Speed a concern for Stanford vs. Hampton


Speed a concern for Stanford vs. Hampton

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) Stanford might have the most interesting situation for a top seed in the women's NCAA tournament.

The Cardinal had to travel across country to face a Hampton team that felt disrespected when it was made a No. 16 seed, and will be playing about 11 miles from its campus.

The Cardinal (31-1) and Pirates (26-4) meet Saturday at the Constant Center, after eighth-seeded West Virginia (23-9) and ninth-seeded Texas (18-13) meet in the opener.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said the hardest part about the game will be containing the Pirates' speed and quickness.

Once the ball goes up, seeding doesn't matter, forward Chiney Ogwumike said.

"Being a 1 seed is great, and the validation of hard work throughout the season, but basketball is a game of matchups," she said. "Either way, you win, you go on. You lose, you go home. It doesn't matter the number that goes in front of your school."

Unless, perhaps, that number is as high as they go on the seeding chart.

The Pirates, of the lightly regarded Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, set a school record for victories, are second only to Connecticut in scoring defense (46.8) and are in the tournament for the third year in a row. Last year, as a No. 13 seed, they fell 66-62 in overtime against Kentucky, proving to point guard Jericka Jenkins "that we can play with the big dogs."

That feeling carries over to this year, senior forward Keiara Avant said.

"I feel like, of course, we have a chip on our shoulder, making it last year with Kentucky into overtime," she said. "We knew that we could have sealed the deal but, this time, we're ready and we're going to be focused."

The Cardinal will be, too.

The game marks the start of the final tournament for Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Chiney's older sister, and the team wants to make it special for her.

Nnemkadi averages 21.8 points and 10.5 rebounds. Chiney averaged 15.8 and 10.3.

"She's a sister to us all, really," forward Joslyn Tinkle said of Nnemdaki, one of two seniors on the roster. "We play every game for her and the rest of the seniors that we have."

The Pirates will be bolstered by the return of Melanie Warner, their third-leading scorer with a 10.7 ppg average. Warner has been out since Feb. 19 with a broken finger.

And by the crowd, Hampton coach David Six hopes.

"I know one thing," he said with a broad smile. "There's going to be a lot of people from Hampton Roads there tomorrow. That's definitely a plus."

College football roundup: Numbers tell it all at halfway mark


College football roundup: Numbers tell it all at halfway mark

Football is a game of numbers. Halfway through the 2016 season, there are some pretty startling and interesting numbers at play in college football.

Number of non-offensive touchdowns scored by No. 1 ranked Alabama so far this season. If you’re facing the Nick Saban-led juggernaut, your challenge is to keep both the Tide’s offense and defense out of the end zone. 

Number of teams in the Associated Press preseason top 13 that have lost at least two games already: No. 3 Oklahoma (2 losses), No. 4 Florida State (2), No. 5 LSU (2), No. 8 Stanford (2), No. 9 Tennessee (2), No. 10 Notre Dame (5), No. 11 Ole Miss (3), No. 12 Michigan State (4), and No. 13 TCU (2). So much for the accuracy of preseason polls.

Number of folks on the college playoff selection committee who are hoping that undefeated Baylor loses a few games. That’s the entire committee. No one in college football wants to see Baylor participating in the playoffs after the sexual assault epidemic that was revealed during the off-season. 

Retirement age of Utah’s Joe Williams. The senior running back retired from football after the second game of the season due to injuries. Fortunately for the Utes, Williams “un-retired” this week and returned to the team in time to rush for 179 yards in a win over Oregon State.

Length of a potential game-winning field goal by North Carolina State kicker Kyle Bambard at the end of regulation against No. 3 Clemson on Saturday. The kick, which missed wide right by a couple of feet, would’ve given the unranked Wolfpack a 20-17 win over the unbeaten Tigers. Instead, Clemson won 24-17 in overtime. The 33-yarder was one of three missed field goals by Bambard.

