Time To Dance: No. 2 Seed Stanford Opens NCAA Tournament Against No. 15 UC Santa Barbara
March 17, 2009
NCAA Tournament First Round
No. 2/2 Stanford Cardinal (29-4, 17-1 Pac-10)
- vs. -
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (22-9, 15-1 Big West)
STANFORD, Calif. - No. 2/2 Stanford has punched its ticket to its 22nd straight NCAA Tournament and will begin the 2009 edition as a No. 2 seed in the Berkeley Regional. The Cardinal opens up the 'Road to St. Louis' Saturday night, March 21, taking on the 15th-seeded UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at 7:30 p.m. at Cox Arena in San Diego. The game will be televised live on ESPN2, with Allen Hopkins calling the action and Brenda VanLengen on color. The game can also be heard on 90.1 KZSU and on the Internet at kzsulive.stanford.edu, with Jake Kelman handling play-by-play duties.
Last Time Out
The Cardinal pulled off the double for the third straight season last Sunday, clinching its sixth Pac-10 Tournament title with an 89-64 victory over USC at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Kayla Pedersen scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the title game en route to taking home Most Outstanding Player honors, while senior Jillian Harmon and freshman Nnemkadi Ogwumike also earned spots on the All-Tournament Team. As the top seed in the tournament for the eighth consecutive year, the Cardinal won its three games in the draw by an average of 27.3 points, notching victories of 77-46 and 73-47 against Arizona and UCLA in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
Scouting UC Santa Barbara
The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (22-9, 15-1 Big West), Big West Conference regular-season and tournament champions, garnered a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Gauchos, with first-year head coach Lindsay Gottlieb at the helm, make their 14th consecutive postseason appearance, and are led on the court by senior guard Lauren Pedersen (13.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and senior center Jenna Green (11.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
All-Time Against UC Santa Barbara
Stanford leads the all-time series against UCSB, 9-1, with the only setback coming in the teams' first meeting back on Nov. 28, 1977. The Cardinal and Gauchos have only met three times this decade, with the Cardinal capturing the last meeting with an 84-59 decision in Santa Barbara on Feb. 1, 2007. The teams have met in the 1992 NCAA Tournament, with Stanford capturing an 82-73 victory in the second round.
In The National Polls
Stanford remained at No. 2 in both the Associated Press Poll and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll this week after capturing the Pac-10 Tournament.
A Look At The National Stat Leaders
Stanford was ranked in the national top 50 in 12 statistical categories through March 15: rebound margin (+12.5 - second), assists per game (18.9 - second), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22 - second), scoring margin (+20.9 - second), field-goal percentage (47.4 - third), points per game (76.4 - 11th), field-goal percentage defense (35.0 - 12th), blocked shots per game (4.7 - 32nd), scoring defense (55.5 - 32nd), fewest turnovers per game (15.3 - 35th), fewest fouls per game (15.5 - 49th) and three-pointers per game (6.3 - 50th). Individually, Jayne Appel is in the top 50 of one category: field-goal percentage (61.0 - fifth). Jeanette Pohlen is 26th in the nation with a 1.81 assist-to-turnover ratio and 49th with 2.3 three-pointers per game.
Stanford Rankings In The Pac-10
Stanford leads the Pac-10 in ten statistical categories through March 15: scoring (76.4 ppg), scoring margin (+20.9), field-goal percentage (47.4 percent), field-goal percentage defense (35.0 percent), rebounding (43.3 rpg), rebounding defense (30.8 rpg), rebounding margin (+12.5), blocked shots (4.7 per game), assists per game (18.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22). Individually, Nnemkadi Ogwumike (62.5 percent) and Jayne Appel (62.0) are 1-2 in field-goal percentage. Appel also leads the conference in blocked shots (1.85 bpg), and is second in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and third in scoring (14.8 ppg). Jeanette Pohlen shares the lead in the Pac-10 with 2.3 three-pointers per game and is second with a 1.81 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Stanford In The NCAA Tournament
Stanford is 52-20 all-time in the NCAA Tournament over 22 previous appearances. The Cardinal's first NCAA Tournament was in 1981-82, when it fell 82-48 to Maryland in opening-round action at College Park, Md. Since then, the Cardinal disappeared from the postseason until 1987-88, which has begun a streak of 22 consecutive appearances in the Big Dance. Over that run, Stanford has captured a pair of national titles (1990, `92), reached the Final Four seven times (1990-92, `95-'97, 2008), reached 12 Elite Eights, and 15 Sweet Sixteens. Stanford has also reached the Regional Final four times over the past five seasons.
