Pac-12 peers don't buy that Stanford women's basketball is on the downturn
SAN FRANCISCO – Three Pac-12 women's basketball teams earned first-place votes in the preseason coaches' poll, but despite some major changes upcoming, the Stanford Cardinal was voted the favorite for the 15th year in a row.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer doesn't care to dive into what the preseason expectations mean. All she knows is that she likes her team, even though star Chiney Ogwumike and starting forward Mikaela Ruef moved on to the professional ranks.
"My dad always said, it's not the start of the race but the finish," VanDerveer said Wednesday at 2014-15 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Day, before getting more humorous with the prediction. "Hopefully we live up to the pick by the other coaches. I don't want to disappoint them."
Stanford has earned that respect. Even though the Cardinal will be installing a new offense to help senior guard Amber Orrange lead a very different team, there's little doubt amongst VanDerveer's peers that her squad will be a tough out.
Chiney Ogwumike and her older sister, Nneka, had represented Stanford as all-world talents for a span lasting six years. Washington coach Mike Neighbors will play devil's advocate in guessing the loss won't hurt the Cardinal's chances. He thinks it'll be harder to pinpoint which Stanford player to stop now that the Card will be relying on more players to produce.
"They've always had a kid in there with a name really hard to spell and say, that has bailed them out," Neighbors said. "I think their demise is way overestimated."