Number of field goals usually-reliable Stanford kicker Conrad Ukropina has clanked off the left goal post upright in the past two weeks. Hitting the same upright three straight times would be hard to do from point blank range. Ukropina has done it from 49, 44 and 45 yards.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning’s astronomical pass efficiency rating through six games. That number would easily break the all-time NCAA record of 191.78 set by Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson (yes, that Russell Wilson) in 2011. 

Number of surprise co-leaders in the Pac-12 Conference. As noted last week, Washington and Washington State have emerged as the best teams in the Pac-12 North and lead the division with 3-0 records in conference play. The balance of power has also shifted in the South, a division traditionally dominated by the LA or Arizona schools. The co-leaders after seven weeks are Utah and Colorado, both at 3-1 in league action. Former San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre has done a fabulous job in Boulder. His Buffaloes take on Stanford in Palo Alto this weekend in a critical matchup for both teams.

Stanford’s highest scoring total in a game so far this year. The Cardinal beat USC 27-9 back on Sept. 17. Last year Stanford averaged just under 38 points per game. Inconsistent offensive line and quarterback play have been the culprits.

Number of points Michigan rolled up against Rutgers last week. After a bye week, the Wolverines figure to hit the half-century mark in their homecoming game vs. Illinois this Saturday. Coach Jim Harbaugh spent his off weekend scouting recruits and checked out Antioch High School star Najee Harris on Friday night.

Realistic candidates for the Heisman Trophy at the halfway point of the season. In order, my Heisman list looks like this: 1. Lamar Jackson, Louisville QB; 2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State QB; 3. Jake Browning, Washington QB; 4. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan DB/LB/RB/ WR/KR; 5. Deshaun Watson, Clemson QB. 

Jackson appeared a little more mortal this week against Duke, throwing for “only” 181 yards and rushing for 144, but he is still the clear favorite with 30 touchdowns (15 each passing and running) in six games. Barrett led Ohio State to a thrilling win over No. 8 Wisconsin in overtime, while Browning and Peppers had byes. Some experts have downgraded Watson because Clemson has struggled against a few unranked opponents, but Watson has been stellar. Saturday he completed 39 of 52 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns; he also rushed for a score. 

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey ran for over 200 yards again Saturday against Fresno State and is on track to rush for over 2,000 yards this year, but his level of competition in the Mt. West Conference will prevent him from grabbing the trophy.

New AP Top 25: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Michigan, 4. Clemson, 5. Washington, 6. Texas A&M, 7. Louisville, 8. Nebraska, 9. Baylor, 10. Wisconsin, 11. Houston, 12. West Virginia, 13. Florida State, 14. Boise State, 15. Florida, 16. Oklahoma, 17. Arkansas, 18. Tennessee, 19. Utah, 20. Western Michigan, 21. Auburn, 22, North Carolina, 23. Ole Miss, 24. Navy, 25. LSU. Still only two teams in the top 25 from the Pac-12, compared with eight from the SEC, but the Big Ten is the strongest conference so far this year with four teams in the top 10.

Gary Cavalli is a 40-year veteran of the Bay Area sports scene and was Executive Director of the Foster Farms Bowl and Sports Information Director/Associate Athletic Director at Stanford

Ex-Stanford star suffers facial fracture during Knicks practice


Ex-Stanford star suffers facial fracture during Knicks practice

After spending a year overseas, Chasson Randle is back home trying to make the Knicks' roster.

But his effort took a serious hit during practice on Friday.

Following an incident Friday, the team disagnosed the former Stanford star with a facial contusion.

But the news was far grimmer on Sunday. A CT scan confirmed a left orbital fracture, the team announced. Randle will be re-evaluated Monday.

Randle signed with the Knicks on August 4 after spending last season with CEZ Nymburk in the Czech Republic.

The 23-year-old appeared in three games for New York's entry in the Orlando summer league, averaging 18.3 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 29.7 minutes.

At Stanford, Randle scored a school-record 2,375 points, averaging 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He was the most valuable player in the 2015 National Invitation Tournament after leading the Cardinal to the championship at Madison Square Garden.

During his senior season in Palo Alto, Randle was named All-Pac-12 First Team and was an AP Honorable Mention All-America.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.