No. 2/2 Stanford Opens Regional Action Against No. 9/10 Ohio State Saturday In Berkeley
March 25, 2009
NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal
No. 2/2 Stanford Cardinal (31-4, 17-1 Pac-10)
- vs. -
No. 9/10 Ohio State Buckeyes (29-5, 15-3 Big Ten)
STANFORD, Calif. - No. 2/2 Stanford has reached the 16th Sweet Sixteen in program history, and is just two steps away from a repeat Final Four appearance as it continues NCAA Tournament play Saturday night in Berkeley. The Cardinal will open regional action against the No. 9/10 Ohio State Buckeyes, and the contest will be televised live on ESPN2, with Dave Pasch calling the action, Mary Murphy on color and Todd Harris reporting from the sidelines. The game can also be heard on 90.1 KZSU and on the Internet at kzsulive.stanford.edu, with Jake Kelman handling play-by-play duties.
Last Time Out
The Cardinal advanced out of the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament and on to regional action with a 77-49 victory over host and No. 10 seed San Diego State Monday night. Freshman forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike posted a career night with 27 points and 13 rebounds, her fourth double-double of the season, on 8-for-10 shooting and an 11-for-13 effort from the free-throw line. Jayne Appel posted her 13th double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Jillian Harmon (12 points) and Jeanette Pohlen (11 points) rounded out Stanford's double-digit scorers. Sophomore forward Kayla Pedersen also turned in a solid all-around effort with five points, nine rebounds, and a career high-tying seven assists.
Scouting Ohio State
The Ohio State Buckeyes (29-5, 15-3 Big Ten), Big Ten regular-season and tournament champion, entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed and punched its ticket its first Sweet 16 in four years thanks to victories over Sacred Heart (77-63) and Mississippi State (64-58) at home in Columbus. Jim Foster is in his 31st year overall as a head coach and seventh at the helm of the Buckeye program, and his squad is led by Wade Trophy finalist Jantel Lavender (21.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and Star Allen (10.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg).
All-Time Against Ohio State
Ohio State leads the all-time series against Stanford, 1-0, having captured the only previous meeting, 74-47, in Columbus on Dec. 28, 1984. Current Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer was Ohio State's head coach at the time of that meeting, and current Stanford associate head coach Amy Tucker was an assistant on VanDerveer's Buckeye staff.
In The National Polls
Stanford came in at No. 2 in the final regular-season editions of both the Associated Press Poll and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll.
A Look At The National Stat Leaders
Stanford was ranked in the national top 50 in 12 statistical categories through March 15: rebound margin (+12.5 - second), assists per game (18.9 - second), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22 - second), scoring margin (+20.9 - second), field-goal percentage (47.4 - third), points per game (76.4 - 11th), field-goal percentage defense (35.0 - 12th), blocked shots per game (4.7 - 32nd), scoring defense (55.5 - 32nd), fewest turnovers per game (15.3 - 35th), fewest fouls per game (15.5 - 49th) and three-pointers per game (6.3 - 50th). Individually, Jayne Appel is in the top 50 of one category: field-goal percentage (61.0 - fifth). Jeanette Pohlen is 26th in the nation with a 1.81 assist-to-turnover ratio and 49th with 2.3 three-pointers per game.
Stanford Rankings In The Pac-10
Stanford leads the Pac-10 in ten statistical categories through March 23: scoring (76.3 ppg), scoring margin (+21.5), field-goal percentage (47.2 percent), field-goal percentage defense (34.5 percent), rebounding (43.9 rpg), rebounding defense (30.6 rpg), rebounding margin (+13.2), blocked shots (4.8 per game), assists per game (18.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.24). Individually, Nnemkadi Ogwumike (62.6 percent) and Jayne Appel (60.3) are 1-2 in field-goal percentage. Appel also leads the conference in blocked shots (1.86 bpg), and is second in rebounding (9.0 rpg) and third in scoring (14.7 ppg). Jeanette Pohlen shares the lead the Pac-10 with 2.3 three-pointers per game and is second with a 1.78 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Stanford In The NCAA Tournament
Stanford is 54-20 all-time in the NCAA Tournament over 23 appearances. The Cardinal's first NCAA Tournament was in 1981-82, when it fell 82-48 to Maryland in opening-round action at College Park, Md. Since then, the Cardinal disappeared from the postseason until 1987-88, which has begun a streak of 23 consecutive appearances in the Big Dance. Over that run, Stanford has captured a pair of national titles (1990, `92), been to the Final Four seven times (1990-92, `95-'97, 2008), reached 12 Elite Eights, and 16 Sweet Sixteens. Stanford has also reached the Regional Final four times over the past five seasons.
