Wednesday, May 6, 2020

A REVISED ANSWER TO "WHO WILL STANFORD PLAY IN THE NATIONAL TITLE GAME NEXT APRIL?!""

A month ago I wrote a blog that predicted Stanford would be up against UConn down in San Antonio in the championship game next April. After more thought and deep cogitation, I've gotten a better look into my crystal ball and guess what? Or rather, guess who? If it quacks like one and it waddles like one, that's right . . . the Ducks and the Cardinal will be the last teams standing when the Big Dance comes down to two.

In 2020/2021 we get to deal with a new flock up in Eugene. The faces will be new, but the skill levels will be all too similar.

Nyara Sabally        6'-5"      So  Forward (Satou's younger sister)
Taylor Chavez       5'-10"     Jr   Point Guard
Jaz Shelley            5'-9"      So  Shooting Guard
Erin Boley              6'-2"      Sr   Forward (Lone remaining starter)
Sedona Prince       6'-7"      So  Post (Transfer from Texas)

Plus Kelly signed the number one recruiting class in the country and has five five star freshmen ready to cause major problems.

The big news this week out of Palo Alto! You've probably heard that Anna Wilson is back for another year!! Can't tell you how thrilled I am to hear that. Now Ms. Wilson's gonna show her stuff. Besides being one of the quickest lateral movers and lock-down defenders in the West - she's going to emerge as the potent offensive weapon we've been hoping she could be since she arrived on The Farm. Adding her ballhandling, quickness, defense, and shooting to the team I predicted could win in San Antone - we just got better. Kiana can get some rest. Now she can play 25 minutes on some nights and 30 on others without our effort missing a beat. When we get to late February, Kiana and Anna will need to rest their legs, and I have a feeling the two "J's"  Jana and Jenna will be ready to contribute important minutes. Our Point Guard position may be as strong as it's ever been in our history.   

My projected starters and their backups. Kiana and Anna - doesn't that have a great ring to it? I can't wait . . . can you?

Maya Dodson/Fran Belibi            14 points (average)
Kiana Williams/Anna Wilson       22
Haley Jones/Lacie Hull                16
Lexie Hull/Hannah Jump              20
Ashten Prechtel/Cameron Brink   14
Average Total Scoring                  86 points

Jenna, Alyssa, Jana, and Emma would compete for playing time in this rotation. Estella has transferred to Wisconsin and I hope she has a great year as a Badger in her home state.

Obviously this rotation assumes DiJonai won't be around next year. Apparently she's announced she'll sign with Oregon, UConn, or Baylor. No word yet. She must not think the Cardinal has what it takes to win that last game. I predict she'll be very sorry she left.
GO STANFORD!! 

Monday, April 13, 2020

YOU'VE HEARD THE EXPRESSION "LOADED FOR BEAR!" NEXT SEASON THE BAYLOR BEARS ARE RE-LOADING!!


Kim Mulkey's Baylor Bears from Waco, Texas will be playing in the Alamodome next April, along with Stanford, UConn, and South Carolina - the usual suspects. Anyway, that's the way I see it going down. The main reason will be the remarkable emergence of NaLyssa Smith their 6'-2" Junior post player. Between her freshman season and last season Kim Mulkey challenged NaLyssa to turn herself into a high level basketball star - so she did. Check out the link below. She was the key factor in the Bears beating the Huskies up in Storrs, Connecticut last season, scoring 20 points and taking down 12 rebounds. She's going to be a major problem for everyone they play next season and is probably the longest and quickest 6'-2" player in the country. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLEDaj2SY90

Along with NaLyssa, the Bears return DiDi Richards, a 6'-1" senior defensive star who will turn herself into an offensive contributor by November. Queen Egbo is a 6'-3" junior athletic post player who will join NaLyssa in the middle. The other people I know of who will get minutes are Ursin Moon, Sarah Andrews, and Hannah Gusters. The last two are five star recruits from the same high school in Irving, Texas.

Charlie Creme and the other analysts at ESPN put together the following appraisal and put Baylor just outside the Final Four in San Antonio next year. Obviously, Kim, NaLyssa and I disagree.

