The disadvantage of Stanford being a kinda OK basketball team is that they're difficult to beat. The advantage is that we have multiple knowledgeable Stanford fans to learn from. . . . I think I'd prefer the win, but nobody asked me!
To answer our questions we turn to Scott from Rule of Tree and C&R from C&R Stanford Women's Basketball Blog. Keep an eye out on C&R for my answers to their significantly less dry questions. Thanks to both for their answers!
1. I don't really think anybody has effectively slowed down the elder Ogwumike, but if if can be done, how would a team go about doing so?
C&R: A: Break her legs? Just kidding. No really, we kid, cuz then we would have to hunt you down and return the favor. Okay, real answer, and not that we are totally biased or anything, but Nneka is an unstoppable force! LOL. She has always been good around the basket, with an incredible vertical leap. This year she has gone out and got a soft-touch shot from about 15 feet or so. She has so many ways to score it’s not funny. She can drive to the basket, hit a pull up jumper, break your ankles with a move or just jump over your head. (She can grab a rebound and put it back up without touching the ground! Oh, and she can catch and shoot an alley-oop pass without touching the ground, too. Not very many women’s players can do that). C and R’s recommendation to stop her? Go out and kidnap Britteny Griner.
Scott: I like C&R's suggestion to kidnap Brittney Griner. Another option would be to run the triangle-and-two, keeping two players on Ogwumike at all times, as the Loyola (Md.) men's team did against Stephen Curry a few years ago. Head coach Jimmy Patsos' strategy was highly effective at stopping Curry -- he went scoreless -- but the Greyhounds still lost by 30. It would be fun to watch. There isn't a good way to slow down Ogwumike without getting burned by someone else. I'd suggest trying to get her in foul trouble, but even that doesn't work. She played only 23 minutes against Connecticut, but still finished with 22 points. Wish I could be of more help. Not really.
2. After the Ogwumikiis there hasn't been a ton of production (by Stanford's lofty standards, at least). Is that a case of a lack of opportunity, or a lack of the type of depth usually seen on the farm?
C&R: Haven’t you been reading our blog? (ed. note: Yes!) All season long it has been the Nneka and Chiney show (no complaints here) and three warm bodies (tons of complaints here). There has been hardly any scoring production from anyone! Jos Tinkle was demoted this year and then cracked the starting lineup the last 3 games and is taking nothing for granted and playing much better. She is averaging about 8 points. Why isn’t anyone else scoring? We have been scratching our heads all year. Could it be the case of watching a talented superstar like Nneka and depending on her too much? Chiney is wily and creates most of her own opportunities and points on offensive rebounds. Not a lot of people can wrestle a rebound like Chiney, not even Tinkle. We hope this lack of scoring by others is something super-genius Tara VanDerveer can solve. BTW, Sisters Ogwumikii? We like that, patent pending.
Scott: Injuries have hurt the Cardinal's depth to some extent, but the lack of scoring outside of Nneka and Chiney is primarily a result of the inconsistent play of players such as Toni Kokenis and Joslyn Tinkle. Both have been prone to disappear in some games. Up-and-down performances from freshmen, such as Taylor Greenfield and Bonnie Samuelson, are to be expected, but Stanford needs steadier play from its veterans. I don't know why, but senior Lindy La Rocque has struggled with her shot this season.
3. What's the best way to attack Stanford's defense? Drive-and-dish? Entry passes to the post? You have to give us something!
C&R: Well geez, why should we help Cal? Hee hee. Okay, you twisted our arm. This year, super genius Tara VanDerveer has been experimenting with different defenses, so that makes it harder for teams to prepare for what might happen, as opposed to relying heavily on man to man. Heck, we have even seen some1-3-1, and against one of the Washington schools, they used some sort of "Buzz" defense. So Cal needs to be prepared for many looks, not just one or two. Okay, that was a cop out. Here’s a better hint, attack the weakest player on the floor.
Scott: I'll defer to C&R on this one, as they've seen Stanford play a lot more than I have this season. If I'm Cal, I'm attacking the post, hoping for a tightly officiated game, and trying to send at least one of the Ogwumikes to the bench with foul trouble.
4. Stanford has their usual crop of highly rated freshmen, but I haven't seen any of them yet because they're too young to play much in the biggest games. What are your thoughts on the freshmen?
C&R: Well, two are hurt and gone for the season (Alex Green and Jasmine Camp). Jasmine Camp was the "it" freshmen for a while before she was hurt, now it is Amber Orrrrange (just kidding on the spelling, it’s really just 2 "R"s). She is a good playmaker, but not a huge scoring threat. Bonnie Samuelson has this CRAZY 3-point shot with a super fast release, but only goes in the hoop in games that are not close. Not so much when the game is on the line. Taylor Grenfield and Erica Payne play forward and although they look good, they don’t score and look like they are still trying to figure out the game. Don’t expect to see much of them if the game is close. Tara trusts Ogwunikiis, Tinkle, Toni, and subs out the fifth spot.
Scott: I was really impressed with Jasmine Camp, who put up 14 points against UConn, before she suffered a season-ending injury. The other freshmen have had their moments. Amber Orrange is a good distributor, but not much of a scoring threat. Greenfield is the best 3-point shooter on the team. I'm a big fan of Samuelson, who can match Greenfield from outside, but she's does almost all of her damage in garbage time.
5. Any predictions? (Score or otherwise.)
C&R: Um, Stanford is going to win?
Sorry, that was cheesy, but it is Maples and if you can’t stop Nneka (one team triple teamed her and she still scored!!), it’s all over but the shouting. We predict Nneka will throw us a victory ball (hint, hint!).
Scott: Stanford 80, Cal 66.