Tara VanDerveer’s Path from 1 to 1,098: An oral history

Dec. 14, 2020, 6:41 a.m.

Oral History: Tara VanDerveer’s Path from 1 to 1,098

With No. 1 Stanford’s dominant 83-38 victory over Cal, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer has tied the legendary Pat Summitt for the most wins in women’s college basketball history with 1,098. To commemorate this historic moment, The Daily asked VanDerveer’s former players and assistants, as well as those following the program, for their favorite memories of a Tara VanDerveer win.

All affiliations at time of game.

Win #1
Dec. 1, 1978
Idaho 70 – Northern Montana 68

VanDerveer wins her first game as a head coach. Idaho had gone 2-16 and 10-7 in the two prior seasons before hiring VanDerveer, who was then a graduate assistant at Ohio State. In two seasons, she recorded records of 17-8 and 25-6 before returning to Ohio State as head coach.

Tara VanDerveer
head coach
Before we went into overtime, we were up three and there’s like 10 seconds left in the game or something. I said, ‘Okay you guys look, we got this game, just don’t foul.’ We went out, the girl hit the shot, and we fouled her and I said, ‘this is going to be hard.’ I’m thinking ‘boy this coaching thing is not going to be easy.’ It wasn’t my first win but when we were in Las Vegas, I went into Lindy La Rocque’s office, and Lindy’s team had just won and we hadn’t played them yet. She was showing me her office and on the door was a sign from her staff, “congratulations Coach La Rocque, victory number one.” And I just teased Lindy, you only got 1,090 something to go. The first game was a fun game but I never would have imagined there were 1,000 more like it.
Win #60
Dec. 1, 1981
Ohio State 74 – Toledo 59

First win for the Class of 1985.

Theresa Wiper, Yvette Angel, Carla Chapman and Kristin Watt
The four of us represent Tara’s first head coach recruiting class at The Ohio State University. Tara had a clear vision of a “team” basketball program that was built on the fundamentals of the game and a lot of hard work. Our basketball family included the coaches, players, trainers (and their families), managers, equipment managers and athletic department personnel. She nurtured a game represented by a balanced offensive team where at least five people scored in double figures. Her defensive strategies were always well prepared. Tara was always professorial – a fundamental teacher of the game – wanting you to know not only how to do something, but why you were doing it.

A great deal of care and preparation went into every conditioning program, practice, and game. Practices were 3 1/2 hours long and completely mapped out. Basketball fundamentals were drilled into the team’s core daily and with reason and effort. Believe it or not, our teams at Ohio State were not allowed to dribble the ball unless you drove to the basket for a layup. She favored off ball player movement and passing the ball. It was a fun and enjoyable way to play the game. And quite successful! Many times more excitement was generated by who made the pass than by who may have scored the actual points.

We remember vividly that practices were harder than games. We were more than prepared, physically and mentally. When an opponent might have had more talent, we made up for it with preparation and conditioning. Our teams remain tight knit to this day – especially those of us in her first head coach recruiting class! We want to thank Tara for those great (but hard) years where she pushed all of us to be better players, students, and people. (And, wink, Tara should never try to learn to moonwalk in front of her team ever again.)
Win #125
Nov. 21, 1984
Ohio State 87 – Illinois State 51

Liana Coutts
As a starter I was very well prepared because Tara had challenged me, shared and taught me so much. The game was fun because practices were set up to be competitive.
Win #132
Dec. 28, 1984
Ohio State 79 – Stanford 47

Stanford, in the midst of a 9-19 season, lost to VanDerveer in Columbus. The next year, Stanford hired VanDerveer and went 13-15. The Cardinal have not had a losing record since.

Win #141
Feb. 3, 1985
Ohio State 56 – Iowa 47

Toni Roesch
Ohio State and Iowa were always vying for the Big Ten Championship. We were playing out in Iowa. There was a sellout crowd. The arena held 17,000 people. They allowed 21,000 people in. They were four rows deep in the mezzanine and people were sitting in the aisle ways. It was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves think. We ended up winning and won the Big Ten Championship that year, along with the three preceding years. It was an amazing win. After the game, there were so many people trying to leave that we needed a police escort to get us through the traffic to be able to make our flight.

