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.