Card Reider column: Smith has it all, tangible and intangible

By John Reid

Card Reider

Stanford forward Alanna Smith is listed at 6-foot-4. Normally, a lot of women’s basketball teams have players to match up with someone that tall. Smith isn’t normal in many ways, which is very good for the 6th-ranked Cardinal and coach Tara VanDerveer.

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Stanford senior Alanna Smith is one of the best inside-outside players in Cardinal history

Offensively, the Australian-born Smith has a shooting range that reaches 27 feet and she can cast off with accuracy from 3-point land, anytime, anywhere. Not many teams have anyone who can defend the likes of Smith that far away from the hoop.

Smith’s career-high 34 points in Stanford’s 85-64 win over Washington State Sunday at Maples Pavilion included 4 of 5 from 3-point territory. She has made 46 of 91 3-point tries this season. Should Smith keep up that .505 percentage, she would top Jennifer Azzi (.495%, 1988-89)), Stanford’s single-season record-holder for 3-point percentage.

If Smith just played out on the perimeter, she would be easier to guard. But, she can go inside and crush the opposition as well as anyone in the country. Smith is shooting .571 from the floor, averaging 21.0 points per game. Should that remain, Smith would have the No. 6 single-season mark for scoring average.

Smith, No. 25 on Stanford’s all-time scoring list, can do more than just score. She is in the top 6 in career blocks with 41 blocks this season. She has 42 assists, meaning she can handle the ball with aplomb. Her 8.4 rebounds per game leads the team.

With Stanford at 16-1, 6-0 in the Pac-12, Smith is battling Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu for the Pac-12 Player of the Year. That should be quite a matchup when the Ducks visit Maples on Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. However, there is a truckload of basketball to be played between now and then.

“Alanna is playing with tremendous confidence,” VanDerveer said. “Her versatility is exceptional. Part of her three-point shooting is her quick release. She can score inside, outside. She makes the extra pass when she’s not open. She’s having an All-American senior year.

Smith was instrumental in organizing Sunday’s effort to raise awareness for human trafficking. Smith took a class on human trafficking last quarter and got inspired.

“Alanna is the quintessential Stanford student,” VanDerveer said. “She’s not just about basketball. She’s into her studies. She cares about more than just dribbling and shooting.”

Smith, a senior, has 12 more regular season games left. Then it’s on to the Pac-12 tournament before the Cardinal tries to win its first NCAA title since 1992. Anyone who hasn’t seen Smith play in person is running out of chances to see one of Stanford’s best all-around players to come through the hallowed halls.

“Not everyone can say they’ve been coached by a Hall of Famer,” said Smith of VanDerveer. “I wish I could stay here for more than four years. Unfortunately, I have to graduate and move on. You have to enjoy it while it lasts.”

 

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Baseball: Little tabbed preseason first team A-A by DI Baseball

Junior right-handed pitcher Jack Little was named a preseason first-team All-American by D1 Baseball, as announced this week.

Little adds to his haul of preseason honors, which also includes preseason All-America nods from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and Perfect Game.

Little (management science and engineering) tied a program record with 16 saves as a sophomore in 2018, finishing 3-0 with a 0.60 earned-run average, a .167 batting average against and 58 strikeouts against eight walks in 45.1 innings out of the bullpen. The Las Vegas native earned first-team All-America honors from D1 Baseball, Baseball America, Perfect Game, NCBWA and ABCA, and was a finalist for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year award.

Stanford’s 2019 season begins Feb. 15 when the Cardinal competes in the Angels College Classic in Phoenix with matchups against Ball State (Feb. 15), Wichita State (Feb. 16) and Pepperdine (Feb. 17). Stanford’s home opener is against UNLV (Feb. 22-24).

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Women’s basketball notebook: VanDerveer notches Stanford win No. 900

By John Reid

Card Reider

STANFORD – Tara VanDerveer’s 900th win plaque was ready to go before tip-off of Sunday’s Pac-12 women’s hoop game with Washington State at Maples Pavilion. Considering the Cardinal had never lost to the Cougars in 63 meetings, the plaque – symbolic or no – could have been awarded to VanDerveer before the game started.

