Put On Your Dancin' Shoes: Top-Seeded Stanford Opens NCAA Tournament Saturday Against No. 16 UC Riverside
March 16, 2010
2010 NCAA Tournament First Round
No. 2/2 Stanford Cardinal (31-1)
UC Riverside Highlanders (17-15)
STANFORD, Calif. - No. 2/2 Stanford begins play in its 23rd consecutive NCAA Tournament and 24th overall this Saturday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m., taking on 16th-seeded UC Riverside (17-15) at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal begins the tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Sacramento Regional. Saturday's first-round contest will be televised on ESPN2 with Terry Gannon on the call and Mary Murphy on color commentary. The game will also be broadcast on 90.1 KZSU with Teddy Steinkellner on the call.
Last Time Out
The Cardinal claimed its fourth consecutive Pac-10 Tournament championship and seventh overall last Sunday afternoon thanks to a 70-46 victory over the UCLA Bruins. Nnemkadi Ogwumike went 7-for-11 from the field, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for her third double-double in three games of the tournament. Ogwumike averaged 19.7 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 60.7 percent in being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Jayne Appel, who scored 15 points with five rebounds in the title-game win, earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team along with forward Kayla Pedersen, who scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against the Bruins to seal her own spot on the team. Pedersen also averaged a double-double over the three games, going for 10.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Scouting UC Riverside
UC Riverside (17-15) the No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, makes its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament Saturday night. The Highlanders punched their ticket to the Dance with a 71-67 upset of top-seeded UC Davis in the Big West Tournament final last Saturday. With head coach John Margaritis in his sixth year at the UCR helm, the Highlanders are led by the play of senior guard Alyssa Morris (13.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and junior forward Rhaya Neabors (11.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg).
All-Time UC Riverside
Saturday's contest will be the first between Stanford and UC Riverside.
National Stat Rankings
Through March 14, Stanford is ranked in the national top 20 in the following categories: field-goal percentage defense (33.7 - second), rebound margin (+11.9 - third), scoring margin (+23.2 - third), field-goal percentage (47.5 - fifth), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.25 - fourth), three-point field goal defense (25.3 - fourth), fouls per game (13.3 - seventh), assists (17.91 apg - seventh), scoring (77.1 - 11th), scoring defense (54.0 - 12th) and turnovers per game (14.3 - 15th). Nnemkadi Ogwumike is fourth in the nation with a 63.5 shooting percentage and Jeanette Pohlen is 19th with a 2.01 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Pac-10 Stat Rankings
Through March 14, Stanford leads the conference in 13 statistical categories: scoring margin (+23.2), scoring defense (54.0), field-goal percentage (47.5), field-goal percentage defense (33.7), rebounding (44.9 rpg), rebounding margin (+11.9), three-point field-goal percentage defense (25.3), free throw percentage (73.6), defensive rebounding (30.7), defensive rebound percentage (70.6), assists (17.91), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.25) and blocked shots (4.47).
Individually, Nnemkadi Ogwumike leads the Pac-10 with 18.3 points per game and a 63.5 shooting percentage, and is second with 9.4 rebounds per game. Kayla Pedersen is fourth with 16.1 points and 9.2 rebounds a game, and a 39.7 three-point shooting percentage, while Jayne Appel is second with 1.77 blocks per game and third with 9.2 rebounds per game. Jeanette Pohlen is second in the conference with 4.55 assists per game and leads the loop with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.01.
Stanford In The NCAA Tournament
This year's NCAA Tournament will mark the 23rd straight appearance for the Cardinal and the program's 24th overall. Over the school's previous 23 appearances, Stanford has racked up an overall record of 56-21 (.727), won two national championships (1990, `92), reached eight Final Fours (1990-92, `95-'97, `08-'09), 13 Regional Finals, and 16 Sweet 16s.
Cardinal Get A No. 1 Seed
Monday's announcement of the NCAA Tournament field also brought the news that Stanford had earned the top seed in the Sacramento Region, the first time since 1998 that the Cardinal had claimed a No. 1 seed. Overall, the Cardinal has received a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament on six previous occasions (1990, `92-'93, `96-'98), going 19-4, winning two national titles and reaching four Final Fours in those years.
Opening The Tournament On A Familiar Floor
With Saturday's first-round contest against UC Riverside, Stanford will open up NCAA Tournament action at Maples Pavilion for the 15th time. The Cardinal's home arena has been a friendly domain for the team in the postseason, as Stanford owns an overall record of 22-4 in NCAA Tournament home games.
A Bridge To 20 Years Ago
Twenty years ago, Stanford captured its first national title in 1990, as Wade Trophy Player of the Year Jennifer Azzi led the Cardinal to the promised land. That 1989-90 team was honored at a banquet on Feb. 6 and following Stanford's Feb. 7 game against USC. That historic team's visit inspired the 2009-10 Cardinal, as member of the championship team challenged today's Cardinal team to accomplish what they had, and reminded the 2009-10 squad that a national title would immortalize them.
Ogwumike Collecting The Hardware
It has been quite the breakout season for Stanford's sophomore forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike, as the Cypress, Texas native dominated both the Pac-10 and non-conference play en route to a slew of awards. During the regular season Ogwumike was named Pac-10 Player of the Week a conference-leading three times, and following the end of the regular season was honored with the conference's biggest prize, the Pac-10 Player of the Year award. She also nabbed a spot on the All-Pac-10 Team. Yet Ogwumike was not finished, as she averaged a double-double of 19.3 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 60.5 percent last weekend to earn the Pac-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player award. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, Ogwumike is averaging 18.3 points and 9.4 rebounds a game and shooting 63.5 percent from the field, and is a candidate for the Wade Trophy Player of the Year award and John R. Wooden Award.
