NCAA

Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer earns historic 1000th career win

Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer earns historic 1000th career win

STANFORD -- Watching warmups just like usual from one corner of the court near Stanford's bench, Tara VanDerveer shared a little something.

"I told our team, 'I'd be lying if it was just any other game, but we will play bigger games than this.'"

She repeated that again as her players made confetti angels spread on the floor Friday night celebrating yet another remarkable moment in their coach's Hall of Fame career - win No. 1,000.

Standing side by side with Jennifer Azzi, VanDerveer held a bouquet of red roses in one hand and a commemorative trophy from the Pac-12 in the other as tributes played on the big screen. As far as special moments go, this will rank right up there among her great achievements.

VanDerveer became just the second NCAA women's coach to reach 1,000 career victories when No. 8 Stanford beat USC 58-42 to give the Hall of Famer a major milestone to share with the home crowd at Maples Pavilion.

She joined the late Pat Summitt, a dear friend who died last summer from early-onset Alzheimer's disease with 1,098 wins to her name, as the only other women's coach in the elite club. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is the only Division I men's coach with 1,000. VanDerveer is 1000-228 in her career.

After the game ended, her players dumped confetti on their coach before moving to midcourt to hold up cutout numbers to form 1,000. The team presented her with a framed jersey with the number 1,000 on it.

"Our team won't believe this but I am really speechless," an emotional VanDerveer said, greeted by chants of "Tara! Tara!"

In her 38th season as a head coach and 31st on The Farm after previous stops at Idaho and Ohio State, VanDerveer had former stars like Azzi, one of her first marquee recruits, among the 4,490 fans in attendance and perhaps the biggest of all in 89-year-old mother, Rita.

VanDerveer almost didn't accept the Stanford job all those years ago, unsure she could turn the Cardinal program into a perennial powerhouse. Instead, she has groomed so many future WNBA stars while doing so with class and humility. She has adapted by changing offenses multiple times to best fit her roster.

"Words cannot accurately describe how many lives she has actually touched," USC coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. "... 1,000 wins is unimaginable."

More than anything, she loves her players - and you bet she still loves winning and all the work and preparation it takes to do so.

Karlie Samuelson made three second-half 3-pointers on the way to 21 points while Erica McCall added 18 points in Stanford's seventh straight victory, an unbeaten run that included last Sunday's win at Washington. Brittany McPhee contributed 10 points for the Cardinal (20-3, 10-1 Pac-12).

"I have more than 1,000 memories of coaching," VanDerveer said. "It's a special evening, and I'm moving on to 1,001 Monday night."

Kristen Simon led cold-shooting USC (12-10, 3-8) with 11 points.

With a pair of NCAA titles in 1990 and '92, an Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games and 11 Final Four berths - including five straight from 2008-2012 - VanDerveer has meant so much to women's basketball on the court and far beyond it as a positive influence and mentor to so many.

The 63-year-old VanDerveer did this one in front of the home fans at Maples Pavilion, after winning No. 800 against Azzi at the University of San Francisco in December 2010 and her 900th in November 2013 at a Thanksgiving tournament in Mexico. Former Stanford star Ros Gold-Onwude, the Golden State Warriors' sideline reporter, called Friday's game for TV.

"On behalf of the Pac-12, I would like to congratulate Coach VanDerveer on the amazing and rare accomplishment of 1,000 wins," Commissioner Larry Scott said. "In a career full of astounding successes, this feat is a true testament to her steadfast commitment to excellence at Stanford and her lasting legacy on the entire sport of basketball."

And, she certainly plans for many more wins - in fact, some of her former players believe she could take a crack at 2,000.

"She very well could," athletic director Bernard Muir said Friday, "it wouldn't shock me."

CONGRATS POUR IN

Former Stanford star Nicole Powell now coaches on the Oregon staff, so she still sees VanDerveer occasionally from the other bench.

"It's incredible what Tara has accomplished - the consistency of winning year in and year out over the course of her career is truly special," Powell wrote in an email. "She's stayed true to herself, leading in her own unique way and all while evolving in her approach to the game, yet never getting away from her core values. It's hard to capture what she means to women's basketball. I've encountered so many people that seem to have a favorite 'Tara' or 'Stanford Women's basketball' moment that runs the gamut from the '90s up until now. I think that speaks volumes."

BIG PICTURE

USC: After sweeping the Arizona schools last weekend, the Trojans missed out on a fourth victory against a ranked opponent this season. Sadie Edwards, averaging 11 points coming into the matchup, went 0 for 8.

Stanford: The Cardinal won their 15th in a row against USC at Maples.

UP NEXT

USC: At California on Sunday.

Stanford: Hosts No. 13 UCLA on Monday night.

Pac-12 to experiment with ways to shorten football games

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AP

Pac-12 to experiment with ways to shorten football games

LOS ANGELES -- The Pac-12 will shorten halftime and reduce the number of commercial breaks during its non-conference schedule this season as part of a trial program to reduce the length of its football games.

Halftime will be 15 minutes long, cut down from the usual 20-minute break. The number of commercial breaks will be reduced and they will be shorter in length, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday.

Scott announced the initiative as the Pac-12 kicked off its media days in Hollywood. The experiment is intended to shorten ballooning game times in an era of up-tempo offenses running more plays and the increased scoring that comes with it.

"Just because metrics show robust ratings and attendance doesn't mean we shouldn't be experimenting and piloting with formats that will keep the sport attractive," Scott said. "It's incumbent on us to look at the presentation of the sport and make sure the pace of play is moving as much as possible and without changing the fundamentals of the game."

