A different approach to the game preview this week.
We expected Stanford to be the favorite for winning the PAC-12 championship this year, so we did a preseason scouting report on “How to Beat Stanford.”
1. Stanford plays player-to-player defense almost exclusively (96.9% of the time per Synergy).
However, Stanford team help principles upon lane penetration is a priority, leading often to overreaction to lane penetration with all 5 defenders.
2. Stanford has multiple tall and slim “position-less” players who struggle with on-ball defense in space and are particularly bad at pick-and-roll (PNR) defense (Below Average/29th percentile Synergy) and transition defense (Average/34th percentile Synergy).
3. Best defender able/willing to defend all 94 feet is Anna Wilson, there is no other comparable defender on roster.
When Anna Wilson picks up full court just pass ball ahead.
Also, Haley Jones can be disruptive at times due to length and superior athleticism.
4. Stanford gives up one-on-one postup too easily, especially in defensive transition.
A transition “rim run” by opposing big to the deep post is often available and/or a deep postup in early offense.
Stanford shows little emphasis on denying entry pass and mostly play behind —relying on strength and athleticism (Fran Belibi) and length (Ashten Prechtel).
Incoming freshman 6’4” Cameron Brink has shot-blocking reputation and may deploy same methods.
5. On other hand, Stanford is rated excellent defending half-court low post-ups (83rd percentile Synergy).
In half-court, they use help principles to defend lane, i.e., the weak side or nearest front court defender will double post on high side.
Opposing post can counter double with pass out to 3pt shooter in either weakside corner (difficult pass) or high wing.
6. Stanford switches on ball-screens often unless spotlighting a ball dominant player (like Ionescu) then they fight over screen but often trail.
Offense can sometimes manipulate defense with on-ball screens to force defensive switch for matchup advantage.
7. Vulnerable to offensive rebounds since not much girth/weight in frontcourt and lack of boxout discipline—but defend putbacks very well(Good/63rd percentile per Synergy).
Emphasize offensive rebounding and throwing rebound back out to reset.
8.. On long 3-pointers, Stanford sometimes faceguards instead of turning to block out and find ball.
Possible counter to faceguard is holding outside lane on face guard, gives offense advantage to run to rebounds because Stanford defense is sometimes initially unaware of ball location.
9. Stanford struggles with defending 3-pointers from High Wing and Top of Key — vast majority of made 3s against them come from these areas, per Synergy. (See Shot Chart).
Defensive rotations are often too late to affect 3-point shot, likely due to overall lack of quickness/athleticism and over-collapsing on lane penetration.
Often hurried undisciplined closeouts open possibility to dribble-drive lane penetration.
Stanford’s Transition Defense is vulnerable to three-pointers from a trailing player (Secondary Break) (e.g. Darcy Rees = 50FG% on Transition 3s) (see Shot Chart).
10. Stanford’s many tall wings struggle to guard in deep space near the 3-point line due to lack of lateral quickness.
Likewise, an early offense Dribble Handoff at 3-point line puts pressure on Stanford’s Players to guard in deep space near three-point-line.
1. Prefer to play up tempo, off missed shots/turnovers will look to push ball or pass ahead.
2. Watch for transition Rim Run by Fran Belibi —elite speed for her size, gets to top speed pretty quickly and leaves opposing big behind.
Consider taking charge from Belibi in lane because likely can’t stop or change direction quickly to avoid a charge.
Belibi scores all her points in lane, not an outside threat at all. (see Shot Chart)
3. Stanford lacks creator at point guard, Kiana Williams is a scorer (leading scorer last season), not.a playmaker for teammates (3.8 Assts/Game).
After made shots, Williams does not initiate halfcourt offense (unless it’s her own shot) pass or DHO to wing and stands in deep corner 3 area.
(See Shot Chart)
4. Stanford will sit shooters in corners on either side, will run pin down or curl actions to get them shots, but mostly(rarely used) safety valve to spread defense,
5. Stanford has multiple wings that are catch & shoot 3-point shooters which seems high priority of offense— not many 3-point shots off-the-dribble (28.3FG% ).
6. Stanford runs multiple “Princeton”-type backdoor cuts on seemingly every halfcourt possession, as part of their normal player movement.
Defenders in high wing/elbow area must always be aware (and tag) back cuts and not overplay the passing lanes.
7. Stanford is not patient running half-court offense, they often shoot the ball within 3-4 passes.
8. Although Kiana Williams is leading scorer, their half-court offense seems primarily to run through Lexie Hull.
Hull gets touches every half-court set and is constantly looking for shot.
9. Lexie Hull is excellent catch & shoot 3-point threat (34.6FG%) but average off-the-dribble (36FG%.= dribble jumpers + floaters) with limited wiggle, change of pace or direction.
Strongly favors left side of court to initiate her offense from high wing or point area —either shooting the three or attacking with dribble-drive usually with right-handed penetration.
If kept out of lane, will often shoot off-balance layup(from outside the lane)but has not mastered the Floater/Runner at all (11.1FG%).
(See Shot Chart)
10. Haley Jones is a matchup nightmare, a freak athlete with size and speed, However, her offensive game is extremely limited in the halfcourt. She shot 53.4FG% but almost all her makes are along the lane or underneath the basket. (see Shot Chart)
11. In halfcourt offense, Haley Jones often in point area but rarely creates for teammates unless it is backdoor pass to cutter down the lane.
Jones will mostly drive from top of key area so defender should play off Jones anticipating drive; give her mid-range shot; and overplay pass into lane.
Usually any Haley Jones dribble-drive ends in the lane with a layup, pull-up jumper or spin move.
12. Stanford will often lift big to elbow/pinch post.
Biggest threat at elbow is 6’5”Ashten Prechtel, who often looked for pass to high wing shooter or backdoor cut.
Prechtel can make elbow jumper out to 3-point line, expect more shots this season.
Belibi at elbow never shoots, will drive lane or pass.
Haley Jones at elbow will often “turn and burn”without seeing where defense is first, opportunity to draw a charge.
13. Be aware of 3-point specialist Hannah Jump when she enters the game.
Does not score inside. (See Shot Chart)
Cannot defend in space, so seek matchup advantage on perimeter to counter Stanford length.