Scouting Stanford

As Stanford heads into its stretch run, opponents will improve, games will tighten and individual matchups will become all the more crucial. Opposing teams will breakdown Cardinal tape, take a hard look each player, and to try create a game plan that will exploit individual weaknesses. When opponents step onto the court against Card, here's what they'll be expecting...

Starters

#5 Kelley Suminski, Senior Guard, 5'9"
11.7 points per game, team-high 29.6 minutes per game

Strengths:
- Makes good decisions as point guard, team-high 69 assists
- Excellent ball-handler, 1.41 assist-to-turnover ratio
- Great shooter (coverts 44.3% of three-pointers and 83.3% of free throws)
- Consistent effort on both ends of the court
- Great team player - understanding of schemes allows teammates to shine
- Solid skill set - most well-rounded, complete player on squad

Weaknesses:
- Not as explosive as backcourt teammates – doesn't shoot as often as Wiggins, can't drive quite like Wiggins, can't steal like Wiggins or Borchardt, not as fast as either
- Hasn't taken over a game like Smith, Wiggins and Borchardt all have this year. Buzzer-beating three-pointer against Vanderbilt is now a season removed – if her teammates are heavily guarded, hurt, not playing well, or in foul trouble, can Suminski still carry the Card on her shoulders?

#11 Candice Wiggins, Freshman Guard, 5'11.5"
Leads team with 17.3 points per game and 2.67 steals per game

Strengths:
- All-American ability to dribble-drive and uncanny ability to finish – shoots 48.5% from field
- Quick first step and NBA-like overall game speed
- Able to create space in traffic
- Draws loads of fouls off drives, converts 83.1% of free throws
- Defensive aggression and speed produces lots of steals and uncontested lay-ups
- Strong rebounder, especially for a guard, notching 4.4 boards per game

Weaknesses:
- Outside shooting not as polished as the rest of her game - shoots only 34.3% beyond the arc on a flat shot
- Sometimes confused in team defensive schemes, especially earlier in the season
- Good individual defender, but a weak link on defense compared to Suminski, Borchardt
- Can be too aggressive defensively, gets into foul trouble
- Could kick out more to perimeter teammates off of dribble drive, hasn't been an issue because of Wiggins's knack for drawing fouls off her drives
- Sometimes forces extra pass or extra drive - leads team with 65 turnovers

#24 Susan King Borchardt, Fifth-Year Senior Guard, 5'7"
7.8 points per game, team-high 45% three-point shooting

Strengths:
- Phenomenal outside shooter, also 13-14 on free throws
- Outside threat can force teams out of zone into man defense, creating one-on-one for interior teammates
- Aggressive on-the-ball defense, tires opponents quickly

Weaknesses:
- Size - 5'7" a generous listing
- Aggressive defense can get her into foul trouble
- Plays opponents so close on defense, Borchardt can get beaten on drives with a good first move or a pick
- Health concern – injuries have sidelined Borchardt throughout her Stanford career, including first half of 2004-2005 season

#30 Brooke Smith, Redshirt Sophomore Center, 6'3"
13.4 points per game on team-high 62.4% shooting

Strengths:
- Great inside shooter – on pace for third in Stanford history in single-season field goal percentage
- Hook shot allows Smith to create space, put up open shots regardless of defenders
- Focal point of Stanford's triangle offense, her underrated understanding of the scheme allows it to function
- Great passer – can find teammates on backdoor cuts
- When doubled, kicks out nicely to on perimeter for open looks – 48 assists

Weaknesses:
- Relatively small frame – more of a power forward a true center
- Smith cannot guard larger centers (e.g. Arizona's Polk) one-on-one inside because of size
- Defensive skills not as polished as Thiel's
- 57.4% free-throw shooter, only 52.6% in Pac-10 play

#34 T'Nae Thiel, Senior Forward, 6'1"
5.1 points per game, team-high 5.6 rebounds per game

Strengths:
- Strongest, most physical Cardinal, physically wears out opponents through course of games
- Easily Stanford's best interior defender
- Great job of fronting the post and denying opponents the ball
- All-Windex: Cleans the glass with over six rebounds per game in Pac-10
- Surprisingly accurate shooter for a player of her size - 69.2% on free throws and 51% overall

Weaknesses:
- Awkward offensively in high blocks, often too slow in setting picks
- Even in the offensive paint, many opposing centers can shut her down one-on-one
- Great size but many NCAA players, like Arizona's Polk, are larger still
- Does not factor heavily into offense – just over four shots per game

Sixth man

#33 Sebnem Kimyacioglu, Senior Forward, 5'11"
4.7 points per game, team-leading 1.79 assist-to-turnover ratio

Strengths:
- Feisty competitor for loose balls, always appears in "right place at right time"
- Willingness to take outside shot (attempts a three every six minutes, more than any starter) creates mismatches against opposing forwards and can force opponents into a smaller three-guard lineup
- Good height, strength for a forward
- Luxury of fresh legs if continues to come off of bench
- Great at setting high-block picks on offense and fighting through them on defense

Weaknesses:
- Inside offensive game not all that polished for a forward
- Despite decent size, plays as more of a three guard or a small forward than a pure forward. A larger opponent could have success backing her down into the post.

Bench

Even off the bench, senior forward #44 Azella Perryman is among the team leaders in rebounds and has moved up in the rotation accordingly. Not as much of a scoring threat, though, averaging only four points per game.

Although she's not going to draw a double team, sophomore center #43 Kristen Newlin provides great interior defense if Smith or Thiel get injured, tired or in foul trouble. She also averages .49 points per minute, trailing only Wiggins and Smith in scoring efficiency.

Freshman guard #13 Cissy Pierce ably spells the guards, most often Wiggins, though she still telegraphs her passes and must recover from an injury.

Despite an over-the-shoulder release, junior guard #2 Krista Rappahahn shoots 38.2% beyond the arc and is a solid offensive sub for Borchardt or Suminski.

The injury bug has taken its bite. Redshirt sophomore forward #22 Eziamaka Okafor and junior center #21 Shelley Nweke are gone for season and freshman guard #42 Jessica Elway is not expected to return until the NCAA tournament.

The bench has not played that much in close games. Between injuries and players getting misleading garbage-time minutes, the team will be much thinner for a close tournament game than the season stats would indicate.

Note: All statistics recent as of Cal game. All statistics reflect 24 games played.

Daniel Novinson is a freshman at Stanford University. He's broadcasting women's basketball on KZSU - listen along at kzsu.org or 90.1 FM.  Daniel welcomes any feedback at dannovi@stanford.edu.


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