Magazine cover of 1985-86 Buckeye basketball
Three members of the Ohio State women’s basketball team in VanDerveer’s fourth season with the program. From left to right: Toni Roesch, Francine Lewis and Barb Smith. (Photo courtesy of Francine Lewis)

Win #152
March 21, 1985
Ohio State 81 – Penn State 78

Francine Lewis
I got a rebound and threw a behind the back outlet pass to the other team right in front of Tara and our bench! I didn’t dare look at Tara and she had confidence in me and left me in to set an (Ohio State NCAA) Tournament record in points (37) that was finally broken by Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell in 2016! Tara had confidence in me and I wasn’t about to let her down! I will always have her back!
Carla Chapman
We were a four-time Big 10 Championship squad with her during my four years at Ohio State so there were lots of wins but watching my senior year team make it to the final eight of the NCAA Tournament was the biggest. I was watching and not playing because I had injured myself and blew my knee out. That was not only devastating to me but to our team. Still, I watched her as a coach keep the team functioning and playing together and we persevered and persisted through those challenges. She did that throughout her career.

VanDerveer stands with an annoyed expression and her arms outstretched while yelling to the court in a black-and-white photo from a game.
VanDerveer coaching on the Stanford sideline in 1986. (ROD SEARCEY/isiphotos.com)

Win #200
Feb. 12, 1988
No. 9 Stanford 70 – No. 12 Washington 66

Emily (Wagner) Gallagher
While Tara has an incredible wealth of momentous victories, given that I’m from the early years, I’ll wax nostalgic and peg the 1987-88 victory over the University of Washington on our home floor. We had been thumped by them in round one of the PAC-10 league play and when they arrived at Maples, Tara turned the tables. It was a signature win that helped the team reach the NCAA Tournament. Our first effort under Tara in the NCAA netted an away victory over Montana that year before we got a taste of next-level hoops at Texas in the next round.

In all honesty, seeing Tara eclipse Pat Head Summitt is one of strong mixed emotions given the nature of Coach Summitt’s untimely death. I could not be prouder of Tara (and her staff) over the years as it — the upcoming all-time win record — is truly a milestone of historic proportions. Given life’s uncertainties made ever more prescient living in a pandemic, Tara’s energy, focus and determination inspire!
Win #202
Feb. 18, 1988
No. 9 Stanford 94 – Cal 79

Jill Yanke Stevens
I was a junior, and we beat them soundly 94-79. That was the first time we swept Cal at home and away. Who doesn’t like to sweep Cal? Tara was very happy and lots of players contributed in that game.
Win #206
March 20, 1988
No. 13 Stanford 74 – No. 16 Montana 72 (OT)

Pam Simms-Mackey
I guess it would be in 1988 our win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. I actually think it was a “play-in” game and then we were able to go on to play at regional site in Austin, TX at University of Texas. I felt like the win was the start to Tara’s and Stanford Women’s Basketball regular NCAA tournament appearances. You know… when all the storied history first began!
Tammy Svoboda
I remember playing in my first NCAA game in 1988 in Montana. I don’t remember who we beat, but we were just excited for that win and then to go on and play Texas at the University of Texas.
Evan Tuchinsky
Daily beat writer
The win that’s stuck with me came during the breakthrough season, ’87-88, when the Cardinal went from a “sleeper” pick in the Preseason Top-20 to making the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Stanford drew Montana on the road, with the winner advancing to the Austin Regional Semifinal. The game went to overtime before the Cardinal won, 74-72. I don’t remember game details (though surely Jennifer Azzi did something amazing — every game, she conjured a moment of magic I’d never seen and she never repeated). The score remains indelible, as does postgame.

Going to overtime put the team at risk of missing the last flight of the day out of Missoula. So, after a hasty press conference in a small room of the gym, the Stanford bus headed to the airport with a police escort, and everyone made the plane. The Cardinal wound up losing to Texas — but next season, made it a step further, halted in the Rustin (La.) Regional Final by eventual national champion Louisiana Tech; and the season after, went all the way.
Win #238
Dec. 15, 1989
No. 3 Stanford 85 – No. 2 Tennessee 71

Jennifer Azzi
Once we beat them, we knew we had arrived.
Angela Taylor
It was Finals Week leading up to that game and I just remember how focused Tara and our team were both on our finals and preparing to battle one of the best teams in the country and a program that I grew up watching compete for championships while growing up in Idaho. Despite all of the potential distractions from preparing to take finals, there was an incredible focus on what we needed to do to win that game that entire week. It still seems surreal to be honest. From arriving at the gym for the game, going through warmups as the fans packed the arena, seeing the legendary Pat Summit on the other sideline, and watching our leaders (Jennifer Azzi, Katy Steding, Trisha Stevens, Sonja Henning, Julie Zielstra and my freshman classmate Val Whiting) nearly flawlessly execute the game plan that led to victory 85-71. I remember the sights, the sounds, the smell of popcorn and the amazing feeling that we could be one of the best teams in the country if we kept working hard. It was a special experience that still brings a smile to my face more than 30 years later.
Win #264
Mar. 24, 1990
No. 2 Stanford 114 – No. 22 Arkansas 87

Julie Plank
Assistant coach
Defeating Arkansas in the West Regional, to a sellout crowd at Maples! Tara’s postgame comment was “We are going to Knoxville… why not US”? Before the season, Tara had a sign on our team’s locker room door that read “1990 National Champions, Stanford Cardinal.” She believed it every day!

