By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer will be seeing a lot of familiar faces on the opposing bench this weekend when South Carolina and Texas come to town for nonconference contests.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and Gamecocks' assistant coach Nikki McCray played for the United States' Olympic gold-medal team, coached by VanDerveer, in 1996.
There are women's basketball aficionados who feel strongly that was the greatest team ever produced by the Americans. VanDerveer won't argue, although she's not one to compare and contrast either. She talks fondly of working with players like Staley and McCray.
South Carolina visits Friday for a 1 p.m. tipoff while the Longhorns, coached by former Duke mentor Gail Goestenkors, comes to town Sunday for a 12:30 p.m. televised start.
Goestenkors served as an assistant for the 2008 Olympic team that won gold.
Third-ranked Stanford (3-0) returns to comfortable surroundings after surviving a road trip that included wins over Utah, 62-53, and Gonzaga, 84-78.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike did not play against the Utes because of an unspecified medical condition and then scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against the Bulldogs. Ogwumike had several fingers on her right hand wrapped. She made just 8 of 22 shots.
VanDerveer said the wraps were for a knuckle injury, and not related to why Ogwumike missed the Utah game.
Stanford has held all three of its opponents under 40 percent shooting this season. Gonzaga made just 28 of 80 shots, for 35 percent.
Stanford has played, and beaten, the Gamecocks twice. The Cardinal visited South Carolina two years ago as a part of a trip that included losses to Duke and Connecticut.
Kayla Pedersen had 15 points and 16 rebounds at the Colonial Life Arena Dec. 19, 2008. Ogwumike and Jeanette Pohlen also started that game.
The Gamecocks have two starters back from that contest, along with a reserve. Sophomore Ieasia Walker was still in the midst of an outstanding high school career on Long Island. She leads South Carolina with a 15.3 scoring average.
The Gamecocks (2-2) are coming off a loss at Penn State, but beat Illinois and Clemson. They've also lost to fifth-ranked Xavier.
No. 16 Texas (3-0 entering Wednesday's game against Idaho State) averages 98.7 points on the season, with junior Ashleigh Fontenette leading the way at 21.5 points and followed by senior Kathleen Nash at 20 points a game.
Fourth-ranked Stanford (13-3, 22-3) won't be getting the Pac-10's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. It can still get a No. 1 seed by finishing the regular season strong.
The Cardinal faced No. 20 Arizona Wednesday night and finishes the regular season with Senior Night against Arizona State on Friday ay 7 p.m.
Stanford lost to California in four games last Friday, dropping into sole possession of second place in the Pac-10. Alix Klineman had 24 kills and 11 digs while Cassidy Lichtman added 12 kills, 10 digs and 24 assists.
Unless there's some weird kinetic energy in the universe, Cal will win its first-ever women's volleyball title and will likely host the first two rounds.
Stanford could also host depending upon the rest of the nation. Selection show is Sunday at noon on ESPNews.
Stanford opened its season with three consecutive home victories and is now on its first road trip, participating in the 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center.
The Cardinal (3-0) opened against Murray State on Thursday night. The Racers (2-1) reached the second round of the NCAA tournament last year after winning 31 games.
Stanford will meet either Tulsa or UNLV on Friday. The finals are scheduled for Sunday.
Jeremy Green scored 21 points in Stanford's 92-49 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday. He also scored 21 in last Thursday's 81-60 victory over Virginia.
Green leads the Cardinal with a 14.7 scoring average while Andrew Zimmerman is second at 10.0. Josh Owens has 5.3 rebounds a game to lead Stanford.
Men's water polo
Fifth-ranked Stanford needs to regain its swagger to have a chance of winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, which opens Friday morning at Avery Aquatic Center.
The Cardinal (13-7) snapped defending national champion USC's winning streak earlier in the season in its home pool but has lost seven times by a combined 15 goals, or by 2.1 a game.
Stanford, which meets UC Irvine at 3 p.m. Friday, will only advance to the NCAA tournament if it can win the MPSF event. Should the Cardinal win in the first round, it would mean a rematch with the Bears, who are all but guaranteed a berth in the Final Four, to be held in Berkeley.
Stanford dropped a 9-6 decision to Cal in last weekend's Big Splash.
The championship match is Sunday at 3 p.m.