Scott did not completely dismiss potential rule changes in the future to address the length of games, saying that the upcoming experiment was part of a larger, more comprehensive review.

Scott noted that Pac-12 games have averaged nearly 3 hours and 30 minutes, more than 30 minutes longer than NFL games. Some of that discrepancy can be attributed to stopping the clock after first downs in college football, a rule not used in the NFL.

The halftime reduction could be a significant incentive to keep television viewers tuned in. Scott said up to 30 percent of the audience is lost during that break.

The changes could also have a positive effect on stadium attendance since Pac-12 fans have complained about the increase in late starts under the conference's most recent television deal. Fans might be more likely to watch a game in-person on a Thursday or Saturday night if they have a chance to get home before midnight.

For Arizona and Arizona State, which hold their early-season home games after dark to avoid the desert heat, it could mean their fans spend less time in triple-digit temperatures.

Pac-12 coaches consulted about the change did not believe it would hinder their ability to make adjustments at halftime, Scott said.

"I was delighted to hear our coaches feel like 20 minutes is more than they need from a student-athlete health and rest and X's and O's perspective," Scott said.

Scott also announced the league's plans to operate a centralized replay center, joining other conferences in consolidating its video review facilities.

The Pac-12 title game will stay at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, through 2019, Scott said. The league also has the option to hold the 2020 game in Santa Clara.

New Cal coach Wyking Jones ready to prove critics wrong amid changes

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AP

New Cal coach Wyking Jones ready to prove critics wrong amid changes

Even the most passionate Cal fan might struggle to name a single player on the current basketball roster. The team's top five leading scorers from last season have all departed. Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird moved on to the NBA, Grant Mullins graduated, and both Charlie Moore and Kameron Rooks elected to transfer.

But perhaps the most significant change is on the sideline. Out is Cuonzo Martin, who agreed to a massive seven-year contract with Missouri, worth a reported $21 million. Replacing him is 44-year-old Wyking Jones, a longtime assistant coach, who spent the past two seasons as Martin's top aide in Berkeley.

Jones' promotion was met with heavy criticism from many in the media, both locally and nationally. Skeptics believe Cal settled for the cheap option, rather than the best option. But why can't both be true? There's no denying that salary played a factor in the hire - the athletic department's financial troubles have been well documented in recent years. But Jones impressed Athletic Director Mike Williams in other areas too, reportedly acing his job interview with a detailed plan for the program moving forward. And unlike the other candidates, Jones already has direct experience dealing with Cal's unique set of circumstances.

“It's not something that you can walk into and just get a really good grasp of,” Jones explained. “It's a learning curve that, if you walk into this situation for the first time, it would take you a tremendous amount of time. Knowing who to go to when you need things, who's in charge of this, who's in charge of that, just having a familiarity of how to really get things done around here.”

Jones also discovered the challenges of recruiting at a school like Cal, where not every athlete can qualify academically. While many coaches would view that as a negative, Jones chooses to embrace it.

“In my mind, that's what makes this place special,” he said. “It's the number one public institution in the world for a reason. Your recruiting pool shrinks quite a bit, but that's okay because typically what happens is if you get a kid who has a lot of discipline on and off the court, you're not going to run into troubles on the weekends when they're in the dorms. They're usually kids who have a lot of respect for the community and other students.”

From a coaching standpoint, Jones has unquestionably paid his dues in the world of college basketball. Prior to joining Cal as an assistant in 2015, he made stops at Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine, and Loyola Marymount, where he also played from 1991-95. Now, after nearly 15 years in collegiate coaching, Wyking Jones is a head coach.

“I think initially it's very exciting to have an opportunity to coach, have your own program at a storied program like Cal, to follow in the footsteps of some great coaches,” he said, smiling. “But now the smoke has cleared and it's time to get to work.”

That work has already begun. As previously mentioned, Jones will have to replace his top five scorers from a year ago, who accounted for nearly 56 points per game. The Bears will count on increased production from senior center Kingsley Okoroh and junior guard Don Coleman. They will also rely heavily on redshirt senior forward Marcus Lee, who sat out last season after transferring from Kentucky.

“It's an adjustment, for sure,” Jones admitted. “But you have 13 scholarships for a reason. It's just an opportunity for the guys who are still here to earn their scholarship. It's an opportunity for them to make a name for themselves and have an impact on this program.”

Under Cuonzo Martin, Cal established itself as one of the best defensive teams in the country. Last season, the Bears ranked 18th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 63.4 points per game. Jones hopes to continue that trend while also implementing a full-court pressure defense, similar to the one he coached at Louisville, which resulted in a national championship in 2013.

“It's a process,” he acknowledged. “In year one, hopefully we can be good at it. In year two, look to improve. In year three, hope to be great at it... It's a type of defense, when you're talking about pressing, it's reading all the other guys on the court. It's never scripted. It's being able to read when is the right time to go trap, when is the right time to go switch, when is the right time to bluff and stunt at a guy to slow him down. So there's a learning curve in it.”

Jones knows there will also be a learning curve for him personally as a head coach, especially with such a young and inexperienced roster. He expects his team to be overlooked and undervalued by much of the college basketball world, but that's just fine with him.

“I think a lot of people will probably guess that we won't be very good, and that's motivation right there. That's motivation for my staff, for our managers, for the support staff. It's motivation for everybody that's a part of this program to exceed those expectations. So I think that makes for an exciting season.”