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2011-12 Stanford Women's Basketball Preview

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Kayla Pedersen (14) and the Cardinal open their regular season today against Rutgers.
Kayla Pedersen (14) and the Cardinal open their regular season today against Rutgers.

With the No. 3 Stanford women's basketball team set to begin its quest for its first NCAA title since 1992 today against Rutgers, here's a snapshot of the Cardinal to get you ready for the season.

Who's Gone?

  • Jayne Appel, who averaged 13.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, and was a stabilizing force in the middle for the Cardinal.
  • Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, who started all 37 games during last year's run to the NCAA title game and was one of the Cardinal's top defenders.
  • JJ Hones, who provided a spark off the bench, but was dismissed from the team after being charged with operating a golf cart while under the influence.

Who's Back?

  • Nneka Ogwumike, the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year, who averaged 18.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.
  • Jeanette Pohlen, the Cardinal's top 3-point shooter, who averaged 9.3 points per game and will lead Stanford's backcourt.
  • Kayla Pedersen, who, along with fellow tri-captains Ogwumike and Pohlen, was named to the Naismith Award Preseason Watch List. Pedersen averaged 15.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season.

New Names to Know

  • Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka's younger sister, is the top recruit in the country and a "veteran in a freshman's body," according to head coach Tara VanDerveer. See for yourself.
  • Sara James, whose dedication to her craft reminds Jake Curtis of a former Stanford great, will be counted on to help replace Gold-Onwude's defensive presence.
  • Toni Kokenis, another freshman guard, who will provide additional depth in the backcourt with senior Melanie Murphy sidelined until January.

Circle the Dates

Stanford's non-conference schedule is loaded with traditional powers and 2010 NCAA tournament teams, including Xavier, which visits Maples Pavilion on Dec. 28. The Musketeers may still be smarting from Pohlen's buzzer-beating layup in the Elite Eight. Here are three other games to watch:

  • Dec. 19, 2010 at Tennessee: Anytime the Cardinal and Lady Vols get together it's a big deal. Stanford won last year's meeting at home, 67-52.
  • Dec. 30, 2010 vs. Connecticut: The Huskies could arrive at Maples Pavilion riding a 90-game winning streak. Stanford will be hungry for revenge.
  • Jan. 20, 2011 vs. UCLA: Stanford was the unanimous pick to win its 11th consecutive Pac-10 title. The Bruins, who gave the Cardinal a scare in Stanford's 65-61 win at Pauley Pavilion last season, were picked to finish second.

Additional Reading