Black-and-white photo from a game in 1987, pictured from left to right: June Daugherty, Assistant Coach Julie Plank, Head Coach Tara VanDerveer, Assistant Coach Amy Tucker, Assistant Trainer Patti Millson.
VanDerveer on the Stanford bench in 1987. Left to right: June Daugherty, assistant coach Julie Plank, head coach Tara VanDerveer, assistant coach Amy Tucker, and assistant trainer Patti Millson. (TIM DAVIS/isiphotos.com)

Amy Tucker
Assistant coach
It was after five years of being with Stanford, and the first year we were at Stanford we were .500. So in five years to go from .500 to the national championship was just an amazing feeling. And we played the regional final at Stanford to get to the Final Four and with an absolutely sold out crowd. And that felt just amazing too. Our first game at Stanford, they didn’t even pull up the bleachers. So to go from that to a sold out crowd at Maples to get to the Final Four and then to win the national championship on April 1 was truly magical.
Jennifer Azzi
There is nothing better than ending your college career with a win like that! It took four years to get there and Tara coached us to perfection.
Julie Plank
assistant coach
Over the course of the 1990 NCAA Tournament, Stanford did not take a single timeout. Tara’s motto was “keep running and don’t stop!” In the championship game, Stanford hit ten 3-pointers! Tara’s comment: “total team effort.” During the postgame celebration in the Tennessee locker room, after winning the first championship, the entire team and staff danced to “Can’t Touch This.” The highlight video after the end of the season, describing our 1990 TEAM was set to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Unbelievable staff & players!
Win #275
Jan. 11, 1991
No. 9 Stanford 75 – No. 12 Washington 71

David Hirning
Daily beat writer
Covering Stanford women’s basketball was the crowning achievement of not only my Stanford Daily experience, but probably of my entire (short) career in journalism. It was a simpler time — I often called head coach Tara VanDerveer at home for interviews, and Amy Tucker once bought me a Whopper when I was traveling on the team bus.

Perhaps Stanford’s biggest conference rival in those days was the Washington Huskies – the only team to beat them during their 1989-90 title-winning season. That loss, coming by three points in front of a frenzied crowd in Seattle, would often be cited by the players and Tara as the motivator that catapulted them on their championship run. As a Seattle native, I was a UW fan before I got to Stanford and would remain one long after my time on the Farm. When the annual game between Stanford and UW came around in 1991, I felt a trip back to my hometown was warranted. I flew to Seattle to cover the game – and it turned out to be a great one.

Rereading my detailed account from the Stanford Daily archives, I can almost see the game in my head – Stanford getting out to a big lead, only to watch UW start chipping away in the second half, egged on by a roaring crowd in a sold-out Hec Edmundson Pavilion (which still had steel pillars that obstructed fan views in those days, long before the facility was remodeled). The Huskies in a full-court press, causing turnovers, and a rattled Stanford missing free throws (while maybe having some flashbacks to the previous year’s loss). UW edging closer and closer in the waning minutes, before finally coming up just a little bit short. There was (and still is!) no love lost between the two programs, and it was sweet revenge for Tara and Stanford, which would go on to make the Final Four that year.
Win #298
Dec. 14, 1991
No. 3 Stanford 96 – No. 1Tennessee 95 (OT)

Val Whiting
We were down 13 points with a minute and a half to go at home to the national champions, Tennessee. I was at the foul line and all I could see was people leaving. I hit the winning shot, swish, at the right elbow, nothing but net. The game was so exciting that someone had a heart attack in the crowd.

Reply to @adenscarberry what’s your clutch moment #WeWinTogether #femaleathlete #wnba #sports

♬ original sound – Val Whiting 🏀✝️
Win #322
April 5, 1992
No. 3 Stanford 78 – No. 15 Western Kentucky 62

