No. 5/4 Stanford Battles New Mexico In The Pit Tuesday Night
Dec. 18, 2007
No. 5/4 Stanford Cardinal (8-1, 0-0 Pac-10)
- vs. -
New Mexico Lobos (7-3, 0-0 Mountain West)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The No. 5/4 Stanford women's basketball team leaves the cozy confines of Maples Pavilion for the only time this month as it heads to Albuquerque for a contest against the New Mexico Lobos Dec. 18 at 6 p.m. PT. The Cardinal will then return home for a three-game set beginning with a showdown against the top-ranked Lady Volunteers of Tennessee at 7:30 p.m. at Maples Pavilion. Fans can hear Tuesday night's contest at New Mexico on the airwaves at 90.1 KZSU, with play-by-play man Jake Kelman on the call.
Last Time Out For The Cardinal
Stanford returned to action this past Sunday afternoon after a two-week break for final exams, quickly shaking off the rust and dismantling the No. 10/10 Baylor Bears, 87-63 at Maples Pavilion. Candice Wiggins, who was named U.S. Bank Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance Sunday, lit it up with a season-high 35 points on 11-for-22 shooting, and grabbed four rebounds, made four steals, and blocked a pair of shots to round out her fine effort. Freshman forward Kayla Pedersen continued her strong campaign as well, posting a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while JJ Hones scored nine points on 4-for-4 shooting, and Jayne Appel and Jillian Harmon each pulled down eight rebounds.
Scouting New Mexico
The Lobos (7-3) come into Tuesday's meeting off of their first home loss of the year, a 44-36 decision against Arizona. New Mexico sports a 7-1 record at The Pit in 2007-08, and has only played on the road twice, dropping both contests. The Lobos, helmed by Don Flanagan in his 13th season, are led on the court by Dionne March (14.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Amy Beggin (12.9 ppg), while Brandi Kimble leads the team with 7.0 rebounds per game.
All-Time Against New Mexico
The Dec. 18 contest between Stanford and New Mexico will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
The Cardinal In The Polls
Stanford, ranked fifth in the Associated Press poll and fourth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll last week, remained in the AP's No. 5 spot and the No. 4 spot in the coaches' poll. The No. 4 ranking matches Stanford's highest of the season, last achieved in the Nov. 19 polls.
Among The National Stats Leaders
The Cardinal finds itself in the National Top 50 in quite a few categories through the games of Dec. 9, including: fewest turnovers per game (13.6 - fifth), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.16 - eighth), scoring offense (74.7 - T-22nd), rebounding margin (+9.2 - 24th), scoring margin (+16.3 - 25th), and opponents' FG percentage (35.3% - 42nd). Individually, Jayne Appel's 2.2 blocks per game are tied for 37th in the nation, and her 54.3 FG percentage stands 50th. Candice Wiggins, meanwhile, is tied for 31st with her 88.9% success rate at the free-throw line.
Countdown To 700
Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, who earned career win No. 697 Sunday, is closing in on yet another career milestone this month, needing only three more wins to reach 700 for her illustrious career. Once VanDerveer has victory No. 700 in the bag, she will become just the seventh Division I women's basketball head coach to reach that mark. Currently, four of the six members of the '700 Club' are still among the active coaching ranks: Tennessee's Pat Summitt (956 wins through Dec. 18, 2007), Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer (785 wins), North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell (761 wins), and N.C. State's Kay Yow (717 wins).
Player Of The Week...Again
Senior guard Candice Wiggins was named the U.S. Bank Pac-10 Player of the Week for the sixth time in her career on Monday, after living up to her three-time All-American status by taking over Stanford's 87-63 victory over No. 10/10 Baylor and scoring a season-high 35 points against the Bears. Over 37 minutes of court time, Wiggins shot 11-of-22, including 4-for-9 from beyond the arc, and was a general menace on the defensive end. On the day, her relentless defense produced four steals and she even blocked a pair of shots to highlight her versatility as a defender.
Another star of Stanford's win over Baylor was freshman forward Kayla Pedersen, who posted her third double-double of the year with 22 points and 11 rebounds. With Baylor double- and even triple-teaming Jayne Appel at times, Pedersen capitalized on the newfound freedom, torching the Bears with a 10-for-16 effort from the floor. It wasn't just on offense that Pedersen was a nuisance, either, as 10 of her 11 rebounds came on the defensive glass, and she blocked two shots for good measure.
Hones Honing The Touch
Returning this season from a torn ACL that ended her freshman campaign prematurely last February, sophomore point guard JJ Hones turned in an effort against Baylor that may have signalled her readiness to assume a larger burden in the Stanford offense. Hones, playing 25 minutes due to starting point Ros Gold-Onwude battling foul trouble, was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor, hitting on her only three-point attempt, for nine points, and had zero turnovers running the offense.
Running Away With `Em
Sunday's 87-63 victory over then-No. 10/10 Baylor marked the third time in as many games, and the fourth time this season, that the Cardinal defeated an opponent by more than 20 points. The common factor in the last three blowout wins is that all three came at home in Maples Pavilion. After playing the first six games on the road, Stanford finally opened its home slate Nov. 28 against San Francisco, and blew out the Dons, 96-61. The Cardinal followed it up with a 62-41 win over UC Davis on Dec. 2, and capped off the three-game stand with the win over Baylor.
