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Open Practice, Meet The Media
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 04/05/2014

NASHVILLE- Press conferences and practices highlighted Saturday’s activities at the Final Four, with Stanford taking the court at Bridgestone Arena for the first time since arriving in Nashville two days ago.

The day began with the announcement of Chiney Ogwumike being named to the 10-member WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team, joining Nicole Powell, Candice Wiggins and older sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike as Stanford’s only three-time WBCA All-Americans.

After participating in an autograph session and open practice, players and coaches spent their final hour at Bridgestone Arena meeting with the media. Chiney Ogwumike, Mikaela Ruef and Lili Thompson accompanied head coach Tara VanDerveer to the main podium while everyone else was available for questions inside the locker room.

No. 6/5 Stanford is making its 12th Final Four appearance in school history and sixth in the past seven years. The Cardinal (33-3) squares off against No. 1/1 Connecticut (38-0) in Sunday’s second national semifinal at approximately 6 p.m. PT on ESPN. The first semifinal pits Maryland against Notre Dame.

Stanford and Connecticut are meeting for the sixth time in NCAA Tournament play and fifth at the Final Four. In the history of the Final Four (including title-game contests), the Stanford-Connecticut rivalry is the second-most reoccurring matchup behind only the Connecticut-Tennessee pairing, which as occurred six times. The Cardinal is 6-9 all-time against the Huskies, with its most recent victory in series coming back on Dec. 30, 2010, in a 71-59 win at Maples Pavilion that snapped Connecticut’s 90-game winning streak.

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Amber Orrange’s reputation as a quiet leader has been well-documented. Elliott Almond of the Bay Area News Group provides some additional insight on Stanford’s backcourt standout who prefers to fly under the radar.

U.S. Congressional Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) have agreed to a friendly wager. If Stanford wins, Eshoo receives a basket that includes Munson’s chocolates, Selbuort Valley Farms maple syrup, Cato Corner cheese and Cottrell beer. If Connecticut wins, Courtney receives wine and artichokes grown in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

Ashley Westhem, who writes for The Stanford Daily when she’s not busy providing women’s basketball play-by-play for KZSU 90.1 FM, flew to Nashville on the team charter. Westhem saw first-hand how Cardinal coaches and players were preparing for Connecticut.

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It’s the second meeting of the season between Stanford and Connecticut, with the Huskies claiming a 76-57 victory in Storrs back on Nov. 11. The teams got off to a grinding start, with the Cardinal staying within striking distance throughout the opening 19 minutes before a critical sequence.

Trailing 33-26 with 1:28 to go in the half, Stanford missed a pair of free throws that would have trimmed the deficit to five. Instead, Connecticut answered with six unanswered points to grab a 39-26 halftime lead and was never seriously threatened the rest of the way. Bright spots for the Cardinal included a career-high 22 points from Amber Orrange and a double-double from Chiney Ogwumike.

Stanford, which won its only NCAA championships in 1990 and 1992, is attempting to reach its first national title game since 2010, which ended in a 53-47 loss to Connecticut in San Antonio. The Cardinal also reached the NCAA final in 2008, dropping a 64-48 decision to Tennessee in Tampa.

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More on Chiney Ogwumike’s selection to the 10-member WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team, announced Saturday afternoon prior to open practice at Bridgestone Arena. Ogwumike is a consensus All-American this season, having previously been named to the ESPN, USBWA and Associated Press All-America Teams.

Ogwumike was joined on the WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team by Connecticut’s Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart, Notre Dame’s Jewel Loyd and Kayla McBride, Jordan Hoops (Nebraska), Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina), Odyssey Sims (Baylor) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland).

Ogwumike has been among the leading candidates for national player of the year honors all season long, averaging 26.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game and shooting 60.4 percent from the field, figures that, along with 26 double-doubles, have her as the only player in the nation to rank in the national top 10 in each of those categories.

Tuesday’s win over North Carolina was also Stanford 10th in 11 games opposite top-25 competition, against which this season Ogwumike has posted some of her best numbers, averaging 24.9 points and 12.6 rebounds while shooting 57.5 percent from the field with three 30-point games.

Over the first four rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Ogwumike is averaging 23.3 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 55.9 percent from the field.

Ogwumike’s performances led her to sweep the Pac-12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards for the second straight year, with the defensive honor being her third in a row. She was named to the All-Pac-12 Team for the fourth straight time and over the course of the season captured a record-setting nine Pac-12 Player of the Week honors to bring her career haul to a record 18.

Off the court, Ogwumike showed her academic and creative versatility. In February, she was named the Capital One Academic All-American of the Year, and to the Academic All-America Team by CoSIDA for the second straight season. In mid-March, she wrote and performed Stanford Athletics’ newest hit single, “N-E-R-D-S (#NerdAnthem)” which has become the soundtrack to the postseason runs of both the Stanford women’s and men’s basketball teams’ runs to the Sweet 16 and beyond. Reaching tens of thousands of hits and shares over social media while uniting Nerd Nation behind the Cardinal athletic programs, the follow-up to her and Nneka’s 2012 hit “Nerd City Kids” has become the rallying cry of the Stanford athletic department and its fan base.

Ogwumike became the Pac-12’s all-time leading rebounder January 3, passing former teammate Kayla Pedersen’s mark of 1,266 and through April 1 standing at 1,557, a mark that also ranks sixth on the NCAA’s all-time list. With a Pac-12 record 952 points this season, Ogwumike passed former Stanford Wade Trophy winner Candice Wiggins’ conference benchmark of 2,629 points on March 22 and currently has her Pac-12 record total at 2,722.



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