Laura Anderson, Ellie Chen and Gregory Block discuss the performance of Stanford women’s basketball last weekend in Columbus, and what the team can do moving forward.
What is your main takeaway from the season-opening weekend?
Laura Anderson (LA): The Cardinal have their work cut out for them this season. A couple of players, namely senior Brittany McPhee, junior Alanna Smith and sophomore Dijonai Carrington, really stepped up against Ohio State and UConn, but the team overall didn’t seem to be clicking on the court. Luckily for Stanford, it’s just the beginning of the season, and stumbles are to be expected with a young team and a new style of play, but the Cardinal need to look for improved chemistry on both sides of the ball to be competitive with top teams.
Ellie Chen (EC): I’m not too worried after the two losses to OSU and UConn. Both of those teams provided amazing competition that will prepare Stanford well for the rest of preseason and Pac-12 conference play. The cardinal are a really young team, so I believe that team dynamic and offensive flow will naturally improve with each game. Remember, each new game is like 20 percent of the freshmen’s college career! Plus, older players like Brittany McPhee and Alana Smith are still stepping into their increased leadership roles. My main takeaway is that they have a lot of room to improve on, but as the younger players get more experience and as the older players acclimate to new roles, Stanford will have no problem winning some great games as the season progresses.
Gregory Block (GB): The Cardinal have some elite players, but they aren’t an elite team yet. Brittany McPhee, Alana Smith and Dijonai Carrington all showed bursts of brilliance this weekend, but as a collective team, the Cardinal looked slower and less physical than the Buckeyes and the Huskies. Neither of their losses are bad losses, because both of their opponents will be Final Four contenders this year, but if Stanford wants to return to Columbus to avenge these early losses, they are going to have to build chemistry and get more contributions from their young core.
After this weekend’s losses, what does the Cardinal need to improve in most?
LA: Stanford needs to focus on rebounding and limiting turnovers. The team was burned by Ohio State on Friday, with the Buckeyes out-rebounding the Cardinal 64-41, including taking 28 offensive boards to the Cardinal’s nine. Even if Stanford plays a clean game and improves its shooting percentage, rebounding will be key to prevent extra point opportunities for the opposition. In terms of giving up opportunities, the Cardinal gave up 22 turnovers against UConn. The Huskies are a tough team defensively to be sure, but Stanford needs to work on clean transition play as the season progresses in order to retain possession on offense.
EC: Getting more consistent scoring across the board will be crucial for the Cardinal moving forward. At Ohio State, McPhee scored 24 and the next highest scorer had 8. Similarly, versus UConn, Carrington had 21 and the next highest had 9. In order to contend versus top notch teams, Stanford needs to have multiple players scoring over ten points. It’s hard to win a game with only one player scoring double digits.
GB: Stanford’s losses this weekend exposed a couple of weaknesses, none bigger than rebounding. Offense will come and go, but every team can rebound effectively and take care of the ball, and the Cardinal did neither this past weekend. Against Ohio State, they were outrebounded 64-41, and they allowed the Buckeyes to grab 28 offensive rebounds. Giving an opponent those kinds of second-chance opportunities will make it difficult to win any game. Rebounding starts in the frontcourt with players like Maya Dodson and Alyssa Jerome, but if the whole team can perform better on the glass, the Cardinal will be a much stronger team.
Dijonai Carrington scored a career-high 21 points against UConn on Sunday while coming off the bench. Should Carrington start this weekend?
LA: It certainly wouldn’t hurt. Carrington was a spark plug last weekend, and she might be able to get the Cardinal going early against UC Riverside and CSU Bakersfield. Along with her offensive ability, which she showed off against UConn, I like her aggressive rebounding style. By giving her the start, Stanford could set the tone early on defense by battling for boards and potentially earning a few steals to get their opponents off balance.
EC: Why not? The season is young and VanDerveer has mentioned that there will be a rotation of at least seven to eight people, so it makes sense to keep testing out different combinations of these eight in these preseason games. Carrington is a huge asset whenever she is in the game, so I’m just excited to see her getting more floor time this year than last year.
GB: Carrington was a spark off the bench on Sunday and I think she could be valuable for the Cardinal in that role. But, if there was going to be a time to test out different starting lineups, now would be the best time. VanDerveer still has a lot of work and coaching to do to figure out the most effective rotations, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Carrington started this weekend.
Contact Ellie Chen at ellie170 ‘at’ stanford.edu, Gregory Block at gblock ‘at’ stanford.edu and Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’ stanford.edu.