LAST SEASON: 35-2, 18-0 (Pac-12 champion).
COACH: Tara VanDerveer, 27th season, 709-149; 34th year overall, 861-200.
KEY PLAYERS: Junior All-American
Chiney Ogwumike (15.0 points, 10.1 rebounds), sophomore guard
Amber Orrange (4.8 points, 3.0 assists), senior forward
Joslyn Tinkle (8.7 points, 5.4 rebounds).
SCOUTING REPORT: The fourth-ranked Cardinal has as big a hole to fill as it has had in program history with the graduation of All-America post player
Nneka Ogwumike (22.5 points, 10.2 rebounds). But Stanford is favored in the coach's poll to win its 13th consecutive league title on the strength of
Chiney Ogwumike and a supporting cast that includes six players who were freshmen a year ago. ... The Cardinal needs big improvement from its second-year players. VanDerveer sounds optimistic about the play of Orrange, who will direct a pick-and-roll offense. The coach said 6-3 sophomore forward
Taylor Greenfield improved more than anyone in the offseason. The Cardinal also needs production from sophomore forwards
Bonnie Samuelson and
Erica Payne. ... Redshirt junior
Mikaela Ruef, injured last season, could provide cover in the post if she is healthy. But highly recruited 6-3 freshman
Aly Beebe is out with a knee injury.
-- ELLIOTT ALMOND