During the football team’s most recent “movie night” held before every game, Stanford coach David Shaw quieted his players to announce that the women’s basketball team had beaten top-ranked Baylor. The room erupted in excitement, and Shaw shushed everybody again to make one more statement.
“I said, ‘OK, now it’s our turn,’” Shaw said. “It was just kind of like, ‘OK, yeah.’”
The trend started on the Hawaii hardwood, moved onto the football field in Eugene and finally floated all over Twitter, where Stanford players put the perfect label on an unforgettable weekend: Revenge of the Nerds.
Tara VanDerveer’s team ended Brittney Griner and the Lady Bears’ 42-game winning streak. Shaw and his players outsmarted No. 1 Oregon 17-14 in overtime Saturday to complete a dramatic double, and “Nerd Nation” — as athletes across all sports on this quant Silicon Valley campus call themselves — enjoyed a giant I-told-you-so celebration.
The victories went well beyond the Cardinal getting payback on the programs that ruined each team’s national title hopes last season. Both showed that success can still be reached well after Andrew Luck and Nnemkadi Ogwumike — the No. 1 overall draft picks in each sport — have left The Farm.
“I think it was special,” Shaw said Tuesday. “You could draw a parallel to say that the women’s basketball team lost one of the best players in the country, but they want to prove that they’re a good team. We can say that we fall into that category also, whereas we lost the best player in the country in our sport, and we also want to prove to ourselves as well as to other people that we’re a good football team that can compete against anybody.”
Consider it done.
Taking down the previously undefeated Ducks at amped-up Autzen Stadium has surprisingly put the Cardinal (9-2, 7-1) in control to host the Pac-12 Conference championship game — something a Luck-led team never did — if they can beat No. 15 UCLA on Saturday.
VanDerveer is still learning how her team will play over the course of the season after losing Ogwumike to graduation and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
The women’s team got even more pumped up when they were informed over the public address system during pregame warm-ups against Hawaii on Saturday that the football team had upset Oregon.
“When they did it, they could hear us cheering from Hawaii,” said VanDerveer, whose Cardinal (5-0) beat Baylor 71-69. “When we won, we could hear them cheering from Oregon.”