Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Ailing Stanford optimistic about another strong season
STANFORD, Calif. -- Azella Perryman and T'Nae Thiel hobbled
up the stairs at Maples Pavilion, each wearing a walking cast on
her left foot. Teammate Susan King is nursing a high ankle sprain
that made it difficult to walk down the aisle for her August
wedding to former Stanford basketball star Curtis Borchardt.
Stanford's successful women's basketball team is beat up. Coach
Tara VanDerveer isn't worried.
The Cardinal have 11 letterwinners returning, including all five
starters, from last season's team that won the Pac-10, and they are
picked to win another conference title by the league's coaches.
"We're excited," VanDerveer said. "Get healthy and we'll be
Stanford's first official practice is Saturday morning, but the
team has been rigorously conditioning to get ready.
On Tuesday, players did 45 minutes of interval sprints on a line
of stationary bicycles in the weight room -- 45 seconds seated,
followed by 45 seconds of rest, then 30 seconds standing, followed
by 30 seconds of rest. Players leaned over their bikes, grimacing.
VanDerveer occasionally piped in to acknowledge their hard work.
She is actually rewarding her team with more on-court training
after a successful 12-day tour in Italy, where Stanford went 4-1.
"We're a lot more experienced where we are now to where we were
last year," VanDerveer said. "It's night and day. No. 1, I think
we're going to be faster. We'll run the floor better and create
offense from our defense."
Leading scorer Nicole Powell has improved her defense, according
to VanDerveer. The senior forward averaged 18.8 points and 9.3
rebounds last season, and she played for the U.S team at the Pan
American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, this summer.
"With Italy and also having so many returners, we don't have to
focus as much on plays," junior forward Sebnem Kimyacioglu said.
"Everybody already knows it. We're starting at a higher point than
Thiel, a 6-foot-1 forward, had surgery on her foot for a stress
fracture and isn't sure when she will return. Perryman has pain in
her foot that doctors haven't diagnosed, so her schedule is also
uncertain. Eziamaka Okafor is also using a boot to get around -- she
is recovering from a ruptured Achilles' tendon.
Stanford had several players sidelined for the preseason last
year, too, but went 27-5 and reached the second round of the NCAA
"We've already got so many more bodies than last year and we're
so far ahead," VanDerveer said. "It's great."
Last season ended in frustration for the Cardinal. They lost
68-56 at home to Minnesota in the second round of the NCAA
tournament. The loss ended Stanford's 26-game home winning streak,
including 15 straight wins in Maples last season. The Cardinal
hadn't been beaten in Maples since losing to Tennessee on Dec. 16,
"We've got to also take it as a motivating factor, and I think
everyone has," Kimyacioglu said. "That's behind us and we've
learned from it."