After 40 minutes, sixth-ranked Stanford had, indeed, taken care of business with an 85-64 triumph to move to 6-0 in conference play, 16-1 overall. The Cardinal shares the top spot with No. 5 Oregon (6-0 Pac-12). Oregon State (5-1 Pac-12) was dealt its first conference defeat, losing to Arizona State, 79-76.

“Once the game starts going, you’re not thinking about anything,” VanDerveer said. “You’re just trying to make adjustments in the game. Focus on what’s going on. Washington State is a proud program. I’m glad they didn’t beat us (today). We’ll have to work really hard to beat them the next time we play them.”

Stanford forward Alanna Smith, playing her final season, had a career-high 34 points, along with 15 boards, three assists and a pair of blocks. She was 13 of 17 from the field, 4 of 5 from beyond the arc after missing her fifth attempt from three-land. Smith moved a digit past Meg Metzger (1980-83) to No. 25 on Stanford’s all-time scoring list.

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Alanna Smith scores career-high 34 points

 

“It was a superb, individual solo by Alanna,” VanDerveer said of Smith. “She was 13 of 17. I can’t even do the math on that. A double-double at halftime. She had a great game, led her team. I’m excited for her.”

“We had a great team win,” Smith said. “You can hear everyone supporting each other. It’s fun to play for our coaching staff.”

Smith had help. Guards Kiana Williams and DiJonai Carrington combined for 30 points, six assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals. Williams was 8 of 14 from the floor, finishing with 19 points. The electric Williams pulled off what has become her patented fake-pass and go in for a hoop, the Cardinal up 42-22 late in the first half.

Freshman guard Jenna Brown did a good copycat imitation, scoring on a drive to beat the first-half buzzer, the Cardinal up 18 at intermission.

Stanford came out strong in the second half. Williams knocked down a trey, shortly after a 3-pointer by Smith.

Freshman Lexi Hull, who recently returned from injury, had seven rebounds for the Cardinal.

“It’s a little mind-boggling how quickly it has gone,” said VanDerveer of her 900th win. “I just wanted to enjoy the game with our team. It’s because we have great players like Alanna. You think back, we had Jennifer Azzi, Katy Steding, Candice Wiggins, Kate Starbird. We’ve had a legacy of great players, great people. Great assistant coaches who have worked very hard to develop and improve our players. We have great fans and a great administration that supports women’s basketball.”

And a great head coach, one might add.

CARDINAL CRUNCHIES: The game was played in honor of Human Trafficking Awareness month … Attendance was listed at 2,908 … WSU had three players in double-figures, led by Chanelle Molina’s 18 points … Stanford’s biggest lead was 33 points, which came at the 9:07 mark of the fourth quarter … WSU hit the first hoop of the day, its only lead of the game … Stanford visits bottom-feeder Colorado on Friday, but should be get a serious test at Utah (16-1, 5-1) on Sunday in a noon (Mountain Time) tilt … On the injury front, Stanford forward Nadia Fingall is out for the year with a torn ACL. Forward Maya Dodson (foot) did not play, but should return from injury soon. Veteran guard Marta Sniezek has yet to play this season for the Cardinal due to injuries.

Men’s basketball: Cardinal downs Cougars on road for second Pac-12 win

 Daejon Davis led five members of the Cardinal in double figures, as Stanford beat Washington State 78-66 on Saturday at Beasley Coliseum.

Oscar da Silva scored 12 points with five rebounds for Stanford (9-9, 2-4, Pac-12) and Josh Sharma added 11 points and eight rebounds.

CJ Elleby scored 18 points and eight rebounds for Washington State (8-10, 1-4) and Ahmed Ali finished with 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range.

Trailing 14-6 after the first six minutes, Stanford went on a 13-2 run over 3:16 led by Willis, who capped it with a 3-pointer and a goaltending call on a layup in transition for a 19-16 lead.

After a 3 from Marvin Cannon and a couple of layups on the inside from Jeff Pollard, WSU would not score for 3:09.

WSU’s drought led to a 14-2 Stanford run capped by Marcus Sheffield’s 3 and Jaiden Delaire’s layup.

The Cougars closed the first half with a 7-0 run that included back-to-back layups from Elleby and Ali’s fourth 3-pointer of the half, but Stanford led 39-35 at the break.

