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Powell Doing It All for Stanford

March 14, 2004|From Associated Press

STANFORD — Nicole Powell has seemingly done it all in women's college basketball.

She's a two-time Pac-10 player of the year and an All-American who's being considered for national player of the year honors.

She traveled with the U.S. team last summer and is one of the best players to come through the conference -- her six triple-doubles are five more than any other player in Pac-10 history. And she should be a high pick in the upcoming WNBA draft.

The one thing missing from her fabulous resume: the Final Four.

"It's a big chunk," Powell said. "That's what every college basketball athlete dreams of doing -- going to the Final Four, cutting down the nets and doing really well with their teams. It hasn't been to come here to Stanford just to win Pac-10 championships.

"I have this year, and then I can sit and go 'Ohhh' and reflect. It would just be distracting if I thought about it."

Stanford (24-6) is ranked 12th in the nation and fresh off its second straight Pac-10 tournament championship. The Cardinal are making their 17th straight trip to the NCAA tournament but haven't reached the Final Four since they did it three straight times from 1995-97.

They've only made it out of the second round once since then, in Powell's sophomore season.

The 6-foot-2 forward is averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds, and she's also passing for a team-leading 3.8 assists per game. Powell has taken 409 shots this season, 193 more than any of her teammates, and averages a team-high 33.1 minutes.

"Nicole is definitely one of the best players to ever play in the Pac-10," Arizona Coach Joan Bonvicini said. "She can score, she can rebound, she can handle the ball. She has to be considered one of the greats.

"Individually, she's the best player to go through Stanford. But they have won two NCAA titles and been to Final Fours. That's how they evaluate their greats."

Powell finds it flattering to be mentioned right along with former Stanford stars Jennifer Azzi, Sonja Henning, Kate Starbird and Val Whiting.

"She's probably the most versatile player I've ever coached," 18th-year Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.

Powell, the first freshman to win the conference rebounding title, twice rallied her team for comeback wins in the Pac-10 tournament.

On one play in the Cardinal's 80-55 win over rival California, Powell dribbled along the perimeter with three defenders around her as the shot clock ran down. She missed a three-pointer then chased down the long rebound and scored a short jumper.

Powell's approach is simple.

"I'm just playing the game the way I know how to play," she said. "I have been the only one carrying the scoring load at times, but that's just my role on the team. That's just the kind of player I am."

The Cardinal aren't a favorite to reach the Final Four, but Powell isn't worried about that now -- nor does she feel an extra burden.

"Getting to the Final Four isn't about one player," she said. "It's not just on my shoulders to get us there. Every person has a different load, and mine is obviously greater than others, but in the end it comes down to how we all play."

After the season, Powell will return home to Arizona to train for the WNBA. She will take the spring quarter at Stanford off, then will return in the fall to finish up her urban studies degree.

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