As a player, it’s hard to picture the moment when you will walk down the court with your parents in your last home game as a Cardinal athlete.
But Senior Night is inevitable, and Stanford women’s basketball forwards Joslyn Tinkle and Mikaela Ruef will take part this Sunday night when the No. 4 Card (24-2, 13-1) faces Oregon (4-22, 2-12).
“It’s mind boggling to me. [The season] just goes by so fast,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. “I hope we have a good turnout for both Jos and Mikaela Ruef.”
Tinkle has recorded 12.6 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game this season, trailing only junior forward Chiney Ogwumike. Ogwumike, recently named one of the five on the 2012-13 Capital One Academic All-America Division I Women’s Basketball Team, leads the Card with 22.7 ppg and 12.3 rpg.
“[Tinkle] has had an awesome year,” said VanDerveer. “She’s been a great leader, a high-energy player. She’s always enthusiastic—everyday I remind myself how much I enjoy coaching her because we’re really going to miss coaching her next year. She’s a fun person. Every time, you can hear her laughing from the front of the bus. And she’s making great threes, rebounding the heck out of it, playing great defense. What else could I ask for?”
Originally recruited as a center, Tinkle developed into a shooting guard her sophomore year. The senior now bounces between forward and small forward and this season has showed her electric versatility not only under the basket, but also from behind the three-point line.
Her willingness to do anything and play any position has allowed her to step up and lead the team alongside Ogwumike with their desire to score, grab every loose ball and pick up the defensive intensity.
“It takes a lot to play at this kind of program at this kind of level,” said Tinkle. “But aside from all the hard work and sacrifice and pain, when I look back on it [playing basketball at Stanford], it brings the biggest smile to my face because it has been such an awesome experience here.”
Although Ruef, as a redshirt junior, has one more year of eligibility, she will be honored with Tinkle on Senior Night since the pair joined the team together. It is uncertain whether she will return for a fifth year on the Farm, but the Card will cross its fingers that it gets another year of Ruef’s dynamic play.
Last week against USC, Ruef topped her career high in scoring with 12 points and had her second double-double of the season against UCLA.
“Mikaela is stepping up big time,” VanDerveer said. “We need her out there. We went through a spurt where she came out of our starting line up, but now she’s back in it and we need her out there—her defense, her passing, her scoring. She’s had two double-doubles in the last three games, her career high, so she’s playing awesome. And she loves playing with Joslyn. Those two are great friends.”
Before Stanford can focus on Oregon though, it must take down Oregon State (9-17, 3-11) tonight. Earlier this season, the Card had no difficulty with either team, beating the Beavers 65-45 and defeating the Ducks 86-62.
“We want Jos and Mikaela to go off on a great Senior Night and that means, with Oregon, just limiting their transition baskets because they like to get out and score quickly,” Ogwumike said. “Then with Oregon State, being able to read the defense, because they play scout defense. Playing good, fast basketball will put us in the best position so we have a good Senior Night.”
The Card remains tied for first place in the Pac-12 with rival No. 6 Cal. With wins over USC and UCLA last weekend, Stanford secured a first-round bye at the Pac-12 Tournament. Now, the Cardinal will try to earn a high seed and the right to host the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Each game is going to be a fight. It’s going to be a battle,” Tinkle said. “So I’m going to do whatever it takes for me to be out there and for our team to win.”
The Card tips off against Oregon State tonight at 8 p.m. and at 4 p.m. on Sunday against Oregon for Senior Night. Both games will be played at Maples Pavilion.
Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ’at’ stanford.edu