Feb. 2, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. -
In the 40 years since the passage of Title IX, the creation of youth, scholarship and even professional opportunities for women in athletics have greatly increased.
Can we now say that women's sports have "arrived?"
Tara VanDerveer, Stanford's Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women's Basketball, says no.
"I think the thing that holds it back a little bit, quite honestly, is the media," she said.
VanDerveer related how she watched TV news and cablecasts after a game in which her team drew nearly 5,000 fans and didn't see her score mentioned, but did see footage from an area men's game in front of a much smaller crowd.
"There are a lot of young girls out there who don't even know about the Stanford team," VanDerveer said. "Young boys get so many role models and see so much on television."
She also noted that Pac-12 women's games are televised on Sunday afternoons, opposite the NFL.
"The players are out there playing, the older players are being good mentors, coaches are out there coaching, fans are coming out watching," VanDerveer said. "I just cannot understand. We've got 5,000 people here. If anyone's behind, from my perspective, it's the media. Everything else, they're out there doing what they're supposed to be doing."
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Scouting services are everywhere - Scout, Rivals, SuperPrep, Sporting News. The science of rating high school football players is to the point of oversaturation.
After signing 22 high school players to letters of intent on Wednesday, David Shaw remained perplexed at the rating systems.
"It's incredibly flawed," said Shaw, Stanford's Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football/Head Coach. "It's extremely subjective. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, it's inconsistent, especially the way that we play football here.
"Watching a 7-on-7 at a summer camp doesn't help us when we need receivers that can block and guys that can play physical. We need more backs that can stay in the pocket and push up in the pocket with bodies around, and not seven guys going out for pass patterns.
"The one-on-one things without pads are not for us. Some of those rankings are based on what guys do in the summer. We base our evaluations on what guys do in the fall."
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It was easy to know that Stanford had landed offensive tackle Andrus Peat, rated as the nation's top prospect by the Sporting News, by the cheers emanating from all corners of the Arrillaga Family Sports Center where most of the athletics offices are including football.
Peat pulled out a Stanford cap and placed it on his head during a live press conference broadcast on ESPNU from his high school, Corona del Sol in Tempe, Ariz.
There were more celebrations when Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, Calif.), another standout tackle, made his decision.
"I saw somewhere that Andrus Peat was rated as a four-star by somebody, and I laughed," Shaw said. "I think we've got the two top tackles in the nation.
"Those guys were playing college football in high school this year. They were ready to play this year at this level."
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A controversial topic in the NCAA is the idea of a four-year scholarship. The NCAA approved legislation giving schools the option of offering multi-year scholarships rather than the normal one-year renewable scholarship - and many schools refused.
Asked for his opinion on the subject and whether offering a multi-year scholarship could be a recruiting tool, much like a professional team offering a multi-year contract over a single-season one, Shaw said he'd never really thought about it.
"We always think of it as a four-year scholarship," he said. "We've never pulled a scholarship."
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Heading into Thursday night's home game against Arizona State, after three consecutive losses, the Stanford men's basketball team had several areas to shore up.
Foremost was rebounding. After 19 games, Stanford was outrebounded only twice, but since has been outrebounded the past two games. - at Washington and Cal.
"Rebounding is something we concentrate on and take pride in," said Johnny Dawkins, Stanford's Anne and Tony Joseph Director of Men's Basketball. "We're going back to the fundamentals that made us a good rebounding team."
Another point of emphasis? Be more willing to shoot from the outside.
"Stay aggressive," Dawkins said. "Keep your attacking mindset. Don't play games with yourself out there. Take good shots, that's all you can do. If they go in, they go in. If they don't, they don't. Just continue to take good shots and stay aggressive."
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Arizona State has moved on without guard Keala King, who was dismissed by coach Herb Sendek on Jan. 8 for disciplinary reasons.
Dawkins felt the decision was a courageous one, especially involving perhaps the best player on the team.
"I give Herb a lot of credit for making a decision like that," Dawkins said. "I'm sure that would weigh heavy on a lot of coaches. Do you keep a young man around because it's important for your team to win, or do you do the right thing and maybe have to make a tough decision but send the right message to the player and as well as the team?
"I don't think a lot of coaches would have the courage to do what he did."
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One call that officials may have missed Sunday at Cal came when Stanford's 6-foot-11 redshirt freshman center Stefan Nastic was called for traveling after making a nifty side-to-side move on the run for a basket.
Though Dawkins bit his lip this week to avoid criticizing the officials - "I have no comment," he said -- he did explain the move.
"It's called a Eurostep," Dawkins said. "A lot of guys use that. You see it all the time."
Rather than driving straight ahead, Nastic took a step forward and then pushed with his left foot across the lane, perhaps tricking the official into calling the travel.
"He's still taking the same amount of steps," Dawkins said. "It's just a change of direction."
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As for Nastic, the Toronto native of Serbian ancestry has shown potential in his first season after breaking his foot. He is averaging 6.9 minutes in 15 games (3.0 points, 1.1 rebounds).
"I'm very confident in Stef," Dawkins said. "Last year was a difficult season for him. He got behind in his development, but he's been working really hard to get his opportunities and is making the most of them.
"The young man has a bright upside. I think the sky's the limit for how good he can be. He has a really good feel in the low post and he's getting better in his all-around game."
Senior post Josh Owens agrees.
"He's pretty versatile," Owens said. "He can get the ball at the top of the key and need only a couple of dribbles and get to the basket. And he's pretty skilled. So, he'll give you a pump fake and give you a little drop series and stuff like that."
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Owens, Stanford's leading scorer, was held to nine points in Stanford's 69-59 loss at Cal and didn't have many touches in the second half as the Golden Bears pulled away.
"A lot of teams are going to bring the double team and front the post a little bit," Owens said. "For me personally, I need to be more aggressive -- trying to grab offensive rebounds and trying to create more shots for myself and find my spots. I blame myself."
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The suspension of the Women's Professional Soccer for the 2012 season leaves several former Stanford players in limbo, including first-round choices from the Jan. 13 draft: Camille Levin, Lindsay Taylor and Teresa Noyola.
The timing to catch on to European leagues may be poor, which most likely leaves them with options at the semipro level for the time being.
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HOME EVENT OF THE WEEK
Friday, 1:30 p.m.
Stanford vs. USC, at Taube Family Tennis Stadium
No. 6 Stanford plays host to No. 1 USC, who last appeared at Taube when winning the NCAA team title last spring. Bradley Klahn, the 2010 NCAA singles champion, leads the Cardinal.
Other weekend home highlights:
Men's Basketball at Maples Pavilion: Stanford vs. Arizona, Saturday, noon
Women's Water Polo at Avery Aquatic Center: Stanford Invitational, Saturday (8:30 a.m.-8 p.m.) and Sunday (8 a.m.-6 p.m.).
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics