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NCAA Women's Final Four Preview: How Can Texas A&M Beat Stanford?

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The Stanford Cardinal's bounce is all fun and games in their music video, but during games it helps them punish opponents on the boards. <em>Photo by <a href="http://112575.photoshelter.com/" target="new">Craig Bennett/112575 Media</a>.</em>
The Stanford Cardinal's bounce is all fun and games in their music video, but during games it helps them punish opponents on the boards. Photo by Craig Bennett/112575 Media.

Against the Stanford Cardinal, the Texas A&M Aggies might be successful by doing many of the things they did to beat the Baylor Lady Bears, as described in yesterday's Elite Eight analysis

The key difference is that Stanford is indisputably a more balanced team than Baylor and perhaps more importantly against a team like TAMU, they have more than one player who can control the ball. Naturally, point guard Jeanette Pohlen is obviously a solid primary ball handler, but Kayla Pedersen is a more efficient ball handler with a pure point rating of 1.09  and a turnover ratio of only 11% while Lindy La Rocque has a team-high assist ratio of 30.71% and team-high pure point rating of 1.80. In other words, Stanford has so many points of attack that it's difficult to simply force them out of their rhythm the way TAMU was well-suited to do against Baylor.

The key for TAMU will be to do what they did in the second half against Baylor and keep Stanford off the boards, which is no easy task with so many people able to hit the boards hard, led by freshman forward Chiney Ogwumike with an offensive rebounding percentage of 15.82%. Older sister Nneka has some of the best post footwork in the nation and Kayla Pedersen is a matchup nightmare even if she isn't putting up big numbers.

It's likely that people will begin to make this Final Four game about Pohlen vs. TAMU's guards and that's fair given their Elite Eight performances. However, reducing Stanford's success to Pohlen's production ignores most of what make them great  - the Ogwumike sisters' athleticism and power inside plus Pedersen's versatility make it hard to create a strategy to beat this team, much less adjust to them at halftime. It didn't make a whole lot of sense as a narrative for the Gonzaga game and won't make much sense against TAMU either.

Whether it be the North Carolina Tar Heels or currently-coachless Washington Huskies, the best way to contend with Stanford at full health is to find a way to compete on the boards.