Even without her, Stanford will have plenty of depth in the post. Freshman Joslyn Tinkle—a 6'3" forward from Missoula, Mont., who looks so much like Appel that Stanford's basketball campers often got the two mixed up this summer—is learning the 3, 4 and 5 positions. "Put Jayne and Kayla in a blender and that's Joslyn," says VanDerveer. "She can run, she can pass, she can shoot, she's a banger." Tinkle's father, Wayne, is the men's coach at Montana, where he and his wife, the former Lisa McLeod, starred for the Grizzlies in the 1980s. "Joslyn understands the game," says VanDerveer.
Making Stanford's frontcourt truly transcontinental is 6'3" junior Ashley Cimino, a fast-improving reserve power forward from Yarmouth, Maine. With Boothe and Appel hobbled, Cimino logged a lot of minutes when the Cardinal traveled overseas for four games against Italian professional teams in September. "There are no liabilities with our posts," says Gold-Onwude. "I used to only want to go to Jayne's side, but now I'm confident throwing the ball in to any of them."
Likewise the posts should have a lot more confidence kicking it back out. Stanford's perimeter, which has had difficulty against quick and aggressive teams such as Tennessee and Connecticut in the last two years, should be shored up this season. Redshirt junior JJ Hones, a savvy point guard and a 39% three-point shooter who reinjured her left ACL in a game against Rutgers last November, is back, as is her replacement, Pohlen, who played with Pedersen on the U.S. team that won gold at the World University Games this summer. "We've been post-dominant, but the guards have come back very strong," says Gold-Onwude. "So I'm really interested to see how our points get scored."
One thing that bodes well for Stanford as it faces the toughest nonconference schedule in program history—including a nine-day stretch in December with consecutive games against Duke, Tennessee and Connecticut—is that nobody on the team cares how that scoring gets divvied up. In truth, Stanford's Littles do love their Bigs. "Jayne makes me look like a great player," says 5'8" sophomore guard and fellow Pi Phi, Lindy La Rocque. "She makes everybody around her better."
And the Bigs love them back. "I would give up my All-America award if I could win a national championship with my team," says Appel. "We've knocked on the door twice now. Maybe the third time really is the charm."