March 22, 2017

Bumps in the road

The Cardinal encountered unexpected difficulties on the road to Dallas, as Janie McCauley (AP) reports: Travel challenges just part of NCAA Tournament for Stanford

March 20, 2017

Cardinal stifles K-State Wildcats, 69-48

Almost 4,000 purple-clad Wildcat fans came to the spacious confines of Bramlage Coliseum for this game, joined by a hundred or so cardinal-wearing Stanford fans. The smaller group had more to cheer about as the Stanford defense shut down K-State's best scorers.

One thing was clear to Stanford fans almost immediately: the Wildcats were absolutely determined that Karlie Samuelson would not beat them. She barely got her hands on the ball before one and usually two defenders pounced at her. As a result it wasn't until the third quarter that Karlie attempted a shot.

When one player is so tightly defended, others have to be open. A couple of minutes into the game, Brittany drove in and made a layup. A fan was heard to say, "If they are going to let Brit operate, we're going to have a good night." And in fact Brit did operate, getting seven points and an assist in the first quarter.

The first quarter ended with Stanford up by a modest five points. In the second quarter, the wheels came off K-State's Conestoga wagon. In the first minute Brittany hit a three, then drove and missed a layup that Bird put back. With Stanford up ten, the Wildcats called a timeout. It didn't help. K-State went more long minutes with no score but free throws. At the half, Brittany had added two more threes, and with Alanna and Bird scoring, Stanford led 39-21.

In the second half Karlie got three chances to shoot and made two of them. The second of these came when the Cardinal had been passing the ball around the perimeter of the Wildcat's wide-spread two-three zone. With the clock getting short, Karlie at the top of the arc passed to Brittany at the right elbow. She bent her knees, drawing two defenders, so passed back to Karlie who was now two long steps back from the arc. Unfazed, Karlie let it fly and swished the three.

Rebounding was a major factor in the result, despite Stanford not being any taller, overall, than the Wildcats. In the final tally Stanford out-rebounded K-State by 15, 39-25, and O-boards were 12-5. That gave the Cardinal more opportunities, and Stanford made better use of them, shooting 46% versus the Wildcat's 39%.

So with a convincing win in hand, Stanford heads to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky to face Texas for the Sweet Sixteen. That's the same location where Stanford upset Notre Dame last year at this time. If they can get past Texas, they'll probably have a chance to repeat that matchup.

Brittany led all scorers with 21 points, mostly from a career-high five of seven from beyond the arc. She rounded out her stellar offense with seven rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal.

Alanna was close behind with 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block.

Bird had ten points, six rebounds and a block.

Karlie had six points from making two of three shots, plus two assists and two steals.

Kaylee contributed her usual strong defense with four rebounds in twelve minutes of play and also scored five points.

Bri and Marta shared point guard duties and focused on holding K-State's leading scorer to eleven points on three of seven field goal attempts. They each dished six assists, Bri with no turnovers and Marta with four.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights videofrom Stanford Athletics,

The game highlights video from ESPN,

Another highlights video: Brittany's 21 points,

The audio press conference with Tara, Brittany and Alanna,

A gallery of photos by (David Mayes Photograph,

And photos by Orlin Wagner (Associated Press):

Brittany drives to the basket
Brittany lays up two of her 21 points
And-one for Alanna
Bird and Karlie stop K-State's tall center

March 19, 2017

Preparing for round 2

K-State not afraid of Stanford in NCAA Tournament matchup, by Dave Sketta (Associated Press)

Stanford stands in way of K-State women reaching Sweet 16, by Maria Torres (Kansas City Star)

Stanford women will face tough center, crowd at K-State, by Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle)

Cardinal at K-State, from Stanford Athletics

All Pac-12 teams advance

It's been a busy and exciting weekend for Pac-12 women's basketball fans. Not only did the Pac-12 send an unprecedented seven teams to thr Big Dance, all seven of them advanced to the scond round, three of them by the skin of their teeth!

