Stanford ladies’s basketball (28-5, 15-3 Pac-12) will start its quest for a second nationwide title in three years when it hosts Sacred Coronary heart (19-13, 12-4 NEC) on Friday. The Every day’s Charis Charitsis, Ryan Beyer and Jason Hyperlink talk about whether or not the workforce will avenge their efficiency within the Pac-12 Event, when it fell within the semifinals, and provides their predictions about how the Cardinal will fare within the NCAA Bracket.
Charis Charitsis: The roster took a blow with the departure of guards Anna Wilson ʼ22, Lexie Hull ʼ22 and Lacie Hull ʼ22. In fact, that’s nothing new. Nonetheless, freshman guard Talana Lepolo rose to the event, and Wilson’s absence just isn’t as evident as I believed it could be. On the identical time, junior ahead Cameron Brink retains bettering yearly – this 12 months specifically, she excelled on each ends of the ground.
There are gamers that you just just about know what you’re going to get earlier than the bounce ball. From the starters, senior guard Haley Jones, Brink and Lepolo fall into this class.
To me, the important thing elements that can decide Stanford’s run within the match are the next:
- Brink should keep out of foul bother. Along with her on the ground, Stanford normally has the lead.
- Senior guard Hannah Bounce’s efficiency is an effective predictor of the end result. She is a prolific scorer and when on hearth, Stanford comes up victorious. The Cardinal is 16-2 when she has scored at the least 10 factors. Though she is arguably the very best shooter in faculty basketball, she just isn’t very versatile. The opposing groups know that she is on the lookout for her favourite spots on the ground, which, for probably the most half, are behind the arc.
- Assist from the bench. A workforce and not using a deep roster can not go far. Senior ahead Fran Belibi, freshman middle Lauren Betts and sophomore ahead Brooke Demetre will most likely see probably the most motion coming from the bench, however generally, each participant stepping in should rise to the event.
- Sophomore ahead Kiki Irafen has not even scratched the floor of her potential. If her efficiency reaches the extent of her expertise, she generally is a difference-maker on the highest stage.
- Junior guard Agnes Emma-Nnopou can even have a heavy affect on the Cardinal’s match hopes. Whereas Lepolo was injured, she grabbed the chance to raise her recreation and achieve head coach Tara VanDerveer’s belief.
The workforce will win the primary two matches simply. Then the Cardinal’s possibilities rely on the opponents – most likely 4-seed Texas (25-9, 14-4 Large 12) after which 2-seed Iowa (26-6, 15-3 Large Ten) – however largely by itself efficiency. Stanford is an elite program, though not as dependable as previously. In a sequence, the very best workforce normally wins. Nevertheless, in elimination video games, there is no such thing as a room for errors like this previous season in opposition to USC (21-9, 11-7 Pac-12), Utah (25-4, 15-3 Pac-12) and UCLA (25-9, 11-7 Pac-12). If the Cardinal play on the identical degree as in opposition to South Carolina – when regardless of the loss, they had been up by double digits more often than not – they are going to haven’t any drawback punching a ticket to Dallas.
Ryan Beyer: I feel the Cardinal have had some actually sturdy performances this 12 months which point out they will make a deep run within the match. Admittedly, it’s exhausting to miss a number of the defeats, particularly the flat offensive efficiency at USC in January, and extra lately, the fourth-quarter collapse in opposition to UCLA within the Pac-12 semifinals. However I consider that these outcomes have been unfairly scrutinized due to the low season departures Stanford has needed to cope with; persons are fast to doubt whether or not the new-look roster has what it takes. However general, this younger workforce has dealt with that stress fantastically, exemplified by the unimaginable strides that freshmen Lepolo, Betts and Indya Nivar have made of their careers so far.
Stanford nonetheless has nice leaders and nice depth; they’re scoring much less, granted, however giving up fewer factors, too. So the place does that depart them? Despite the disappointing Pac-12 efficiency, I’ve them reaching the ultimate 4, narrowly beating potential opponents Texas and Iowa. A matchup with undefeated South Carolina would presumably be their reward for such a run, nonetheless, and there I see their season ending, though the Gamecocks are actually not untouchable. Stanford was in pole place to win the sport at Maples Pavilion in November heading into the fourth quarter, earlier than 5 Cardinal turnovers, two missed free throws and a jumper by perennial NCAA Participant of the 12 months Aliyah Boston with two seconds left despatched the sport to OT. Let’s hope related heartache doesn’t befall the Cardinal now that we’re on the enterprise finish of the season.
It is going to be fascinating to see the way it all pans out within the subsequent couple of weeks. What I can say for certain is that something lower than a spirited defeat within the Elite Eight (at minimal) can be a disappointment for a workforce brimming with expertise. It will be doubly crushing to see star senior guard Haley Jones’ Stanford profession finish in an early spherical and a part of me thinks that – if Stanford had been to face a deficit late in one of many early rounds – she would take it upon herself to tug the Cardinal by to the subsequent stage. This workforce has by no means been a one-woman present although, and the bottom line is to incorporate everybody within the recreation. If coach VanDerveer can belief her bench and get key contributions from Demetre, Betts, and Nivar on offense, and Belibi and Emma-Nnopu on protection, Stanford might have an actual shot at profitable all of it.
Jason Hyperlink: There’s no query Stanford ought to beat the brakes off of Sacred Coronary heart on Friday. The workforce was undefeated at dwelling through the season (not counting the extra time exhibition loss to undefeated South Carolina), and contemplating their first-round and potential second-round video games can be held at Maples, I see them cruising to the Candy 16 on the backs of some Brink double-doubles and at the least one 20-point recreation from Haley Jones.
From there, I’m undecided. Like Ryan and Charis talked about, Texas, Iowa, and Duke all have the power to go deep into this match, however they’ve all proven extra weaknesses this season than the Cardinal. If Brink performs at her highest degree, Stanford can stroll by any of these groups. All they need to do just isn’t let up one other 29-point fourth quarter.
As soon as the sector comes all the way down to 4, nonetheless, I foresee some issues. Their losses to Pac-12 opponents confirmed some critical points in opposition to groups nowhere close to the caliber of the opposite one and two seeds on this match, and a probable rematch in opposition to South Carolina is frightening.
E-book tickets to Dallas for a Last 4 look, however not a lot else.
Tip-off in opposition to Sacred Coronary heart is ready for right now at 4:30 p.m. PT in Maples Pavilion.