March Madness: Did Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer take shot at men’s team after shocking early exit?
Stanford’s women’s basketball team, a No. 1 seed, was shockingly eliminated from the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday by No. 8 Ole Miss, a historic loss that marks just the fifth time since 1994 that a No. 1 seed has been knocked out before the Sweet 16. Stanford never led in their 54-49 loss.
This is the first time since 2007 that Stanford has failed to make the Sweet 16, and head coach Tara VanDerveer tried to be objective about the season when she spoke to the media following the loss — maybe a little too objective. After being asked a question about whether they need adversity to perform well (the last time Stanford won the championship, it was in 2021 when they were forced to relocate home games due to COVID-19 health orders), VanDerveer used Stanford’s men’s team as a measuring stick for the women’s team’s relative success.
So Stanford’s men’s team definitely did not have as good a season as their counterparts. They had a 14-19 record and finished out the season by losing to Arizona in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament earlier this month.
It may have sounded like VanDerveer was dinging the men’s team for being bad, but she almost certainly wasn’t. It’s not like it was a secret that the men’s team had a bad season. There’s nothing hidden in their 14-19 record. Given that difficult season, and their second-round loss in the Pac-12 tournament, you can imagine they would have been elated to go dancing for a few games.
Despite the bad ending, VanDerveer was reiterating that losing in the second round of March Madness doesn’t mean the entire season was a failure. Objectively, they did incredibly well, even if they didn’t live up to their own standards.
As they say in sports, there’s always next year.