Passing of the torch in college basketball
With a 104-61 victory over Pacific, Stanford moved to 5-0 on the 2020-21 college basketball season. More importantly, that fifth win gave head coach Tara VanDerveer her 1,099th Division 1 victory, passing Pat Summit for the most all-time in women’s college basketball.
VanDerveer began her D1 career with a brief stint in Idaho followed by five years at Ohio St. where she transformed the Buckeyes into a nationally recognized program. She was convinced to take the reins at Stanford in 1985 to revamp a struggling Cardinal team. The rest is history.
In the 35 years that VanDerveer has been at the helm, (minus one season in 1996 to coach the Olympic team), Stanford have won two national championships, been to the Final Four 13 times, and have won 13 Pac-12 tournaments. In other words, her résumé would be a dozen pages long if she ever needed one.
In yesterday’s game, every Stanford player stepped up for their coach with history on the line, with every one scoring at least a bucket and the starting lineup all contributing at least 14 points. Junior Lexie Hull led the team with 17.
While VanDerveer deserves all the praise for this historic feat, she will need to watch her back as the season goes on if she wants to hold the title for any substantial amount of time. UConn head coach Geno Auriemma is only six games behind in D1 wins after their 92-65 win over Seton Hall. Freshman phenom Paige Bueckers scored another 25 in the win.
Barring an unforeseen collapse by the Huskies, Auriemma will also pass Summit on the list this season, and it would not be surprising if the two legends face off later this year in the NCAA Tournament.
In the professional realm, Vickie Johnson is excited to get started on the adventure that will be coaching the Dallas Wings. The franchise has had a revolving door at both the head coaching position and star player role that past few years with Skylar Diggins-Smith and Liz Cambage asking for trades out of the city.
Johnson will look to establish not only a great basketball team, but a culture of hard work that breeds excellence. Her opinion is that this foundation is optimal for success, and it is the reason CEO Greg Bibb chose her for the job.