Stanford's 21-2 run to open the second half that broke the game open. She connected on a 3-pointer from the corner and followed with a driving layup that led to a three-point play that gave the Cardinal a 57-32 lead. The Lady Raiders hurt themselves with poor shooting to open both halves. They were held to five points in the first 13 minutes and were 2-of-19 from the field to open the second half. They shot under 30 percent for the game. The teams combined to commit 45 turnovers, with the Lady Raiders turning it over 23 times. Texas Tech missed its first eight shots, but rallied to take a 20-17 lead midway through the first half. Stanford roared back with a 14-2 run to push its lead to 31-22 en route to a 36-30 halftime advantage.
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 46.4-percent (13-28) while scoring a season-best 13 points against Santa Clara on Nov. 29. JJ Hones has made five consecutive starts and leads the team with 33 assists. Melanie Murphy has given the club a boost off the bench, with nine 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 on Nov. 24. She is averaging 10.7 ppg and 5.8 rpg.
What's Going Right
Through just seven games, Stanford holds a statistical edge over its opponents in several key categories. The Cardinal is averaging 72.1 points per game while allowing only 61.7. Stanford is shooting 44.2-percent from the field and limiting its opponents to just 37.9-percent. The Cardinal has posted a rebounding margin of +6.0 while dishing out 127 assists compared to just 107 by its opponents.
What Needs Improvement
Stanford will be looking for increased production in a couple of areas. The Cardinal has made just 36-110 three-point attempts, translating into a 32.7-percent rate. Meanwhile, opponents have knocked down 45-105 opportunties for a 42.9-percent clip. The Cardinal will also be looking to improve at the free throw line, having made 73-114 tries for a 64-percent clip. Opponents are shooting 74.8-percent (89-119) from the foul line. Brooke Smith and Kristen Newlin have attempted almost as many three-pointers (24) as free throws (28).
Home Sweet Home
Tara VanDerveer's teams have compiled a 276-30 record at home during her tenure, including a 169-11 mark all-time against Pac-10 foes at home. Stanford has won 72 of its last 77 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.
Smith, Wiggins Named Naismith Trophy Candidates
Senior Brooke Smith and junior Candice Wiggins have been included among a list of 50 preseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy presented by Cingular Wireless, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced earlier this week. The Naismith Trophy is one of the prestigious national awards presented annually to the men's and women's collegiate players of the year.The Top 50 list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Clubs Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. In January, the preseason list will be narrowed down to the top 30 players in the nation. Those players, and others who distinguish themselves throughout the season, will be eligible for the final ballot. Cingular Wireless, will allow fans to participate in determining this year's winner through text messaging. Fan voting will account for 25-percent of the final results.