Pac-12 teams will be tested with marquee matchups this week
This week’s Pac-12 women’s basketball schedule has several marquee matchups slated. Undefeated and No. 11 COLORADO travels to No. 7 Louisville. Last year, the Buffs pulled off a big upset of the Cardinals. UL went on to be a national runner-up ... Additionally, the annual top-10 clash between perennial powerhouses No. 6 STANFORD and No. 3 Tennessee takes place in the Bay Area this year, which that game being nationally televised on the Pac-12 Networks ... The week wraps up with the No. 21 CALIFORNIA Golden Bears heading to New York City for the Maggie Dixon Classic where it will face defending NCAA Champion and top-ranked Conecticut on ESPN ... WASHINGTON STATE also has a big game slated this week, taking on regional foe No. 25 Gonzaga. The Cougars defeated the Zags last year for the first time since 1997 in Spokane. The game moves to Pullman this year ... WASHINGTON and OREGON STATE face quality opponents at the Dual in the Desert in Las Vegas, while UCLA will play at the Subway Classic in Minneapolis this week ... OREGON continues to impress with its scoring abilities as one of only two teams in the country averaging over 100.0 points per game, ranking second in the nation in scoring average. Redshirt junior guard Katelyn Loper ‘s 4.00 threes per game are tied for the best average in the country. Pac-12 players appear in the top 25 in eight NCAA statistical categories 17 times ... The Utes swept the Pac-12 weekly awards with Michelle Plouffe garnering Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, while Emily Potter was the Freshman of the Week.
GETTING OFF TO A HOT START: Under the direction of first-year head coach Cynthia Cooper, USC was off to a strong start going 3-0 to start the season, its best since 1998-99.
OREGON appears to be healthy again, ranking second the nation in scoring at 101.0 points per game. The Ducks have already surpassed their win total from last year, just seven games into the season.
Staying on the topic of offense, OREGON STATE is also among the offensive squads in the nation, averaging 25.0 points per game more than last season.
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.
Among the significant milestones achieved this season is Hall of Fame Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer winning her 900th-career game.
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: Six 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. The Naismith Award also added UTAH’s Michelle Plouffe to its list.
VanDerveer Joins 900 Club: STANFORD’s Tara VanDerveer won her 900th career game on Nov. 27 becoming just the fifth women’s coach in NCAA history to reach the milestone. VanDerveer is in her 35th season as a head coach and 28th at the Stanford helm. She joins 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.