5. Baylor Lady Bears
The Lady Bears, the defending national champions, had legitimate hopes of winning the NCAA title again this season. Instead, they finished on a sour note: a 57-56 loss at Iowa State in which the winning point came on a free throw after a foul called with one-tenth of a second left. Still, the Lady Bears were Big 12 regular-season champions for the 10th year in a row, and forward Lauren Cox was the league's player of the year and an Associated Press first-team All-American. But Baylor loses her and fellow senior starters Juicy Landrum and Te'a Cooper, both guards, plus reserve center Erin DeGrate. Back are two other starters: rising junior forward NaLyssa Smith, who led Baylor in scoring at 14.3 PPG, and rising senior guard Didi Richards, who was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Also back is rising junior Queen Egbo, who will form a strong post tandem with Smith. Baylor brings in two HoopGurlz top-10 recruits: point guard Sarah Andrews and center Hannah Gusters, each rated No. 2 at her position. Baylor should once again be the team to beat in the Big 12. -- Voepel
Projected starters for the semi-final game next April:
Maya Dodson     6'-3" Sr.    NaLyssa Smith      6'-2" Jr.
Kiana Williams   5'-8" Sr.   Ursin Moon          5'-6" Sr.
Lexie Hull           6'-0" Jr.    DiDi Richards     6'-1" Sr.
Haley Jones        6'-1" So.   Queen Egbo          6'-3" Jr.
Ashten Prechtel  6'-5" So    Hannah Gusters    6'-4"  Fr.

One of the finest semi-final games you could hope for. 
I can't wait!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

UCONN IS STILL A VERY HUSKY DOG! CAN YOU SAY PAIGE BUECKERS?!


In ESPN’s prediction of the top 25 for the 2020/2021 season, they put UConn in 4th place, behind South Carolina, Stanford, and Mississippi State.

My prognostication puts Stanford as No#1. UConn as No#2, Baylor No#3, South Carolina No#4, Arizona No#5, UCLA No#6, Oregon No#7, Louisville No#8, Oregon State No#9, North Carolina State No#10 Maryland No#11, and Mississippi State No#12 (They just lost their coach to Texas.)

In a Blog Piece before the 2019 season, I said the magnetic field of the women’s NCAA basketball world was reversing and that America’s best talent would start heading in larger and larger numbers to the PAC12. From my top 12 above you can see I think it’s happening, but UConn still has a powerful attraction. I’m predicting that the PAC12 will once again be the most competitive conference in the country with five teams in the top 10.

I felt sure Paige Bueckers, (the No#1 ranked player in the 2020 recruiting class) would decide to replace Sabrina and come to Oregon. But no, she decided on UConn and she’s working hard on Azzi Fudd to follow her. (Azzi, named for the great Stanford star, is the No#1 ranked player in the 2021 class.) I hope Tara and Jennifer Azzi are putting on a full court press to bring Jennifer’s namesake to the Farm where she belongs, to replace Kiana Williams.

I think the ESPN analysts are seriously underestimating the power of having Paige Bueckers at point guard and Evina Westbrook at shooting guard next season at UConn. The following is a link that shows some highlights of Paige slicing and dicing a bunch of high school opponents in Minnesota.  


If you watch some of Sabrina’s highlight tapes from Monte Vista H.S. in Walnut Creek five years ago, they look a lot like this. Evina is a terrific transfer from Tennessee who had to sit out last season. She’ll bring a lot of scoring to UConn next year.

UConn is losing Crystal Dangerfield and Megan Walker who were the strength of their 2020 season. Their loss would devastate most programs, but with Paige and Evina running the show and Anna Makurat, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, and Christyn Williams returning, I think Geno will surprise a lot of people next year. I’m putting them in the national championship game in San Antonio, and losing to Stanford in a classic memorable battle.

Friday, April 3, 2020

WHAT ABOUT THE GAMECOCKS NEXT SEASON?

Watching the 2019/20 South Carolina Gamecocks play, it's obvious that Ty Harris, their senior point guard, was their Kiana Williams - the brains and the motor of the outfit. She is one of America's best and will probably go in the first round of the WNBA draft. 

