Stanford Women's Basketball Begins Exhibition Play Saturday Against Chico State
Oct. 30, 2008
Stanford Cardinal (0-0)
- vs. -
Chico State Wildcats (0-0)
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford's 2008-09 campaign begins with an exhibition contest on Saturday, Nov. 1, at 12 p.m. against the Chico State Wildcats. The contest marks the third consecutive year in which the Cardinal have seen their first game action in an exhibition with the Wildcats. The 2006 contest ended with a 103-57 Stanford victory, and last year the Cardinal were victorious by a score of 95-44. Stanford concludes its exhibition slate Friday night, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. against NAIA national champion Vanguard University, then opens up its regular-season slate Friday, Nov. 14, hosting Minnesota at 7 p.m. Nov. 1's exhibition contest against Chico State can be heard live on KZSU 90.1 FM. Fans can also watch a live webcast on Stanford's official athletics website, www.gostanford.com.
Building Off Of Last Year's Success
Stanford finished 35-4 overall, claimed its eighth consecutive Pac-10 regular-season title, its fifth Pac-10 Tournament title, and made the seventh Final Four appearance in program history. The Cardinal reached the NCAA Tournament for the 21st year in a row, finishing the year as national runner-up. Eleven letterwinners, including 2008 All-Pac-10 selection Jayne Appel and 2008 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Kayla Pedersen, return this season along with four highly-decorated newcomers to help the Cardinal 'run it back' to the Final Four, to be held this season in St. Louis, Mo.
Stanford All-Time In Season Openers
Stanford is 22-11 all-time in season openers and currently sports a seven-game winning streak in such games. Nov. 14's game against Minnesota at Maples Pavilion marks just the sixth time since Tara VanDerveer's first season as Stanford head coach in 1985-86 that the Cardinal has opened a new campaign at home. Under VanDerveer's watch, Stanford is 17-5 season openers, and going into the 2008-09 opener, boasts a perfect 6-0 record in season openers at Maples Pavilion. Overall, the Cardinal has not dropped a season opener since a 75-64 loss at Saint Mary's on Nov. 17, 2000.
Returners Boast A Lot Of Bling
After last season's smashing success, Stanford returns quite a number of players that earned spots on the various All-Pac-10 teams. Junior forward/center Jayne Appel, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection, leads the way, while sophomore forward Kayla Pedersen comes off of a year in which she was named the 2008 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year as well as receiving third-team All-Pac-10 and conference All-Freshman Team nods. Senior forward Jillian Harmon was named honorable mention for both the All-Pac-10 Team and All-Defensive Team, while junior guard JJ Hones earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention and fellow guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude received an honorable mention nod on the All-Defensive Team.
Newcomers Join The Fray
Stanford's incoming freshmen bring quite a cache of honors into the 2008-09 season, led by a pair of youth national team stars, a long-distance gunner that holds numerous state records, and a versatile guard from the nation's capital. First in this class of rookies is forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Cypress, Texas), the 2008 Gatorade National Player of the Year and a two-time Ms. Texas Basketball who helped the USA Basketball U18 National Team to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship this past summer. Also a part of that victorious U.S. team was center Sarah Boothe (Gurnee, Ill.), at 6-5 the tallest player on the Stanford roster and another key to the Cardinal's front-court dominance. In the back court, Nevada state scoring and three-point leader Lindy La Rocque (Las Vegas, Nev.) brings an itchy trigger finger to The Farm, while Grace Mashore (Washington, D.C.) provides depth and deft ball handling to the Cardinal.
Meet Me In St. Louis
The Cardinal enter the 2008-09 with one goal at the forefront: return to the Final Four. While the team enjoyed the sunshine and coast of Tampa Bay last season, it looks forward to spending this season's final weekend in St. Louis, the 'Gateway To The West.'
The Choice In The Pac-10...Again
For the ninth year in a row, eight-time defending regular-season champion Stanford has been voted as the favorite to win the 2008-09 Pac-10 women's basketball title, according to the preseason coaches poll. The Cardinal received six of 10 first-place votes in the poll, tallying 78 points overall. 2008 runner-up California was right behind Stanford in the poll, collecting four first-place votes and 76 points. Arizona State rounded out the top three with 65 points. The preseason coaches' poll follows a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 format. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.
The Fearsome Frontcourt
Stanford will enter the 2008-09 season boasting arguably the nation's deepest and most talented front court. For starters, the unit returns its top two starters (no pun intended) in All-Pac-10 Team selection Jayne Appel (15.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg last year) and 2008 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Kayla Pedersen (12.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg). In 2007-08, the pair combined for 1,078 points and 673 rebounds while shooting a collective 54.5 percent from the floor. Eager to add to this wealth of production are freshmen Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Sarah Boothe, winners of their respective states' Ms. Basketball titles (Texas for Ogwumike, Illinois for Boothe) and teammates on USA Basketball's gold medal-winning FIBA Americas U18 Championship team.
