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From Beyond The Arc: Stanford WBB 2023 Preview

Was the 2022-23 season an anomaly for the Cardinal?

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - California Photo by John Todd/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Stanford Cardinal coaching legend Tara VanDerveer has been with Stanford since 1985. Except for her first two seasons, the Cardinal have reached the NCAA tournament in every season since then, and have won three championships (the most recent being in 2021). VanDerveer has the most wins and the best winning percentage in women’s basketball history.

UConn v Stanford
Tara VanDerveer
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Last season, Stanford (29-6, 15-3 Pac-12 - T-1st) had a bit of a disappointing season, but only if you’re Stanford. The Cardinal did not reach the Pac-12 championship game and lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Consider that they have reached at least the Sweet Sixteen since 2008, and you will realize that the Cardinal had a bit of a bumpy end of their season.

But only if you’re Stanford.

As a team, Stanford shot 45.5% from the field (34.6% on threes), and 73.3% from the line. The Cardinal averaged 45.7 rebounds per game, vs. 32.6 for their opponents. Also, as a team, Stanford tallied 251 blocks against 79 from their opponents, with star F Cameron Brink accounting for nearly half of the team’s blocks.

NCAA Womens Basketball: UCLA at Stanford
#22 Cameron Brink
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Brink was the leading scorer and rebounder for Stanford, with 15.1 PPG and 9.6 RPG. She shot 48.6% from the field, including 10/47 from distance (21.3%), Brink was also very good at the line, going 156/184 for nearly 85%.

Sr. Haley Jones averaged 13.5 PPG and 9.0 RPG. She shot 43.2% from the field (doesn’t really shoot threes very well, only going 3/32). Jones shot 72% from the line.

NCAA Womens Basketball: UCLA at Stanford
#33 Hannah Jump
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Sr. G Hannah Jump was the other Stanford scorer averaging double digit numbers with 11.2 PPG. She shot 45.5% from the field, and was the primary threat for the Cardinal from distance - she shot over 44% and was responsible for 100 of the 240 threes that Stanford made last season. Jump shoots well at the stripe, hitting 81.5% in 2022-23.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - California Photo by John Todd/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Stanford’s primary starters were Cameron Brink, Haley Jones, Hannah Jump, Kiki Iriafen and Talana Lepolo. The Cardinal return everyone but Jones, who was a senior last year and declared for the WNBA draft.

Stanford does not see players enter the transfer portal very often - this is Stanford, after all - but a rare occurrence happened for the program when three players entered the transfer portal at the end of last season. They were 6-7 Fr. C Lauren Betts (UCLA), 5-10 Fr. G Indya Nivar (North Carolina), and 5-11 Jr. G Agnes Emma-Nnopu (TCU). All three were bench players that contributed 10-13 minutes per game.

The Cardinal may be in a bit of a bind. Stanford’s high academic standards make bringing in players from the transfer portal notoriously difficult. It’s not likely that they’ll have the depth they had last season, with their 15-player roster being pared down to 12.

Stanford picked up the highest ranking freshman class for 2023, and signed three talented freshmen to join them this fall:

6-2 F Nunu Agara was the first of the class of ‘23 to sign, from Minnetonka, MN. (The graphic above is not correct; Agara is 6-2, not 5-11). Said VanDerveer upon signing, “Nunu is a very talented, left-handed player that will play the 3/4 position. She has a scoring mentality, loves to rebound and is a very physical player. We love her energy, aggressiveness and versatility.”

5-9 G Chloe Clardy hails from Conway. Ark. She was ranked #39 in the ESPN HoopGurlz recruiting rankings, and is Stanford’s first-ever recruit from Arkansas. Said VanDerveer, “She’s a 1-2 combo guard, but we think her standout strength is her defense. We know she’ll be ready to contribute at both ends of the floor.”

6-1 F Courtney Ogden is from Atlanta GA. She is the #10 recruit in the class, according to ESPN HoopGurl. She recently played for the USA U18 team this summer in Argentina. The team won a gold medal, and Ogden averaged 2.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 14.5 minutes per game.

With the loss of three players to the portal, these three freshmen won’t just sit on the bench all game. It should be noteworthy to see how Vanderveer rotates them in and gives the youngsters playing time.

The Cardinal showed some chinks in their armor of invincibility last season, and with the departure of Jones to the WNBA and significant players hitting the transfer portal, we’re going to find out this coming season if the 2022-23 season was an aberration or part of a downward trend for the mighty Cardinal.

That said, it would be foolish to bet against Stanford to not lead the Pac-12 and again go deep in the NCAA tournament this coming season. This is the Stanford Cardinal, after all.