April 17, 1997
The Final Report: NCAA Final Four Participant
The Wrap-Up: Stanford concluded its 1996-97 season with a third-consecutive Final Four appearance, falling to Old Dominion in a heartbreaker in the semifinals, 83-82. The Cardinal finished with a 34-2 overall record and an unblemished 18-0 Pac-10 mark. Both of Stanford's losses were to ODU, the first coming on December 17 in Norfolk, VA, 83-66.
The Stanford File: In addition to Stanford's third-consecutive Final Four appearance, the Cardinal set new marks in the postseason and conference. The Cardinal made its sixth Final Four appearance in the past eight years, including two National Championships in 1990 and 1992. Additionally, Stanford has reached the Elite Eight eight times, the Sweet Sixteen nine times and has never lost in the first or second rounds under Tara VanDerveer. In the Pac-10 Conference, Stanford recorded its second-consecutive undefeated season, going 18-0 and winning its eighth conference championship in the last nine years.
Stanford in the Rankings: Stanford finished third in both the Associated Press poll and in the USA Today/CNN Coaches poll. Stanford began the season, uninamously, in the number one spot, but dropped after losing to Old Dominion in December. The Cardinal has been ranked in the AP Top 20 every week since the beginning of the 1987-88 season.
Head Coach Tara VanDerveer: Head Coach Tara VanDerveer returned to The Farm for an 11th season after leading the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team to a 60-0 record and a gold medal in Atlanta. In November, VanDerveer was named the inaugural USOC National Coach of the Year, representing all Olympic and Pan American teams. At Stanford, VanDerveer owns a 285-64 (.817) overall record and a 152-21 (.879) Pac-10 mark. In her 17 years of collegiate coaching, VanDerveer has accumulated an impressive 437-115 (.792) record. Three times each VanDerveer has collected National Coach of the Year and District Coach of the Year honors. This season, VanDerveer was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year for the fourth time in her career. VanDerveer has signed a five-year contract, keeping her at Stanford through 2002.
Injury Report: Stanford was bitten by the injury bug this season. Four players, two starters, missed games with injuries, while others were able to play through. Center Naomi Mulitauopele missed 10 games with a torn lateral meniscus in her right knee. Mulitauaopele had surgery on Tuesday, January 21. Junior Heather Owen missed seven games after breaking the fifth finger on her right hand in practice on February 12; she returned for the tournament. Junior Vanessa Nygaard missed five games after tearing the medial meniscus in her right knee. Senior captain Jamila Wideman missed only one game as a result of a sprained right ankle. Other injuries this season that didn't result in missed games include: Olympia Scott (two root canals) and Kate Starbird (sprained left ankle). During the off-season, Christina Batastini had surgery to repair a mallet right index finger and Nygaard will have her right knee scoped.
Stanford Earns Top Pac-10 Honors: After capturing the Pac-10 Championship for the eighth time in nine years, the Cardinal earned numerous honors from the conference. Senior Kate Starbird was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year for the second time (last year with Tanja Kostic of Oregon) and Tara VanDerveer was named Coach of the Year. Starbird is the fourth repeat Player of the Year for the conference. This is VanDerveer's fourth Pac-10 Coach of the Year honor. Three other Cardinal players were recognized for their efforts this season: Jamila Wideman, Olympia Scott - first team All-Pac-10 and Milena Flores - All-Freshman team. Additionally, Starbird and Wideman were named first team All-Academic by the conference, while Heather Owen was honorable mention.
Pac-10 Dominance: The Stanford Cardinal has dominated the conference for several years, capturing its third straight Pac-10 title this season and has won eight of the last nine conference championships. With a win over Arizona State, the Cardinal concluded its conference season with an unblemished 18-0 record for only the third time and the second year in a row. In the 11 years of women's basketball in the Pac-10, Stanford has finished nothing less than a tie for sixth and that was in the first season of the conference.
