Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 16, 2011

Exams over, hoop teams get back into action

Cardinal squads at home on Saturday, while date with visiting Tennessee looms for Stanford women on Tuesday night

by Rick Eymer

It's time for the Stanford men's basketball players to wipe the sleep from their eyes, stretch out those tired muscles and shake all those nasty exam-cramming facts from their head. It's time for a little basketball.

The Cardinal (8-1) entertains San Diego on Saturday at 5 p.m., breaking the fast of a long winter's library visit. It's the first of three games over a six-day span that also includes Monday night's game against Bethune-Cookman at 7 p.m. and Thursday's tipoff against Butler at 6 p.m.

The women's basketball team also re-engages the court with three games over six days. Princeton visits Saturday for a 1 p.m. contest and then Tennessee visits Maples Pavilion for a 7 p.m. televised contest Tuesday. Cal State Bakersfield comes in Thursday for a 2 p.m. game.

The next three games are the lead into the Pac-12 openers for both teams, which arrives a few days after all the Christmas cheer has been soaked up and the New Year is staring at us in the face.

The Stanford football team, meanwhile, will still be around to catch the nonconference action but will have to watch the conference openers from afar.

In other athletic news, Stanford freshman Kristian Ipsen heads to Nashville for the Winter National Championships that begin Saturday. The Cardinal present will be joined by Cardinal past Dwight Dumais and Cassidy Krug and Cardinal future Kelly Markle and Lillian Hinrichs.

Stanford wrestlers are also on the road, taking part in the Reno Tournament of Champions at the Reno Events Center in Nevada on Sunday.

And this just in from the baseball front: Stanford third baseman Stephen Piscotty was named a first team preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association on Wednesday. He led the Cardinal and the Cape Cod League in hitting this past season.

In basketball, you probably recall, the Stanford men won its last time on the court, beating North Carolina State, 76-72, after trailing by as much as 12 points.

The Cardinal is receiving votes in the AP poll with its hot start and quality loss, a six-point setback to now top-ranked Syracuse in the finals of the NIT Preseason Tipoff.

After nine games, 10 different Stanford players have already reached double-digits in scoring, matching last year's total. Freshman guard Chasson Randle has made 15 consecutive free throws dating to the second half of Stanford's game against Oklahoma State on Nov. 23.

The fourth-ranked Cardinal women (6-1) match wits with the Tigers (and Stanford grad Milena Flores, a member of the Princeton coaching staff) before their big matchup with the sixth-ranked Lady Vols on Tuesday night.

Stanford has won its first game back following the exam period in each of the past nine seasons. The last Cardinal loss was a 68-62 setback at home to No. 2 Tennessee on Dec. 16, 2001.

Stanford will be seeking to extend its program best 66-game home winning streak, which dates to March of 2007, over the next week. Among the more significant victories along the way were against then No. 1 Tennessee in 2007, then-No. 3 Rutgers and No. 3 California in 2008-09, then-No. 7 Duke and No. 3 Tennessee in 2009-10 and then-No. 4 Xavier and No. 1 Connecticut last season.

Baseball

Piscotty's .364 average ranked second in the Pac-10 last year. He also drove in 39 runs and scored 35 times as the team's starting third baseman. His 16 doubles ranked fifth in the conference. During the summer, he hit a Cape Cod-best .349 during the regular season, while also getting two hits in the All Star Game. He also had a 1.69 ERA in five relief appearances.

Piscotty is one of six Stanford players ranked by Baseball America in its early "top college draft picks," settling in at No. 14. Projected Friday night starter, RHP Mark Appel is the publication's projected No. 1 pick, while infielder Kenny Diekroeger (No. 17) and returning weekend starter, LHP Brett Mooneyham (No. 31) are also in the top-40. Two-sport standout Tyler Gaffney (No. 54) and two-year starting center fielder Jake Stewart (No. 86) are also on the list.