Tyson Vaughan
Daily beat writer
While Stanford was favored, the Hilltoppers were known as a dominant rebounding team, and there was some question about whether this might give the Cardinal some trouble. If I recall correctly, Tara and the coaching staff told the team that they were probably going to lose the battle on the boards so they would have to find other ways to win. This was a ploy of reverse psychological motivation, and it worked. Simply put, it pissed off the forwards to be told that they were outclassed, and they played with chips on their shoulders. Led by freshman Rachel Hemmer’s 15 boards, the Cardinal outrebounded the Hilltoppers. Whiting and small forward Chris MacMurdo got into the rebounding act. Shooting guard Christy Hedgpeth took up the shooting slack, as Western Kentucky focused their defense on Goodenbour. Ultimately Stanford won handily, and Molly Goodenbour was Final Four MVP, largely on the strength of her game against Staley and Virginia. It was the team’s second NCAA championship in 3 years, and they had all five starters returning the following year. It was beginning to look like winning championships was easy… When someone asked Tara in the post-game press conference about the following year, she wisely said something like, “There’s no guarantee that we’ll get back here. For now, we’re just going to take some time to savor this for a while.”
Win #365
Feb. 24, 1994
No. 11 Stanford 80 – No. 6 USC 50

Anita (Kaplan) Fiedel
My favorite win was against USC at home. We lost at both USC and UCLA down south and Tara was very upset with us. Beating Lisa Leslie and the Trojans at home was the redemption we needed. After the game Tara told me she was “so proud of me.” That meant the world to me.
Win #399
March 11, 1995
No. 5 Stanford 55 – No. 14 Washington 50

Jeremy Stone
KZSU color commentator and Daily sports co-editor
Washington was Stanford’s fiercest conference rival in the early to mid-’90s, and the teams and fan bases (and maybe coaches?) didn’t care for one another. The Cardinal was fighting for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed in this regular-season finale (no conference tourney then), and an inspired sellout crowd awaited Stanford in Seattle. In the media room before the game, KZSU’s Marc Oppenheimer recorded his usual “Timeout with Tara” for the pregame show and asked how she prepared for the Huskies’ physical style. Tara candidly said something to the effect of “in practice we foul the heck out of our post players.” A UW staffer overheard this and must have gossiped because in the postgame handshake Washington coach Chris Gobrecht and Tara started pointing fingers and jawing at each other. Stanford won as Tara beat the Huskies at their own game by unleashing a surprise weapon for the first time in volleyball superstar and future basketball All-American Kristin Folkl. The Cardinal didn’t get that No. 1 seed but did go on to beat Marion Jones and defending national champ North Carolina before losing to Connecticut in the Final Four the day before UConn won its first of 11 titles. Tara would be stuck on 403 collegiate wins for almost 20 months as she took the next season off to coach the U.S. National Team to Olympic gold.
Win #404
Nov. 17, 1996
No. 1 Stanford 74 – No. 2 Alabama 65

Ed Guzman
Daily beat writer
This was the season opener, and my first official game on the beat. It was an exhilarating introduction. 1 vs. 2, national television, Sports Illustrated on hand, a raucous, sellout crowd at Maples Pavilion. It was also a rematch of a taut NCAA Tournament game from the season before, a Sweet 16 game in Seattle that Stanford won in OT. All of that combined to make for a lively reminder of what a big deal women’s basketball had become at Stanford under Coach VanDerveer.
Win #412
Dec. 15, 1996
No. 1 Stanford 82 – No. 5 Tennessee 65

Yvonne Gbalazeh-Hart
The place was packed and that dang Rocky Top song was so loud. The final score with us on top was louder than the song though. As a freshman to see such class and character from Tara and Amy and our entire coaching staff and team after such a great win left a lasting impression. It was special.
Robin Davidson
Daily beat writer
I grew up in Georgia so I drove up on the winter break to cover the game in person. It was one of Pat Summitt’s worst seasons at Tennessee. They lost badly to Stanford at home that night, lost 10 games that season, but ultimately won the national title (Stanford lost to ODU in the Final Four that year). The mutual respect Tara and Pat had for each other was obvious in post-game interviews, which is nice to think about now as Tara ties Pat. But what I remember most is how the game itself just had that extra intensity that comes from playing in front of a hostile crowd in an arena where the home team almost always won. Stanford was the No. 1 team in the nation, but the Lady Vols were the defending national champions, and the hype over Kate Starbird and Chamique Holdsclaw going head to head was huge. From the opening tip it was obvious that Tara had her team well prepared, and Stanford more or less dominated the game.