The Streaks: The Cardinal extended a Pac-10 record for consecutive conference victories to 45 (home or away) in 1996-97. The last time the Cardinal lost a Pac-10 game was at Oregon State, 78-73, on February 4, 1995. Stanford also posted its 56th consecutive home conference victory, dating back to the 1990-91 season. Additionally, Stanford still holds the longest home court winning streak currently in Division I women's basketball with 48 games. Stanford is currently ninth in the all-time home court win streaks for NCAA Division I basketball and the Cardinal has the only active streak on the list.
Senior Class: Stanford graduates a top class this season: Kate Starbird, Jamila Wideman, Charmin Smith and Tara Harrington. Combined these seniors have recorded a 118-14 overall record and a 68-4 Pac-10 record while on The Farm, made three Final Four appearances and won three conference championships.
Top Marks: Kate Starbird leaves Stanford at the top of her game. With 2,215 points, Starbird eclipsed the top spot on Stanford's all-time career points list, passing Val Whiting with 2,077 points. She reached that milestone on February 22, 1997 and has gone on to become one of Stanford's most decorated players. On March 23rd, Starbird became the second Naismith Player of the Year to come out of Stanford (Jennifer Azzi is the other). Starbird is fourth all-time in career points in the Pac-10. In Stanford's 36 games this season, Starbird posted 753 points, shattering her own record of 643 points in a season, set last year. Starbird led the team with a 20.9 ppg average and finished her career with a 16.9 ppg average. In Stanford's 18 Pac-10 games, she averaged 24.8 ppg. She shot at least 50 percent from the field in 18 of Stanford's 36 games.
Moving Up the Charts: Not only did Kate Starbird take over the top spot on the all-time career points list and break Stanford's most points in a season mark, for the second year in a row, but she moved up high on almost all charts. Here is just a brief list of where Kate Starbird finished her career at Stanford: 2nd - points per game in a season (20.9 in 1996-97), 1st - fg attempted in a season (538 in 1996-97), 1st - fg made in a season (275 in 1996-97), 3rd - ft attempted in a career (491), 2nd - ft made in a career (400), 2nd - ft percentage in a career (.815), 6th - career assists (437), 4th - career steals, 1st - games played in a career (131) and T1st - starts in a season (36).
On Point: In her final season, Jamila Wideman led the Cardinal in the back court. In the postseason, Wideman averaged 10.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 6.0 apg. At the West Regional, Wideman had two outstanding games to boost the Cardinal into the Final Four and individually she earned the West Regional MVP. Against Virginia, she scored 19 points, had nine rebounds and seven assists. She came back in the Regioanl Final against Georgia to score eight points, dish out six assists and grab six rebounds. For her efforts, Wideman was named an Associated Press honorable mention All-American and first team All-American by the Women's Basketball News Service. Within the conference, she was named to the All-Pac-10 team for the second time in her career and made the All-Academic Pac-10 team. In addition to the West Regional Team, Wideman was named to two all-tournament teams, at the Wahine Classic and at the Diet Coke Shootout. She was also named to the GTE Academic All-American second team. Wideman's story went national this season as she appeared on the cover of the March 17, 1997 Sports Illustrated. She became the first collegiate female athlete to appear on the cover nationally since 1985 when Cheryl Miller was on the front.
"Without question, Jamila Wideman has established herself as one of the premiere point guards in the country. Her physical talent has improved dramatically over the last four years, but it is her mental toughness and understanding of the game that sets her apart." - Mimi Griffin, ESPN
Impact Player: Senior Charmin Smith was one of four players to play in all 36 games. Smith, after starting in 23 games last season, jumped back into the starting lineup at Washington, after Naomi Mulitiauaopele was sidelined with a knee injury. Over the Pac-10 season, Smith stepped up her play, averaging 7.3 ppg and 4.6 rpg. She set a career high with 15 points at USC and was high rebounder against Washington State with seven boards. In that game at USC, Smith gave Stanford the game-winning basket with just six seconds remaining in the game.
