Senior forward Brittany McPhee got a taste of the Final Four last season. But it was just a taste. Appetite whetted, she’d love nothing more than to luxuriate and relish the gastronomic experience of the whole meal this time around.
“I think going to the Final Four and getting a taste for it left us returners wanting more,’’ McPhee said Wednesday at Pac-12 women’s basketball media day in San Francisco. “We want to go back and we want to go further. I think that's kind of a drive for us. And I think we're trying to create that culture for our freshmen, too.’’
“We are very excited about our upcoming season,’’ Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I feel like we've kind of started it, and then it got put on hold. We took our team to Italy. We had a great trip. It's hard to believe -- even Larry Scott said to me, Brittany's been playing forever at Stanford. It's hard to believe Brittany's a senior. We're really excited about Brittany's senior year and Kaylee Johnson's senior year, and Alanna (Smith) being a junior. So we have a great group. We're playing a very competitive schedule, and we're very, very excited.’’
The Cardinal will get tested early with non-conference games against Ohio State, UConn, Baylor and Tennessee.
“I hope our players are excited,’’ said VanDerveer, who won her 1,000th game last season and agreed to a three-year contract extension. “You don't win championships in November or December, but I think you can build a really good foundation then. You can learn a lot about your team. We have a very young team. It's like throwing our team into the deep end of the pool early.’’
The freshman class, headed by Kiana Williams and Maya Dodson, is generating anticipation. VanDerveer was asked how this class compares with some of the best freshman classes of the past and whether she would urge Dodson to dunk in a game:
“I think Maya will dunk,’’ VanDerveer said. “Maybe she'll throw it down in warmups first. As far as our freshmen, I think they're as good as any freshmen we've had. They're a very talented group. They have the advantage of having great upperclass mentors like Britt and Alanna who understand it's not about keeping freshmen down or keeping them in their place, but really helping them and building them up.’’