Tara VanDerveer greets Pat Summit before the Stanford women's basketball team's 97-80 win over Tennessee at Maples Pavilion on December 20, 2011.
VanDerveer greets Tennessee coach Pat Summit before a Stanford 97-80 win during 2011 in Maples Pavilion. (JOHN TODD/isiphotos.com)

Win #428
Feb. 15, 1997
No. 3 Stanford 69 – Oregon 66

Ed Guzman
Daily beat writer
Playing games at the old Mac Court was what I imagined it must have been like to play at the old Boston Garden — just an old, rickety building with the crowd right on top of you and going straight up. So when it was packed for a big game, like this one, it was noisy! Press row was not courtside, it was behind the first level of seats, and you had to climb some narrow stairs to get to it. I was seated in between the KZSU announcers, who were Jeremy Stone and Ray Salloom that season. It was so loud, we could only communicate through handwritten notes (and in the case of Jeremy and Ray, through their headsets), even though we sat next to each other. Anyway, the game was back and forth throughout and Stanford held a slim lead with about two minutes to go. They had possession and called timeout. I glance over at Ray, and he’s drawing up a play, spelling out that he thought Kate Starbird would curl off a screen, catch the pass at the top of the key, and can a dagger three-pointer. Played out exactly like Ray (and Coach VanDerveer) drew it up, and Stanford went on to the victory to stay unbeaten in conference play.

Seniors Milena Flores, Christina Batastini and Yvonne Gbalazeh pose for a photo with Tara Vanderveer during the 1999-2000 women's basketball season at Maples Pavilion.
VanDerveer poses with the senior class of 2000, Milena Flores, Christina Batastini and Yvonne Gbalazeh. (DAVID GONZALES/isiphoto.com)

Win #516
March 17, 2001
Stanford 76 – George Washington 51

Carolyn Moos
  • The “S” doesn’t stand for stupid.
  • It’s not the start of the race but the finish.
  • Mental is to physical as four is to one.
  • You want to have fun, try winning… that’s fun!
  • Sometimes you’re the dog and sometimes you’re the fire hydrant.
  • Basketball is a team sport. If you’re into individual things, take up tennis!
  • Basketball was invented as a team sport, it’s always been a team sport, and it always will be a team sport.
  • This is not a democracy.
  • Christmas is over; quit standing around like a decoration.
  • Excuses are like belly buttons…everyone has one.
  • Got to put the hammer down.
  • I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night!
Win #552
Nov. 30, 2002
No. 7 Stanford 63 – No. 2 Kansas State 57

Şebnem Kimyacıoğlu
They were No. 2 in the nation at the time and we were playing without our All-American, Nicole Powell, who was injured. Maples was pretty packed, which created this incredible atmosphere. The game was tight the whole time. The whole team contributed and perhaps the most memorable was when Krista Rappahahn (Rapp) stepped in as freshman in the biggest game of her career thus far and sunk four free throws to seal the win.

The win also marked the highest ranked opponent that Stanford had beat in about five years, so felt like we made a statement: we’re back!
Win #634
Mar. 27, 2005
No. 1 Stanford 76 – No. 10 UConn 59

Zach Jones
Daily beat writer
Once we got to Kansas City, it felt so much bigger than basically playing in our backyard in Fresno. The other factor was the scar tissue around teams like UConn and Tennessee. Against UConn and Tennessee stuff just happened, and those programs with all those championships just seemed to make one more play, no matter what the talent balance between the teams.

Candice Wiggins played pretty badly in the first half, and Stanford was down six at the break. I don’t remember if I was already playing around with depressing ledes to my game story or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised. But Stanford came out in the second half and treated UConn — this team that felt like they had SUCH a built-in mental advantage — like they were a middle-of-the-road Pac-12 team. Everybody contributed in the second half, and even when it got close again down the stretch, it was weird — it didn’t feel like UConn had enough firepower, which is something I never would have imagined feeling.

To this day, I remember where I sat on the court, what the media room looked like, and how sure I was that this was the start of something special.

VanDerveer gives a thumbs-up as she shouts onto the court during Stanford's 77-71 win against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Maples Pavilion on December 30, 2006.
VanDerveer coaches from the sideline and into the court of a game in December of 2006. (KYLE TERADA/isiphotos.com)

Win #699
Dec. 22, 2007
No. 5 Stanford 73 – No. 1 Tennessee 69 (OT)

Rosalyn Gold-Onwude
There are so many special wins but the win over Tennessee at home stands out. We hadn’t beaten them in a long long while and getting over that hump in front of a packed crowd at Maples just before the holiday break was so special. I remember the entire team running into each other’s arms after we won in overtime. Forget acting like we’d been there before — we were happy! Pat Summitt and Tennessee were dominant, they had star player Candace Parker and came into the game ranked #1. We were not only proud of our team but also coach Tara for snagging that huge win. It gave our team a lot of confidence throughout the rest of the season. I remember boarding the plane to start the holiday break right after that game and I felt so good that all the hard work, the tough practices — it was all worth it! I believe that game was a turning point for our season and program back to a new wave of elite success. Later that season we advanced to the Final Four and kept achieving that year after year after year. Tara is the best “game prep” coach I know; she thoroughly prepares her squads, however, my favorite memories with her are on the team bus or at team dinner, cracking jokes on each other, even to this day, the jokes don’t stop. We are family for life and she’s my coach for life. I’m so proud of her!
Win #723
Mar. 31, 2008
No. 4 Stanford 98 – No. 5 Maryland 87