One member of the Stanford women's basketball team that is in top game shape and ready for the opening tip is senior forward Jillian Harmon. The reason for Harmon's readiness level is that her competitive season did not end after the Final Four. Harmon went on to join New Zealand's national team, the Tall Ferns, later in April for the Good Luck Beijing Tournament, then continued to train with the Tall Ferns before making her Olympic debut this past summer in Beijing. There, Harmon averaged 11.4 points a game for New Zealand while leading the team with 6.2 rebounds a game. Heading into the upcoming collegiate season, Harmon will look to remain healthy after missing seven games late last year due to a foot injury. Despite battling the ailment, she managed to be named All-Pac-10 honorable mention while averaging 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.
Dynamic Backcourt Duo
Starting guards Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and JJ Hones return to Stanford's backcourt in 2008-09 ready to take the reins of the Cardinal offense. The duo combined to pass out 205 assists and account for 444 points last season, while each player brought her own distinct edge to the game. Gold-Onwude impressed as a furious and speedy defender, making 29 steals and often drawing the task of guarding the opposing team's key playmaker, while Hones brought a long-range touch (88 three-pointers) as well as solid ball control (2.55 assist-to-turnover ratio) to the offensive attack.
Quick Fan Favorite
Sophomore Jeanette Pohlen quickly became a fan favorite among Stanford's followers with her hard-nosed style of play and general hustle in 2007-08. As one of only two freshmen (along with Kayla Pedersen) to appear in all 39 games last year, Pohlen provided a big spark off the bench with her tough play. Although her numbers may not suggest it (4.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Pohlen's effect on the Cardinal's play went beyond the numbers and translated into an all-out hustle that personified the team's grit and determination.
How The Schedule Shapes Up
As always, the Stanford Cardinal will take on the nation's best in the new campaign, as 13 of the team's opponents in 2008-09 reached the postseason. The non-conference schedule is highlighted by two big trips, the first to Hawai'i for the Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic while the second is a Southern swing featuring three daunting road games at Duke, South Carolina and finally a national championship game rematch with Tennessee on Dec. 21. Stanford will also play 14 home games at Maples Pavilion, which should be welcome news for a Cardinal club that has won 98 of its last 105 games at home while putting up a perfect 15-0 record in the arena last year. That home slate not onyl includes the nine annual meetings with Stanford's Pac-10 rivals but also big non-conference clashes with Minnesota (Nov. 14), New Mexico (Nov. 20) and Rutgers (Nov. 23).
The Health Report
The Cardinal heads into Saturday's exhibition against Chico State with a relatively clean bill of health. 2007-08 redshirts Michelle Harrison (torn ACL) and Melanie Murphy (torn ACL) have returned from last season's injuries and are ready to make their debuts in 2008-09. Jillian Harmon's performance in the 2008 Olympics showed that she is well past the foot injury that caused her to miss seven games late last year, and junior Jayne Appel is cleared and participating in practice after having offseason meniscus surgery.
Replacing A Legend
While the Cardinal look ahead to 2008-09, the 11 returners and four newcomers look forward to carving their own niche in Stanford history following the graduation of one of the greatest players in school history in guard Candice Wiggins. The four-time All-American finished her illustrious four-year career by virtually re-writing the Stanford record book, leaving The Farm as the all-time leading scorer not only in school history, but in Pac-10 history as well with 2,629 career points. Following her senior year, in which she lead the Cardinal to its first Final Four in 11 years, Wiggins was named the Wade Trophy Player of the Year, only the second Stanford player to be so honored.
Busy Summer Abroad
Three of Stanford's players had a busy yet very productive summer of international basketball during the collegiate offseason. Senior Jillian Harmon spent her summer abroad in the eastern hemisphere, training with the New Zealand National Team and then representing the Tall Ferns at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, freshmen Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Sarah Boothe helped the USA Basketball U18 National Team to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Returning Some Serious Production
With the return of nine players from last season's roster, the Cardinal are blessed to have a major portion of last season's production back in uniform in 2007-08. This year the Cardinal return 1,654 of last season's 2,425 points, or just over two-thirds of the 2006-07 total. The amount of returning scoring production should point to a significant probabbility that Stanford will once again be able to score consistently and force opponents to play catch-up a lot this season.
Thanksgiving In The Tropics, Part II
For the second straight year, Stanford will enjoy a tropical Thanksgiving, as the first of two big non-conference trips that the Cardinal takes is a five-day jaunt to the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands for the Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic. Taking place from Nov. 28-30, the tournament will see Stanford opening things up Friday, Nov. 28 against Purdue, then battling Iowa State the following day and finally ending the trip with a contest opposite host Hawai'i Sunday, Nov. 30. Last season, the Cardinal spent Thanksgiving in the U.S. Virgin Islands as it participated in the Paradise Jam.
20 Wins Again
Last year's final record of 35-4 marked Stanford's 19th season with 20 or more wins. Stanford has won 20+ games in each of the last seven seasons and eight of the last nine. Prior to last season, the Cardinal had last reached the 30-win mark in 2004-05, as that year's team finished 32-3 while capturing the Pac-10 title and advancing to the Elite Eight.
Home Sweet Home
Tara VanDerveer's teams have compiled a 299-32 (.903) record at home during her tenure. The Cardinal is 186-12 (.939) all-time against Pac-10 foes at home. Stanford has also won 98 of its last 105 games at Maples. The last time the Cardinal lost at Maples Pavilion was March 19, 2007 against Florida State in a second-round NCAA Tournament game. Stanford's last conference loss at Maples was on Feb. 4, 2007, when California posted a 72-57 victory over the Cardinal.