#5 Stanford Women's Basketball Preview

Stanford Cardinal

Overall Rank: #5
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
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The beat goes on in Palo Alto, as Stanford has been to four straight final fours. Despite coming up short, the Cardinal still rule the West Coast in regard to women’s basketball and in the Pac-12. They are the preseason pick to win the conference. Led by Coach Tara Vanderveer in her 26th season on the farm, this edition is loaded like usual but has some work to do to replace Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen. The standard of excellence has been set so high that it should not take long at all for Stanford to pick up from where they left off last season.

2010-11: 33-3, 18-0
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tara VanderVeer (674-147 at Stanford, 826-198 overall)

Who’s Out:
The senior leadership and toughness from Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen, who went on to be first round draft picks in the 2011 WNBA Draft, will be missed. These two stalwarts are a big reason why the Cardinal has been to four straight final fours. Whenever they would need a big shot or a key hustle play, Pohlen or Pedersen were usually involved in some capacity.

Who’s In:
This is a game changing type of class for Stanford. The one chink in the armor that has been exposed by UCONN and Texas A&M is the lack of being truly explosive, especially in the backcourt.  Guards Amber Orrange, Alex Green, and Jasmine Camp bring an extra element of athleticism and versatility that the Cardinal have not had in the Final Four matchups against the likes of Maya Moore. The Cardinal also upgraded their front court with Taylor Greenfield and Bonnie Samuelson, at 6-3 and 6-2 respectively, and they added Erica Payne for post depth. All of these freshmen should compete for playing time right away.

Who to Watch:
Senior Lindy LaRocque is the floor general in the backcourt and also brings a nice balance of scoring and ball handling skills which will help guide Amber Orrange as she transitions into the rigors of big time women’s college basketball. The next key will be finding that third consistent scorer to complement the Oguwmike sisters. Nnemadki is the projected top pick in next year’s WNBA draft. Everybody will be focused on her for good reason. It will be important for the Cardinal not to put all the scoring load on her. Joslyn Tinkle should also be in the mix. She started nine games a year ago and will provide depth in the post.

Final Projection:
The Cardinal will be tested early with the season opener in Austin against what should be a very tough Texas squad.  Then, to cap off the opening weekend, Stanford will have an Elite Eight rematch with Gonzaga. They are minus Courtney Vandersloot, but are still a very talented squad being led by Kayla Standish. The Cardinal also continue to play annual games with UCONN and Tennessee. They have posted consecutive 18-0 seasons in Pac-12 play but I would see it as a bit more difficult of a task to run the table again.  The 2011 WNIT runner–up USC looks loaded and could make things interesting at the Galen Center when Stanford visits. Another potential landmine for Stanford in the Pac-12 is at Cal. The Golden Bears have a lot of young talent that could step up and knock them off.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Amber Orrange, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Lindy LaRocque, Senior, Guard, 3.9 PPG
Nnemkadi Oguwmike, Senior, Forward, 17.5 PPG
Chiney Oguwmike, Sophomore, Forward, 11.7 PPG
Taylor Greenfield, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

Madness 2012 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#1 Nnemkadi Ogwumike

Madness 2011 Women's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#17 Amber Orrange
#23 Taylor Greenfield
#44 Bonnie Samuelson
#68 Jasmine Camp
#70 Alex Green
#71 Erica Payne