This week in Pac-12 women's basketball
With two wins to open the 2013-14 campaign, 16th-ranked COLORADO has not lost a regular-season game to a non-conference opponent in 26 games. The Buffs put that streak on the line when they host Iowa, who is just out of the AP’s top 25 this week, on Wednesday. That game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks ... OREGON takes its high-powered offense on the road for a tough contest against No. 1 Connecticut on Wednesday, as well ... UCLA will again welcome a top-25 opponent, as 10th-ranked Oklahoma visits Pauley Pavilion on Sunday for a Pac-12 Networks-televised game ... After averaging less than 60 points per game last season, OREGON STATE is off to a hot start, winning its first three games of the season by an average margin of +32.7, while scoring an average of 92.0 ppg, including a 100-point contest. The Beavers have not forgotten their defense, however, limiting two of its first three opponents to less than 50 points ... USC is also having a strong start, with its 3-0 record being its best since 1998-99 ... Three Pac-12 teams are ranked in this week’s Associated Press poll, with STANFORD leading the way at No. 6, followed by No. 16 COLORADO and No. 17 CALIFORNIA ... Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike and Oregon’s Chrishae Rowe were voted the Pac-12 Player and Freshman of the Week, respectively, for the second-consecutive week. Both have already had three 20-point games, with Ogwumike recording a pair of 30-point outings.
GETTING OFF TO A HOT START: OREGON STATE is 3-0, defeating its first three opponents this season by an average margin of +32.7 points per game, while scoring an average of 92.0 ppg, inlcuding a 100-point victory. The Beavers have not forgotten their defense, however, limiting two of its first three opponents to less than 50 points.
Under the direction of first-year head coach Cynthia Cooper, USC is also having a strong start, with its 3-0 record being its best since 1998-99
RECORDS FALL in the early Season: It did not take long for Pac-12 teams to make 2013-14 a memorable campaign. In just the first weekend, OREGON took down a pair of Pac-12 records. The Ducks scored an incredible 131 points against CS Bakserfield on Nov. 9, shattering the Pac-12 single-game mark set 20 years ago. UO also netted a league-record 20 threes in the game.
With her Pac-12 Player of the Week selection on Nov. 11, STANFORD’s Chiney Ogwumike broke the league record for most weekly honors. She now has 11 in her career.
Several other records and milestones loom in the horizon, including Hall of Fame head coach, Stanford’s Tara Vanderveer, who is inching in on career-victory number 900.
DUCKS BREAK MORE RECORDS: OREGON already rewrote the Pac-12’s single-game scoring record, tallying 131 points in a win on Nov. 9. But the Ducks decided to rewrite an NCAA record, as well. UO combined with Sacramento State to attempt 86 three-point field goals in the loss to the Hornets. The 86 long-range attempts broke a collegiate record that was set in 1999. The combined 86 three-point made buckets also broke a UO record.
PRESEASON RECOGNITION: Five Pac-12 players were placed on national player of the year watch lists. Among those targeted is STANFORD’s Chiney Ogwumike, a unanimous All-American last year and a preseason All-American this season. Joining Ogwumike on the Wade Trophy and Wooden Award preseason lists are CALIFORNIA’s Gennifer Brandon and Brittany Boyd. The Wooden Award committee also included USC’s Cassie Harberts and WASHINGTON’s Jazming Davis on its watch list.
EYE ON 900: STANFORD’s Tara VanDerveer is in her 35th season as a head coach and 28th at the Stanford helm. She is just three wins away from becoming the fifth women’s basketball coach to win 900 games, joining Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt, C. Vivian Stringer and Sylvia Hatchell in the exclusive club.
All-Star Returns: All signs indicate another competitive season as eight of the 15 members of the 2013 All-Pac-12 team return for the 2013-14. Also among the returnees are nine of the 11 players named honorable mention all-conference.
Among the all-star returnees is 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year F Chiney Ogwumike of Stanford, who is in her final season in Palo Alto. Three members of the all-defensive sqad are back, including Ogwumike, JR F Aminah Williams of WASHINGTON and SR G Brittany Wilson of COLORADO.
OFFENSIVE RETURNS: Eight of the Conference teams return its leading scorer from a year ago eight also welcome back its top rebounder, including the Pac-12’s leading scorer and rebounder in SR F Chiney Ogwumike of Stanford.
Last year, the Pac-12 had five of the nation’s top 25 rebounders and they are all back this season (stats are final from the 2012-13 season): Ogwumike (12.9), Oregon’s Jillian Alleyne (11.9), California’s Gennifer Brandon (11.1), Washington’s Aminah Williams (10.8) and Utah’s Michelle Plouffe (9.4).
NEW FACES & FAMILIAR FACES: Heading into the 2013-14 campaign, the Conference welcomes two new head coaches in Cynthia Cooper at USC and Washington’s Mike Neighbors. Each brings an impressive resume finding success at several stops in Division I women’s basketball.
The Pac-12 has a mix of veteran and young coaches. Leading the way is 10-time John R. Wooden Pac-12 Coach of the Year Tara VanDerveer who embarks on her 28th year at Stanford and 35th overall. Pac-12 coaches average 6.1 years of experience in the Pac-12 and 9.3 years overall in collegiate basketball heading into the 2013-14 campaign.
ROAD TO NASHVILLE GOES THROUGH THE PAC-12: For teams looking to get to Nashville for the NCAA Women’s Final Four, they may have to go through Pac-12 country.
Two league schools were selected as first- and second-round sites for the 2014 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion was picked to host on March 22 and 24, while Washington’s Bank of the West Arena was selected to host on March 23 and 25. If the Huskies and Bruins were to earn a NCAA bid, they would play on their home court.
Stanford’s Maples Pavilion was also selected to host the NCAA Regional semifinals and finals on March 29 and April 1. If the Cardinal should earn a NCAA Tournament bid and advance to the regional semifinals, it would play on its home court.
The Final Four is slated to be held on April 6 and 8 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.