For your aspiring Stanford student, it’s not acceptable to do everything right during the quarter and then hold off on a handful of finals. Even if it doesn’t affect your final grade.
The Stanford women’s basketball team felt like it with a chance to defend their title with a 24-game winning streak in the Final Four—only to lose 63–58 to Connecticut, always a worthy opponent but this time the underdog.
Yukon coach Geno Auriemma, choosing the golf analogy, said, “Sometimes you do enough with what you have.” “Just scrape it around and put it in the hole as much as you can, then go to the 19th hole and have a drink.”
Stanford shot 17 percent from 3-point range for the second game in a row, but unlike Texas in the Elite Eight, it was an out-rebound and just four points from Lexi Hull.
Hull played 37 minutes versus UConn, most of which he had with his nose plugged to stop the bleeding that started in the middle of the first quarter following a foul by Azzie Fudd.
“She was bleeding from both nostrils and she’s still trying to get out,” Stanford coach Tara Oneidarveer said. “He’s an absolute warrior. I wouldn’t trade him for a player.”
Hull announced on April 4 that she was trading the college for pro basketball, announcing her eligibility for Monday’s WNBA Draft. Her twin sister Lacy is moving to work for eBay in Austin, Texas, while Anna Wilson has completed her 160-game career (a school record).
Stanford, which has devoted much of this season to replacing point guard Kiana Williams, will return to that task with a fresh set of candidates. And the convention as a whole is in need of an upgrade to elite guard play.
“I give so much credit to Lacy for what she did for us and Anna,” VanDerweir said. “But tonight (against Yukon) we needed more. A lot of it is just the experience of running a team, and it caught us.”
Aside from Stanford, the Pac-12 falls short of lofty goals
With an undefeated Pac-12 regular season and 15th Conference Tournament title, Stanford (32–4) earned an ‘A’ grade for the season. If the Cardinal’s 15th Final Four had been better, it could have been an A+.
Stanford’s post-season was a salvation for the Pac-12, which failed to bring many teams into Sweet Sixteen or beyond for the first time since 2014. Five achieved that as recently as 2019, and both national finals were from the Pac-12 in 2021.
Collectively, we will assign a B- to the remaining Pac-12 based on recent results and higher internal expectations. Not that all 11 were only slightly better than average.
Here’s a more nuanced look at other than Stanford buy tier.
, Beyond Expectation: Washington State (19-11), Colorado (22-9) and Utah (21-12) were selected by the coaches to finish sixth, seventh and 10th, respectively. Instead, they were tied for second, fifth, and sixth place, Utah reached the finals of the Pac-12 tournament for the first time, Colorado reached the semifinals, and all three made the NCAA tournament.
Only Utah advanced to the second round in its first NCAA appearance since 2011, but the Bluejays improved through the Elite Eight after a first-round loss to Colorado at Creighton.
– Not up to standard: Yes, Oregon (20-12) and Arizona (21-8) returned to the NCAA Tournament, but the Ducks were upset by No. 12 seed Belmont in the first round, and the Wildcats failed to capitalize on a sub-regional at home, second. Lost to North Carolina in the round.
Injuries affected both teams, and Arizona did not have an offensive player like Arie McDonald in the first season after his departure.
We are also putting Oregon State (17-14) and Arizona State (12-14) in this category.
The Beavers missed the NCAA field for the first time since 2013, reaching the WNIT quarterfinals instead. The Sun Devils sat out the postseason for only the second time since 2000, with coach Charlie Turner Thorne retiring after 25 seasons.
, Couldn’t ask for more: USC (12–16), California (11–13) and Washington (7–16) finished in the bottom three places, with the Trojans and Husky expected to be given new coaches.
It is worth noting that all Pac-12 teams finished in the top 100 (out of 356 Division I teams) of the net rankings, and eight were in the top 50. Cal and Washington were at No. 90 and No. at the low end of the conference. 94.
, Special circumstance: Elected to finish third, UCLA (18–13) finished in seventh place with so many serious injuries that they took the Bruins below the minimum number of times required to play, resulting in a forfeiture vs. Oregon is done.
Outside the NCAA, UCLA took the WNIT seriously, winning four games before losing 62–59 to eventual champion South Dakota State in the semifinals.
Coach Corey Close and his staff did an excellent job keeping the Bruins engaged and competitive, knowing that vital help is on the way.
High class reinforcements on the way
Five of the nation’s highest-ranked recruiting classes (per ESPNW Hoopgurlz) are entering the Pac-12 next season: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Oregon State, No. 5 Stanford and No. 8 Arizona. (Washington is also not far behind at number 14.)
* Nine incoming Pac-12 freshmen played in the McDonald’s All-American game on March 29, with UCLA’s Kiki Rice and Gabriella Jaquez as the leading scorers for the East and West teams. Rice, a guard from Washington DC, is the Naismith High School National Player of the Year.
Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State also had two recruits in McDonald’s games, while Arizona had one. That’s part of the reasoning behind ESPN placing five Pac-12 teams in their initial top-25 rankings for 2022–23: Stanford led the group (No. 3), followed by Arizona (12th), Oregon (18th). th), Utah (19th) and UCLA (22nd).
*Not one to stop Stanford from losing its guard trio, but the states of Oregon, Colorado and Oregon are arguably taking the biggest personnel hit.
The Ducks are losing Nyra Sabli early to the WNBA, while three 2020 recruits are transfers.
The buffs will have to replace Maya Hollingshed and several transfers.
Meanwhile, forward Taylor Jones, an all-conference honoree two seasons ago, is the third Oregon State starter to enter the transfer portal after Greta Kampschroeder and Kennedy Brown.
All-conference forward Jordan Jenkins is transferring from USC, but could possibly remain in the conference.
* At least 10 out of 15 players on the All-Pac-12 team are returning, including Stanford’s Cameron Brink and Haley Jones, selected by the media and coaches as the player of the year.
* Cal’s Charmin Smith is the Pac-12 coach, facing the most urgency to win his 5-37 conference record three seasons in charge.
* ASU is dealing with the impact of his coaching change from Turner Thorne to Natasha Adair formerly in Delaware.
Guard Taya Hanson and forward Kellyanne Levings are relocating to Oregon and Tulsa, where former ASU assistant Angie Nelp is the head coach.
WNBA Draft Coming on Monday
Sabli, a 6-foot-5 forward, will almost certainly be selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft on Monday, probably by Indiana (along with Fever’s four selections). His sister Satou plays for the Dallas Wings.
Colorado’s Hollingshead and Stanford’s Hull appear as second- and third-round probabilities in most estimates. New Phoenix Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard played at Stanford and may be interested in Hull if she is still on board late in third.
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