Gaffney, a two-year starting outfielder and backup running back, is currently with the Fiesta Bowl-bound Cardinal. Despite not swinging a bat all fall in each of the last two seasons, he carries a .327 average, and a 22-game hitting streak, into his junior year. He hit .371 over his final 43 games of 2011.

Diving

Ipsen will compete in the 3-meter synchro on Saturday and 3-meter springboard on Sunday. Dumais will also compete in both events, while Krug competes in the 3-meter on Tuesday.

In the individual 3-meter and platform, the top-18 will advance to semifinals and top-12 will head to finals. For 3-meter synchro, 12 will advance to finals, with no semifinals.

Ipsen has competed in two collegiate meets this fall, winning both the 1- and 3-meter dual meets with Utah and Hawaii. Ipsen and Troy Dumais (Dwight's brother) were fourth at the world championships in July prior to the start of his collegiate career.

Ipsen, Krug, Dumais and Markle were also all at the National Championships in August.

Ipsen and Krug both won titles at Nationals. Ipsen placed first in the senior 3-meter and with Troy Dumais were first in the 3-meter synchro.  Krug won the 3-meter and was part of the winning 3-meter synchro team with partner Kassidy Cook.

Also at Nationals, Dwight Dumais was third in the 3-meter synchro with his brother Justin, sixth in the 1-meter, tenth in the 3-meter and. Markle finished 12th in the 3-meter.

This Winter National meet will set teams in motion for the World Cup in London in February as well as several Grand Prix events. The World Cup team will be made up of a maximum of 16 divers. The Olympic Trials, which all five have already qualified for, is in Federal Way, Wash. in June.

Women's volleyball

Stanford sophomores Rachel Williams and Carly Wopat were recognized as All-America honorable mention by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, which announced its selections Wednesday.

Williams, an outside hitter, led the Cardinal with 4.32 kills per set (fifth in the Pac-12) and 4.96 points per set (fifth in the Pac-12). She led the conference this season, along with teammate Karissa Cook, with 20 double-doubles and registered eight 20-plus kills matches.

An AVCA All-Pacific Region and an All-Pac-12 selection, Williams established career highs with 24 kills and 22 digs against Duke in the Stanford Invitational. She was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after wins over Penn State and Florida in the Nike Big Four Volleyball Classic. She was named the MVP of the Stanford Invitational and Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic, as well as being named to the Rice Invitational All-Tournament Team.

Wopat, a middle blocker, led the Pac-12 and ranked second nationally in blocks per set (1.63). She was third in the conference with a .383 hitting percentage.

An AVCA All-Pacific Region and an All-Pac-12 Conference pick, Wopat was second on the team with 3.16 kills and 4.08 points per set. She earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, becoming the first player to garner both accolades this season. She posted a career high 22 kills versus Cal in the regular season finale, and recorded a career-best 13 blocks against Sacred Heart in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Wrestling

The TOC gets rolling at 9 a.m. The championship consolation round follows at 2:45 p.m. and the championship finals beginning at 6 p.m.

Two-time All-American Nick Amuchastegui leads a bevy of Cardinal athletes into the fray. Amuchastegui, top-ranked at 174 pounds, has won his first 11 matches this season. He has recorded four major decisions, three falls and a technical fall. He is the reigning tournament champion at 174 pounds.

Others making the official trip include 125 pound junior Matt Sencenbaugh (1-7), 141 pound sophomore Donovan Halpin (1-6), 141 pound freshman Alex Manley (0-3), 149 pound freshman Josh Lauderdale (2-5), 157 pound sophomore Garrett Schaner (2-2), 157 pound redshirt freshman Matt Schneider (1-5), 165 pound redshirt sophomore Bret Baumbach (0-3), 165 pound junior Kyler Hasson (0-0), 184 pound junior Spence Patrick (5-5), 197 pound redshirt sophomore Richard Kessler (0-1), 197 pound sophomore Alan Yen (6-4) and heavyweight sophomore Dan Scherer (8-4).

The Cardinal will also be unofficially represented by wrestlers who make the trip on their own to compete unattached.

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