Kate Paye
Assistant Coach
Beating Maryland in the regional final in 2008 in Spokane to go to the Final Four, the seventh time in program history and the first time after an 11-year absence from the Final Four.
Win #724
April 6, 2008
No. 4 Stanford 82 – No. 2 UConn 73

Wyndam Makowsky
Daily beat writer
UConn was the top ranked team in the tournament, and Stanford never trailed en route to a dominant 82-73 win, which avenged a 66-54 loss earlier in the year. Notably, the win exemplified the transformation that the Cardinal undertook over the course of the season. In the fall, the team relied almost too heavily on its two stars, Candice Wiggins and Jayne Appel. This left Stanford vulnerable offensively, and Coach VanDerveer made adjustments to get more players involved. By the spring, Kayla Pedersen was so good that it was effectively a big three, and players like Ros Gold-Onwude, JJ Hones, and Jill Harmon had come into their own. The UConn game was a masterclass: Wiggins scored the most points, but Pedersen was arguably the offensive star, while Hones had a season-high assist total and Harmon was key off the bench. Meanwhile, Maya Moore, who was already other-worldly as a freshman, didn’t score for the first 13 minutes. It was a near perfect game at exactly the right time.
Win #792
March 29, 2010
No. 2 Stanford 55 – No. 5 Xavier 53

Kate Paye
Assistant coach
Regional in Sacramento. Layup with 4.4 seconds to win!
Ashley Cimino
We won on a buzzer beater by Jeanette Pohlen, who took the ball the length of the court in 4.4 seconds. It was the first time I’ve ever been on a team that won a game at the buzzer and I can’t think of a more exhilarating way to make it to a third straight Final Four.
Scott Bland
KZSU play-by-play
There were huge expectations around the program that 2010 could be a national championship year after two straight trips to the Final Four, an undefeated conference season, and big wins over top-10 opponents including Pat Summitt’s Tennessee in the nonconference schedule. They’d been ranked No. 2 all season long behind Connecticut, who were the only team to beat them in another one of those early nonconference matchups. But Xavier played them closer than anyone since that UConn game, and they were tied 53-53 with less than a minute left and a Final Four berth on the line.

I went to a lot of basketball, football, soccer, volleyball and other games as a student… this was definitely one of the most tense and exhilarating. The last minute was just wild. One of Xavier’s guards missed a wide-open layup that would have put them up two, and then when Xavier rebounded the miss, she somehow found herself all alone under the basket again — and missed another uncontested layup. Stanford got the rebound this time and called timeout with 4.4 seconds left. They inbounded the ball to Jeanette Pohlen and she took it coast-to-coast for a layup right at the buzzer. I was doing the play-by-play for KZSU — my voice cracked hard as Pohlen took her shot and I gave a big shout when it went in. The bench, the band, the crowd — everyone just exploded. I said my piece quickly and just let the crowd mic soak it all up and own the broadcast for the next little while.
Loss #195
Apr. 6, 2010
No. 2 Stanford 47 – No. 1 UConn 53

Jayne Appel Marinelli
I’ll never forget after my final game (2010 national championship), walking through the parking garage with Coach and telling her I never wanted to take my jersey off. She responded with so much encouragement and support as I was in full tears and sadness. I knew then that she was going to be a coach to me for life, jersey still on or not.
Win #802
Dec. 30, 2010
No. 9 Stanford 71 – No. 1 UConn 59

Nneka Ogwumike
Although difficult to narrow it down to just one, my favorite winning memory in my time with Tara had to have been breaking UConn’s streak in Maples in 2010. What was so amazing about that win wasn’t just the game and how we played, but mostly the preparation and team focus she instilled in us to be great any chance we could get.
Joslyn Tinkle
It was my sophomore year 2010-2011 and it was the end of December. Playing them was always a big deal and huge rivalry for us, so beating them at home in front of our crowd to end their winning streak was awesome. My mom and family were at the game and I remember it feeling like a tournament win. We went out to dinner afterward in the late evening and when I walked in the whole place erupted in cheers, so that was fun given it was my birthday too!

I remember preparing and studying their team so well before that game (thanks to Tara), therefore beating them knowing just how much hard work and team effort went into it, made it that much sweeter.

Tara is a basketball guru. She eats, sleeps and breathes it. Which is why I guess we are talking about all of her wins, because there are a lot! And I’m forever grateful to her and being a part of some of those wins. Of course every win is fun, but some rank higher than others.

