|espnW.com: Womens College Basketball|
This season, espnW is spending time with the Stanford Cardinal and Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer, getting behind-the-scenes access to the players. Come to espnW every Friday throughout the season to get to know the Cardinal and how they live their lives on and off the court, from the start of practice to the final game of the season in March and, perhaps, into April.
The first matchup that came up on the ESPN Selection Show was the one that the Cardinal wanted to see.
Stanford's name appeared as the No. 1 seed in the Fresno Region along with No. 16 Hampton as the first two teams officially in the NCAA tournament. The Cardinal locker room -- a family-only affair with players, coaches and staff -- erupted.
"We are going to Virginia!" Nneka Ogwumike said.
"Four hours from home," senior Grace Mashore chipped in.
But it got louder still when the ESPN telecast showed a clip from the team's "Nerd City" rap video, which has collected nearly 13,000 views on YouTube in less than a week.
The Ogwumike sisters, Nneka and Chiney, jumped up and started pumping their fists and then singing the lyrics they wrote, while junior Joslyn Tinkle tried to shush the rest of her teammates.
"Be quiet, be quiet," Tinkle said, as the three of them started to dance.
Aside from a few moments of exuberant cheering, it was something of a low-key Monday at Maples Pavilion.
Sophomore Sara James was the first one in the locker room at around 3:30 p.m., the first to finish her NCAA-required student-athlete affidavit, which requires players to answer questions about gambling and other potential NCAA violations.
Senior Lindy LaRocque ambled down the hall, joking that she was in her "civilian clothes" -- a button-down shirt, jeans and moccasins. LaRocque did a class presentation Monday on "energy efficiency in the transportation section and the California high speed rail project."
Did it go well?
"I think so," LaRocque said.
In the locker room the lights were low as staffer Lauren Greif tuned the television to ESPN.
Freshman Amber Orrange was on one of the computers at the desk, looking up class notes for her final exam in humanities, while James grabbed a spot on one of the recliners on the large L-shaped leather sofa. As freshman Taylor Greenfield came in, James yelled out "Taylor!" and Greenfield leapt on top of James.
Mikaela Ruef was on crutches. The junior forward had surgery last week to repair her injured foot. She has not had much of a season, playing just three games. Freshman Jasmine Camp, on the other hand, strutted in proudly in her sneakers -- no boot on her surgically repaired left foot for the first time since before Christmas.
"Looking good, Jaz!" one of her teammates said.
Coach Tara VanDerveer arrived, briefcase in hand, and sat down near James.
"You excited, Sara?" VanDerveer asked. James replied yes.
Associate head coach Amy Tucker handed out evaluation sheets from the coaches to all of the players for their performance in the Pac-12 tournament and as ESPN analysts Doris Burke and Rebecca Lobo appeared on the television, doing a preview of the Women's Selection Show, someone shouted out, "Quiet, they're talking about us."
The players took their spots on the couch, the staff grabbing stools to sit behind.
"Guess what finale is on tonight?" Tinkle said. And the players respond in unison, "The Bachelor!"
And then the Selection Show began. As Nneka was featured as part of the opening segment, the Cardinal players cheered. Nneka, on the other hand, sat quietly with her chin on her hand and watched intently.
After the Cardinal's name was revealed in the bracket, there was a long wait to the end of the show and a brief team workout. During one of the commercial breaks, VanDerveer asked assistant coach Kate Paye to hit the mute button and turned to her team.
She reminded them to contact their professors and gave them a brief summary of the potential travel plan.
"Make sure you are taking care of business," VanDerveer said.
And the room was dead quiet as the ESPN analysts talked about how best to defend Baylor's Brittney Griner.
As the hour was wrapped up, athletic director Bob Bowlsby stepped in front of the group to stay a couple of words.
"First, we are very proud of you and we know you are going to make a long run in this tournament," Bowlsby said. "And second, I want more time in the next video. I can rap."