No 4. Stanford women top Tennessee

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No 4. Stanford women top Tennessee

STANFORD -- For Tara VanDerveer, Nnemkadi Ogwumike's career night ranked right up there with the best she has ever seen at Maples Pavilion. That's high praise for a Stanford star who has followed recent greats like Candice Wiggins, Jayne Appel and Jeanette Pohlen.Ogwumike scored a career-high 42 points and dazzled in what might have been the most meaningful home game of her senior season, and No. 4 Stanford beat sixth-ranked Tennessee 97-80 on Tuesday night in one of women's basketballs best rivalries.VanDerveer joked "she would have had 50" had Nneka not noticed the cheering, Fiesta Bowl-bound football team."This was one of the most incredible individual performances I've ever seen on this court," said VanDerveer, in her 26th season at Stanford. "Nneka has come such a long way. ... This year there's no stopping her. I said to her she was a woman with girls out there. She dominated in a way I've never seen. You can say it was a zone."The Cardinal extended their school-record home winning streak to 68 games at Maples Pavilion, where a sellout crowd of 7,329 waved red "We Back Pat" rally towels in support of Hall of Fame Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who revealed in August she has early onset Alzheimer's.Toni Kokenis scored a career-high 26 points with five 3-pointers and Ogwumike dominated for Stanford (8-1) in another physical, back-and-forth game like those that have defined the storied series with Tennessee (7-3).Shekinna Stricklen scored a career-high 27 points to lead the Lady Vols, who had their five-game winning streak snapped. Stanford's total was the most points given up by Tennessee since 1997.Glory Johnson added 18 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals and Meighan Simmons scored 13 for Tennessee on a night Ogwumike put on a show for national television. And for her pop.With her father, Peter, in the stands fresh off a business trip to his native Africa, Ogwumike hit from long range and aggressively drove to the basket for layins. She jumped for joy after powering in for one score and drawing a foul. She jumped for 17 rebounds, too."Well, for lunch. No, I'm just kidding," Ogwumike joked of what did the trick.After VanDerveer called for her other players to do more after a Saturday win against Princeton, it was all Ogwumike yet again. She scored six straight points for the Cardinal to open the second half.VanDerveer hugged Ogwumike after her spectacular night."We talked so many times with the young players about how important Maples is to us," Ogwumike said, listing off her former teammates who started this sensational streak at home. "They defended this place like it was no other place."The performance marked Stanford's first 40-point scorer since Appel went off for a school-record 46 in a win against Iowa State in the NCAA tournament regional finals at Berkeley on March 30, 2009. Wiggins had a 44-point game.Ogwumike's basket that hit the rim and bounced in with 10:59 left gave the Cardinal their first double-digit lead of the game at 65-55 - and they only built on that the rest of the way. Ogwumike's two free throws with 3:49 left topped her previous best outing of 38 points on April 4, 2010, against Oklahoma."She brought a lot of energy to the team," Johnson said. "When you have that much energy on the floor, it spreads to everyone else."Like little sister. Sophomore Chiney Ogwumike added 14 points as the Cardinal shot 53.6 percent.Tennessee shot a sizzling 61.5 percent in the first half to stay within 48-41 at the break before going a cool 37 percent in the second half to finish at 49.1 percent.The Cardinal, riding a streak of four straight Final Fours without a championship, haven't lost on their home floor at raucous Maples Pavilion since falling to Florida State in the second round of the NCAA tournament on March 19, 2007.Stanford has beaten Tennessee three times during that span - also a 73-69 win on Dec. 22, 2007, and a 67-52 victory on Dec. 19, 2009. There also was that monumental 71-59 victory last Dec. 30 that snapped top-ranked Connecticut's record 90-game winning streak.Summitt walked onto the court a few minutes before tipoff to a rousing standing ovation from the sellout crowd.Fellow Hall of Famer VanDerveer was shown on the main elevated center-court scoreboard offering her support to Summitt while acknowledging how much Stanford cherishes the rivalry and regular non-conference meetings with the Lady Vols."She understands she and Tara and the rivarly they've had and the friendship," Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "She understands this is more than basketball. It's been absolutely incredible the love they've shown for Pat."VanDerveer said Stanford's program "is behind her 100 percent." Summitt was not yet on the court with her team to see the presentation."Pat, we love you, we care about you and we wish you the very best in your battle with Alzheimer's," said the video with VanDerveer, who walked to the opposite bench to greet Summitt. They posed for a few photos together."Tennessee, Pat has made us better," VanDerveer said afterward.Stanford freshman starter Jasmine Camp missed the game with a left foot injury sustained in Sunday's practice. Kokenis played in her place and made back-to-back baskets midway through the opening half to get her team back within 16-13.Stanford scored 40 or more in the opening 20 minutes against the Lady Vols for the first time since getting 41 on Nov. 27, 1999.The Cardinal began the game 3 for 13 to 6 of 8 for Tennessee, which jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the opening 2:50.The Lady Vols were whistled for a technical foul at the 11:18 mark of the first half for having six players on the court. Stanford converted both free throws to cut Tennessee's lead to 16-15.Tennessee freshman guard Ariel Massengale, who had missed last three games nursing a dislocated middle finger on her left hand that required minor surgery, entered the game for the first time with 10:45 left. The Lady Vols beat DePaul and won at both Rutgers and UCLA without her. Massengale practiced Monday in the Bay Area.Stanford football coach David Shaw and some of his players attended the game and men's basketball coach Johnny Dawkins sat courtside. Four-time Olympic luger Brian Martin participated in a halftime hoop shoot.

