Women’s basketball coach and players weigh in before season opener

The women’s basketball team will take on the University of Hawai’i in their season opener tonight at Maples. Before the season started, desk editor Hawe Adugna caught up with head coach Tara Vanderveer, senior center Cameron Brink and graduate student guard Hannah Jump on the upcoming season. 

Cameron Brink

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Where is your head at as the season approaches?

Cameron Brink (CB): It’s all about staying healthy for the whole team. We only have 12 people, so going hard at practice but taking care of ourselves. This year we have some really amazing young players so we’re really excited to see them go to work.

TSD: What are the stakes at play for you? Is this your last season?

CB: I really don’t know where I’m at. I feel like I just want to see where this year goes, and I have time to decide when the season ends. But it’s nice to have the option to stay if I want to say and it’s nice to have the option to leave if I want to go pro. It’s exciting, you know, and in six months life could be very different.

TSD: How do you see yourself stepping up after this last season, even though it was quite a remarkable season for you from brand deals to accolades received?

CB: Definitely as a leader. This year, I’m a team captain. I had amazing team captains that lead the way [in years prior], so I think living up to them and being a good leader and mentor for the younger players, and even the juniors that haven’t had as much court time as they probably could have.

TSD: Is the weight on your shoulders heavier now that you have so many new incredible achievements, reputations to uphold?

CB: I think pressure is always a privilege and I was always taught that growing up. So I think I’m taking it with a grain of salt. I appreciate it. I think it makes me play better; I rise to the occasion. On top of that, I know I’ve got really great teammates that have my back and make plays for me, so if I get tripled or doubled, I just kick it out to Hannah Jump and she’ll knock it down. So, I think it’s more so just excitement for this year. Especially since it’s the last year in the Pac-12, I feel like I’m just savoring it.

TSD: Has competing with some of the greatest female players worldwide at three-on-three competitions given you a new perspective of the game?

CB: Three-on-three is a unique, versatile game. It’s forced me to come off ball screens and guard any position, so I’m really thankful for the opportunity. This year, I’m just going to keep showing that I’m more than a low block player.

Hannah Jump

TSD: Where is your head at as the season approaches?

Hannah Jump (HJ): Honestly, [I’m] trying to make the most of every moment. Whether I like it or not, this will be my last year, so [I] just really [want to] enjoy the time I have with my team on the floor. We’ve gotten really really close this offseason and I think that’s really gonna help us on the court. But yeah, just making the most of it.

TSD: Why did you choose to come back as a grad player?

HJ: I wasn’t ready to leave. Obviously, getting a masters from Stanford doesn’t hurt, but [after] the way that last year ended, I didn’t want to leave on that note. I felt I had a lot left to give to this program, whether that was through mentorship to the younger generation or just on the court. I felt like coming back this year was what I needed to do, and once [VanDerveer] was like “yes, we want you back”, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

TSD: Being the only of the funky four (recruiting class of 2019) to remain on the team, how would you describe the dynamic of the team in their absence? What is the potential?

HJ: It’s definitely different than last year. I’m the oldest and Cam [Brink] is the only senior, but we’ve worked a ton on leadership this offseason. The team dynamic as a whole and just how close we’ve gotten, I think that’s going to help us on the court … The team dynamic we have right now, it’s really good.

TSD: How do you see yourself stepping up from last season? Any records you plan on breaking, maybe your own?

HJ: Besides being a great leader, I’m trying to stay outside of myself. Whether I’m shooting well or shooting poorly, being the same person no matter what’s going on, and my teammates being able to look at me and see that. [So if] they’re not hitting shots, they’re like, “oh, it’s fine.” Just playing outside of myself, being vocal, helping the youngsters. They’re doing a fantastic job. Our freshmen are incredible; this program is in great hands. [I hope to] give them as many tips as I can before I leave here.

Tara VanDerveer

TSD: Where is your head at as the season approaches? What are the stakes at play for you right now?

Tara VanDerveer (TV): I just really want to enjoy every day in the gym with our team. We want to be healthy and happy. We want to keep improving every day. Every person is very important to our team’s success.

TSD: What do you anticipate being your team’s greatest strengths/weaknesses in the weeks and months to come?

TV: I think our greatest strength is that we have great players that are going to get better. [The team] plays hard for and with each other — total team effort. We’re gonna run. We want to get out of the transition and run. We want to share the ball. We have to rebound. And I think [the players] support each other really well.

TSD: Who do you anticipate stepping up in the absence of Haley Jones and other players that departed the group?

TV: Cam showed a lot of great things, [proving] why she’s all-American. Kiki really stepped up big, I like to have her play a lot. Elena hasn’t played a whole lot in the past; I thought she stepped up big. Our bench did really well. I like the enthusiasm I saw. We’re excited and looking forward to a great season.

TSD: How do you handle the pressure that is upholding the reputation of the program you’ve built when unexpected losses occur, such as losing out in the second round of the tournament last year?

TV: You know, we’ve had tough endings with seasons and we bounce back really well. We lost to Florida State and next year we went to the Final Four. We’ve had tough losses; our team regroups. Every disappointment is a blessing. We have moved on and we are excited.

TSD: With Tempie Brown and Erika McCall returning to the program, what value do you feel these individuals can reignite or reinforce within the program?

TV: First of all, they’re bringing great knowledge. Erica McCall [has had] great experience, having played at Stanford and professionally in the WNBA and overseas. They are extremely loyal, hardworking, high basketball IQ, totally committed to our team and doing whatever it takes. No ego, just hard work, and I’m really excited that they’re back. They bring great enthusiasm.

TSD: What can we expect from the freshmen this season?

TV: I think the freshmen are college-ready, and they’re all going to make great contributions to our team’s success. There’s no, “Hey, they’re freshmen.” No, they’re players.

Originally posted 2023-11-08 10:47:46.