No. 2/2 Stanford Opens 2008-09 Season At Home Friday Against Minnesota
Nov. 11, 2008
No. 2/2 Stanford Cardinal (0-0)
- vs. -
Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-0)
STANFORD, Calif. - No. 2/2 Stanford opens up the 2008-09 regular season at Maples Pavilion Friday night, Nov. 14, hosting the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a 7 p.m. contest. Friday's game is the first half of Stanford's opening weekend, as the Cardinal takes its first road trip of the year the following day, traveling to the Lone Star State to battle the No. 19/17 Baylor Bears Sunday at 12 p.m. PT in Waco. Friday's contest can be heard live on the Internet at kzsulive.stanford.edu, as Jake Kelman returns to the mic for his fourth season of calling the action with Andrew Shen on color. 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 season as national runner-up. Eleven players, 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.
Minnesota (0-0) heads into Friday's season opener coming off of a 2007-08 season in which it posted a 20-12 overall mark, finished tied for third in the Big Ten with a record of 11-7 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament, where it fell in the first round to Texas. Helmed by Pam Borton in her seventh year at Minnesota, the Golden Gophers return four starters from last year, most notably senior guard Emily Fox (17.2 ppg last year) and junior forward/center Ashley Ellis-Milan (9.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg last year).
In The National Polls
Stanford opens the 2008-09 season ranked second in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. The Cardinal received a first-place vote in the AP poll.
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. Friday's game against Minnesota at Maples Pavilion marks just the seventh 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 in season openers, and going into Friday's contest, boasts a perfect 6-0 record in season openers at Maples Pavilion. Overall, the Cardinal has not dropped the inaugural game of a campaign since a 75-64 loss at Saint Mary's on Nov. 17, 2000.
Clicking In Exhibition Victories
The Cardinal tuned up for Friday's regular-season opener with a pair of exhibition routs of Chico State and Vanguard last week. On Nov. 1, Stanford got double-digit scoring efforts from five players and out-rebounded Chico State 56-24 in an 86-point victory over the Wildcats (123-39). Six days later, the Cardinal took the court against Vanguard, the defending NAIA National Champion. Paced by 20 points on 10-of-13 shooting from Jayne Appel and a team-leading 12 rebounds from Jillian Harmon, Stanford rode a 43-16 halftime advantage to an 87-41 victory over the Lions, who shot just 25.0 percent (16-for-64) from the field in the contest.
Appel and Pedersen Earn Preseason National Recognition
Junior center Jayne Appel and sophomore forward Kayla Pedersen have already been tabbed by a pair of national award committess as players to watch in 2008-09. In mid-August the WBCA named the post tandem to the preseason 'Wade Watch' list for the State Farm Wade Trophy Player of the Year, an award won last season by Stanford's own Candice Wiggins. Appel was then named to the preseason list of 30 candidates for the John R. Wooden Award and the Wooden Award All-American Team in early November.
Returners Boast A Lot Of Bling
After last season's smashing success, Stanford returns 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 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 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 at the guard position for the Cardinal.
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 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.