No. 7/8 Stanford, No. 9/7 Arizona State Meet In Pac-10 Final
March 5, 2007
2007 PAC-10 TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP
No. 7/8 Stanford Cardinal (27-4, 17-1 Pac-10)
- VS. -
No. 9/7 Arizona State Sun Devils (28-3, 16-2 Pac-10)
Having already locked up the Pac-10 regular sesason title, No. 7/8 Stanford (27-4, 17-1 Pac-10) can capture its fourth conference tournament crown tonight. A victory would result in an automatic NCAA Tournament berth. Standing in the way is No. 9/7 Arizona State (28-3, 16-2 Pac-10), which has won nine in a row and 24 of its last 26 overall. The Sun Devils' only losses during that stretch came against the Cardinal. Stanford claimed a 77-71 victory at Maples Pavilion on Dec. 30. When the two clubs hooked up on Jan. 27 in Tempe, the Cardinal won 73-65 in an overtime thriller.
KZSU 90.1 FM is your source for extensive coverage of at this year's Pac-10 Tournament. All tournament games will be broadcast live, with Jake Kelman calling the action. Monday's championship game will be televised live nationally on Fox Sports Net, with Barry Tompkins handling play-by-play duties and Mary Murphy offering color commentary.
Scouting No. 9/7 Arizona State
No. 9/7 Arizona State (28-3, 16-2 Pac-10) has put together an outstanding season, defeating opponents by an average of 15.8 points per game while staying among the nation's top-10 for most of the year. The Sun Devils are riding a nine-game winning streak, their longest of the year. Aside from two losses to Stanford, Arizona State's other defeat was an 83-74 setback to Tennessee. The Sun Devils average 74.7 points per game, shoot 47.8-percent from the field and 74.7-percent from the foul line. Keep an eye on: Emily Westerberg (13.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 85.7-percent free throws), Aubree Johnson (10.1 ppg, 54.1-percent field goals) and Briann January (9.6 ppg, 127 assists, 67 steals).
Stanford All-Time vs. Arizona State
Stanford holds a 42-11 all-time edge in the series with Arizona State. Stanford has won six of the last seven meetings, including a sweep of the season series. Stanford and Arizona State split the season series last year, with each team defending its home court.
Who To Watch Against Arizona State
In seven career games, Candice Wiggins is shooting 60-119 (50.4-percent) from the field against Arizona State. Wiggins is also averaging 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Brooke Smith is shooting at least 50-percent in her career against every Pac-10 opponent except Arizona State. In six games, Smith is just 28-65 (43-percent) while averaging 6.3 rebounds per game. Kristen Newlin is also shooting under 50-percent in the post, connecting at 45.1-percent in eight career games.
Stanford All-Time In Pac-10 Tournament
Stanford owns a 15-2 all-time record in Pac-10 Tournament games following a 67-52 win over USC on Mar. 4 in the semifinal round of the Pac-10 Tournament. In the five-year history of the event, the Cardinal has been crowned champions three times (2003, 2004 and 2005). More impressive, Stanford has locked up the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament every season. Last year, UCLA defeated Stanford 85-76 in overtime to capture the tournament title and NCAA automatic bid. The inaugural tourney took place in 2002, with Arizona State claiming the hardware with a 70-63 win over Stanford.
Three More For 30, Seven To Tie Mark
With the postseason now in full swing, Stanford stands at 27-4 overall with some realistic benchmarks in sight. Stanford's 65-55 victory over Arizona in the Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals on Mar. 3 matched last year's win total of 26. Three more victories, which would likely include a Pac-10 Tournament title and Sweet 16 appearance, would represent the sixth 30-win season in school history. And seven more victories would give Stanford its third national title, while tying the program's all-time win mark of 34.
Cardinal Well-Represented On All Pac-10 Squad
Jayne Appel was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, highlighting a league-best five selections for Stanford as the 2006-07 Pac-10 women's basketball honors were announced on Mar. 1. Appel, who also garnered All Pac-10 Honorable Mention accolades, was joined on the five-member All-Freshman Team by teammate JJ Hones. Appel, who ranks third on the Cardinal in scoring and rebounding, becomes the sixth Cardinal player to earn the honor and the fourth in the last eight years. Stanford was also represented on the All Pac-10 Team, as senior Brooke Smith and junior Candice Wiggins strengthened their case for All-America status by being named to the squad for the third consecutive year. Wiggins had earned Pac-10 Player of the Year honors in each of her first two seasons.
Stanford secured its seventh consecutive Pac-10 regular season championship with a 56-53 win over USC on Feb. 25. This time around the Cardinal accomplished the feat with a 17-1 record, one of five one-loss conference campaigns in program history. Stanford, 8-1 at home and 9-0 on the road in 18 Pac-10 contests, won 12 games by double-digits and averaged a +13.9 margin of victory for the year. Stanford has now captured 16 championships in 21 Pac-10 seasons overall.
It All Starts With Ball Security
Just like several Stanford teams of the past, this year's club has displayed a knack for sharing the basketball and limiting miscues. The Cardinal's 1.2 assist/turnover ratio ranks tops in the Pac-10. Stanford is averaging 17.9 assists per game and has dished out at least 20 helpers in a game on nine different occasions. And Stanford is taking care of the basketball, averaging the fewest amount of turnovers (14.9) in the Pac-10. Furthermore, five different players have totaled at least 60 assists so far this year.