Senior KiKi Herbert-Harrigan was the 6'-2" heart and passion of their team - or a taller DiJonai Carrington. She also should go in the first round. Between them, they averaged 25 points and 9 rebounds per game. But much more than that - these two were the key ingredients to winning most of their games. In the following link watch No#52 and No#21 and I think you'll see what I mean:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1xVsna5BNc

Their returning sophomore post player, Aliyah Boston is big and strong and good, but by next April, I'm expecting Ashten Prechtel to be as good as Boston. Sophomores Zia Cooke and Brea Beal will not be able to fill the large hole left from the graduation of Harris and Herbert-Harrigan - and they won't be as effective as Kiana and Lexie. South Carolina will be good next year, but I think Stanford will be better. It'll be a great game to watch.
Projected Cardinal/Gamecock Starters
Ashen Prechtel  6'-5" So Post        Aliyah Boston      6'-5" So Post
Kiana Williams 5'-8" Sr  PG          Zia Cooke            5'-9" So PG
Lexie Hull         6'-0" Jr  SG           Brea Beal            6'-1" So SG
Haley Jones       6'-1" So G/F          LeLe Grissett     6'-2" Sr  G/F
Lacie Hull          6'-1" Jr  F             Victaria Saxton   6'-2" Jr  F

The following is a prognostication by Charlie Creme and the other ESPN analysts that projects South Carolina as the unanimous favorites to win the 2021 championship.
1. South Carolina GamecocksThe Gamecocks are our unanimous No. 1 for next season. That should feel familiar as South Carolina topped the AP Top 25 since mid-January and ended the shortened season at No. 1 for the first time after running the table in the SEC. Losing seniors Tyasha Harris at point guard and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan at forward will hurt; they combined to average just over 25 points and nine rebounds this season. They also sparked the team's chemistry. But South Carolina returns three starters -- forward Aliyah Boston (12.5 PPG, 9.4 RPG) and guards Zia Cooke (12.1 PPG) and Brea Beal (6.2 PPG) -- who'll be experienced sophomores next season. Destanni Henderson, who was second on the team in assists (93) to Harris, should see more time, as will rising senior LeLe Grissett. Fellow guard Destiny Littleton, a transfer from Texas who sat out this season, will be eligible. The Gamecocks will add another guard in freshman Eniya Russell, a HoopGurlz top-50 prospect. Rising junior Victaria Saxton, a forward, is expected to play a bigger role, too. Just as the Gamecocks were strong contenders for the NCAA title this year, they'll be the same next season. -
I think Charlie Creme and the other analysts who are ready to hand them next year's trophy in advance, are going to be disappointed. 

Over the next weeks I'll break down the other top contenders for the championship next season. I think South Carolina will get some rude jolts along the road. In spite of the sports writer's adoration of Dawn's team - I'm predicting they won't be a No.# 1 seed in the tournament. I think they're grossly underestimating the loss of their two stars and what they meant to this year's success. Without them, I think the Gamecocks would have been ranked outside the top four. In the game against Baylor in the above link, Baylor's All American Lauren Cox was unable to play and was sorely missed. But more about Baylor later.   

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

2021 MAY WELL BE THE STANFORD CARDINAL'S YEAR!!

Getting over the cancellation of the NCAA tournament this year has been hard. The PAC12 was primed to win the whole shabang for the first time since Stanford won in 1992. Sabrina was ready to be crowned the MVP, go #1 in the WNBA draft, and continue from there building her legend. 

Now we all need to get over the 2020 March Madness that was stolen from us and move on to the 2020/2021 season. I know it's way too early, but let's indulge ourselves and start thinking about next season. I, for one, have been looking every day for news, or hints, or clues that DiJonai and/or Anna have been granted another year of eligibility. How long will we be left to wonder? They could help our team so much. (Unfortunately last night I googled the Transfer Portal website and saw that DiJonai has entered the portal and will probably bestow her considerable talents on some other team for her final year of eligibility as a grad student - a la Marta Sniezek.)

Cameron Brink and Jana Van Gytenbeek were both recently named McDonald's All American high school seniors. Jana broke the Colorado assist record that had stood for 24 years. Cameron was named the Gatorade player of the year for the second time in the state of Oregon and Jana for this season in Colorado. They both have an impressive work ethic, but time will tell how much they can help the Cardinal in their freshman season. Emma Nnopu, the third member of our freshman class, sounds like a ferocious defensive presence and a highly athletic offensive work-in- progress. 

How much better will our four sophomores be next season? Wow! Fun to think about. Will Hannah develop a ball fake, and a dribble move to a consistent jump shot? Will Fran come back with a right and left-handed jump hook shot? And a consistent mid-range jumper? I think Haley and Ashten will continue to improve and be fully ready for Division One defenses and starting roles.

Will Lacie's offense become as effective as her defense? What new offensive moves will Lexie develop? How much will Jenna improve in this off-season?

