December 29, 2022 

The case for patience and Lauren Betts

Both Betts and coach VanDerveer are preaching patience

There’s a quote in a San Francisco Chronicle story by Marisa Ingemi on Wednesday, that if you read it a couple of years ago, you might not have given it a second thought.

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“It was difficult at first,” Stanford’s Lauren Betts said to the Chronicle about her limited playing time for the second-ranked Cardinal to this point. “I’m trying to push myself every day in practice and get better. It’s easy to give up and lose all confidence, but I have to stay hopeful.”

Betts, the 6’7 center from Colorado, is the top-ranked among the Pac-12’s impressive infusion of freshmen this season. The conference nabbed seven of the top 10 recruits in the nation and 12 of the top 25.

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Betts is averaging 8.6 minutes a game, appearing in all 14 games heading into Saturday’s matchup against Arizona State at Maples Pavilion. She’s averaging 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in that short period of time and leads the team in field goal percentage, shooting 60.7 percent from the floor.

But Betts isn’t playing nearly as much as she would on almost any other team in the country. She is playing for a team that won a national championship in 2021, behind an All-American in Cameron Brink and two experienced, battled-tested seniors in Ashten Prechtel and Fran Belibi (and it should be noted that Belibi’s scoring, rebounding and minutes are also at a career-low).

She is playing for a coach in Tara VanDerveer that is using her depth to carve a path to a title run. At this moment, both she and VanDerveer are preaching patience. Is that a thing we do anymore in the era of the transfer portal and NIL opportunities?

For both Betts’ and Stanford’s sake, let’s hope so. Betts will learn from the game’s winningest coach, a player in Brink that is looking more and more like the No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft; she may well get to experience a Final Four in a few months and her role will be unquestionably more substantial a year from now. Oh, and she will get a Stanford education.

Betts doesn’t have to be everything she is destined to be right at this moment. The upside is all there, right in front of her and us.

Pac-12 freshmen infusion

Heading into the heart of the Pac-12 schedule and while we are talking about freshmen, let’s get caught up.

Kiki Rice, UCLA. Rice ranks second on the Bruins’ roster at 12.3 points per game, starting all 13 games alongside Charisma Osborne. She played 36 minutes and scored 16 points last month against South Carolina.

Gabriela Jaquez, UCLA. Jaquez has scored in double figures in six games this season (including three of the last five), highlighted by a season-high 15 points against Fresno State last week.

Grace VanSlooten, Oregon. The Ducks’ 6’3 forward had a very good week last week, being named the Pac-12’s Player and Freshman of the Week after scoring a combined 55 points to go with 15 rebounds and five blocks in matchups against Arkansas (a win) and Ohio State (a loss). She is averaging 16.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, and at this rate may find herself in the Pac-12 Player of the Year race.

Chance Gray, Oregon. The freshman guard from Ohio is averaging 9.7 points a game in rotation with veterans Te-Hina Paopao and Endyia Rogers.

Raegan Beers, Oregon State. Beers has scored in double figures in seven straight games, including a season-high 27 points and 10 rebounds on Tuesday against North Carolina Central. Beers is averaging 14.0 and 7.6 rebounds a game.

Written by Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has covered women's basketball nationally for nearly three decades. Smith has worked for, The Athletic, the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as and She was named to the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame in 2015, is the 2017 recipient of the Jake Wade Media Award from the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA) and was named the Mel Greenberg Media Award winner by the WBCA in 2019.

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