Smooth Start to the Pac-10 Tournament
The Stanford Cardinal glided past the Oregon State Beavers in exactly the sort of Pac-10 tournament opener the Card wanted. The final score was 64-41. What mattered more was that minimum effort had to expended. This was a quiet blowout, more like a "gentle breeze-out" than a big huff and puff affair. The Card were able to substitute liberally throughout the game, which prevented the score from really climbing, but allowed plenty of rest periods for all the starters. The best thing to report was that there was not that much to report. Sophomore center Jayne Appel played a splendid game. Appel shot 8-8 for a new Pac-10 tournament record for field goal percentage, pulled down 10 boards, and blocked 4 shots, all while still getting her beauty rest (only 26 minutes played). Newly crowned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Kayla Pedersen led the scoring with 22 points. Pedersen was 10-15 with most of her shots coming from outside the paint. Pac-10 Player of the Year Candice Wiggins played only 18 minutes, but chipped in 11 points and 5 assists. Wiggins' best moments might have come from her great passing, as three early assists got the Cardinal off to a hot start. Sophomore guard JJ Hones also had a good day passing the ball, with 6 assists and a team-high 33 minutes played. Junior forward Jillian Harmon, out with a foot injury for a month, could have played, but did not. It was such a mellow game that nobody even pined for her on-court energy. Other stats of note: 21 assists on 26 baskets, 39-31 rebounding advantage, only 8 turnovers, 7 blocks, and 4-20 from beyond the arc. The last stat was ugly, but ultimately irrelevant. Hot shooting was unnecessary in this game, so just as well to save it for later. The Stanford defensive effort was solid. Oregon State had trouble finding good looks and often had to go deep into the shot clock. Their quickest play of the day was slipping into the interview room ahead of schedule after the game. Some plays of note: Appel chasing down and swatting a Beaver guard who had grabbed a steal and was headed for an easy layup. One long pass from Wiggins to Appel under the basket that had to be perfectly placed to find its intended target. Freshman guard Hannah Donaghe blocking a Beaver three-point attempt and then moments later grabbing an offensive rebound and tipping it in for the score. Anyone lobbing the ball to Appel. Senior guard Cissy Pierce and junior forward Morgan Clyburn got into the "get the ball to Appel" act with lovely assists. Jeanette Pohlen fighting for and getting several tough offensive boards. Quotes from the post-game interviews: Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer: "One of the best things for us was the fact that we were able to really shuffle people in and out, rest Candice, and not play anyone but maybe JJ (Hones) over 30 minutes. For us to play three games in three days, that can make a big difference for us. I was happy with our offensive execution. We worked very hard on defense. Our team came out and ran well. It was a good game just to get going and now we're excited to play in the semi's." VanDerveer on Jillian Harmon's availability: "I never planned to play her and I'm not sure that she'll play tomorrow either. What I encouraged her to do was to warm up, to do part of the warm-up and see how it felt, and to just do a lot of the shooting. I want to talk to Jill a little bit more. She says she feels great but that's Jill. Of course she wants to play. But we're not going to rush her. As I said earlier this week, we're not going to risk her in a game now when she could be a lot better in another two weeks." VanDerveer when asked if there was value to getting Harmon minutes now: "We have that debate on our staff. You would be on Bobbie's side. Bobbie (Kelsey) and Amy (Tucker) say yes and Kate (Paye) and Tara say no. Sometimes I kind of have to go with what I feel and how things look. A lot might be dictated by how many minutes Jayne and Kayla end up playing tomorrow. You didn't see maybe the greatest game from Morgan (Clyburn) or Ashley (Cimino), but they can come in and give us some good spots. Obviously Jill would put us over the top in there." Kayla Pedersen on why she took (and made) so many outside shots: "Well my defender was guarding Jayne. (Pedersen got a lot of laughs by deadpanning that line.) They were doubling her so that just left me wide open, so I better hit that shot." VanDerveer on Pedersen's first tournament game: "I knew from the very first game Kayla played and especially the Rutgers game that Kayla was not a freshman. I told her she was a freshman-senior. She has great poise. She and Jayne just get on the same wavelength and play so well together. She really sets a high standard for how she's going to play. She's in some good company in terms of how Jayne played last year, how Candice has played. This is also JJ's first tournament. She did really well out there." JJ Hones on her first tournament game after missing last year with the knee injury: "At the very beginning before we did the introductions people were like, ‘Oh, Kayla's first tournament game!' And I was like, ‘It's mine too!' But other than that I never thought about it." Candice Wiggins on Hones being healthy this time around: "It's great! JJ's just been playing so well this year. I think all of her teammates are proud of her, of seeing her recovery and just seeing how much she's improved even over the season. She just gives us so much." VanDerveer on the team's shooting day: "JJ's been shooting the ball really well. She made the adjustment to playing in the arena vs. playing in some of the gyms. But if we can get the ball to Jayne… I don't think you have to be a math whiz to figure out 8-8. Just keep getting it to Jayne. And JJ knows that. And if Kayla is shooting so well, they just understood that we're going to keep being patient and getting the ball to the people that are hot. JJ's been on fire for us too, so she's always looking for her shot, which is good. She's got that proverbial green light." Wiggins on resting during a blowout win: "It is important. It's a lot of games in a short amount of time. I think more important to me than resting is just having everyone get in and get that confidence and experience so in the later games, it's not just like a new experience." VanDerveer when asked if it was nice to have Appel's shot blocking ability on the team: "Really, everything is nice about Jayne-her scoring, her passing, the fact that she is so intelligent and brings great energy. I'm trying to think of something to tell you we've got to work on, but she's had a great sophomore year and blocking shots, she times it well, she has positioned herself well. Last year she kind of had a little "freshmanitis" and would get some fouls instead of those blocks. Her teammates have confidence in her and her coaches have confidence in her. She's a really special player among a lot of really special players." Wiggins on the play of Hannah Donaghe: "It was just nice to see. First of all she had a nice block on defense. Hannah just brings so much energy. Especially the guards were so excited because we're really trying to rebound a lot better, so it as nice to see a guard get a little tap in, an O board." VanDerveer on whether the 4-20 three-point shooting concerned her: "Some of it was Candice didn't play that much. JJ has been shooting the ball a lot better than that. If you look at Oregon State last night, they really had trouble shooting the ball. I think it is an adjustment [to shooting in the large arena]. I have a lot of confidence in our shooting. Actually right before Hannah blocked that shot, she hit a three that was disallowed because of a travel by Ros (Gold-Onwude). I think Ros can hit some threes for us. Cissy (Pierce) had some good looks. Jeanette (Pohlen) had some good looks. That's been one of the major reasons we've had this momentum, the fact that not only do we have great post players, but also our perimeter players have been knocking down shots. I've experienced this before. Remember last year we didn't shoot well the in the first game and in the second game Candice was like 8-9 from three. Maybe that's JJ or Kayla. Maybe that's something that they'll look to do. (long pause) Or Candice." "Or Candice" is a good thought on which to end. Be on the lookout for hot shooting tomorrow, by someone… or maybe even Candice. Could happen!
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