The Pac-10 coaches gathered on their first conference call of the season Wednesday morning and there was a lot of hope and a little news.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who can win the 800th game of her career Thursday at DePaul, said that Kayla Pedersen had missed two days of practice after hitting her head on the floor during Sunday’s win over Fresno State and that team trainer Marcella Shorty was being cautious with the senior forward.
Pedersen rode the bike and practiced free throws at Wednesday’s practice. She did not participate in contact drills.
“As far as I know, it’s totally precautionary,” VanDerveer said. “I was told that she could have gone back in that game if it was an NCAA game. There’s just so much going on with concussions and any head injuries, it’s just good to err on the conservative side.”…
UCLA (8-0) moved into the top 10 in the national rankings for the first time since the Bruins were ranked No. 6 in the 1999-2000 season.
And coach Nikki Caldwell has talked to her team about what it means to be the hunted rather than the hunter. It would make a lot of teams’ seasons to knock off a Top 10 team.
“We are extremely excited about what we’ve been able to accomplish in a short period of time,” Caldwell said. “But none of our players have ever been in this situation…I do want them to understand, to have the success they’ve had, don’t think you’ve arrived. We need to be hungry and humble at the same time.”
Cadlwell knows from her time at Tennessee what it’s like to be the team everybody wants to beat.
“We were always ranked and people wanted to try to play their best game against us,” Caldwell said. “They will bring their ‘A’ game and you can’t slip up and not be ready for anybody.”
She said she would like to keep her team an underdog. That won’t be easy any more…
Arizona is having one of the best non-conference seasons in the Pac-10. The Wildcats are 6-2 with a big road win over Mississippi. Third-year head coach Niya Butts is crediting point-guard play for being the difference between last year’s team – which lost close games – and this year’s team, which is winning.
“Honestly, the point guard play from Shanita Arnold and Candice Warthen is our major difference,” Butts said.
Arnold is a transfer from Arkansas and Warthen is a freshman. Both have been added to the backcourt with sophomore Davellyn Whyte. Senior forward Ify Ibekwe missed Arizona’s last game with an illness.
“We want to win and we are capable of winning,” Butts said. “Anytime you have a conference with a lot of teams at the top who have been there for a while, you are going to have to grind it out and do some things to break into that. But I think our team is ready for a challenge.”…
Cal forward DeNesha Stallworth was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the first time in her career, scoring 27 points in the Bears’ win over Long Beach State last week….
Washington State is 2-8 with a tough preseason schedule that isn’t quite over, but will have included four ranked teams and nine teams that reached the postseason last spring.
The Cougars are learning, but it’s the hard way. Again.
“Especially the freshmen and sophomores, they want to win and they also need to understand how to win at the higher level, at the Pac-10 level,” said Washington State coach June Daugherty. “It can be frustrating but it can also serve as a great motivator. For the most part, I think it’s been motivating.”
But isn’t it difficult to move the program forward without improving the bottom line – the win-loss record?
“It’s too early to say,” Daugherty said “When you are deep into the conference schedule, that’s where you are looking for those types of answers and results.”…
Arizona State is heading into its toughest stretch of the non-conference with a road trip to South Dakota State followed by home games against DePaul and Marist.
Coach Charli Turner Thorne said that senior point guard Dymond Simon, who redshirted last season with an ACL injury, is settling in.
“She’s coming along, day by day, week by week, which is good for not playing for a year and a half,” Turner Thorne said. “This is a whole new team to her and we were pretty much expecting it to take a little while…She’s learning her team, trusting in them and getting her own confidence back.”