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

INDIANAPOLIS -- More and more college coaches are putting their starters and even their stars on special teams as they seek to pile up every possible point in an era of pedal-to-the-metal shootouts and never-safe leads.

Fading fast are the days when superstars would catch their breath on the sideline when the kicker or punter trotted onto the field with the scrubs.

NFL teams love it.

Watching how players handle themselves as a blocker, gunner or returner provides a glimpse into a prospect's range, selflessness and versatility. It also delivers a sneak peek into how coachable he'll be, says Phil Savage, the SiriusXM NFL Radio host who spent two decades as an NFL coach, scout and executive and now oversees the Senior Bowl.

"I think because of the landscape of college football where scoring is at a premium, you've got to figure out a way to put points on the board not only on offense but through your special teams and defensively, as well," Savage says. "These coaches want to get these young players on the field as soon as possible, and a way to do that is utilize them on special teams."

These tapes provide a bonus to pro scouts.

"Now you have a vision of what that player might forecast to in the NFL as a young player and, specifically, as a rookie," Savage said.

Offensive and defensive coaches have a better idea of the types of players they're integrating into their schemes, and special teams coaches no longer get blank stares and blank canvases from the rookie class.

"Not only do you like the fact that they come in and have experience doing it, but you love the mentality if you're a coach and a decision maker that this guy isn't a diva, he's got no ego about it, he understands the team and puts team before self," says ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.

"And he comes in with the mindset of 'What can I do to help the team and how can I contribute?' Those are the guys that seem to make it and last longer in the league because they're just willing to do different things and whatever it takes."

The prime example in this year's draft class is Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey , a "dynamic player than can do it all," according to Broncos GM John Elway.

McCaffrey gained more than 5,000 yards from scrimmage in his college career and added almost 2,000 more as a returner.

"There's just a lot of big plays open in the return game," McCaffrey says. "You see special teams have such an impact on the game today. Any time I can have the ball in my hands, I feel like I can do something dangerous, and that's really why I love the return game."

Other highly touted draft prospects who polished their resumes on special teams include Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Washington wide receiver John Ross, and USC cornerback Adroee' Jackson, all of whom are projected as high selections.

McShay says "we're seeing more and more programs put an emphasis on special teams and having their key players contribute in one or more areas on special teams."

He pointed to Ohio State, where Urban Myers coaches special teams himself.

"It's a major emphasis there, and so you'll see some more guys typically lined up and contributing that are starters and stars," McShay says. "It's an honor to be on special teams."

Not a burden.

"It is not uncommon now to see people that are going to be picked in the first round having 100-plus special teams plays," suggests NFL draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt.

He pointed to the University of Florida, where Gators defensive backs cover kickoffs as well as they do receivers.

"Everyone's always trying to get their best guys on the field," Brandt says.

That's a change from years past when coaches feared exposing their star players to the extra hits.

The added value benefits the players, whose multiple talents allow NFL general managers to address many needs.

"We're seeing more emphasis on it in college, and I think NFL teams love to see it because if just means you're getting a bit more for your buck," McShay says.

Top talents who bolstered their value by playing special teams:

CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY , RB, STANFORD: He shined at the combine working out with the running backs and was as impressive running routes. Asked if there was anything he couldn't do, the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey said then: "I can't sing."

JABRILL PEPPERS , S, MICHIGAN: He worked out with safeties and linebackers at the combine, where teams talked of him playing RB and WR in addition to returning kicks. "The bottom line is I'm a ballplayer and I'm a hell of a ballplayer," Peppers said.

JOHN ROSS , WR, WASHINGTON: He caught 81 passes with 17 TDs last season but actually posted more return yards (2,069) than scrimmage yards (1,924) in his college career.

ADOREE' JACKSON , CB, USC: One of the best special teams coverage players in the NCAA, Jackson also scored eight TDs on punt and kick returns in college. His punt return averages rose from 6.0 yards to 10.5 and 15.8.

JAMAL ADAMS , S, LSU: Another star in coverage, Adams' defensive mentality extends to special teams. "I love being on the field and just playing football," said Adams, whose father, George, was a first-round pick by the Giants in 1985.

ALVIN KAMARA , RB, TENNESSEE: In a deep running back group, Kamara separates himself with his special teams acumen. "A lot of teams have been bringing up special teams," Kamara said.

DESMOND KING , CB, IOWA: He had eight interceptions as a junior and three as a senior. "I had a really good special teams season," King said. "Not being targeted as much, I still went out there and competed the best I could and was still making plays."

CHRIS WORMLEY , DE, MICHIGAN: Wormley touts playing for Jim Harbaugh as one of his attributes. "Coach Harbaugh came in and ran our program like an NFL program, like he had with the 49ers," said Wormley, who blocked three kicks his senior season.

ZAY JONES , WR, EAST CAROLINA: Like McCaffrey, he has good NFL bloodlines (son of Robert Jones, brother of Cayleb Jones). He caught 158 passes as a senior, but spent his first two seasons in college also making his mark as a returner.

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

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Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.