And our seniors - Kiana, Maya, Alyssa, and Estella - this could be their year. If they're willing to take up the mantle and lead this team to the top, they could wind up in the Alamodome in San Antonio next April holding up the national championship trophy in Kiana's home town. How sweet would that be?! I'll be there for sure. It's my home town, as well. 

For the heck of it, I've projected a ten player rotation with two players listed for each of the five positions. Let me know with your comments where you feel I'm off base:

Maya Dodson/Fran Belibi          14 points (average)
Kiana Williams/Anna Wilson     18
Haley Jones/Lacie Hull               16
Lexie Hull/Hannah Jump            20
Ashten Prechtel/Alyssa Jerome  14
Average Total Scoring                82 points

Obviously this rotation assumes DiJonai  won't receive another year of eligibility.
Jenna, Cameron, Jana, and Emma would compete for playing time in this rotation.

The following is a link to ESPN's Way Too Early Top 25:      

https://www.espn.com/womens-college-basketball/story/_/id/28944536/south-carolina-tops-women-college-basketball-way-too-early-top-25-2020-21


  

Monday, March 2, 2020

ON THE ROAD TO MANDALAY . . .WHERE THE STANFORD CARDINAL PLAY!!! YOU'VE GOT TO BE THERE!!!

The PAC12 Women's Tournament starts on Thursday in the Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Stanford will be the Three Seed and we play our first game Friday night at 8:30 PM.
Click on bracket to enlarge
Did you see Fran play down in Tempe yesterday? WOW!! That's what I'm talking about!! It's tournament time people!! I know we've got two starters and twenty points sitting on the bench in street clothes, but you've got to love the realization of our unrecognized potential! Man alive!

We'll run right smack into the Oregon State Beavers, on Friday at 8:30 PM, assuming they beat the 11th seeded Washington State.  Talk about starting off with a bang. Welcome to the PAC12! Our opening game will be against the No #17 team in the nation! Maybe this one will be the Ashten Prechtel show! 

And don't you love our defensive intensity! We're in almost every game because our defense regularly shaves twenty points off the other team's score. I'm predicting we'll hold Slocum and Pivec down to under forty points with another massive effort by the twins and Kiana with help from our bigs near the rim - and after a huge battle, we'll likely move on to play UCLA, the No #9 team in the nation on Saturday. What a conference! 

And after UCLA we get Oregon. It's going to be a blast . . .ON THE ROAD TO MANDALAY!!         

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

ON FRIDAY THE 28TH DOWN IN THE DESERT WE TANGLE WITH WILDCATS. THEN ON SUNDAY ITS THE SUN DEVILS.

You're probably aware that the Arizona Wildcats are having their best season in fifteen years. Adia Barnes has turned the PAC12's ex-doormat into the 11th ranked team in the nation with a 22 and 4 record. Recently, against Utah their star, Aari MacDonald, was sidelined, so Sam Thomas went off for 31 points in the win. In late January they beat UCLA 92 to 66 in the McKale Center before 7400 screaming fans. MacDonald had 27 and Thomas had 20 points. On Friday night its our turn to play the Wildcats in McKale in front of those same 7400 raucous Arizona fans.

It's time Stanford got its supercharger tuned up and showed the nation why we're ranked No #4. The PAC12 Tournament is right around the corner and the Big Dance is two weeks later - let's get this lethal machine roaring and go on a rampage. Our defense and Kiana can't carry us to the Dance - we need to get five or six in double figures with 3's raining down from everywhere and everyone!! The last second heroics are fine, but this team needs to move on to a slew of old fashioned butt-kicking wipeouts. Instead of giving up our 14 point leads - we need to come out in the fourth and win big - going away. Here's the link to the Wildcat website: 
  
https://arizonawildcats.com/index.aspx?path=wbball

Then, after the Wildcats, we move into Tempe and face the Sun Devils. Same story. It's time to show Charlie Creme and his eastern cohorts how its done out west. We adore Charlie Turner Thorne, Tara's ex-point guard, but now its winning time in the desert. Let's go take care of business in Arizona and then head into Vegas and Selection Monday with Big Mo written all over us.

https://thesundevils.com/sports/womens-basketball

A REVISED ANSWER TO "WHO WILL STANFORD PLAY IN THE NATIONAL TITLE GAME NEXT APRIL?!""

A month ago I wrote a blog that predicted Stanford would be up against UConn down in San Antonio in the championship game next April. After ...