Tara-isms: Words of Wisdom From a Hall of Fame Bound Coach

Stanford Women’s Basketball Coach Tara VanDerveer will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this Friday, August 12th. She is currently only one of seven women to be inducted into that hallowed Hall, so that makes it even more special. You can watch Live Coverage if you get the NBA channel (hint, our good friend P does, please tape it for us), starts at 3 PM Stanford time, with enshrinement Ceremony starting at 4 PM Stanford time.

Former and current Stanford players and coaches have been reminiscing on social media, mostly Twitter, about "Tara-isms." Tara-isms, or Taraisms are sayings only Tara VanDerveer’s creative mind could come up with to "school" her players.

Taraisms are not new. First of all, Tara has been coaching for 32 years and counting, so there ya go. Plus, C and R are veterans of many Senior Night tributes and the players like to share their favorite Taraisms.

Jilllian Harmon (class of 2008) shared our favorites. She was the original storyteller, at least to our ears, of "Prayer Basketball!" She said in one of her first Stanford practices, she was making a long pass (and she claimed her arm was bumped) and it didn’t go as planned and Coach Tara yelled out, "Jill, this isn’t Prayer Basketball. We don’t just throw the ball and PRAY someone will catch it!"

Jill also told the crowd about, "don’t be a squirrel caught on the wrong side of a tree!" But so many other former players have quoted this, perhaps she says it to all defensive players who are on the wrong side of the offensive player, and does that happen a lot in practice?

Assistant Coach Kate Paye has had the benefit of being a player to receive Taraisms as well as a courtside seat to them, so to speak. She shared the most on her Twitter account. (Acknowledgements to players and coaches who give Taraisms on Twitter are listed below-comments from C and R in parentheses) .

Taraisms from former Stanford player and current Stanford coach Kaye Paye
-The "S" doesn’t stand for stupid. (Several players remembered hearing this one!)
-Mind over mattress.
-You don't have to be best friends, but you do have to be best teammates.
-It's not the start of the race but the finish.
-Mental is to physical as 4 is to 1. (Several different players liked to point out that Tara wanted to prepare them for the "thinking part" of basketball)
-You want to have fun, try winning.... that's fun! (Again shared by several and so apt!)
-Sometimes you're the dog and sometimes you're the fire hydrant. (Okey-dokey!)
-Basketball is a team sport. If you’re into individual things, take up tennis!
-Basketball was invented as a team sport, it’s always been a team sport, and it always will be a team sport. (Along the same vein-must have been some hot doggers she needed to take care of!)
-This is not a democracy. (Love this one and will use it on kids and students)
-Christmas is over; quit standing around like a decoration. (hee hee)
-Excuses are like belly buttons…everyone has one.
-FINISH! (Not sure if a Taraism, but several players said you just had to hear her voice)
-Got to put the hammer down.
-Sleep nights. (C always says you can sleep when you’re dead. Plus the players are so young and have boundless energy, why are they tired?)
-I was born at night, but it wasn't last night! (Tara’s no dummy!)

Former Stanford player Jayne Appel
-Don't be running like a station wagon if you have the ability to be like a Ferrari on the court. (Wow, that is so cool! Also probably why Jayne ran so hard on fast breaks!)
-You can't be a light switch and turn your game off and on, it has to be on all the time (Very Good!)

Former Stanford Player Angela Taylor
-Why use a water pistol when you have a cannon?

Former Stanford Player and Assistant Coach Charmin Smith
-A repetition of error shows a lack of intelligence (We all could use this quote-many other players remember this one, too, such as Vanessa Nygaard, so it must have occurred a lot!)

Former Stanford player Ros Gold Onwude was on fire with her Taraisms. We think she appreciated Tara’s wit the most!

-They already made the movie ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and you’re NOT in it! (Remembered by Ros Gold-Onwude and JJ Hones)
- Don’t be a pig and hog the ball!
- LESS is More.
-When I was playing I used to love guarding weak Wilma because I could help in and get steals!
-You have to be more than a one trick pony! (On having more than one "go to" move)
-There's too much mustard on your hotdog. (Ros said this was said on showoff/fancy moves)
-You don't want to be "the nice girls from Stanford." (Ros said Tara was telling them to be tough)
- What offense are you running? Mumbo Jumbo?!!! Be a point guard! Run the play! (I think that was specific to Ros!)
-That play’s not for you! The play is called money! Not funny! (For Ros only?)
-This play is called "Motion"….not "SLOW Motion" (For Ros only again?)
-No, no no, Candice, just play dummy D on her, she's not ready for real D yet. (We are sure Ros and Tara had a great relationship!)

Former Stanford Player Jeanette Pohlen
-Even a blind squirrel can find a nut (Guess Tara likes the squirrel and nut thing!)

Former Stanford Player Melanie Murphy
-You’re making million dollar moves but taking nickel shots (We can only imagine)

Former Stanford Player JJ Hones
-If there’s a fire in the house, get off the porch! (JJ said this was in reference to the ball in the key and helping in, and it took her "a sec to get it." C and R still don’t get it, maybe meaning if the other team has the ball is in the key, you better go and get it before they score?)
-JJ shared this one, not so much a Taraism, but a way of life, "Tara would yell ‘YOU CAN’T DO THAT!’ Cue sub asap"

David Siegel at Hoop gathered several former players and got them to talk on his show Dishin & Swishin to give "A Tribute to Tara VanDerveer." Several Taraisms were mentioned. Here, due to the modern marvel of modern technology, you can listen to the Tara podcast your very own self.

In the Tribute, Candice Wiggins talked about quotes that motivated her, "Hungry lions hunt best,"  (about drive) and "Pressure creates diamonds." The latter helped her in Stanford NCAA playoff runs.

Vanessa Nygaard shared many gems. One she remembered was when Tara would shout, "get your big toe off the line," in reference to stepping on the three point line and making the shot go from 3 points to 2. "Worst shot in basketball, worst shot in basketball!" Tara would call out, Vanessa remembered.

In the Tribute, Vanessa Nygaard (we think that was her voice) shared she was not a great student and one day she was jawing with teammates about how far away she could hit a shoot, from off the court, from the doorway, and then Vanessa bragged, "I like to shoot from the library!" And Tara quipped right back, "you don’t even know where the library is!" Fast thinker, that Tara.

And great coach. Acknowledged basketball genius, and funny to boot!

* Special thanks to these player and coaches (And there Twitter handles)
Ros Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21)
Candice Wiggins (@CandiceWiggins)
Kate Paye (@KatePaye)
Jayne Appel (@JayneAppel
Mel Murphy (@melmel0)
Jeanette Pohlen (@JFP32)
Charmin Smith (@21Charmin)
JJ Hones (@jj_hones)
Angela Taylor (@AFTAylor22)

Don’t forget to check out Tara VanDerveer through the 2000s, including pictures, from the Official Stanford website.

And the unoffical anything at the original C and R's Stanford Women's Basketball Blog.