Well-Represented On The All-Pac-10 Teams
Stanford carved out plenty of territory for itself on the All-Pac-10 Team lists as well as for the conference's postseason honors. Sophomore forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike became Stanord's 14th Pac-10 Player of the Year while redshirt senior guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude was named Pac-10 Co-Defender of the Year, becoming the first Cardinal player to be so honored. In addition, Ogwumike, center Jayne Appel, forward Kayla Pedersen and guard Jeanette Pohlen were all named to the All-Pac-10, with Gold-Onwude earning honorable mention. Gold-Onwude was named to the Pac-10 All-Defensive Team with Pedersen earning honorable mention, and freshman forward Joslyn Tinkle got an honorable mention nod for the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.
Can't Keep Appel Down
It took more than a sprained right ankle to keep Jayne Appel down at the Pac-10 Tournament, as the senior center and 2009 State Farm Coaches' All-American leapt back into action to help the Cardinal to its seventh tournament title. While not expected to play in Friday's quarterfinal against Arizona, Appel was nonetheless called into action with 13:20 remaining and Stanford holding on to a 43-40 lead. With Arizona on a 7-0 run, Appel entered and almost single-handedly changed the game's momentum with her presence alone, opening up Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen for three-pointers as the Cardinal scored eight straight points to re-establish control. Appel would score seven points off the bench in each of the first two rounds, then started the title game and dropped 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting on UCLA, and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
The NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments have had plenty of family ties over the years, and this season's editions are no different. Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention Joslyn Tinkle is in the Dance with the Cardinal, while her father, Montana men's basketball head coach Wayne Tinkle, guided the Grizzlies to the Big Sky Tournament title and a bid to the men's Dance. Sunday afternoon, the Tinkles received another thing to celebrate, as the Montana men were drawn to open tournament play in San Jose, just 30 minutes away from Stanford, where Joslyn will open women's action with the Cardinal.
Last Dance, Last Chance
This year's edition of the NCAA Tournament represents the final chance at a national title for two of Stanford's decorated seniors, center Jayne Appel and guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude. Together the duo has been a part of four Stanford teams that have reached the NCAA Tournament, as well as the past two Final Four teams. All year long, Appel, despite setting numerous Stanford and Pac-10 milestones this year, has talked more of her singular determination to win what has eluded the Cardinal for nearly 18 years, a national championship. Gold-Onwude, meanwhile, will finish a stretch of five years on The Farm, and like Appel, wants nothing more than to go out on top.
If Making The Final Four Is Wrong, They Don't Want To Be Right
For Stanford's junior class of Kayla Pedersen, Jeanette Pohlen, Ashley Cimino and Hannah Donaghe, when it comes to the NCAA Tournament they only know how to do one thing: make the Final Four. This quartet has reached the Final Four in each of its first two seasons on The Farm, and behind the play of All-Pac-10 Team selections Pedersen (16.1 ppg, 9.2 rpg) and Pohlen (9.3 ppg, 4.55 apg), is determined to keep its run alive.
You Never Hear Her Coming
Stanford's own 'silent assassin,' junior forward Kayla Pedersen, deserves more praise as a key member of the team's foundation for success. While starting her career as a power forward on Stanford's 2008 Final Four team, Pedersen has adjusted to a new role as a small forward, adding a deadly three-pointer to her already dangerous inside and mid-range game. The complete player, Pedersen is averaging 16.1 points and 9.2 rebounds a game entering the NCAA Tournament while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and a respectable 39.7 percent from behind the arc. The perfect inside-outside player for Stanford's system, Pedersen's versatility has been one of the main factors in Stanford never failing to reach a Final Four in her time on The Farm.
Don't Forget The Backcourt
Guards Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and Jeanette Pohlen can't be discounted although Stanford's 'Big Three' gets the bulk of the touches. Taking advantage of their chances, each guard has found a way to display her value to the squad, as Pohlen averages 9.3 points per game and leads the team with 141 assists and 58 three-pointers, while Gold-Onwude has embraced her defensive role, turning into the Pac-10's premier lockdown defender, helping the Cardinal limit opponents to Pac-10-leading figures of just 54.0 points per game and a 33.7-percent shooting percentage.
Another Year Of 30
With last Saturday's 64-44 victory over California in the Pac-10 semifinals, Stanford notched its 30th victory of the season, marking the third year in a row and ninth overall that it had hit the 30-win mark. Two years ago, the Cardinal broke the program mark for wins in a season with 35, and picked up 33 a year ago. Over the last two-plus years heading into this season's NCAA Tournament, Stanford has posted an incredible 99-10 record (.908).
Injuries Can't Keep Them Down
Redshirt junior guards JJ Hones and Melanie Murphy have battled a lot of adversity on the injury front in 2009-10, missing a combined total of 13 games due to various injuries. But the duo has bounced back over the last month and a half, steadily increasing both their playing time and production. Both point guards, Hones and Murphy bring different styles to running the Cardinal offense, as Hones has passed out 75 assists while ranging around the arc, and Murphy electrifies with her slashing style, regularly wowing Stanford fans with her lightning-quick passes inside to Nnemkadi Ogwumike. In Sunday's Pac-10 title game against UCLA, Murphy showed again what she brings to the table, going 3-for-4 from the field for 10 points and passing out two assists in the win.