Nine hundred is just another number to Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer.
“I’m not a bean counter,” she recently said as her 900th coaching victory approached. “I’m just all about this team, this game, this practice, and they kind of piled up.”
Victory No. 900 could come Wednesday when No. 6 Stanford plays Florida Gulf Coast in the Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
VanDerveer won No. 899 on Tuesday, an 86-69 victory over Purdue in the tournament opener.
By Wednesday evening, she could be standing alongside Pat Summitt, Sylvia Hatchell, C. Vivian Stringer and Jody Conradt as the only women’s coaches to win 900 games. On the men’s side, only Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bob Knight have reached that pinnacle.
“The 900 will be nice,” said VanDerveer’s sister, Heidi, who coaches at UC San Diego, “but the bigger number is the number of people. She’ll sit back and say, ‘Damn, that’s a lot of years and a lot of people.’ ”
It has been 36 years, the last 28 at Stanford after stops at Ohio State and Idaho. VanDerveer, 60, is a member of the Naismith and Women’s Basketball halls of fame. She is a four-time national coach of the year, and led the United States to an Olympic gold medal in 1996. She has led Stanford to 21 conference championships, 10 Final Four appearances, and two national titles.
Last week, she was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame. Typically, she downplayed it, going so far as to hide the news from her sister. While driving to the ceremony, VanDerveer told her sister she was meeting friends in San Jose for dinner. Her cover was blown by a passenger in the car who shouted: “Tara, tell her you’re in the Hall of Fame.”
As her longtime assistant, Amy Tucker, says of the attention: “She doesn’t like it, but she deserves it.”
–Elliott Almond, San Jose Mercury News
That was quite a Hall of Fame dinner reception they had at Cooperstown last year.
“Inductees, party of none – your table’s ready.”
What a strange sight, witnessing not a single acceptance speech beyond Paul Hagen’s (for the writers’ wing) and the family members of three veterans’ committee selections no longer alive: Deacon White, umpire Hank O’Day and executive Jacob Ruppert. The “character clause” wiped out Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and other tainted stars of the Steroid Era, and none of the allegedly clean candidates got enough votes.
That won’t be a problem this year. The official ballot was released Tuesday, and for some of us, the biggest issue will be finding room for everyone. There’s a 10-vote limit, a stipulation already challenged by several national writers and perhaps to be eliminated in future years.
Simply put: If you dismiss the Cooperstown-is-church stance and give Bonds & Co. their due – that’s always been the case for this voter – you’ll be forced to leave out players with sterling credentials.
We’re not allowed to disclose our voting choices until after the results are announced, but I can tell you I’ve voted for Bonds, Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa at every opportunity. And just a quick note on Sosa, who seems to be completely forgotten: The man hit 60-plus home runs three times, drove in 100-plus runs for nine consecutive years, delighted Cubs fans for years with his infectious personality and brought joy to the entire country in 1998 as he joined McGwire in pursuit of the single-season homer record. Hemattered. Had Cooperstown written all over him. If Bonds ever gets the OK, Sosa should be recognized, as well.
–Brian Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle
It seems popular to blame the shortcomings of the 49ers’ passing offense on a lack of good receivers. That’s been a fallback position for the team for some time.
But let’s stop a moment and reflect: Among the team’s receiving corps are two men who have been among the top players at their positions for several seasons: tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
Those guys are both premier targets for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Mario Manningham, back from injury, might not be a star, but he’s a solid NFL receiver.
The team is not starved for guys who can catch passes; it’s deficient in the way it distributes the ball and how Kaepernick conducts business when looking for an open receiver.
–Brian Blomster, Sacramento Bee