Stanford started the second half on an 8-4 run, but WSU scored seven straight in 32 seconds to close to 47-46. A layup from Elleby followed by a steal and assist from Ali to Viont’e Daniels for a layup and a foul on the next possession brought the home crowd to its feet.

The Cardinal answered with three 3-pointers on a 9-2 run to extend the lead once again. Da Silva, Sheffield and Davis all had 3’s during the run, making it 56-48 with 12 minutes left.

WSU cut the lead to 69-64 after Robert Franks’ two free throws with 2:30 remaining, but, after WSU knocked a potential defensive rebound out of bounds, Willis made an easy dunk and Stanford scored six unanswered points in the final 55 seconds.

Stanford returns home, where the Cardinal will face Utah on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.

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Women’s basketball: Cardinal destroys Huskies behind Smith’s 27 points, 13 boards

 There are some games when Stanford finds its groove from the opening tip, methodically handles business, and the key thing coach Tara VanDerveer takes from a victory afterward was the opportunity to rest her regulars and find positives from the small strides.

Alanna Smith scored 11 of her 27 points in the third period and also grabbed 13 rebounds as No. 6 Stanford beat cold-shooting Washington 91-54 on Friday night for its 19th straight home victory.

“I was really happy with how our team came out tonight and I was really excited about how our bench finished,” VanDerveer said. “I think the best thing is from my perspective, no one got in foul trouble, no one got hurt and no one played more than 30 minutes. I think we’re just getting better and better.”

Kiana Williams scored 22 points and knocked down four of 13 3-pointers by the Cardinal (15-1, 5-0 Pac-12), who beat Washington for an 18th straight time at Maples Pavilion.

“We’re led by the best point guard in the league,” VanDerveer said.

Smith shot 12 for 18 and has all five of her double-doubles this season over the past seven games.

Now, Hall of Fame coach VanDerveer will look for her 900th win in 33 seasons at Stanford when her team hosts Washington State on Sunday, having never lost to the Cougars.

DiJonai Carrington contributed 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for Stanford, off to the program’s best start since beginning 22-1 in 2013-14.

Amber Melgoza was held to nearly 11 points below her average, scoring eight points and committing five turnovers for Washington (8-10, 1-5), which didn’t have a double-digit scorer in losing for the seventh time in eight games. The Huskies shot 34.5 percent, going 8 for 26 from 3-point range.

The Cardinal made its initial five shots and jumped to a 12-2 lead and rolled.

Stanford has won 15 straight Pac-12 games at Maples and was the only conference team to go unbeaten at home last season.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARNESS GAME

On Sunday afternoon, Maples will host the school’s first ever Human Trafficking Awareness Game. There will be public service announcements throughout, and an information table on the concourse to encourage further community engagement and action.

Smith took a class last quarter on human trafficking and Betty Ann Hagenau, Stanford’s public address announcer who works in the anti-trafficking field, spoke as a guest lecturer. They discussed doing more.

Smith has not only recruited campus officials, fellow students and others to attend but will also take a featured part in an in-game video message.

“People were really excited to get on board,” Smith said. “I’m just super happy that I can be a part of raising awareness for something like this.”

BIG PICTURE

Washington: The Huskies shot 4 for 11 in the opening quarter to trail 27-11. … After forcing a season-high 18 turnovers in last Sunday’s 58-43 home loss to Utah and holding the Utes to 1 for 17 on 3s, Washington was too over-matched against VanDerveer’s deep Stanford team. Melgoza is 48 points from 1,000 for her Huskies career, and she would become the 28th player in Washington program history to reach the milestone. … The Huskies lost 71-45 last January at Maples Pavilion and are 4-28 all-time on Stanford’s home floor.

Stanford: Carrington has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in five of her last eight games. … Stanford shot 7 of 18 from deep in the first half then cooled off to finish 13 for 36. … The Cardinal hasn’t lost to Washington at home since a 74-62 defeat on Feb. 18, 1999.

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Women’s volleyball: Former U.S. National Team member joins Hambly’s staff

 Alisha Glass Childress, a former U.S. national team member and Penn State standout, has been named assistant coach for the Stanford women’s volleyball program, as announced Friday by head coach Kevin Hambly.

