| MESSAGE BOARD
REGION: Midwest SEED: 6
COACH: Tara VanDerveer CONFERENCE: Pac-12
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
The Cardinal was almost perfect at home -- 14-1 -- but 7-5 on the road. Once again, Nicole Powell (20.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg) did most everything for
Stanford. So the rest of the crew will have to step forward for the
Cardinal to avoid an early-round upset like last season.
|PLAYER TO WATCH|
One of the most versatile players in the country, Powell is expected to be one of the top five players taken in April's WNBA draft. She can handle the ball like a point guard, shoot the 3-pointer like a 2, slash like a wing, rebound like a post and play defense anywhere on the court. Though she didn't get one this season (yet), Powell tallied six triple-doubles in her first three years on the Farm. In the regular season, she averaged 20.1 points and 11.4 rebounds and is just the fourth player in Pac-10 history to be named to the all-conference first team all four years.
ANALYSIS BY ESPN'S STACEY DALES-SCHUMAN
Tara VanDerveer's Stanford Cardinal feature a plethora of talent, but there's reason to question their ability to win on the road. Stanford's 11-game nonconference schedule included eight home contests, and when the Pac-10 season started, the Cardinal faced some trying times on the road playing against USC, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon. So how this team fares in its NCAA Tournament travels is a concern.
A big positive for Stanford is that it has Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer, who has won two national championships and an Olympic gold medal and, indeed, is a proven winner.
Senior do-it-all Nicole Powell also holds a heavy hand in how the Cardinal fare. After playing the early days of her career as the team's point guard, she finally moved back to her more natural position as a forward where she truly began to bud. The move enabled her to score more and certainly rebound more.
Powell, in fact, is one of the nation's best boarders, hauling in nearly 12 per game. The two-time All-American has brilliant passing skills and she's the kind of athlete who naturally makes others better. Unfortunately, at times this season, the team has relied a little too much on Powell, and as a result, she often carries a heavy load of weight.
While junior forwards T'Nae Thiel and Azella Perryman have put in tough performances with their inside play, perimeter shooting has been slightly inconsistent. Despite this, Stanford has many capable gunners, especially since the team averages a whopping 38 percent from beyond the arc. Junior guard Kelley Suminski has a red-hot release that strikes anytime and anywhere. This first-team All-Pac-10 pick is a sturdy player who is instrumental to the Cardinal's offensive production.
Another guard that has come along nicely after battling through early career knee injuries is redshirt junior Susan King Borchardt. This spunky point guard is a feisty defender who shoots nearly 44 percent from 3-point range. Her energy is a must for Stanford to challenge in the tournament.
Generally, Stanford loves to push tempo. The Cardinal have excellent transition spacing, well-conditioned bodies and smart minds who understand how to read momentum. Stanford will always look at its options inside, but don't be alarmed if the Cardinal relocate a shooter and pop a quick 3, whether in transition or in the half-court set.
As I recall, Stanford is also one of those teams that is able to do a good job with the high-low game because they have versatile posts who possess sound passing skills. Generally, VanDerveer's players know how to make basketball reads.
Defensively, don't be shocked if Stanford applies a little full-court pressure, something that has come in handy for the Cardinal at times during this year's Pac-10 schedule.