Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer offers tips to Penn State
STANFORD, Calif. – For each of the past two summers, Penn State coach Coquese Washington has visited Tara VanDerveer at the Stanford coach’s New York home to talk basketball and, specifically, gather tips on the triangle offense.
“It’s almost like going to graduate school of coaching in six hours,” Washington said with a smile.
There will be no such trading of secrets come this afternoon, when second-seeded Stanford (31-3) hosts Washington’s No. 3 seed Lions (24-7) in the NCAA tournament Stanford Regional semifinals at Maples Pavilion.
In her efforts to learn from coaches “who have had sustained excellence,” Washington reached out to VanDerveer and hoped the Hall of Famer would say yes. Then, Washington and an assistant made the four-hour trip from State College to VanDerveer’s summer residence in Chautauqua, N.Y., for a day the last two years.
They studied video and discussed their likes and dislikes regarding offensive schemes.
“I’ve met with her in the offseason and we’ve talked about ‘X’ and ‘O’ things,” VanDerveer said Saturday before her team’s practice. “She’s a great young coach, up-and-coming coach. It was really fun to get to know her and have a chance to visit with her. Obviously we never dreamed last summer that we’d be playing each other. I don’t feel that gives us or them an advantage. It’s a just a situation I’ll be glad to see her. I really admire her and respect the job that she’s doing.”
Not that Washington expects any extra edge today.
“I wouldn’t say it gave us any specific insight into the Cardinal,” she said. “It really was an opportunity for me and my assistant coach to pick the mind, pick the brain of one of the legends in our game. I was just appreciative she gave her time to me and really was an open book and there wasn’t anything that was off limits.”
Stanford’s players realize their coach offers a wealth of knowledge even if it means she might be helping out an occasional opponent.
“It’s pretty funny. It’s neat because we know how great Tara is, we witness that every day,” Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike said. “All of a sudden we’re reminded that she is big time.”
The Penn State players didn’t even know their coach had sought out VanDerveer.
“She has some secrets,” center Talia East said. “She’s a brilliant woman.”
Top-seeded South Carolina plays No. 4 seed North Carolina in the other semifinal at Maples.
© Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.