By John Reid
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.
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.”