Could This Be An Omen?
The Cardinal last won the national title in 1992, which is important to remember when looking at how the team's 2009 postseason begins. This Saturday, March 21, Stanford will open up NCAA Tournament play against UC Santa Barbara 17 years to the day that it opened its 1992 championship run with an 82-73 victory over the Gauchos at Maples Pavilion.
Stanford's road to the 2009 Final Four in St. Louis appears very travel-friendly to the Cardinal, as it would remain within its home state up until the national semifinals. Two wins in San Diego would send the Cardinal to Berkeley for regional action, yet Stanford won't let itself get caught looking ahead. The last time it had the chance to stay in California all the way until the Final Four was 2006, when it opened at home and in the Fresno Regional, but got tripped up in the second round against Florida State.
There Are Other States?
The past 10 victories in Stanford's current 16-game winning streak bode well for Stanford's potential chances this weekend as they have come in the state of California. The Cardinal has not strayed outside of California's borders since a trip to Washington for a pair of games on Feb. 6 and 8, and, if everything goes to plan, will not have to leave the Golden State until the Final Four in St. Louis on April 5 and 7.
All-Time Against The Big West In The NCAAs
Saturday's first-round game against UC Santa Barbara will be the fourth time that Stanford has faced off against a school from the Big West in NCAA Tournament action. All four outings have occurred in the first round, against UC Santa Barbara (1992 - W, 82-73, 2008 - ???), CS Fullerton (1991 - W, 91-67) and UC Irvine (1995 - W, 88-55). The Cardinal takes a perfect 3-0 postseason record against the Big West into Saturday's game.
Dominating the Pac-10 Tournament
Stanford captured its sixth Pac-10 Tournament title with yet another dominating effort this past weekend in Los Angeles. As the draw's top seed for the eighth straight year, the Cardinal cruised to the title with victories over Arizona (77-46), UCLA (73-47) and USC (89-64). Behind the play of tournament Most Outstanding Player Kayla Pedersen (11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds per game), the Cardinal won its tournament contests by an average margin of 27.3 points.
Pedersen Takes Home Tournament Hardware
Sophomore forward Kayla Pedersen turned in probably her best outing of the year thus far Sunday in the Pac-10 Tournament title game, setting new season highs with 25 points and 10 field goals in the contest. Pedersen also made her presence felt on the glass, grabbing a game-high nine rebounds. For the weekend, the Fountain Hills, Ariz. native averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while also passing out a career high-matching seven assists in the quarterfinals against Arizona. For her efforts, Pedersen was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, the sixth time a Stanford player has taken home the award.
Ogwumike Shines At Pac-10 Tournament
Another one of Stanford's forwards had a highly-productive weekend in Los Angeles, as Nnemkadi Ogwumike averaged 14.7 points and 8.0 rebounds to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Ogwumike's consistency included her third double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the semifinal against UCLA, and included a 58.1-percent (18-for-31) effort from the floor for the weekend.
Appel Hits Another Milestone
In March 15's Pac-10 Tournament title game, junior center Jayne Appel achieved yet another significant mark in her decorated two-plus years at Stanford, becoming just the 12th player in school history to score 1,500 points. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, Appel, 11th on Stanford's all-time scoring list with 1,511 career points and fourth on the rebounding list with 886 rebounds, remains on pace to become just the third Stanford player to reach both the 2,000-point and 1,000-rebound marks next season.
The Power Of Three(s)
Stanford's outside shooting has picked up dramatically over the final weeks leading up to the NCAA Tournament. Over the last seven games, the Cardinal has hit 50 three-pointers for an average of 7.14 per game. Only once in that span has the team failed to hit at least seven triples, that occasion being March 7 against Arizona State, when the Cardinal hit only three times from behind the arc.
Fire From The Fingertips
One of Stanford's hottest shooters over this past month has been sophomore guard Jeanette Pohlen, a second-team All-Pac-10 pick. Over the last eight games, Pohlen has averaged 11.8 points per game while shooting 53.6 percent from the field, including a blistering 57.6 percent (19-for-33) from behind the arc. Yet her scoring and shooting are not the only ways that Pohlen is contributing, as over the last eight games she is averaging 4.50 assists per game.
The Health Report
Reserve guard Hannah Donaghe tore her ACL during practice on Feb. 18 and will miss the rest of the season. JJ Hones will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in her left knee Nov. 23 against Rutgers. Morgan Clyburn is also out for the season after undergoing offseason foot surgery.