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December 16, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, December 16, 2005
COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Stanford loses Newlin to an injury Stanford loses Newlin to an injury (December 16, 2005)

by Rick Eymer

Rice and Stanford should play each other in women's basketball at this time of the year every season. With both schools academically inclined and both playing for the first time since final exams, it would be an interesting matchup. Maybe there's even time for a version of the old television show, "College Bowl."

Stanford (4-2) is hoping to use the visiting Owls as a sort of mouthwash to clean out the taste left by the seven-point loss to top-ranked Tennessee two weeks ago.

Rice, which comes to Maples Pavilion at 2 p.m. on Saturday, could be thinking the same thing. The Owls (3-3) haven't played since losing, by four, to Louisiana Tech in the championship game of the Gene Hackerman Invitational in Houston two weeks ago.

The 10th-ranked Cardinal found the Lady Vols tough to stop inside, and that could be the case with the Lady Owls, too. Rice features 6-foot-2 junior forward Lauren Neaves, a two-time all-WAC pick, at the center of its offense.

Neaves averages 15.3 points and 11.8 rebounds a game, and she's coming off a 22-point, 14-rebound effort against the Lady Techsters, a perennial invitee to the Big Dance. Neaves has also recorded a 27-point, 18-rebound effort earlier this season. She's 11th in the nation in rebounding.

The job of stopping Neaves became harder when it was learned that Stanford 6-5 junior center Kristen Newlin was diagnosed with a stress reaction in her left femur and will not be available against Rice. She's also doubtful for the Pac-10 opener at Washington on Tuesday. She will be re-evaluated every week.

The injury comes at a bad time for the Cardinal. Newlin has developed into a solid post player and will be missed in trying to defend Neaves.

Newlin is averaging a double-double this season with a 12.3 scoring average and a 10.3 rebounding average. She recorded a career-high 20 points and had 10 rebounds against Tennessee. She's 28th in the nation in rebounding.

Newlin also has 12 blocked shots this year, helping Stanford to its current 18th team ranking in that category. The Cardinal averages 5.7 blocks a game. Texas A&M is the national leader at 8.0.

Sophomore All-American guard Candice Wiggins leads Stanford with a 17.8 scoring average and she's second in rebounding with a 5.0 average. Brooke Smith scored at a 16.0 clip and rebounds at a 4.3 pace.

Senior guard Krista Rappahahn is tied for second in the nation with her .577 shooting percentage from long range. She's made 15 of 26 attempts, matching Delaware's Alena Koshansky. Only Iona's Toni Horvath (14-of-20 for 70 percent) has a better percentage.

Stanford is 14th in scoring offense and 19th in assists per game. Rice is 41st in team blocked shots, and nowhere close to the top 100 in any other team category.

Surprisingly, freshman forward Jillian Harmon leads Stanford with 21 assists, though Wiggins has 20 and Smith has 14.

For the Cardinal, this is the first year since 1999 that it has two losses in its first six games. The Cardinal started 3-3 in the 1999-00 season but still won 21 of 30 games overall.

Stanford has beaten the Owls in their previous two meetings, winning in Houston in 2003 and in Maples in 1986.

Men's basketball

Like it or not, senior center Matt Haryasz has become the go-to guy in the Stanford lineup. Of course, at 6-feet-11, he's easy to spot.

Haryasz is the Pac-10 leader in both scoring (19.0) and rebounding (11.0) as the Cardinal (2-3) head to the Las Vegas Showdown for a 9:30 p.m. game with Virginia Tech (7-3) on Saturday. He's also ninth in the nation in rebounding.

The Cardinal return home on Monday for a game with Denver (5-3) at 7 p.m.

Stanford is coming off a loss to host UC Davis two weeks ago while the Hokies beat St. John's last Saturday. One of Virginia Tech's losses came at top-ranked Duke, 77-75.

The Hokies shoot .476 from the field and .354 from 3-point land. Those numbers don't bode well for the Cardinal, which allows opponents to shoot .452 from the field, and .408 from long range. Of the 326 Division I teams which are ranked, Stanford is 272nd in field goal percentage defense.

Senior forward Dan Grunfeld averages 16.0 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Cardinal, second to Haryasz in both categories. Chris Hernandez averages 11.0 points a game and leads the team with 21 assists.

Virginia Tech's Zabian Dowdell averages 15.9 points with his .467 shooting percentage. He's made 22 of 56 3-pointers (.393).

Stanford is sputtering toward new lows in shooting unless it can somehow get untracked in its final three games (including the Pete Newell Challenge against Princeton on Wednesday in Oakland) before Pac-10 play begins.

Stanford's current shooting pace of .410 would be the lowest since the 1963-64 team shot .409. The Cardinal is also shooting a miserable .275 from long range, which would be its worst percentage since the stat became official for the 1986-87 season.

It doesn't get any easier for the Cardinal on Monday. Denver was off to its best start in nine years before losing to North Dakota State on Tuesday. The Pioneers entered the week with a RPI rating of 47.

Denver fifth-year senior Yemi Nicholson, a 6-11 center, has been getting his way inside most of the season. He averages 18.5 points and 10.4 rebounds a game and is coming off a 27-point effort on 11-of-14 shooting on Tuesday. He's at nearly 72 percent for the season.

Guards DaShwan Walker (14.4) and Antonio Porch (10.8) also score in double figures.

Stanford also started the season 2-3 last year and eventually finished third in the Pac-10 and reached the NCAA tournament for the 10th straight year.

Wrestling

Sophomore Tanner Gardner will be looking to place in his fourth consecutive tournament when Stanford travels to the Tournament of Champions in Reno on Sunday.

Gardner, who wrestles at 125 pounds, placed fourth in the recently concluded Las Vegas Invitational. He was second at the California Open and won his division at the Central Missouri Open.

Gardner (13-3) has recorded three pins and two technical falls among his 16 contests this year. Senior Ray Blake, at 165 pounds, has 16 wins in 22 bouts while sophomore 157-pounder Scott Loescher is 11-7.

Stanford travels to the Midlands Open in Evanston, Ill. on Dec. 29.

Women's soccer

Stanford freshman defender Marisa Abegg is among the 30 players invited to participate in a 9-day training camp by the U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team beginning Jan. 2 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

The team is preparing for the CONCACAF Women's U-20 Final Qualifying Tournament, which is scheduled to open in Mexico on Jan. 18. The Americans will play in Cordoba at Rafael Murillo Vidal Stadium, with a first round match against Jamaica on Jan. 19.

Abegg started all 20 games for Stanford and recorded a goal and an assist as the Cardinal reached the NCAA tournament. She was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshmen Team.


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