At 6-foot-2, Bethany Donaphin towers over her famous coach. But that doesn't stop Tara VanDerveer from stepping up with an occasional tease.

"PliƩ," VanDerveer whispers, bending at the knees and arcing her hands above her head, as she saunters past a courtside interview with Donaphin in Maples Pavilion.

A star rebounder who scored 17 points in this year's opener against St. Mary's, Donaphin, '02, was named Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 Academic last season and started as power forward in 21 games.

Raised in midtown Manhattan, Donaphin spent 15 of her growing-up years on stage, tap-dancing on Broadway and training at the ballet barre with the Harlem School of the Arts and Dance Theater of Harlem. But she never quite fit the petite molds of those companies, and it wasn't until she began to study with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at age 16 that she found her niche in the broader gestures of modern dance.

"My mom wanted me to be able to deal with my size and carry myself with pride--and dance taught me all of that," Donaphin says.

In high school, she concentra-ted on basketball in the winter season, and danced mostly in fall and spring. But she found time in 1996 to perform with an Afro-Caribbean dance troupe at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where she saw VanDerveer lead the U. S. Olympic women's basketball team to a gold medal--and was totally wowed. Ditto VanDerveer.

"The first time I saw her play, I could see how quick her feet were and I was really impressed with how well she ran the floor," VanDerveer says. "She has good hands, she jumps well and she anticipates well. And I was really excited when I found out what a great student she was."

VanDerveer actively recruited Donaphin; and after considering Duke, Harvard and Notre Dame, the East Coast native opted for Stanford and a major in public policy. Two years later, she says playing for VanDerveer, who in November notched her 500th career victory, is still a heady experience.

"My frosh year, I would come to practice, and Tara would walk in, and I was like, 'Oh, my God, she's my coach.' I couldn't believe it."