Tara has such an incredible way of planning, preparing and strategizing the game of basketball. And she makes it fun for all of us to go into each game prepared and wanting to take away what the other team is best at in order to come out victorious.
Chiney Ogwumike
My job was to guard Maya Moore. I think that this showed Coach Tara’s greatest strength, which is her ability to scout. At Stanford, we’re a campus full of, affectionately, nerds and we’re led by one that was big into analytics before analytics really became a thing, especially in basketball. And so, that led us to having great scouting reports, which allowed us to beat UConn. That was so much fun. The gym was rocking. I remember Secretary Condoleezza Rice was there and she came into the locker room afterwards, which was really neat and then from that conversation with her in the locker room afterward, I became an IR major and she became my academic advisor. That one win set the tone for my entire Stanford experience.
Jeanette Pohlen
There were a lot of great wins throughout my four-year career at Stanford playing for Tara, but I think my favorite was our win at Maples against No. 1 ranked UConn my senior year to break their 90-game winning streak. That was the loudest, most electric I had ever seen Maples Pavilion. The fans and student section gave us so much energy that game to go along with a great game plan Tara and our coaches put together. Our coaching staff always had us well prepared for games and to have beaten them at home in front of our fans to break the streak was really exciting. Definitely a win I will never forget!
Lindy La Rocque
It was a sold out game, great atmosphere. Our coaches and staff were so prepared and our team was committed to executing the game plan. We played our hearts out for 40 minutes and it felt like the game went by so quickly. Tara was calm and cool the whole game like she knew we were going to win. I just remember being so happy with my teammates and coaches after the game.
Kate Paye
Assistant coach
Beating Connecticut at Maples to end their 90-game win streak.
Win #861
March 26, 2012
No. 2 Stanford 81 – No. 6 Duke 69

Sam Fisher
KZSU play-by-play
I woke up the morning before the game feeling tremendously ill, with what turned out to be strep throat. But this was a special team in the midst of an amazing season (34-1 at the time), and it would take a lot more than that to stop me from broadcasting the game for KZSU. Condoleezza Rice, David and Kori Shaw and many more Cardinal fans made the trip to turn Save Mart Center into “Maples Pavilion East.” Joslyn Tinkle, Amber Orrange, Chiney Ogwumike and Nneka Ogwumike all put up double figures, and the game was never really in-doubt, giving Tara her fifth-straight Final Four appearance and setting up an epic matchup with Brittney Griner and Baylor in Denver the following week.

VanDerveer is helped down the ladder after giving senior Nneka Ogwumike the net after a 81-69 win over Duke at the Save Mart Center in Fresno for the West Regionals Championship of the 2012 NCAA Championships.
After a win over Duke to reach the Final Four in 2012, VanDerveer cuts down the net and hands a piece to Nneka Ogwumike. (DON FERIA/isiphotos.com)

Win #864
Nov. 16, 2012
No. 4 Stanford 71 – No. 1 Baylor 69

Taylor Greenfield
Beating Baylor in Hawaii over Thanksgiving! I remember Tara singing along to Alicia Keys’ song “Girl on Fire” back in the hotel after the win!
Win #927
Apr. 1, 2014
No. 6 Stanford 74 – No. 12 North Carolina 65

Chiney Ogwumike
This was my senior year, and this was when we hosted the Sweet 16, which meant we could win two games and go to the Final Four. I had a bad first half. And I’ll never forget Nneka walked into the hallway by the Stanford locker room and gave me a pep talk and then we balled out in the second half. My final game at Maples was a win to go to the Final Four. And there’s a picture of me, with my arm around Coach Tara, that I just love.
Win #999
No. 10 Stanford 72 – No. 7 Washington 68
Jan. 29, 2017

Mikaela Brewer
The gym was sold out to see Kelsey Plum and we were down by 18 at half. We made a huge comeback and the energy in the gym was just unmatched. We were so proud of and excited for each other. As a freshman my eyes were just wide, I had chills.
Win #1000
Feb 3, 2017
No. 8 Stanford 58 – USC 42

Erica McCall
I remember we had kind of made it a goal as a team in the beginning of the year to get that win for her, and the time had finally come around mid Pac-12. There was a lot of emotion building up to it and everyone was definitely excited to play in front of a large crowd and to experience a special moment with Tara. I remembered we played a great game against USC and when the buzzer sounded off the seniors (Karlie Samuelson, Briana Roberson and I) went to go retrieve a huge Gatorade jug filled with confetti. Tara totally thought we were about to pour ice water on her and she was pleasantly relieved when she realized it was just confetti. We all went around her, gave her a hug and congratulated her. Definitely a memory and game I’ll always cherish.

