Obviously the team has already improved since the beginning of the season as it was able to compete against OSU on Saturday, forcing the Buckeyes to OT. What do you see as the most improved aspect of this squad so far?
Ellie Chen (EC): Anna Wilson was the X-factor in Saturday’s OT game versus OSU. The last time the Cardinal faced the Buckeyes, Wilson shot 0 times in eight minutes. On Saturday, Wilson shot 7-8 from three point and scored 21 points. With Samuelson’s presence from three gone, it is huge that between the first OSU game and Saturday Wilson has become more and more of a scoring threat from outside. Anna Wilson has the ability to take control of huge games, and she showed that on Saturday.
Alexandre Bucquet (AB): I think that the team showed that they can take care of the ball better. Overall, the team had fewer turnovers; specifically, junior Marta Sniezek had 14 assists and only three turnovers in the first two games of the weekend. The team is starting to “click,” and it seems like there is more chemistry on the court, which leads to fewer turnovers and more good looks.
Even in the absence of senior Brittany McPhee, people stepped up; Alanna Smith, Marta Sniezek, Anna Wilson, Dijonai Carrington and Alexa Romano all had career nights last week. How do you think the team should make all those pieces fit together in terms of starting lineup?
EC: Coach Tara VanDerveer has discussed how this year’s squad is different from last year’s. She expects different people to step up each game; that’s part of what can make the Cardinal so powerful this year. The more games this young team plays together the more they will start to click and feed off each other. It is exciting to see different players like Smith and Wilson both having career nights versus OSU, I expect that it won’t be long before more than two players start going off on one night.
AB: Last week showed that the people who didn’t get a lot of minutes last year are quickly filling up the gap left by the three seniors last year. With Carrington, Wilson, Romano and Smith having high scoring performance, head coach Tara VanDerveer has a lot of options on a deep roster: against OSU, 10 players saw action to the Buckeyes’ seven. Down the line that depth will surely benefit the Cardinal, as any player can go off on any night. Moreover, the freshmen haven’t seen a lot of action yet, but as the season progresses they should undergo the same transformation that up-and-comers like Wilson, Romano and Carrington are going through right now.
Although Stanford was able to rival with OSU for most of the game, the Buckeyes got the best of the Cardinal down the stretch. What does the Cardinal need to be able to come out on top next time?
EC: The Cardinal were out rebounded 7-2 in overtime, so I think that rebounding should remain a focus moving forward. They also shot 2-for-8 from the field while the Buckeyes shot 5-for-8. Stanford has great shooters, and those shots will fall more often than not on any given night, so I have confidence that the Cardinal can come out on top in big games moving forward. This is also a very young team, and that was the first overtime game for many of the freshmen. As they get more experience, the team will come out on top more and more.
AB: I totally agree, I think the team just needs to play more games to gain more experience in high-pressure scenarios. While the game was close all throughout regulation, the Buckeyes were able to use their experience in order to seal the overtime win. This loss in OT is nothing to worry about, as playing well under pressure comes after participating in any game. Plus, what we saw in overtime last Saturday was reminiscent of the game dynamic in the Cardinal’s opener. Since Stanford was able to learn from that first loss and come back stronger, we should see the same type of improvement if the two teams meet again, or in the Cardinal’s next OT game.
Contact Ellie Chen at ellie170 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.