Enjoy their victories:

 OSU Won 56-55:
Beavers top LBSU to advance to Sunday's second round

 Washington Won 91-63
Washington Tops Montana State To Advance To Second Round

 ASU Won 73-61:
Brilliant Play on Both Ends of the Floor Helps Sun Devil WBB Advance in NCAA Tournament as Turner Thorne wins 400th Game at ASU

 UCLA Won 83-56:
No. 4 UCLA Routs No. 13 Boise State

 Oregon Won 71-70:
Ducks Top Temple in NCAA Tournament Thriller

 Cal Won 55-52:

Bears beat LSU in NCAA Tournament

March 18, 2017

Cardinal wears out Aggies to take first round 72-64

Historically no 15-seed has ever won a first round postseason game. There were moments late in this game when fans were seriously worried that Stanford was going to have the distinction of yielding that unfortunate record; but Stanford conditioning, defense, and determination owned the quarter that mattered — the last one.

From the opening tip, the New Mexico Aggies did not play like a 15-seed. On offense they moved and passed with dazzling speed. They hit eight of their first twelve shots. At the end of the half, they had five threes, one from each of five players.

Meanwhile the Aggies' zone slowed the Cardinal. In one memorable possession, Stanford missed five successive shots but got five successive O-boards before Brittany sank a jumper.

At the end of the first quarter, the Cardinal were in the hole 20-23. The score would have been similar at the half, 31-35, except that with two seconds left, the Aggies missed a free throw, scooped up the rebound and sank a three on the buzzer sending Stanford to the locker room down 31-38, leaving their fans to spend the half with dark thoughts of making the wrong kind of history.

After the break, Karlie helped to erase most of that deficit with two three-pointers. The Aggies and the Cardinal exhanged a narrow lead throughout the third quarter, which ended with the Cardinal down one, 48-49.

As the fourth quarter began, some of the New Mexico players were visibly tired. Brittany, Alanna and Bird scored, and the Aggies missed several successive shots. Stanford finally had a lead that was not immediately erased; and soon after, its first two-possession lead.

The Aggies were unable to muster an answer, and the buzzer gave the Cafrdinal passage to the second round, where they'll play Kansas State (who defeated Drake 76-54) in front of a home crowd on Monday.

Alanna led the Cardinal with 19 points and eleven rebounds, plus six blocks.

Karlie had 17 points including 5-9 from long range, and five assists and three steals. Her last three-pointer of the day brougnt her caeer total to 238, one more than sister Bonnie's.

Brittany had 16 points, several in the crucial fourth quarter that sparked the Cardinal's march to victory; plus three assists, five steals, six rebounds and two blocks.

Bird had nine points, twelve rebounds, and three blocks.

Bri added six points from two three-pointers, plus three assists and two steals.

Marta had five points and five steals.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video from Stanford,

The game highlights video from ESPN,

Postgame video interview of Tara and Alanna,

Transcript of the press conference , with Tara, Alanna and Karlie,

A gallery of photos by David Mayes Photography,

March 17, 2017

On the eve of the first round

Kansas media isn't paying much attention to the women's basketball tournament pod in Manhattan. Both the Kansas and Kansas State men qualified for the men's tournament, and the midwest regional will be in Kansas City next weekend.

But here are some stories and videos on the eve of the Cardinal's first round:

Stanford hits road to play home game in NCAA tourney opener, from the Associated Press

Practice today, play tomorrow, Instagram video

Stanford’s most emotional player Erica McCall eyes national title, by Lindsay Schnell (Sports Illustrated)

Defense carries Stanford women into the Big Dance, by Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle)

No. 2 Stanford starts March Madness run against New Mexico St., by Elliott Almond (Mercury News)

K-State women continue upward trend with berth in NCAA Tournament, by Maria Torres (Kansas City Star)

The Dance begins in Kansas

Here is how the teams that will play rounds 1 and 2 in Manhattan, Kansas match up statistically:

Stanford New Mexico State Kansas State Drake
Points per game 72.1 69.3 68.1 83.1
Scoring margin +16.1 +10.7 5.6 +18.8
Field goal % .448 ..421 .420 .488
3-pointers per game 6.0 6.4 5.8 8.4
3-point % .352 .347 .333 .365
Free throw % .687 .706 .680 .742
Rebounds per game 41.5 39.3 37.5 30.9
Rebounding margin +7.7 +3.7 +1.8 +4.9
Assists per game 14.9 14.0 14.6 21.8
Turnovers per game 13.8 15.2 14.8 15.5
Assist/turnover ratio 1.08 0.92 0.98 1.40
Steals per game 7.2 9.3 8.2 11.4
Blocks per game 5.5 3.9 4.3 3.4
Overall record 28-5 23-7 22-10 28-4
Conference record 15-3 14-0 11-7 18-0
RPI 6 137 24 26
Schedule strength 8 331 30 81

FiveThirtyEight gives Stanford a 97% chance of defeating New Mexico State and Kansas State a 77% chance of defeating Drake. The chance of advancing to the Sweet 16 is 70% for Stanford and 26% for Kansas State.