17-Game Winning Streak Boosts Cardinal
A 17-game winning streak that spanned just over two months vaulted Stanford into the top-10 of both polls and solidified the Cardinal's standing as the best team on the West Coast. After a 74-69 loss at Georgia back on Nov. 26, Stanford rattled off 17 consecutive victories (13 by double-digit margins) before a 72-57 upset loss to California on Feb. 4. The winning streak was the nation's third-best at the time and represented the fifth-longest winning stretch in school history. Defense proved to the be key during the streak, as Stanford limited its foes to 55.8 points per game and 34.0-percent shooting from the field.
Cardinal Finds Scoring Balance...
Candice Wiggins (16.7 ppg), Brooke Smith (13.5) and Jayne Appel (13.2) are all averaging double-figure scoring. There have been three times this year (Santa Clara on Nov. 29, Arizona on Dec. 28 and Arizona on Jan. 25) where at least five different Cardinal players have reached double-digit scoring. Overall, eight different players have scored in double-figures (led by Brooke Smith's 25) and seven players have earned team-high scoring honors (led by Jayne Appel's 12).
...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 56.8 points per game while holding 24 opponents to 60 points or less. Opponents are shooting only 34.5-percent from the field and only five teams have shot better than 40-percent in a game. In fact, during a 73-49 rout of Texas Tech on Dec. 3, the Cardinal held the Lady Raiders without a double-digit scorer- the first time that has happened since 2005.
Post Players Providing Production
Stanford's talented post rotation is perhaps the deepest in the entire country. Senior Brooke Smith ranks second on the squad in scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg), leads the club in assists (111) and has scored in double-figures 25 times. Fellow senior Kristen Newlin is shooting 53.1-percent while averaging 7.3 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game. Newlin also has six double-doubles to her credit. And don't forget about freshman Jayne Appel, who ranks third in scoring (13.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg) while leading the squad with 55 blocks and a 54.5 shooting percentage.
Wiggins Leading The Cardinal
Despite not being able to play at full strength all year long due to injury, junior Candice Wiggins remains one of the most dangerous players in the nation. Wiggins leads the Cardinal in scoring (16.7 ppg) and three-pointers (73). A 46.4-percent shooter from the field, Wiggins also ranks third in assists (86) and is pulling down 4.1 rebounds per game. She has scored in double-figures in 22 games overall. Also, Wiggins has scored at least 20 points in seven games this year, including a season-best 30-point effort at Arizona State on Jan. 27 that resulted in her second Pac-10 Player of the Week honor of the season. Wiggins has participated in 26 of the team's 31 games, making 25 starts. On the flip side, she has missed five games already due to injury after having entered the 2006-07 campaign without ever sitting out in her career.
Stanford's first road trip of the year to No. 4 Tennessee and No. 8 Georgia was meant to be a learning experience for freshman Jayne Appel. Not so much. At Tennessee, Appel led the Cardinal with 23 points on 10-17 shooting to match five rebounds and five blocks. Two days later at Georgia, she tallied 16 points and nine boards. Since then she has been just as solid, averaging 13.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while leading the club with 55 blocks. Appel has scored in double-digits 20 times with three double-doubles. How about her February? In eight games last month, she averaged 15. 8 points and 10.3 rebounds. And now she is closing in on the single-season program record of 58 blocked shots, established by Cori Enghusen in 2001-02.
With starting point guard JJ Hones out for the year, the Cardinal is looking for someone to step in as the floor general. Enter freshman Melanie Murphy, who made her first career start at Oregon State on Feb. 15 after 22 appearances as a reserve. She contributed immediately down the stretch, averaging 7.6 points and 6.8 assists in Stanford's last five games of the regular season. Murphy, who has recorded 65 assists despite limited court time, poured in a season-best 11 points against Washington on Feb. 10 and dished out a season-high 10 assists in Stanford's win over USC on Feb. 25.
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 2005-06 Pac-10 All Freshman Team honoree, Harmon's hustle and intensity provides the Cardinal with a versatile weapon. She ranks fourth in scoring (7.9 ppg), rebounding (4.9 rpg) and assists (70), third in steals (35) while shooting fourth 42.4-percent overall. Harmon has scored in double-figures in nine games, including a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds at Fresno State on Jan. 2.
Wiggins, Newlin, Smith Climb Rankings
Candice Wiggins, Kristen Newlin and Brooke Smith continue to climb the rankings in the Stanford record books. Wiggins ranks fifth in school history in points scored at 1,787. She is also now fifth all-time with 199 three-pointers. Newlin ranks second all-time in blocked shots with 161 and seventh in rebounds with 756. Brooke Smith is now fourth in blocks with 126 and seventh in rebounds with 681.
Hones Out For Season, But Up For Award
Freshman point guard JJ Hones is out for the season due to an ACL tear in her left knee, suffering the injury in a drive to the basket 45 seconds into Stanford's 72-57 loss to Cal on Feb. 4. Hones started 20 contests, averaging 4.5 points and 1.8 rebounds per game while ranking second on the club in triples. Hones dished out 90 assists while committing only 32 turnovers, translating into an outstanding 2.81 ratio that still leads the Pac-10. Just how much of an impact did the rookie make in a short time? Hones has been named one of 11 finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given to the nation's top collegiate point guard. The award is based on floor leadership, playmaking and ball-handling skills.