All-Time Against The Big Ten In The NCAAs
Saturday's regional semifinal game against Ohio State will be the sixth time that Stanford has faced off against a school from the Big Ten in NCAA Tournament action. The Cardinal has split those six meetings with the Big Ten in previous NCAA Tournaments, although Saturday's contest will be the first meeting with Ohio State. Against the Big Ten schools in the NCAA Tournament, Stanford has split two meetings with Purdue (82-65 in 1994 Regional Final and 69-58 victory in 1995 Regional Final), defeated Iowa (98-74 victory in 1989 Regional Semifinal) and Michigan (81-74 overtime win in 2000 first round) once each, and fallen once to both Michigan State (76-69 loss in 2005 Regional Final) and Minnesota (68-56 loss in 2003 second round).
Saturday's game against Ohio State will bring back memories for Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer and associate head coach Amy Tucker. VanDerveer guided the Buckeyes to a 110-37 record and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances from 1980-85, while Tucker graduated from Ohio State in 1982 and was a four-year letterwinner in basketball. In fact, Tucker remains in the OSU all-time top 10 in six statistical categories and was an assistant on VanDerveer's Buckeye staff in 1983-85.
Ogwumike Taking Over In The Postseason
The postseason is when the cream rises to the top, and freshman Nnemkadi Ogwumike has done that since the beginning of Stanford's postseason at the Pac-10 Tournament. Through the team's five postseason games, Ogwumike has averaged 16.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game while shooting 60.0 percent from the field (30-for-50) and 77.4 percent from the free-throw line. Three of her five double-doubles this season have come in the postseason, including a career day of 27 points and 13 rebounds in last Monday's 77-49 second-round victory over San Diego State.
Not Calling It A Career Yet
While it may be her final NCAA Tournament, senior forward Jillian Harmon is doing all that she can to guarantee that it lasts as long as possible. Through the first two rounds, Harmon is shooting 52.6 percent from the field (10-for-19) and averaging 10.5 points per game, while also contributing 3.00 assists and 2.00 steals per contest.
Rebounding Is About Wanting It More
Stanford's rebounding has been dominant all season, as it has led the Pac-10 just about all year, and that dominance has shown once again through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Against UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State, Stanford has out-rebounded its foes by an astounding 106-55 margin. The Cardinal is averaging 53.0 rebounds per game, while giving up just 27.5 a game to its opponents. Individually, Stanford's front line of Jayne Appel (12.0 rpg), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (11.0) and Kayla Pedersen (9.0) are doing yeoman's work on the glass in the tournament.
Kayla Pedersen has been nothing if not her usual consistent self as Stanford continues to advance in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 7.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.50 assists over the first two rounds. Also, Pedersen has flirted with a triple-double twice this postseason, scoring nine points with 15 rebounds and seven assists on March 13 in the Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals, then putting up a a 5-9-7 Monday at San Diego State.
Opening Things Up For Everyone Else
All-America finalist Jayne Appel has had to battle through double and even triple teams in order to contribute on the scoreboard this postseason, and she has still managed to do that by averaging 10.6 points and 8.4 points over five postseason games. Yet Appel's true contributions have come thanks to those double and triples teams, as they free up Stanford's other scoring options, which are easy to find for Appel, one of the nation's best passing centers with an average of 2.89 assists per game, second-best on the team.
Point guard Jeanette Pohlen has deftly handled the responsibilities of running Stanford's offense from the point as well as being one of the team's viable scoring options from the outside. In addition to leading the team with 3.77 assists per game and a 1.78 assist-to-turnover ratio, Pohlen continues to be a scoring weapon, averaging 11.1 points per game and hitting 2.3 three-pointers a game, tops in the Pac-10.
Denying The Paint
Besides dominating the rebounding battle against its opponents through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Stanford has also controlled the paint in another way, by stuffing field-goal attempts. The Cardinal has blocked 14 shots over the first two rounds, with Jayne Appel and Kayla Pedersen each swatting four, and Jillian Harmon and 6-5 freshman center Sarah Boothe each turning back a pair of shots. Those numbers have been a factor in Stanford only allowing a combined 22 points in the paint against UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State last weekend.
Cashing In From The Line
One underrated factor that inevitably comes under the microscope in the NCAA Tournament is a team's ability to make free throws, and the Cardinal has so far proven to be rising to the occasion from the charity stripe. Entering the NCAA Tournament with a 66.9-percent showing from the free-throw line, Stanford's success rate has jumped to 78.3 percent (36-for-46) over the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. A lot of that success can be attributed to freshman Nnemkadi Ogwumike, who, after making just 68.7 percent of her free-throw attempts heading into the tournament, has improved to 80.0 percent (16-for-20) from the line over the first two rounds.
Rest `Em Up
By winning each of its five postseason games by more than 20 points thus far, Stanford has been able to effectively keep its roster fresh by spreading the minutes around. Nine of the team's 12 active players are averaging double digits in minutes played, and no one player averages 30 minutes a game, with Jillian Harmon leading the team at 29.0 minutes per game.