  New Mexico State Aggies

The Aggies play in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). They earned an automatic bid to the NCAAs by winning their third straight tournament championship. The three-peat has only been accomplished one other time in WAC history (Louisiana Tech, 2002-2004).

The Aggies were also the WAC regular season champion for the first time with a perfect 14-0 record.

The Aggies are led by a coach familiar to Pac-12 fans ‐ Mark Trakh — who coached the USC Trojans from 2004-09 (between Chris Gobrecht and Michael Cooper). Trakh has been the head coach at New Mexico State since 2011. He was named the WAC Coach of the Year for the third consecutive season.

The Aggie offense is led by three double-digit sharp-shooters:

  • Senior guard Moriah Mack, who was the WAC Player of the Year, averages 13.5 ppg and takes about 23% of her shots from beyond the arc.
  • Sophomore guard Brooke Salas averages 13.1 ppg and takes 38% of her shots from beyond the arc. She is also the leading rebounder with 6.6 rpg.
  • Senior guard Tamera William averages 10.9 ppg and takes 39% of her shots from beyond the arc.
They're all looking forward to their game against Stanford. Mack says, “We know what to expect. I think we’re going to go out and play hard. We feel great. I think we’re playing really good right now and we’re just excited to even be here.”

Here are New Mexico State's season statistics and roster

  Kansas State Wildcats

The Kansas State Wildcats earned their second consecutive at-large bid to the Big Dance by placing fourth in the tough Big-12 Conference behind Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma.

What brought the Wildcats to a jumping joy, quite literally, was when their name popped up as a seven seed to play at home in Manhattan.

Senior guard Kindred Wesemann said, "It means so much more. You thought Senior Night was the last time you got to play in Bramlage and the fact that it wasn’t makes this that much sweeter. We’ll get to play in front of our fans a few more times, hopefully, and we’ll just leave it all on the court.”

The Wildcats can expect a good turnout for their games against Drake and then, most likely, Stanford. Their average home attendance in 12,500-seat Bramlage Coliseum this season was 5,280.

The Wildcats are led by Jeff Mittle, now in his third season at Kansas State.

Senior guard Kindred Wesemann is the Wildcats' leading scorer with an average of 16.0 ppg. She takes about two-thirds of her shots from beyond the arc and makes 35% of them.

6'5" senior center Breanna Lewis does all her scoring in the paint , where she makes 55.7% of her shots for a total of 13.7 ppg. She is also the leading rebounder(8.3 rpg) and shot-blocker (1.8 bpg).

Here are Kansas State's season statistics, roster and game notes.

  Drake Bulldogs

Drake University, which is in Des Moines Iowa, plays in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). The Bulldogs won an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the MVC Tournament. The Bulldogs were also the MVC regular season champion with a perfect 18-0 record, which is a first-ever in the conference. Graham Hays ranked them tops in the mid-majors.

The Bulldogs are led by fifth-year head coach Jennie Baranczyk

The Bulldogs are one of the most unselfish, as TV commentators like to say, teams in the country. They rank second in the nation (to UConn) in assists with 21.8 per game.

Senior guard Caitlin Ingle dishes a third of them — 7.7 per game, which is second best nationwide. She also scores 10.4 points per game herself at a rate of 49%.

Senior forward Lizzy Wendell is the major recipient. She has made 260 field goals this season, which is fourth best nationwide. She makes 50% of her shots and averages 21.1 points per game.

The Bulldogs have two other double-digit sharp-shooters — freshman guard Becca Hittner (12.4 ppg, 54%) and sophomore guard Sammie Bachrodt (10.3 ppg, 48%)

Here are Drake's season statistics, roster and game notes.

March 15, 2017

New Mexico Aggies ready to take on the Cardinal

New Mexico State's "whatever-happened-to?" head coach says that his kids are ready to play Stanford in the first round and they're going to have fun.

NMSU women will face Stanford in NCAA Tournament, by Mark Rudi (Las Cruces Sun-News)