VanDerveer is showered by players with a Gatorade container of confetti after earning her 1000th career win in a 58-42 triumph over USC.
The senior class of 2017, Karlie Samuelson, Briana Roberson, and Erica McCall surprise VanDerveer (and associate head coach Kate Paye, waiting with a towel) with a confetti shower after her 1000th win. (Casey Valentine/isiphotos.com)

Karlie Samuelson
One of my favorite memories with Tara was her 1000th win. It was such a historic moment and great win at home in front of the fans at Maples. I am proud to have been a part of it and I’ve seen how much work she puts into the preparation of each game every season, so it’s a milestone well-deserved!

VanDerveer poses for a photo with players Erica McCall, Karlie Samuelson and Briana Roberson after Stanford defeated the visiting USC Trojans for Vanderveer's 1000th career victory.
Karlie Samuelson, Briana Roberson, and Erica McCall pose with VanDerveer following the coach’s 1000th win. (DON FERIA/isiphotos.com)

Briana Roberson
After winning a nail-biter against Washington, our team’s focus noticeably shifted towards ensuring Tara could get to 1000. USC gave a good fight in the beginning but we were able to pull away and secure the win. I would argue, however, the best moment occurred after the game. Once the siren sounded, we seniors (Erica McCall, Karlie Samuelson and I) decided to prank Tara by pouring confetti on her head (as opposed to gatorade or water). Tara smiled and gave us hugs. The moment humbled me: I was honored to be a part of such a historic game, a part of a skilled team that made it possible and a part of the legacy under a historic coach.
Alexandre Bucquet
I remember Maples Pavilion was almost full that day, all fans angsty to witness NCAA Basketball history. The first half of the game added to the tension, as the Cardinal and Trojans went toe-to-toe, trading scoring runs and defensive stops. After Stanford eked out to a nine-point lead at halftime, senior guard Karlie Samuelson put the game away as she hit three shots from behind the arc in an individual 11-point spurt to close out the third quarter. Those makes brought reliefs to the fans, who seemed to now savor the coming celebration of coach VanDerveer. After the Stanford seniors were able to present a custom jersey to their coach — with a complementary confetti bucket shower, of course! Coach VanDerveer was already focused on win 1,001 in the postgame interviews.
Win #1008
Mar. 5, 2017
No. 10 Stanford 48 – No. 6 Oregon State 43

Karlie Samuelson
Before the Pac-12 tournament, we had lost to Oregon State twice, getting second in the regular season. Tara saw how devastated Bri (Briana Roberson), Bird (Erica McCall) and I (us three seniors) were after that second loss. She brought us into a meeting and told us how much she believed in us and that we were going to get it back in the tournament. She took that moment to really give us that confidence we needed to bounce back, and we ended up beating them in the championship after coming back from a solid deficit in the first half. That moment she took to speak with us and inspire us to not give up meant the world to me. She has shown me what it means to truly be a great coach and I am honored to have played for her. Huge congratulations to her for this incredible accomplishment!
Win #1064
Mar. 10, 2019
No. 7 Stanford 64 – No. 6 Oregon 57

Lindy La Rocque
Assistant coach
As a coach alongside Tara the last three years, my favorite win was the Pac-12 championship game in 2019 in Las Vegas against Oregon. It was such a great moment. First women’s championship game in Las Vegas and it was a great game with Oregon. Again, our team and staff wanted to win so badly, there was not going to be anything that stopped us. Sharing it with the team and staff as a coach was just as special, maybe even more, as the championships as a player. That is also the most recent championship Tara has won.
Mikaela Brewer
The Pac-12 tournament win was special because we were the underdogs, and I’d never seen our team more focused, excited and motivated. I remember Tara screaming from excitement before the game in the locker room and I think we knew then that we were ready for the challenge. Oregon was and is a great team.
Nadia Fingall
One of my favorite games was one I didn’t play in. We had lost to Oregon already that season but the team had grown since then. Before the game, Tara did something she’d never done before. She walked into the locker room and stood by the board, took a sip of water and just yelled. Like the kind you hear at midnight during finals week. Everyone was confused for a second but busted out laughing. In that moment the tension in the room dropped and everyone could breathe a little easier. Her pregame talk that followed gave us an extra measure of confidence. The game was a rollercoaster of emotion and hard work, fueled by concentration, love and will. In the end, we came out with a victory and together we laughed, we cried and we yelled.
Win #1,098
Dec. 13, 2020
Stanford 83 – Cal 38

In an empty Haas Pavilion, VanDerveer wins her 1,098th game.

A massive thank you to everyone who contributed. 

Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Daniel Martinez-Krams '22 is a staff writer in the sports section. He is a Biology major from Berkeley, California. Please contact him with tips or feedback at dmartinezkrams ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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