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November 24, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Wiggins sparks Stanford women to hoop wins Wiggins sparks Stanford women to hoop wins (November 24, 2004)

Cardinal men open season with impressive overtime victory

by Rick Eymer

Dan Grunfeld played in 64 games for the Stanford men's basketball team before moving into the starting lineup for the first time.

Candice Wiggins didn't have to wait that long to take her place in the Stanford women's basketball starting lineup.

"It's the nature of the program," Grunfeld said after the Cardinal men snuck past USF, 93-83, in overtime at Friday night's Pete Newell Challenge at the Arena in Oakland. "The first couple of years you are learning. As you get older you move into a bigger role."

Grunfeld scored a career-high 23 points, including 14 of Stanford's first 25 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds for his first career double-double as the unranked Cardinal opened the season with a win for the 17th consecutive season. The 6-foot-6 junior guard will likely carry much of the scoring load this season as several players are switching roles.

Wiggins, a freshman guard, started the seventh-ranked Cardinal women's first two games because fifth-year senior guard Susan King Borchardt is sidelined with a stress reaction in her left foot. All she did was lead the team in scoring both times with 24 points in Stanford's 63-57 win at Utah on Friday and 15 points in its 82-26 victory over Pacific at Santa Clara on Sunday.

"The biggest strength of ours is we are so deep it is hard to prepare for us," Wiggins said. "You can try to stop one thing, but we don't do just one thing. We kind of do everything."

Both teams left the continental United States to participate in tournaments this week. The men were hoping for a chance to meet North Carolina in the championship of the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Wednesday, while the women were up in Alaska for the Great Alaskan Shootout, which also ends Wednesday.

Both teams will also be back at Santa Clara on Sunday, with the women hosting No. 12 Texas Tech at noon. The men will be the visitors against the Broncos at 7 p.m.

The Stanford men gave new coach Trent Johnson a victory in his debut, though it was probably a little more harried than they would have liked.

"I played a horrible game," Stanford junior guard Chris Hernandez said. "I'm playing like a rookie right now."

Hernandez scored 30 points, including nine in overtime, but he was more concerned about his seven turnovers.

"They were all a little disappointed," Johnson said. "But hey, we won and it's nice to get the win. Hernandez, even Grunfeld and Matt (Haryasz) managed to make the plays when they needed. A lot of the guys are stepping into new roles and it will take awhile. We have a lot more work to do."

As the Cardinal enter a new era with Johnson, they know they still have reliable players like Hernandez around to carry much of the load. Grunfeld is ready to do his part too.

"A lot of guys have the capability to score," Grunfeld said. "I was just trying to stay aggressive. If we all stay aggressive and commit ourselves to playing defense, we'll be successful."

Junior center Matt Haryasz also assumed a starting role for the first time, though he had one career start in his 63 previous games with Stanford.

Haryasz started in place of the injured Justin Davis against Oregon last year and responded with a career-high 19 points to go with seven rebounds.

It was no surprise then when Haryasz also recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds against the Dons.

The other starters - Hernandez, Rob Little and Nick Robinson - have combined for 131 starts entering the season.

Wiggins seems to have made a smooth transition from high school to college, exhibiting a wealth of energy to go with her skills.

"Candace is awesome," Stanford senior guard Kelley Suminski said. "Sometimes it's hard for a freshman to pick things up with a new offense but she'd doing so well and is very intense in practice. She brings the energy up."

The Cardinal women are also working two new faces into the starting lineup. In fact, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has already used seven different starters in the two games. Junior transfer Brooke Smith started against Pacific after coming off the bench to score 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting against Utah.

"It's a nice mix of young talent and so much experience," Wiggins said. "It's comforting as a freshman to have seniors like Sebnem (Kimyacioglu) and Kelley out there. They are great leaders and lead by example."

Kimyacioglu, a Pinewood grad, has 12 rebounds in the first two games and is 5-of-10 from the field. She joined Suminski and Wiggins as starters in both games. T'Nae Thiel and Kristin Newlin started against Utah, while Smith and Azella Perryman started against the Utes.

Against the Tigers, 10 different players played at least 15 minutes, and that's without King Borchardt.

Stanford allowed its third-fewest points ever against Pacific, and scored 34 points off of 27 turnovers. The team made 18 steals, with freshman Cissy Pierce picking off five of them.

"We're not satisfied," VanDerveer said. "We need to improve. A week from now, we have to be better."

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