Great Expectations

November/December 2002

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It might be a coach's most important preseason job: managing expectations.

And for Stanford’s basketball coaches, the responsibility is particularly daunting. Both the men’s and women’s teams are automatically expected to be national players—ideally winning the Pac-10 on the way to a strong showing in the NCAA tournament. “We’ve created a beautiful monster,” admits women’s coach Tara VanDerveer, lamenting that when her squad only wins the conference, it’s considered a down year.

But VanDerveer is cautiously optimistic this fall. Last year, the Cardinal romped to a 32-3 record, ending with a narrow loss to Colorado in the Sweet Sixteen. Although Lindsey Yamasaki and Cori Enghusen finished their collegiate careers, the team has gained four freshmen, including Clare Bodensteiner, a 5-foot-8 guard who led her Idaho high school to its first conference championship in 18 years.

Guard Susan King, ’04, out with an injury for much of the last two seasons, will return to help All-American Nicole Powell, ’04, lead the squad. “Fans should expect to see a young team that’s fast and moves up and down the floor well,” VanDerveer says.

Meanwhile, men’s coach Mike Montgomery is downplaying expectations. He’s confronting a new problem for Stanford: players leaving early for the NBA draft, as then-juniors Casey Jacobsen and Curtis Borchardt did in June. The youth of the remaining team members concerns Montgomery. “We have just one senior again—that’s the second year in a row that’s happened—and we’ve done best in the past when we had seniors to lead the team.”

This trend will likely continue, due to Stanford’s recent rise to basketball prominence and a change in the culture of the college game. “It’s almost a certainty if you recruit a player who has first-round potential, he will look at [entering the] draft young,” Montgomery says. “We’re not a basketball factory. It’s difficult to lose kids and not feel the impact of that.”

This season, Montgomery will lean on fourth-year juniors Joe Kirchofer and Justin Davis, as well as junior Matt Lottich. The action starts for both teams with exhibition games in Maples Pavilion the week of November 10.

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