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Calm Before The Storm
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 04/04/2014

NASHVILLE- Friday’s NCAA Final Four activities were highlighted by interviews and photo shoots in the morning, team practice in the afternoon and the highly-anticipated Salute Team Dinner at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Cardinal made its first appearance at Bridgestone Arena just before noon, with its starting five of Sara James, Chiney Ogwumike, Amber Orrange, Mikaela Ruef and Lili Thompson participating in a series of interview sessions and photo shoots.

After spending time with BSN to film video board introductions and messages, the players and head coach Tara VanDerveer visited with ESPN’s crew of Dave O’Brien (play-by-play), Doris Burke (analyst) and Holley Rowe (sideline). Next up was a similar cram session with Westwood One Radio’s contingent of Dave Ryan (play-by-play), Debbie Antonelli (analyst) and Krista Blunk (sideline).

Following the interview portion, it was time for the starters to film tease shoots with the ESPN crew. Topics ranged from returning to the Final Four after a year hiatus, what it means to represent #NerdNation and how much the team has changed since its matchup with Connecticut back in November.

Stanford’s first practice in the Nashville area was held in the afternoon at nearby Lipscomb University.

Upon returning to the hotel, Cardinal players and staff hustled to get ready for the Salute Dinner, held at the famous Country Music Hall of Fame. The Salute on Tour Premier followed at Ryman Auditorium.

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Joey Beyda of The Stanford Daily explains why this is the year Stanford finally gets it done.

ESPN.com’s Charlie Creme sets the table with a Final Four primer that includes in-depth game breakdowns, game-changers and predictions.

Nearly five months have passed since Connecticut defeated Stanford 76-57 in the second game of the season. Lori Riley of The Hartford Courant explains why the rematch will be different.

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The latest “This Is SportsCenter” short features the Stanford Tree and PGA Tour golfer Bubba Watson.

Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, is known for his masterful escapes in key moments on the course but he’s never faced an obstacle quite like the Stanford Tree.

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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. Stanford punched its ticket to Music City with a 74-65 victory over North Carolina on Tuesday night at Maples Pavilion behind a double-double from Chiney Ogwumike and 17 points from Regional MVP Mikaela Ruef.

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.

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In what has been quite a week in terms of All-America nods and being named to awards lists, Chiney Ogwumike was named by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) as one of three finalists for the Division I Defensive Player of the Year award on Thursday.

It marks the second straight year that Ogwumike has been a finalist for the honor, and she was joined on the list by Connecticut’s Stefanie Dolson and Baylor’s Odyssey Sims. Over the past two weeks Ogwumike has also been named a Wade Trophy and Wooden Award finalist, as well as to the All-America Teams of multiple outlets.

Ogwumike captured the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award for the third straight time in 2013-14, pacing a Cardinal defense that led the Pac-12 with just 59.8 points allowed per game and was second with a 35.3 opponents’ field-goal percentage, a mark which also ranks 12th in the nation heading into the Final Four.

The 2014 WBCA Division I Defensive Player of the Year will be announced during the WBCA Awards Show, to be held Monday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m. CT in Nashville.


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