Posting Up: Junior Olympia Scott put up big numbers this year and was recognized for it. Scott was named honorable mention on the AP All-America Team and first-team All-Pac-10. In the postseason, Scott averaged 16.0 ppg and a team-high 8.0 rpg. At the West Regional, Scott was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 20 points and nine rebounds, while playing just 22.5 minutes per game. Over the season, she was high rebounder in 16 games, including setting a career high against UMass with 12 boards. Scott set a new career high in points with 26 inthe same game. In December, she was named MVP of the Diet Coke Shootout at Santa Clara after earning 44 points in two games. She was also one of just two players to start all 36 games this season (Kate Starbird is the other).
Outside Shooter: Vanessa Nygaard continued to be one of the Cardinal's best outside shooters, while contributing inside as well. On the season, Nygaard shot .367 (58-158) from 3-point land, averaging 11.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg. Early in the Pac-10 season at UCLA, Nygaard tore the medial meniscus in her right knee. After having surgery, Nygaard missed five games, but when she returned she was back in her early-season form. In Stanford's first nine games, Nygaard was shooing .490 (26-53) from 3-point land. However in the seven games prior to her injury, she dropped to .139 (5-36). After returning, Nygaard picked up her shot again going 27-69 from behind the arc (.391). In the offseason, Nygaard will have her right knee scoped her ACL examined.
Post Power: The Cardinal returns a powerful and deep post roster next year. In addition to Scott and Nygaard, Naomi Mulitauaopele, Heather Owen and Chandra Benton will all return to the team. Combined, these five scored 47% of the team's points this season, and that's not including the impact made by Paula McNamee and Kristin Folkl when they joined the team.
Right Where She Left Off: Kristin Folkl, who re-joined the Stanford team on February 17 after Tara VanDerveer asked her to reconsider her decision not to play basketball, picked up where she left off almost two seasons ago. Folkl played in 10 games this season, averaging 10.7 ppg (4th on the team) and a team-leading 8.2 rpg. Folkl's biggest impact came in the postseason. In the West Regional, she averaged 13 points, 8.5 rebounds and two assists while playing 24 minutes per game. For her efforts, Folkl was named to the West Region All-Tournament Team. Folkl is a three time letterwinner for the National Championship women's volleyball team and was the first alternate to the U.S. Olympic Volleyball Team this summer in Atlanta.
Freshmen Focus: The Cardinal will look next season to build on the success of this season's freshman class. Milena Flores played in all 36 games this season, shooting .379 (33-87) from the field and averaging 2.3 assists per game. Flores played the most minutes of the freshmen at 441. Christina Batastini played in 33 Cardinal games
News & Notes: Stanford set a Pac-10 record for consecutive victories with 25 ... The Cardinal set other Pac-10 records as well: most wins in a season (34), most three-point field goals (205), most free throws (642), most rebounds (1574) and largest rebounding margin (8.1) ... Starbird's 753 points this season is a new conference record ... Wideman, with 585 career assists, is fourth all-time in the Pac-10 ... The Cardinal finished fourth nationally in scoring margin at 23.1 ppg and second in scoring offense (84.4 ppg)
Christina Batastini 13 (WSU)* 4 (ASU & Cal)*
Chandra Benton 17 (Ohio)* 10(Ohio & WSU)*
Milena Flores 11 (Howard))* 6 (Howard & VA)*
Yvonne Gbalazeh 0 2 (N. Arizona)*
Tara Harrington 5 (Howard) 4 (Howard)
Kristin Folkl 18 (ODU) 12 (Arizona)*
Paula McNamee 8 (Oregon)* 7 (Oregon)*
Naomi Mulitauaopele 21 (Oregon) 11 (Purdue)
Vanessa Nygaard 22 (Michigan) 12 (SFA & Ore)
Heather Owen 24 (Wash.)* 10 (2 times)*
Melody Peterson 6 (UMass)* 2 (3 times)*
Olympia Scott 26 (UMass) 12 (UMass/ASU)
Charmin Smith 15 (USC)* 9 (Arizona)
Kate Starbird 40 (USC) 9 (USF)
Jamila Wideman 24 (USC) 9 (Virginia)*
* indicates career high