“Whenever you are looking to hire staff, you look for people that know the game at a high level, understand what hard work is and what it requires to be great, and then someone that fits the culture you have established in the program,” said Hambly. “Throughout the process I came across several people that would be a good fit, but Alisha really stood out as someone who would not only help us continue to push the student-athletes to grow but would also help challenge the staff to grow as well.”

Glass Childress replaces Erin Lindsey, who was hired as the head coach at Santa Clara in December, and will work directly with Stanford’s setters and offense.

“Stanford has such a rich tradition of excellence academically and athletically. I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to join such a great volleyball program and hope to contribute in a way that helps continue the championship culture,” said Glass Childress. “I look forward to working with our amazing student-athletes and coaching staff, and am thankful to become a member of the Stanford family. Go Cardinal!”

Glass Childress has served as an assistant coach with the U.S. National Team at last summer’s Pan American Cup, where the U.S. rallied to win gold over the host Dominican Republic team.

As a player, Glass Childress helped lead Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where she earned Best Setter honors. She was also selected Best Setter of the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament, guiding the U.S. to gold and an automatic spot in the Rio Games.

A two-time USA Volleyball Indoor Athlete of the Year (2013, 2014), Glass Childress earned gold medals in three consecutive FIVB World Grand Prix Finals (2010, 2011, 2012). She has also played professionally in Italy, Turkey, Poland, Puerto Rico and Brazil.

Glass Childress played at Penn State from 2006-09, leading the Nittany Lions to three straight national titles during a stretch when the program won four in a row (2007-10). She was a three-time AVCA All-American and three-time All-Big Ten Conference.

A native of Leland, Michigan, Glass Childress is married to former Stanford men’s basketball star Josh Childress, who played on The Farm from 2002-04. They have a daughter, Maya.

“Her resume of course fits and speaks for itself.  More importantly, Alisha is a great fit culturally, her principles and reasons for coaching are in line with the rest of our staff and program here at Stanford,” stated Hambly. “We are excited to welcome Alisha, Josh and Maya to the Stanford family.”

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Women’s volleyball: Honda Sport Award goes to Stanford’s Plummer

Outside hitter Kathryn Plummer was named the Honda Sport Award winner for Volleyball as announced today by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA).

The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 43 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”.  With this honor, Plummer becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious Class of 2019 Honda Cup, which will be presented on a live telecast on CBS Sports Network on June 24 in downtown Los Angeles.

Plummer was chosen by a vote of administrators from over 1,000 NCAA member schools. Finalists included Roni Jones-Perry (BYU), Jordyn Poulter (Illinois) and Samantha Seliger-Swenson (Minnesota).

“I am extremely humbled to win this award because I know that there were many people that were also deserving, both my competitors and my teammates,” said Plummer. “I am fortunate enough to be at an institution that offers me the ability to receive a world-class education and compete against the toughest opponents in the country. I am proud of how our team played throughout the season, showing humility with success.

“I am honored to be called a Stanford student-athlete and to uphold those traditions of excellence. So, thank you Stanford women’s volleyball, Honda, and the CWSA for this honor.”

Plummer is a two-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), espnW and Pac-12 Player of the Year, and was also a Honda Award nominee last season. She is the first player since 2002 to win back-to-back AVCA Player of the Year honors and is a three-time AVCA first-team All-American. She is also a three-time All-Pac-12 Conference member having earned a nod on the team each year of her career.

The junior outside hitter from Aliso Viejo, California, led the Cardinal to the 2018 NCAA title, the second of her career, and was named the co-Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament.

She led her team with 11 double-doubles and hit .300 or better in 15 matches. Overall, she ranked sixth nationally in points per set (5.37) and 11th in kills per set (4.70).

“Kathryn had such an incredible year. We played as difficult a schedule as we could put together and every team’s games plan was to try and stop her,” said head coach Kevin Hambly. “She, of course, responded by dominating as only she can. Volleyball is only a small part of what makes Kathryn special. She is a great student, she is heavily involved in the community and campus. She is also one of the humblest and hardest working athletes I have ever been around. She represents volleyball in the most respectful, classiest way possible. It is truly my honor to coach her!”

The CWSA, in its 43rd year, honors the nation’s top NCAA women athletes recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service.  Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.1 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs at the institutions.

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