Stanford, Cal advocate for Griner’s release

In Stanford’s most watched game of the regular season, Tara VanDerveer wanted to put the focus on Brittney Griner. At Cal’s Raising the BAR Invitational last weekend, Charmin Smith did the same thing.

The Phoenix Mercury center of the WNBA was arrested in February in Moscow. The US The Cardinals held a moment of silence for Greener before every game this season, and added BG patches in time for the South Carolina game.

“Hopefully, we brought some good attention to this,” VanDerveer said. “We said something every game and had a moment of silence for her. We have to bring her home.”

Both schools have set up letter-writing stations that will go toward Greener’s team, which has a goal of reaching 10,000 letters.

VanDerveer and South Carolina coach Don Staley wore matching Playa Society shirts on the sidelines of their Nov. 20 game. The back of the shirts has a message to Greener that reads: “Dear BG: We love you and are fighting for you. Millions of us lift your name every chance we get, and we won’t stop until you’re home. We hope that Our love and support reaches out to her and finally sets her free.”

A portion of the profits from the sale of the shirts will go to the Bring Our Families Home Campaign and the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, both of which support the rights of Americans detained in other countries.

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“Tara is running this campaign on this particular campus and we both know Britney,” Staley said after the Stanford game, wearing a “Free BG” hat. “She was a part of our basketball family, and she’s in the fight for her life. I know there are other Americans who are wrongfully detained and of course we want them all to come home, but when you have a relationship and a Friendship with someone is personal.”

All four teams in Berkeley — Cal, SMU, Arkansas Pine-Bluff and Grambling State — wore free BG shirts during the Rising the BAR tournament that highlights Black women coaches.

“That’s what I like about Charmin,” said SMU head coach Toyelle Wilson. “What she represents, it’s always bigger than basketball. She’s an advocate.”

Jones still growing

VanDerveer cited the changing Stanford offense as an adjustment for Jones, along with asking her to play different positions. She noted that Jones plays small forward instead of power forward, which she expects is where she will play in the WNBA.

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“She’s getting better and better,” said her coach. “We’ve got to really try to make sure she’s getting good shots and rebounding and doing all the things we need to do.”

Jones, who was the 2021 NCAA Tournament MVP, is averaging 11.1 points per game through the first 11 contests, which would be a career low. Her 45.0 field-goal percentage is up from the 41.8% she finished with last season, but her 6.7 rebounds per game are her lowest since her freshman year.

She is playing 26.7 minutes per game, which would be her lowest since her freshman season, but those minutes should increase in conference play and late in the season. She played 44 minutes in the overtime game against South Carolina.

“The type of pressure that young people feel now is extreme,” VanDerveer said. “I think it’s really important for me to be very patient. We’ve played some good games, and she’s an incredibly talented player. The best thing I can do is support. We know what she’s capable of.”

Help for Kerry


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