Stanford women’s basketball briefly stranded in Kansas after plane mix up

The Stanford women’s basketball team had no problem winning its first two games of the NCAA Tournament. It was the logistics off the floor that were unnecessarily difficult.

The team’s bus broke down several times en route to the Cardinal’s match against Kansas State, which they won 69-48, on Monday. It lost power at least three times, the last loss coming as the vehicle descended a ramp to the arena.

“[We weren’t] so much nervous but thinking, we’re going to be hiking it,” Stanford head coach Tara Vanderveer said in a conference call Wednesday. “… When it broke down the third or fourth time, we thought we might be walking.”

After beating the Wildcats, the Cardinal were supposed to fly back to California. But that’s not what happened.

Organized by the NCAA, the charter plane the Cardinal were scheduled to take was grounded in Arkansas, so the players and coaches waited in the locker room in Manhattan, Kansas, while the problem was identified. Ultimately, it was determined the plane needed a part that was in Houston.

The team spent three hours in the locker room — coaches game planned, players watched other tourney games — before the decision was made to check back into the hotel and stay the night.

Tuesday morning, a small group of staffers returned to campus to grab more jerseys — if Stanford wins in the Sweet 16, it’ll need its road jerseys to play the top-seeded Notre Dame in the Elite Eight — in addition to moving players’ cars, which weren’t parked properly for an extended stay.

The rest of the group traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, where the Cardinal play Texas in a Sweet 16 matchup on Friday.

Complicating matters for the student-athletes is the fact that it’s finals week. So, the players took their finals from Manhattan, or will over the next two days in Kentucky. Fortunately for everyone, academic coordinator Shannon Reader, a former Gonzaga player, is traveling with the team in her first year in her role with Stanford.

“She’s definitely earned her pay this week,” Vanderveer said of the extra pressure put on Reader, who had to administer tests for players while coordinating with professors back in California.

The team is now looking at the mix up as a net-positive because it saved them from returning to the West Coast for a brief spell before heading cross country.

“Travel and sleep are predictors of success in NBA,” Vanderveer said, believing the mixup was a net-positive for the team. “Sometimes things work out. Not knowing we were going to stay, it worked out better.”

Leave it to Stanford to innovate a new definition of March Madness.

Warriors roar back to win behind a Looney performance

Golden State takes 2-0 lead against Dallas in Western Conference Finals

Giants catchers work in Posey’s shadow

Joey Bart, heir apparent to Buster’s throne, ceding more at-bats to supposed backup Curt Casali