As head coach Tara VanDerveer put it, “this was a weekend for Kaylee Johnson.” What did you see as the biggest contribution of Johnson these past two games?
Laura Anderson (LA): Johnson brings a ton of energy to the court. After earning her 10th career double-double against Washington State on Friday, she followed up by scoring the first six points of the game for Stanford against Washington. With a career-high five blocked shots on Sunday and a combined 27 rebounds in two games, Johnson’s effort level set the standard for the Cardinal.
Alexandre Bucquet (AB): I think the big thing Johnson did both games was to get the ball rolling for the Cardinal. She scored the team’s first four and six points against Washington State and Washington, respectively, and really crashed the glass from the get go. Her energy is contagious and really motivates her teammates. In particular, rebounding has been one of the main focuses of this team since their season opener, so Johnson leadership in that domain really matters for Stanford.
VanDerveer compared sophomore Dijonai Carrington to Johnson in terms of hustle on the court and emotional leadership. What was Carrington’s impact this weekend, and how do you see her role in the team evolve moving forward?
LA: Carrington is a great example of Stanford’s depth. Particularly in Sunday’s game against Washington, she came off the bench with aggressive play, picking up 11 points and five rebounds. She brings a lot of physicality to the guard role, which in turn energizes the team. I think she’ll probably remain a highly used bench player for much of the season, with occasional spot starts. Her play off the bench will be key to ensuring a sustained team effort throughout entire games.
AB: Carrington could very well be a starter for the Cardinal. Every time she comes off the bench, she becomes a leader on the court not only on the offensive end but also defensively. She stretches the floor well with her three-point shooting as well as her ability to drive into traffic. Against Washington, she had five assists, most of which came on plays where she drove to the basket and kicked it out to a shooter outside the arc. The sophomore is probably one of the best defenders on this team. She gets blocks, rebounds, steals and is a great tool for VanDerveer to lock down a specific player.
Stanford faces UCLA and USC for the second time this season. What did the Cardinal learn the last time around that they need to keep in mind as they travel to LA?
LA: Against both UCLA and USC, Stanford was able to turn it on in the fourth quarter to close out the games. McPhee was dominant in the fourth quarter in both matches, scoring half of her points in the final frame against the Bruins. This past weekend, the Cardinal cooled off in the second half against Washington State, getting outscored 25-12 in the fourth. The team seemed to reset with a strong fourth quarter on Sunday against the Huskies. Delivering a complete 60 minutes of high-energy play by winning the fourth quarter will be crucial this weekend against USC and UCLA.
AB: Last game against UCLA, the Cardinal were able to answer every Bruins run with a spurt of their own. This is going to be another really important aspect of the game this weekend. Stanford will need everyone on its roster to play with confidence in order to avoid UCLA from pulling away. This is especially important in the fourth quarter. Last time around, Stanford dominated the fourth with McPhee and freshman Nadia Fingall leading the charge.
Taking care of the ball well and the team play Stanford showed against the Huskies on Sunday will once again be crucial against both UCLA and USC. The Cardinal cannot afford to turn the ball over like they did in the second half of the Washington State game.
Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand and Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.