VanDerveer nearing No. 900 as Pac-12 teams look forward to busy week
It is a busy week for Pac-12 women’s basketball teams, despite this Thanksgiving coming up. It will seem like it is time to relax with games slated in Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, Mexico; the Virgin Islands; Naples, Fla.; Las Vegas. But, along with a handful of home contests, Pac-12 teams will be focused on upcoming games, that could included up to three in three days ... Hall of Fame Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer is approaching a historic milestone, needing just two wins for career No. 900, a milestone only four other women’s coaches have ever won that many games. The Cardinal are headed to the Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for three games in three days, beginning with a top-25 matchup with No. 16 Purdue ... With the first NCAA statistical rankings of the season released on Monday, the Oregon schools are among the top teams in the nation in scoring, with OREGON averging a nation’s best 99.3 points per game. OREGON STATE has put up big offensive numbers in its first four games and is averaging 92.0 ppg, fifth-best in the country ... Three Pac-12 teams are in the rankings this week, Stanford is 6/5, Colorado is 14/19 and California is 20/20 in the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, respectively ... Pac-12 Player of the Week honors went to UCLA’s Atonye Nyingifa after leading the Bruins to an upset of then-No. 10 Oklahoma on Sunday. WASHINGTON’s Kelsey Plum was tabbed the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after leading the Huskies to their first win of the season.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
GETTING OFF TO A HOT START: OREGON STATE is 4-0, defeating its first three opponents this season by an average margin of +34.0 points per game, while scoring an average of 92.0 ppg, inlcuding a 100-point victory. OSU ranks fifth in the country in scoring offense. 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 got off to a 3-0 start, 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 182 three-point field goals in the loss to the Hornets. The 182 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, as well as the Naismith Watch List are CALIFORNIA’s Gennifer Brandon and Brittany Boyd. The Wooden Award and Naismith Award committees also included USC’s Cassie Harberts and WASHINGTON’s Jazmine 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 two 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 Alaska Airlines 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.