No. 5/4 Stanford Heads Into Saturday Night Showdown With No. 1/1 Tennessee
Dec. 20, 2007
No. 5/4 Stanford Cardinal (9-1, 0-0 Pac-10)
- vs. -
No. 1/1 Tennessee Lady Volunteers (10-0, 0-0 SEC)
STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 5/4 Stanford women's basketball team returns home to Maples Pavilion this Saturday night, hosting the defending national champion and No. 1/1 Tennessee Lady Volunteers in a highly-anticipated, nationally-televised clash. Saturday night's contest will be aired locally on FSN Plus (Comcast Channel 410, Dish 452, DirecTV 655) at 7:30 p.m. PT, while fans can also hear the Cardinal and Lady Vols do battle on the airwaves at 90.1 KZSU, with play-by-play man Jake Kelman on the call.
Last Time Out For The Cardinal
Stanford continued its winning ways this week, first dismantling the No. 10/10 Baylor Bears, 87-63 Sunday afternoon at Maples Pavilion, before routing the New Mexico Lobos, 73-54 in Albuquerque Tuesday night. Candice Wiggins, who was named U.S. Bank Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance Sunday, lit up the Bears for a season-high 35 points, grabbed four rebounds, made four steals, and blocked a pair of shots. She followed that up with a 21-point, six-rebound, six-assist effort at New Mexico. Freshman forward Kayla Pedersen is also enjoying a fine week, averaging 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds over the two contests, while shooting a combined 15-for-27 (.556) from the floor.
The No. 1/1 Tennessee Lady Volunteers (10-0), helmed by head coach Pat Summitt in her 34th year, make their first trip to Maples Pavilion since the 2003-04 season. The defending national champion Lady Vols are led by reigning national player of the year and consensus 2007-08 Preseason All-American Candace Parker. Parker is averaging 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and shooting 52.2% from the floor, while senior guard Alexis Hornbuckle (11.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and freshman Angie Bjorklund (11.0 ppg) also star for the Lady Vols.
All-Time Against Tennessee
Tennessee leads the all-time series with Stanford, 19-4, and has won the past 11 meetings. Most recently, the Lady Vols captured a 77-60 victory in Knoxville on Nov. 24, 2006. Stanford's last win in the series was an 82-65 decision in Knoxville on Dec. 15, 1996.
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. 16, 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 were tied for 37th in the nation, and her 54.3 FG percentage stands 50th. Candice Wiggins, meanwhile, was 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. 698 Tuesday, is closing in on yet another milestone this month, needing only two 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 (957 wins through Dec. 19, 2007), Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer (785 wins), North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell (761 wins), and N.C. State's Kay Yow (717 wins).
No Shortage Of Wins
Among the many noteworthy numbers and statistics behind Saturday night's titanic clash between the Cardinal and Lady Volunteers, one incredible number that jumps out is 1,655. That is the number of combined victories between Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer (698 career wins) and Tennessee head coach Pat Summit (957 career wins). In addition to being institutions at their respective schools, VanDerveer and Summit have nine national titles between them, and are both members of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
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. Her relentless defense produced four steals and she even blocked a pair of shots. Wiggins then turned in 21 points, six rebounds, and six assist in Stanford's 73-54 win at New Mexico Tuesday night.
Could They Meet Once More?
With both Stanford and Tennessee steaming toward berths in the NCAA Tournament, there is a very good chance that Saturday night's contest may not be the only meeting between the two schools this season. The Cardinal and Lady Vols have met twice before in the postseason, with Tennessee claiming both contests. The Lady Vols derailed the Cardinal's hopes of repeating as national champions at the 1991 Final Four, capturing a 68-60 national-semifinal win on March 30, 1991 in New Orleans, La. 13 years later, on March 30, 2004, Tennessee stopped Stanford, 62-60, in the Midwest Regional Final in Norman, Okla.
Who Are You Calling 'Rookie?'
Freshman forward Kayla Pedersen has been playing like anything but a typical freshman in 2007-08, being an integral part of Stanford's success since Day One. Not only is Pedersen averaging 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds a game this year, but she has proven herself in contests against some of the best teams in the country. In Stanford's three games against Top-10 opponents this season (Rutgers, Connecticut, and Baylor), Pedersen is averaging 14.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game.
Good Start = Sign Of Things To Come?
Stanford's 9-1 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 has won nine of its first 10. In the 2001-02 and 2004-05 seasons, the Cardinal won its first eight games of the season before suffering its first loss. Both times, that first loss of the season came at the hands of Tennessee. In 2001-02, the Lady Vols handed the Cardinal a 68-62 loss at Maples Pavilion on Dec. 16, while in 2004-05, Tennessee claimed a 70-67 win in Knoxville on Dec. 21.
Hones Honing The Touch
Returning this season from a torn ACL that ended her freshman campaign prematurely last February, sophomore point guard JJ Hones has shown in the last two games that she may be back to her pre-injury form. Hones, playing 25 minutes against Baylor on Sunday, scored nine points on 4-for-4 shooting, and had zero turnovers running the offense. At New Mexico Tuesday night, Hones saw 20 minutes of action off the bench, going 2-for-3 from the floor for five points and passing out three assists against zero turnovers once again.
Winning Big At Home
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 in Maples Pavilion, giving the Cardinal a 26.7 average margin of victory at home. 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.
Blocking Out The Sun
A good measure of Stanford's success this season is due to the strong efforts of its 'paint crew' in sophomore Jayne Appel and freshman Kayla Pedersen. Through 10 games, Appel is averaging 15.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game, while Pedersen averages 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. The dominance of the duo was evident Tuesday at New Mexico, as each player grabbed eight rebounds, while Appel scored 18 points and Pedersen 13.
Home For The Holidays
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 4-0 in this seven-game stretch, with home dates against No. 1/1 Tennessee (Dec. 22), Washington State (Dec. 28), and Washington (Dec. 30) 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 1987-88.
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 2,021 career points. With 35 points in Stanford's 87-63 win over Baylor on Dec. 16, Wiggins became the fifth player in Stanford history to score 2,000 career points, and needs just 195 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 227 threes in her career. Additionally, with 10 three-point attempts on Dec. 18 at New Mexico, Wiggins, with 558, became the school's all-time leader in that category, passing Sebnem Kimyacioglu's mark of 549. Finally, at the charity stripe, Wiggins is third all-time with her 424 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 Tuesday's victory at New Mexico extend Stanford's current winning streak to six 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 nine consecutive December contests. Last season, the Cardinal posted a perfect 6-0 record in the final month of the calendar year.
Unbeatable At 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 six 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 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.