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Published September 13, 2015
Taylor Greenfield might be the only Stanford player happy about traveling 1,800 miles to the middle of Iowa to open the NCAA women's basketball tournament.
The Cardinal weren't necessarily shocked to be a No. 2 seed. A loss to Southern California in the Pac-12 semifinals probably sealed that fate. They were surprised, however, by being sent to Ames instead of Los Angeles or Seattle for the first and second rounds.
To play in the regional it will host next week, Stanford (29-3) will have to beat 15th-seeded South Dakota (19-13) on Saturday and either No. 10 Florida State (20-11) or No. 7 Iowa State (20-10) on Monday.
When the bracket was announced, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer lamented that leaving the West Coast for the early rounds would cost the Cardinal some 3,000 fans. Stanford can count on at least a little support from folks who drive in from Huxley, the town of 3,300 where Greenfield grew up. It's 10 minutes from Hilton Coliseum.
"I definitely wasn't planning on it. It was a huge surprise," Greenfield said of her homecoming. "To be able to see all my family and have them come to games, and a lot of close friends, I'm really excited about it."
Greenfield is a 6-foot-3 reserve forward on a team led by national player of the year candidate Chiney Ogwumike, the only player in the country to rank in the top 10 in scoring (26.8 ppg), rebounding (12.3 rpg), field-goal percentage (61.0) and double-doubles (24).
Greenfield was a high school All-American at Ballard Community High School, and she led her team to a state championship. She disappointed some of the locals when she accepted Stanford's offer over one from Iowa State.
She's averaging 5.7 points in 17 minutes a game and is shooting 39.1 percent on 3-pointers.
"Taylor has some great basketball instincts," VanDerveer said. "She's a phenomenal passer. She's been knocking down her shots. She can guard people when she works really hard at it."
Five things to know about the Florida State-Iowa State and South Dakota-Stanford games:
CYCLONES SHORT ON SIZE: Iowa State isn't worried about its size disadvantage against Florida State. All-Big 12 forward Hallie Christofferson is the only starter over 6-foot.
"Since October, we haven't gotten any taller, so we've been playing undersized all season and we've gotten quality wins playing like that," guard Brynn Williamson said.
CONTRASTING STYLES: Only two teams in the tournament, Florida Gulf Coast and UT Martin, make more 3-pointers than Iowa State. The Cyclones, who average nine a game, will be going against FSU's 2-3 zone defense, a style they typically don't see in the Big 12.
The Seminoles love to feed Natasha Howard in the post and are 276th nationally at 4.1 3s a game.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED: Ames is a special place to Florida State coach Sue Semrau. In 2001 she brought her first NCAA team to Hilton Coliseum, where it lost to Iowa State in the second round. Nine NCAA appearances have followed, including an Elite Eight in 2010.
FSU senior associate athletics director Vanessa Fuchs and assistant coach Brooke Wyckoff played on the 2001 team.
"You see things go full circle," Semrau said. "I remember the first game we played Tulane and just the joy that came from being in this environment at the NCAA tournament. It really got things rolling for Florida State. There is a satisfaction to where we've come from 13 years later."
LAST VISIT WAS MEMORABLE: Stanford's VanDerveer knows how much Iowans love their women's basketball. She said the last time she visited the state was in February 1985, when she was the head coach at Ohio State. The Buckeyes won 56-47, but the most memorable statistic was the attendance at Carver-Hawkeye Arena — a since-broken women's basketball-record 22,157.
NOT MUCH TO LOSE: South Dakota coach Amy Williams and her players were all smiles Friday. The NCAA tournament wasn't on the Coyotes' radar when they lost their first four Summit League games. They advanced by winning their conference tournament.
"We're on cloud nine still," guard Nicole Seekamp said.
The Coyotes' met with reporters shortly after Mercer knocked out No. 3 seed Duke in the men's tournament.
"It seems like it's Upset City around here," Seekamp said. "Hopefully that can happen again tomorrow."