Teams: UC Davis vs. Stanford
Records: Aggies, 2-2; Cardinal, 6-0
Where: The Pavilion — Davis
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Senior Blair Shinoda hasn’t put up the offensive numbers she is capable of this season. Not yet.
Shinoda heads the UC Davis offense from the point guard position, and has the most assists on the team. As she had in the past, Shinoda is taking time in the beginning of the season to warm up. Once she finds her stroke, though, she can be very dangerous.
The Santa Ana, Calif. native led the team in points scored three times last year and has always been one of UC Davis’ strongest defensive assets. Shinoda will be familiar with Stanford, since the Aggies have played them every year since the 2006-07 season.
UC Davis will look to their point guard, and her experience from three matchups against the Cardinal, to figure out how to play the top team in the nation.
Did you know: UC Davis has quite a tall order in its annual matchup against Stanford. Literally.
The Cardinal has six players that measure at least 6’3”, while the Aggies only have two, in freshman Alyson Doherty and junior Kelsey Beard.
“They have some great size and they can get it done on the boards,” said head coach Jennifer Gross. “We’re going to have to focus on rebounds and limit their second chance opportunities.”
Preview: Stanford’s women’s basketball has been one of the top programs in the country in recent history. The Cardinal took over the top ranking in the NCAA when it beat defending national champion Baylor 71-69 on Nov. 16.
Stanford sports a star-studded lineup that is headed by junior Chiney Ogwumike, the forward that has already grabbed national accolades several times this year.
Ogwumike was named the preseason All-American and the consensus national player of the year, and has gotten Pac-12 Player of the Week twice already to go along with her espnW National Player of the Week award.
“They’re the top team in the country for a reason,” Gross said. “They have so many weapons and we’re just going to go out and play as hard as we can because we have the number one team in the nation coming into our arena.”
The Aggies have played the Cardinal every year for the past six years, but haven’t come away with a win in those six matchups. Notably, the Aggies pitted against Stanford in the first round of the 2010-11 NCAA tournament and fell 86-59.
UC Davis is coming off of a couple strong performances in Houston, winning both of its games at the Houston Baptist Husky Classic.
“At this point, we’re focused on getting better throughout the season, and we’re not focused so much on the things they do,” Gross said. “We’re trying to build habits so that we get where we need to be long term.
Who, other than their lead scorer sophomore Sydnee Fipps and their senior leaders, Shinoda and Cortney French — who just won the Big West Player of the Week award — can the Aggies depend on to step up against the Stanford powerhouse?
With this team, it’s difficult to pinpoint who will be their top performer.
“We can put in a lot of different players together; we’re still trying to figure out who operates well together,” Gross said. “It’s good to have Cortney, Blair and Sydnee who have experience against Stanford.”
Despite the strong odds against the Aggies, Gross stresses the focus will be on UC Davis executing its own game plan and not backing down from the challenge.
“Having a team like Stanford come in can be intimidating, but that’s why we’re focusing on ourselves, trying to work on the same things we’ve committed to,” Gross said. “If we do everything we want to focus on, we can’t go wrong.”
— Matthew Yuen