Doing The Dirty Work
One Stanford player that is a crowd favorite at Maples Pavilion is junior forward Jillian Harmon, who has won plenty of fans with her fierce, scrappy style of play. While other players get much of the glory and highlights, Harmon quietly continues to consistently produce, as she is third on the team with 6.3 rebounds a game and fourth with 8.7 points per game. While her stats are impressive, a good amount of Harmon's contributions don't show up on the scoresheet, as she energizes the team and the crowd with her hustle, beating defenders to loose balls, finding an open teammate with a well-timed pass, and creating chaos for opposing offenses with her dogged defense.
There's No Place Like Home
Nov. 28's regular-season home opener against San Francisco opened up a stretch in which Stanford played six of its next seven games at home through the end of the calendar year. The Cardinal are currently 3-0 in this stretch, with home dates against No. 1/1 Tennessee (Dec. 22), Washington State (Dec. 28), and Washington (Dec. 30) along with a road date at New Mexico (Dec. 18) remaining. With the exception of the 2004-05 season, in which the Cardinal played its first two 'home' games at Santa Clara University's Leavey Center, the most games Stanford had played on the road prior to its home opener was five, in the 1987-88 season.
Good Start = Sign Of Things To Come?
Stanford's 8-1 start to this season marks the team's best start since the 2004-05 season, and only the third time in the eight seasons of the new millenium that the Cardinal have won eight of its first nine. In 2004-05, the Cardinal won its first eight games of the season before dropping a 70-67 decision at Tennessee. That year, Stanford advanced to the Regional Final in Kansas City.
Climbing To The Top Of The Record Books
Heading into the 2007-08 season, senior guard Candice Wiggins stands on the brink of establishing multiple career records in the Stanford women's basketball annals. Currently, Wiggins is already the all-time Stanford leader with a career mark of 18.7 points per game, and stands fifth with exactly 2,000 career points. With 35 points in the Dec. 16 win over Baylor, Wiggins became the fifth player in Stanford history to score 2,000 career points, and needs just 216 more points to take over the top spot from all-time scoring leader Kate Starbird (2,215 points). Moving beyond the arc, Wiggins hit her 211th and 212th career three-pointers against Connecticut on Nov. 22, becoming the new all-time leader and breaking the previous record of 210, held by Vanessa Nygaard. Currently, she has 222 threes in her career. Additionally, with two more three-point attempts this season, Wiggins, who is currently second on the all-time list with 548, will pass Sebnem Kimyacioglu's all-time leading mark of 549 three-point attempts. Finally, at the charity stripe, Wiggins is third all-time with her 420 career free throws, and currently sits second on the all-time free-throw percentage list with an 83.0% success rate, just over one percentage point behind Kelley Suminski's top mark of 84.3%.
Streaking In December
Not only did Sunday's victory over Baylor extend Stanford's current winning streak to five games, but it also extended the Cardinal's December winning streak. Dating back to a 77-56 win at home over USC on Dec. 30, 2005, Stanford has now won eight consecutive December contests. Last season, the Cardinal posted a perfect 6-0 record in the final month of the calendar year.
Home Sweet Home
Tara VanDerveer's teams have compiled a 289-32 (.900) record at home during her tenure. The Cardinal is 177-12 (.937) all-time against Pac-10 foes at home. Stanford has also won 86 of its last 93 games at Maples. Stanford's last loss in Maples was on March 19, 2007 to Florida State, while the last home conference loss was on Feb. 4, 2007, when California posted a 72-57 victory over the Cardinal.
Stanford has rebounded nicely from its only loss of the season Thanksgiving night to Connecticut, reeling off five straight wins in response. Discounting last season's season-ending loss to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinal responded to their previous two losses of 2006-07 with lengthy winning streaks. After a 74-69 loss at No. 8/8 Georgia on Nov. 26, 2006, the Cardinal reeled off 17 wins in a row. That streak was broken by a 72-57 loss to No. 21/21 California on Feb. 4, 2007, but the Cardinal re-energized from that hiccup with 10 consecutive wins.
Gotta Stay Healthy
No matter how much talent is on any given roster, a team must stay as healthy as possible to give itself the best chance for a national title. Sophomore forward Michelle Harrison was lost for the year in the season opener at Yale with a torn ACL and sprained MCL in her left knee, and sophomore point guard Melanie Murphy was also lost for the year with a torn ACL on Nov. 24 against Old Dominion at the Paradise Jam. Freshman Ashley Cimino (back) has not yet seen action this season, and remains out.
The Choice In The Pac-10...again
For the eighth year in a row, seven-time defending conference champion Stanford has been voted as the favorite to win the 2007-08 Pac-10 women's basketball title, according to both the preseason coaches and media poll. The Cardinal received eight of 10 first-place votes in the coaches poll, tallying 79 points overall, and 17 of 18 top votes in the media poll, good for 179 points. Arizona State was picked as the runner-up in each poll.
The honors have already begun rolling in for a pair of Cardinal players in 2007-08, as senior guard Candice Wiggins and sophomore forward/center Jayne Appel have been named to various preseason teams and award lists. Both players were named to the Preseason All-Pac-10 Team, and to the list of 30 preseason candidates for the prestigious Wooden Award. Wiggins, a three-time Kodak and Associated Press All-American, earned preseason All-America honors from the AP, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated.