The Missouri women’s basketball team is hosting some tough competition.
Missouri (6-3) will take on Stanford (7-0) on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Mizzou Arena. The game will be televised on the Fox Sports Network.
The Cardinal, No. 2 in the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA Coaches’ Poll, will be making their first visit to Missouri.
The teams met last March in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Tempe, Ariz. Stanford defeated Missouri 68-44.
The Tigers will try to stop a two-game skid after losses to Eastern Michigan on Dec. 4 and Southwest Missouri State on Dec. 10.
Missouri coach Cindy Stein’s team is coming off a 10-day break and sophomore forward Carlynn Savant said the rest should help, not hurt the team.
“I think we have a lot of things that we need to work on, and we just have a lot of building that we need to do before we face a team with Stanford’s caliber,” said Savant, who is averaging 6.3 rebounds.
The Cardinal use a combination of veteran and young talent, all of which is chipping in for the team.
Stanford has four players who are scoring in double-digits: Candace Wiggins, Brooke Smith, Kelley Suminski and Kristin Newlin.
The freshman Wiggins, a 5-foot-11½ guard, leads the team with 17.1 points per game.
“She (Wiggins) makes others around her better,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She does some amazing things, honestly, some uncoachable things.”
VanDerveer said that Wiggins is extremely aggressive offensively, but that aggressiveness carries over into her defensive game as well.
Wiggins, who leads the team with 22 steals, is a big part of Stanford having the third-best scoring defense in the nation. It gives up 48.3 points a game.
Missouri has its own steal expert. Junior point guard LaToya Bond is leading the team with 23 and stole six in the game against SMS.
The Missouri duo of Bond and Christelle N’Garsanet will need to continue leading the young team.
Bond is averaging 12.9 points and 4.8 assists.
N’Garsanet, a 6-foot-3 junior center, is leading the team in scoring and rebounding averaging 14.1 points and 6.5 boards.
VanDerveer said the majority of her focus before games is with her team, but she does know a few things about this Missouri.
She said Missouri has a new look with players such as Evan Unrau graduating, but that it still has a physical presence.
VanDerveer added that the Tigers can spread the floor well, and Stein likes to change up the defensive schemes.
The attendance may also prove to be a factor for the Tigers. Tickets for the game will be $1 as Missouri tries to “Pack the Zou.”
VanDerveer said her team needs to learn how to deal with blocking out crowds and that she wants the team to “establish itself as road warriors.”
The team is on a five-game road trip throughout December.
Even with Stanford’s recent success, VanDerveer said the team can take nothing for
“We’re still a cake in the oven,” VanDerveer said. “We’re not done yet.”