700 Wins for VanDerveer as Card Run Over WSU
Friday evening at Maples Pavilion, the Stanford Cardinal opened Pac-10 play with a relaxed and resounding 105-47 pasting of Washington State to give head coach Tara VanDerveer her 700th career win. Since WSU figures to be the last place team in the conference, neither the win nor the 58-point margin of victory were particularly surprising. It was pretty simple - the Card dominated every facet of the game, everyone got to play, and everyone got to shine. Commented VanDerveer, "I really liked how out whole team contributed, and I liked the pace of the game, how we were able to get out running. When we got the idea of getting out running and our defense got some rebounds and got that going, it was fun." It was so much fun that the late stages of the second half looked like a lay-up drill. For a while, it was an almost dizzying Cissy Pierce time warp - Pierce to the rim, again, and again, and again… Pierce blazed to a season-high 16 points in what felt like three minutes. Freshman forward Kayla Pedersen was high scorer with 18 points on 7-14 shooting, and pulled in 8 rebounds. Senior guard Candice Wiggins had 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in a light workday. Frosh guard Jeanette Pohlen added 14 points (6-10 including 2-4 from three-point range) and 7 rebounds. Junior forward Jillian Harmon chipped in 12 points (5-10), 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Sophomore point guard JJ Hones scored 8 points and dished out 5 assists. The list could continue, but we aren't as fast as Pierce. As a team, the Cardinal shot 56.9%, out-rebounded WSU 50-17, shot 17-19 from the FT line, and stole the ball 13 times.
The statistics were beautiful if you were Stanford, but shudder-inducing if you were Cougar head coach June Daugherty, newly hired at Washington State to rebuild a program that has dwelled in the Pac-10 cellar for much too long. The Cougars did slow down the Cardinal somewhat in the first 15 minutes of the game. Said Daugherty, "It's a tough night for us. We looked like we were allergic to rebounds. Our game plan coming in was pretty good in that first half. We were getting Stanford to take the shots we wanted them to take. Unfortunately we didn't do a good job on the glass. They're so big and so athletic, and they love to rebound." Washington State tried to flummox Stanford with a variety of defenses, to no avail. "We probably ran six different defenses tonight," explained Daugherty. "Sometimes that's a good thing because it was disruptive for Stanford, made them have to come out of their comfort zone, so to speak, and take some time off the clock. But it's hard to really be great at running six different defenses."
It probably wasn't hard for Tara VanDerveer to sit on the bench and watch her squad make her 700th career win as easy on a coach as it gets. Once the final buzzer sounded, fans held aloft congratulatory signs and everyone on the court and in the stands stood to enjoy a video montage honoring VanDerveer's milestone. Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby presented VanDerveer with a bouquet of roses, to much applause from the appreciative fans and high fives from the players to their coach. "I didn't watch the video. I was afraid to look up there. I know they had some old pictures up there!" joked VanDerveer. "It meant a lot to me that they did that for me. Honestly, it's the experience that our team has, that Candice (Wiggins) has and Kayla (Pedersen) has, and their teammates. It's not about me and it's not about the numbers for me. They are the ones who are playing the game. You don't win games as a coach. Your players execute game plans. When you have players like Candice and Kayla, how can you not win? We've had great players and it's been really fun." VanDerveer is only the seventh Division I coach to win 700 games. Her career record is 700-185 (79% winning percentage). 548 of those wins have come in her 22 seasons at Stanford.
The Cardinal players were undeterred by all the "old" pictures and did look at that lovingly made montage. Candice Wiggins said, "It was so cool. It was special for all of us. Growing up on the west coast I knew about Tara when I was nine years old, watching the (Olympic) games in Atlanta. It brought back memories. Tara does say it's a lot about the players but it's no secret why the program is so successful year in and year out - it's her. I'm just proud to say I played for Tara." Relatively new Cardinal Kayla Pedersen added, "It's great to come in here to witness Tara getting her 700th. I feel a little special to be a part of this program. One of the main reasons I came here was because of her."
Opposing coach June Daugherty coached for VanDerveer in the early years of Tara's tenure at Stanford and was quick to praise her; "I want to congratulate Tara VanDerveer on getting 700. That is an amazing feat and I think someone from Stanford should check her resume because she must have started coaching when she was 12 to get 700. It's a great accomplishment. Tara loves the game. She is passionate. She's won everything she can win, yet she comes back every day trying to make her players and staff better. I remember coming into her practices when we were not even a .500 team in the Pac-10, and Tara would come in the door with fire in her eyes. You'd say 'What's wrong?' and she'd say 'I approach every practice like we just lost to Kentucky by 50.' As a young coach you're just 'Wow!' Part of what makes Tara so great is she's never satisfied."
And while the win over Washington State was as easy as a win can be, it is a good bet that Tara VanDerveer was not at all satisfied with that either, and will have the Cardinal striving for better. Candice Wiggins knows this well. There was no post-Tennessee letdown. Said Wiggins, "We were really trying to regain our focus into the next season - the Pac-10. We realize that it is starting over from scratch. Coming into the Pac-10, we really want to come in and set the right tone. This game was really important for us to start off well, and we did. We're trying to gain momentum each game and get better each day." Fortunately for the Cardinal, the head coach seems to have a handle on things, as this "new season" begins.
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