basketball Edit

Stanford's bigs are an exciting mix of athleticism and versatility

Stanford will look to senior Alanna Smith to take charge.
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Stanford assistant coach Tempie Brown watches the Cardinal's posts players practice and, even though the numbers aren't big, she sees a group of players who can affect the game in a variety of ways.

Senior and possible All-American candidate Alanna Smith is the headliner of the group in terms of experience and accolades. Smith, Nadia Fingall, Shannon Coffee and Alyssa Jerome (who can play the 3/4) are all comfortable on the perimeter.

Only 6-3 human pogo stick Maya Dodson doesn't have the green light to shoot a three, but the Georgian is working to improve her range. The Stanford coaches are perfectly content, though, to have Dodson dominate in the area around the basket.

Jerome may not be a big in the traditional sense, but at 6-2 she can do some work inside and there is real excitement on The Farm about what the sophomore from Toronto can do. The coaches marveled at how quickly she learned last summer and now they see a more confident player applying that knowledge in practice.

Brown offered a quick report on each player and what they're working on for next season.

Smith: "It’s her getting some guard work and not just being someone we can depend on down low. Clearly she can do that. We got to have her stretch people away. When you think about some of the posts in the conference and non-conference who we play, she can bring them out. It’s her to advantage because she can go by people and she can hit the three. We love that part. Last year when she scored against (former Ohio State post Stephanie) Mavunga, she handled that down low. It’s making her a more versatile player in the end. It’s working on her ball handling, her passing and decision making. If she’s on the perimeter (opponents) are going to pressure her to force her into a turnover. She has to be comfortable making decisions out there.

"(Her consistency) has gotten better over time. I think when she comes out this year she will realize that we’re not deferring to anybody else. I think last year we deferred to Britt a little bit because it was just what happened. All of a sudden Britt has the ball and she’s going to score. I think now everyone will be looking at Alanna to handle the big scoring load for us. I think that’s a little different for her and she wants that challenge. I think she can be very consistent and have great games."

Fingall: "We want her to be consistent and comfortable and confident shooting out there. She hit some big-time threes, so we know she can do it. It’s just sometimes she has to look for her shot, hunt for her shot. She can go with any post. If someone is banging down low then she’s on the perimeter. If we have a better shooter, she can score on the block. That makes her so vital to us that she is that versatile. We have to give her more time on the floor.

Dodson: "She’s working on reading the defense a little bit better. I also think Maya is the type who is almost thinking too much. She’s athletic enough to just turn and elevate over people. She’s a very cerebral kid and just wants to do things right. She is working on her turnaround jumper, running the floor, which she can do better than anyone else, and driving to the basket. Again, that’s something she can do better than a lot of people her size. Rebounding and putbacks, she does that and it’s a good 10 points a game.

"Maya does not know yet (what she can do athletically). That takes some time on the floor working through some mistakes and figuring out how to play through disappointment. Say, ‘I don’t have to be stressed about any part of this because I can run faster than most post players.’ It’s actually pretty phenomenal. I can jump higher than most of the people I play against. She is strong as an ox and no one should be able to push her off the block. When she gets some confidence in that she will be a force to be reckoned with."

Coffee: "Shannon has been working diligently on her conditioning. What Shannon brings to us is the ability to pass, which is huge in our offense. Yesterday it was dime after dime from the perimeter, from the block. She understands what we’re doing."

Jerome: "She can play with Nadia and Nadia gets to stay inside. I think Alyssa is another who doesn’t realize how good she is. She was hitting a lot of threes (in practice). If she and Alanna both are out there they can stretch the floor. It will be really good for Alyssa do that. There’s a lot of competition to play at the guard spots. Having her down as a stretch four works for us."