In a time of hiatus, Stanford trainer Tara VanDerveer kept the cardinal together. The team has been at hotels for three months to earn VanDerveer’s third national title, their first in 29 years.
Despite the obstacles, the most successful coach in women’s college basketball has brought a team without a Bonafide star back into the Final Four.
For their efforts, VanDerveer was named Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Friday morning. VanDerveer, in their 35th season at Stanford, also won the award in 2011 and 1990.
Later on Friday, she was named Trainer of the Year by the American Basketball Writers Association. It was the first time since 1990 that Stanford received the award when it won its first national championship.
Stanford (29: 2) will face the champions of the Southeastern Conference, South Carolina, in the final of the last four semi-finals in San Antonio this afternoon. Connecticut will play Arizona in their second game. The winners arrive at the Alamodome on the last Sunday afternoon.
Stanford has reached its eighth Final Four in 14 years. The Cardinal had a chance to make it last season, but NCAA officials canceled the tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The global health crisis has also bothered this season. Stanford was on the road for 63 days from November as Santa Clara County’s strict guidelines were designed to slow the transmission of the coronavirus.
« Check out what Tara has achieved this season, » said Stanford head coach Kate Paye. “The level of sustainable excellence. You will have a hard time comparing decade after decade after decade. »
After playing for Indiana University before the women’s game was part of the NCAA format, VanDerveer began training in Idaho and then Ohio. She came to Stanford in 1985 and won her first national title in five years.
VanDerveer has an overall career of 1,123-255, while Stanford has played 33 consecutive NCAA tournaments.
« It’s something people almost take for granted, » said Paye, a walk-in security guard on the Cardinal’s ’92 team. “Tara has a way of making winning at the highest level look almost easy, and it’s not. Year after year she has Stanford Basketball on the hunt for a national championship. That’s why she ranks in the Hall of Fame as one of the best coaches in the history of sport. »
VanDerveer doesn’t enjoy being in the spotlight and downplaying her achievements.
Formally she recognized all but herself for the latest honor. VanDerveer, 67, said the award reflects how hard their players worked and played.
« I use the analogy of an orchestra, » she said on Thursday. “There will be different solos every night. Best of all, when someone does a solo, the other members of the orchestra are still playing. They don’t put their instruments down and watch. »
Paye said the coaching team appreciated how players reacted to the restrictions due to COVID-19
« As Tara told you, your middle name is ‘Flexible’ – with an uppercase F, » she said. “It was hard at first and now they just roll with the punches.
“Do you want us to play here? Would you like us to play there? What’s the time? Would you like us to wear which jersey? No problem. »
VanDerveer was named Pac-12 Trainer of the Year for the 16th time this season, having led the Cardinal to his 24th conference championship for the first time since 2014.
« I am their biggest fan for this team that has shown great resilience, great determination and togetherness, » said VanDerveer. « Being in the locker room I know I may only have two games left to coach and I want them to be two great games. »
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To reach the national semifinals, Stanford had to overcome a 12-point deficit against Louisville, number 2 in the Alamo region final on Tuesday night, in the third quarter.
Second striker Ashten Prechtel said the coach « tricked » the players at halftime. VanDerveer’s attitude: it challenged them to compete.
« I think it really says a lot about how hard people played, how much they wanted to do it for each other, » said VanDerveer.
The American Basketball Writers Association also named Senior Guard Kiana Williams as their All-American Second Team, while sophomore Haley Jones received an Honorable Mention.
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