Women’s basketball opens campaign against Boston College

Nov. 14, 2014, 12:19 a.m.

With two exhibition games under its belt, the No. 6 Stanford women’s basketball team is primed to start its 2014-2015 campaign tonight at Maples against Boston College.

Senior guard Taylor Greenfield (right) had nine points against Vanguard and 16 points against UC San Diego in the Cardinal’s preseason exhibitions. She is expected to play a similar role to what Sara James played in her senior year last season. (ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily)

Head coach Tara VanDerveer stressed that the two aspects of Cardinal basketball that will be crucial to the success of the team this early in the season are practice and pace.

“Our practices are becoming more and more competitive and as you get into more games, people’s roles are going to be defined. We want to play tag-team, where you play as hard as you can and then you get a break and then I play as hard as I can,” VanDerveer said. “We want to play at a different pace. I tell the team it’s all about the pace. Just go fast and go hard.”

With the Card lacking in the size that they’re accustomed to, but loaded with speed, VanDerveer hopes that the team can dictate the pace of the game and force other teams to play up-tempo basketball.

“The lineup that we have is more about going out and doing it, or just playing basketball, which goes to show in the offense,” said senior guard Taylor Greenfield. “We had such a structured triangle, whereas now it’s sometimes 4-on-1 motion or screening, cutting, so it’s much less structured.”

While Stanford is typically a team that runs a calculated and controlled triangle offense, this year it will look to push the ball, capitalize on speed in transition and force the defense out of position by constantly keeping the ball in motion.

As defending champion UConn looms on Monday as the second opponent of the season, VanDerveer recognizes that there is not enough game time to allow the coaches to evaluate the players, formulate a game plan or make rotation decisions. More than ever, the proof will be in practice and it will be a battle ground for players to get better and demonstrate their strengths and areas that they can contribute.

“There’s not enough game time that we can figure out who’s doing well in a game, it’s based on practice. So if we see people playing really hard in practice, then they’re going to be in the group in the game that gets the first looks,” VanDerveer said.

Oftentimes, the team that dominates the paint, acts as the aggressor and grabs rebounds is the team that comes out on top. Rebounding and a strong presence in the post is exactly what Stanford is deficient in this year and so VanDerveer is adamant that the player who rebounds the most and plays all-around tenacious basketball will see the most court action.

Luckily, multiple players came through in the exhibition games against Vanguard and UC San Diego.

“Having Chiney [Ogwumike] was amazing but now that she’s gone it opens up opportunities for everyone else,” Greenfield said. “There’s a lot more for the taking this year in having a dispersed scoring lineup.”

Sophomore forward Erica McCall turned in two double-digit scoring performances and displayed just how much she’s been working on her game in the off-season, playing beyond her one year of experience and calling on the tutelage of Chiney Ogwumike. Fellow sophomore Lili Thompson also played up to her expectations, putting up 36 combined points in the two games. In addition, senior point guard Amber Orrange had three steals against Vanguard and tied for the leading rebounder against UCSD with 12, while also scoring double digits, reaffirming her versatility and capability.

Against UC San Diego, Greenfield was the upperclassman that decided to get involved the most, contributing 16 points in the win. With her high basketball IQ and strong, assured presence on the court, Greenfield can be expected to play a similar role to what Sara James played in her senior year last season, but with the added pressure of producing more on offense.

Another player that impressed this weekend was forward Kaylee Johnson. Johnson is one of the players that VanDerveer inferred would nail in her spot in the starting lineup if she continues to pull down rebounds. The freshman had 12 points and 16 rebounds in her first collegiate game and followed that up with 12 rebounds and 3 blocks last weekend.

“[The rotation] is by-committee; it’s not going to be a one-person show. It’s going to be a lot of different people,” said VanDerveer. “We’re looking for more from other young players.”

The Cardinal will need to take advantage of a winnable game against Boston College tonight to gain momentum and confidence before meeting with UConn, who defeated the Card by a decent margin in the tournament’s Final Four in April. Boston College is pegged to finish at the bottom of the Athletic Coast Conference and returns three starters. The Eagles are led by junior guard Nicole Boudreau, who averaged 11.1 ppg last season and is one of three returning starters for Boston College.

The Cardinal begin their 2014-2015 campaign tonight at 5:30 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.

Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

Ashley Westhem was Editor in Chief of Vol. 248 after serving as Executive Editor and Managing Editor of Sports. She is the voice of Stanford women’s basketball for KZSU as well as The Daily’s beat writer for the team and aids in KZSU’s coverage of football. She graduated in 2016 and is currently a Communications masters student. Ashley is from Lake Tahoe, California.

Login or create an account