Sports

Stanford, Penn State prepare for their Sweet 16 meeting

Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer and Cardinal senior All-American Chiney Ogwumike were hot topics at Saturday's NCAA tournament media day at Maples Pavilion.

Penn State coach Coquese Washington spent a couple of summers talking basketball at VanDerveer's summer home in Western New York.

Lady Lions' senior center Talia East said she's studied Ogwumike more than any other player she's faced.

All that extra work will be on display Sunday when sixth-ranked Stanford (31-3) and No. 14 Penn State (24-7) meet in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament at Maples Pavilion at 1:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

It's the first meeting between the schools since the Cardinal beat the Nittany Lions in November of 2001.

Stanford advanced with victories over South Dakota and Florida State in Iowa last weekend while Penn State beat Wichita State and Florida at home.

Washington, in her seventh season with Penn State, sought an audience with VanDerveer to talk basketball.

"Because we've run triangle for a long time, Coquese contacted me and she and her assistant drove up and were there, basically, all day," VanDerveer said. "We watched a lot of video and talked about running the offense, what we like, and ways to improve things."

VanDerveer said she first saw the triangle run by the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers in the mid-90s, when she was preparing to coach the United States Olympic team at the Atlanta Olympics.

Colorado, then a member of the Big 12 Conference, used the triangle to beat Stanford in the Western Regional semifinal in 2002.

"We really couldn't defend it," VanDerveer recalled. "Our team had fun in practice running it. With Brooke Smith and Jayne Appel coming in, why not try it? When you have a really big dominant post player it looks good."

Ogwumike can understand why other coaches seek out VanDerveer.

"We know how great Tara is. We witness it every day," she said. "All of a sudden we are reminded that she's big-time. She's going to talk to Dawn Staley's team and Coquese Washington. I think she's awesome too. She's had great relationships with these people, but we want to beat them at the end of the day."

Penn State is looking for its first trip to the Elite Eight in 10 years. Stanford hopes to return to regional final after losing in last year's regional semifinal.

The Stanford-Penn State winner will meet the South Carolina-North Carolina winner for the regional title Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The top-seeded Gamecocks and No. 4 Tar Heels meet at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

East, a 6-foot-3 senior who was named Big 10 honorable mention, has been watching a lot of game film lately in hopes of finding a way to defend Ogwumike.

"I've studied her more than I've studied any player in my life," she said. "She challenges your team defensively."

The top candidate for Player of the Year, Ogwumike is the lone player in the country to rank in the national top 10 in scoring (26.8), rebounding (12.3), field goal percentage (61 percent), and double-doubles (24).

Ogwumike has reached double figures in scoring in every game, 29 times scoring at least 20 points and 14 times reaching at least 30.

Junior Bonnie Samuelson and freshman Lili Thompson have scored in double figures in each of the past two NCAA games.

Stanford is 73-25 overall in NCAA tournament competition.

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