Women’s basketball earns No. 2 seed, faces Norfolk State in first round

March 17, 2024, 9:33 p.m.

As Selection Sunday progressed, the atmosphere in Maples Pavilion reached a fever pitch. Three No. 1 seeds had already been announced and excitement filled the building, as the team and Cardinal fans awaited for the announcement of the fourth No. 1 seed bid. Many bracket projections predicted Stanford would earn that spot, and the crowd was eager for these forecasts to come true. 

With fans audibly cheering in anticipation, ESPN dropped a dismaying revelation: the Texas Longhorns (30-4, 14-4 Big 12) had received the last No. 1 seed, knocking Stanford down to the two-line. The crowd fell silent in an instant.

While some fans may be disappointed, for head coach Tara VanDerveer, who is making her 35th trip to the NCAA tournament, the seed line is the last thing on her mind. 

“It’s not your seed that’s important,” said VanDerveer. “It’s [about] your team, how they’re playing and if they’re excited.”

Stanford will take on No. 15 seed Norfolk State at 7 p.m. on Friday. If Stanford wins, they will take on the winner of the Iowa State-Maryland matchup on Sunday. 

Stanford fans will also be able to witness both graduate student guard Hannah Jump and senior forward Cameron Brink compete for the last time at home. Brink described playing at Maples Pavilion at least once more as both “bittersweet” and “exciting”.

The week off after the Pac-12 tournament has also given the Cardinal a chance to improve, while also getting healthier. 

VanDerveer said that the team has had three practices since coming back from Las Vegas. An emphasis has been put on being more patient on offense, boxing out on rebounds, playing good transition defense and setting better screens. 

“I think the loss against USC can be a positive for us,” VanDerveer said. “Every disappointment is a blessing and we’ve used it that way. I think being a 2 seed can get under our skin a little bit, so we have something to prove.”

According to VanDerveer, the week off has also been helpful for sophomore point guard Talana Lepolo, who has been battling a knee injury during the latter part of the year. 

“I thought she had a really good week [of practice] last week,” VanDerveer said.

While March Madness is much different from other parts of the college basketball season, Stanford’s Pac-12 slate should prepare them well for success in the tournament. Seven Pac-12 teams received tournament bids and VanDerveer believes there should be even more.

“I think the Pac-12 could’ve had ten teams in the tournament,” VanDerveer said. “We’ve played great competition in the Pac-12. They’ve gotten us ready and we’ve gotten them ready.”

The Cardinal are looking to make their mark in this year’s NCAA tournament after a disappointing second-round loss to No. 8 seed Ole Miss last season. While Stanford has long since moved on from last season, avenging last year’s early tournament exit is still on the minds of many players.

“We do have last year in the back of our minds,” said Jump. “But I think that if we play Stanford basketball, like we’ve been playing all season, we’re going to be successful.”

Kaushik Sampath is a desk editor for the sports section. He is a sophomore from Fayetteville, Arkansas, who's undecided on his major. You can catch him watching and ranting about his beloved Arkansas Razorbacks or hanging out with friends on campus. Contact him at sports 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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