Monday, December 31, 2018

Friday Evening and Sunday Afternoon We Play USC and UCLA

USC is missing some pieces. Minyon Moore is their motor, plays hard every possession, and makes a lot of nice plays. Everybody plays decent defense and rebounds. Their problem is a lack of size and against UCLA on Sunday they weren't shooting well. Against the only ranked team they've played so far this season, they got smoked by A&M who won by 20. I think Mark Trakh is a good coach and they're located in a recruiting mecca, so I expect they'll soon emerge as a competitive PAC-12 team, but right now - after seeing how much Colorado, Utah, and Arizona have improved - I would say, they're looking at a tough conference season in 2019...

UCLA is also struggling this year. So far they're 8 and 5. They lost Jordin Canada, Monique Billings, and Kelly Hayes off of last year's dynamite team, but they still have Kennedy Burke, Michaela Onyenwere, Japreece Dean, Lajahna Drummer, and Chantel Horvat. (What ever happened to Sue and Kathy?) Nine of their fifteen players are freshmen or sophomores, so Coach Close has her work cut out. And by the way, one of those freshmen is Ahlana Smith - is that legal?

On Sunday they looked bad in the first half and turned it around in the second to beat USC. Onyenwere is nationally ranked as an offensive rebounder and Dean is a good shooter. They're a work in progress, but they look like they'll be in the mix by PAC-12 Tournament time.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Let's Finish 2018 on a High Note

CSUN is coming to town on the 29th. Hopefully the Stanford WBB team will be refreshed after a Christmas break. To me they looked tired after finals, Baylor, long flights, and Tennessee in one week. Who could blame them. They showed some grit and determination to pull out a lackluster win in Buffalo after one of the biggest weeks of the year.

The Matadors are led by a 6'-4" post player built big and athletic. Channon Fluker is averaging seventeen points and twelve rebounds per game. CSUN has played three PAC12 schools this season and beat WSU, but lost to Cal and USC by 25 and 15 respectively.  

Seems like a great way to get ready for the conference season, which is right around the corner. Someone told me Maya is putting up 100 jump hooks with each hand every day. It that's true, look for her to enter conference play as a whole new kind of weapon. That left-handed hook over Lauren Cox in the Baylor game seemed a clear hint of what's to come as she gains more and more confidence.   

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Preview of Stanford road game vs Buffalo on Friday, December 21

After huge wins against 3rd ranked Baylor and 9th ranked Tennessee, the Cardinal head to New York
to play the 7-2 Buffalo Bulls women's basketball team which plays in the MAC conference.

 In November, the UB women lost a road game to then 3rd ranked Oregon 102-82 which shows they can be competitive with elite teams.

Senior Cierra Dillard shown on the left, a 5' 9" guard from Massachusetts, is averaging an impressive 25.8 points per game while shooting almost 40% from 3-point range.  She averages 5.7 rebounds per game and is shooting 83.9% from the foul line while playing 37 minutes per game.

Here's a link to the Buffalo fan website including a preseason preview of a talented freshman, Zena Ellis ---

Their top attendance for a home game against Niagra was 1,636 fans.  No doubt they will draw many more again Stanford.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Three Days After Baylor - Stanford Takes On Tennessee In Knoxville

That's what you sign up for when you come to Stanford. After a maximum effort on Saturday and a long flight, you suit up on Tuesday to do battle in one of America's toughest venues - Thompson Boling Arena where 15,000 rabid fans decked out in garish orange await in full voice. The decibels assault your senses like few opponents have ever experienced. That's one reason the Lady Vols rarely lose at Rocky Top.

So, it takes a special kind of athlete to meet these massive back-to-back  challenges - two of America's best women's teams in three days. Then, with self-assurance and a joyful heart, you have to embrace this daunting battle on Pat Summit's court and enjoy the environment their fans, band and spirit squad create. Special athletes that can handle this kind of challenge come to Stanford - and a tough venue brings out the best in them.

The Lady Vols are rebuilding this year, but they're tough. Few teams could lose what they lost from last year and be ranked #9. In their game against the University of Texas on Sunday the 9th it was the guards - Meme Jackson and Evina Westbrook that led them in scoring. They combined for fifty-six points.  They're not going to give anything to anybody - you've got to beat them.

We'll have to play especially tough on their home floor. Nothing comes easy in Thompson - Boling Arena.

Everyone needs to be on.

We can do it.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

4th Ranked Baylor is headed to Maples

Baylor is coming to Maples soon.

Some large hungry  bears are coming to Maples on December 15th.  Stanford’s biggest challenge of the pre-conference season will be the #4 Baylor Bears from Waco, Texas. That Saturday game will be the first big test for the 2018/2019 Cardinal women’s basketball team and will answer some important questions. How tough are they? What kind of fight do they have in them? How determined are they? It isn’t easy to face down a bear, and that game is going to show the nation this Cardinal team’s true colors.

The Bears have the biggest and best high/low post combination in the country – hand’s down. Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown come in at a stout 6’-4” and 6’-7” – both loaded with talent, strength, and skill. Last year, Baylor easily handled the Cardinal down in Central Texas. Between them Kalani and Lauren had 43 points. Sounds pretty grim doesn’t it? Our leading scorer was Shannon Coffee who hit four threes. Oh yeah, Brittany didn’t play and Kiana hadn’t really come into her own yet. 

So forget about last year. In early October when asked about goals for her final season at Stanford, the first four words out of Alanna's mouth was, "Winning the National Championship" – and she meant it. So, this mid-December rumble is going to give America a clear indication of just how serious our Senior Aussie and her mates are this time around.

What’ll it take?

You probably know, one of Tara’s former point guards coaches down in the desert – and Charlie always has her undersized Devils primed for big challenges. Two weeks ago, ASU held Baylor to 65 points in Waco, and lost by six. They had a lead at halftime and fought hard the whole way. Their offense put all five players above the free throw line and forced the Baylor bigs to play away from the basket.  That opened up driving lanes, mid-range jump shots and offensive rebounds. Kalani was forced to guard guards off of screens and that's not her specialty. She picked up her second foul in the middle of the first quarter and left the game for the rest of the first half. 

ASU fronted Kalani with someone tall and quick off the floor. They face-guarded Lauren and made shots and entry passes tough for her. Help defense and double-teaming were critical and kept both bigs under their season average. Consistent effective blocking out was imperative. 

Neither of the Baylor bigs are fast and ASU did a lot of scoring before they got down the floor. Once the bigs got there ASU still attacked and caused foul problems.  Turns out Baylor is not as potent when their star is on the bench. The Bear’s coach Kim asked her, “How are you going to be an All American sitting next to me?” That was how the Devils ended the half in the lead – they hit mid-range jumpers, they drove and made the bigs commit, then dished to who was open underneath. Their defense was tough, scrappy, and effective. Basically, to beat the Bears you have to be aggressive and tough as hell. 

If the Sun Devils had had Alanna – they would have won.The good news is we have her – and Tara, and a whole host of other dangerous women. Oh, and this time we’re playing in Maples. Come and see. We're gonna win.  

Malcolm McFall

ESPN's Charlie Creme and I Have Stanford In The Final Four Next Season

Charlie Crème of ESPN has three PAC12 teams in the top six in his "Way too early" top-25 rankings for 2019/2020. His "Fina...