By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Don't be surprised if you read that Stanford men's basketball coach Johnny Dawkins is trying to work out a deal with women's coach Tara VanDerveer about acquiring some veteran presence for his team in exchange for a few freshmen.
The Cardinal women have five seniors listed on their roster along with three freshmen. The Stanford men have eight freshmen (six on scholarship) and no seniors.
William Blake would love the lopsided balance between the experience of the women's team and the lack thereof on the men's side. He could write a book of poems about it.
The unlikely, tongue-in-cheek trade scenario reflect the length of coaching service at the school, the difference in leaving school early for the pros, and, well, darn it, just plain bad luck.
"It's kind of unusual, right, to have a team with no seniors," said Dawkins, in his third season, during a formal media session Tuesday. "But by the same token, we are excited because the one thing that is known is we will have this group for the next several years. That's a good thing, to be able to build and grow together while developing continuity with these groups."
On the other hand, VanDerveer, in her 24th season at Stanford, has two seniors on the roster with All-American potential in Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen.
"Our team is going to be a lot different. I hope they are better," VanDerveer said. "This might be the most versatile team ever, headlined by Kayla. She can play the one through five positions."
The women have been officially practicing for nearly a week while the men open Friday. VanDerveer can speak with authority on Pedersen's virtues. She's had her practicing as a point guard lately.
"Call her a point forward if you will," VanDerveer said. "She can rebound and bring the ball up court herself. Right now she's been working as a true point guard in running the team."
Both teams have their share of injury problems too. Dawkins knew Andy Brown would miss his second straight season due to a torn ACL in his knee.
VanDerveer said junior Lindy La Rocque may be out quite awhile. Redshirt senior Melanie Murphy is also on the sidelines.
Dawkins, at least, has a good idea that his starting lineup will include junior guard Jeremy Green (16.6 points a game last year), junior guard Jarrett Mann and junior forward Josh Owens, who missed last year with an undisclosed medical condition.
"He is a capable, low-post player who is also fairly versatile," Dawkins said of Owens. "Mainly we are just excited for him. When you think about it, here's a young man who had some uncertainty about whether his career would even continue. So to be able to come back, contribute and do something he is passionate about, we are excited for him."
Juniors Andrew Zimmerman and Jack Trotter are two other returning starters, and the freshmen class is considered one of the top recruiting groups in the nation.
"From what I've seen from the summer up to now, all of those freshmen have improved physically and showed the skill necessary to compete in this conference," Dawkins said.
The men host an open scrimmage on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m., while the women host Vanguard in an exhibition game on Nov. 6.