The Post-Journal

VanDerveer Becomes Winningest Coach In College Basketball History

Tara VanDerveer,
Tara VanDerveer, seen greeting the fans after setting the record Sunday, was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. AP photo.

STANFORD, Calif. — It never fails, Tara VanDerveer always takes a minute to thank everybody for coming to the game and that includes offering her immense gratitude to the Stanford band.

On Sunday, moments after her latest remarkable milestone in a career filled with them and as the new winningest coach in basketball history, she politely asked the band to stop playing. VanDerveer took the microphone and began with her words of appreciation once more.

Just as those who love her so hoped it turn out, VanDerveer passed former Duke and Army coach Mike Krzyzewski with her 1,203rd career victory at home in Maples Pavilion when No. 8 Stanford beat Oregon State 65-56.

“It’s really special to win a game and have you all here to celebrate,” VanDerveer said. “It’s also really special to have so many former players come back. … It’s just so exciting to see everybody. Thank you all very much for coming out, I really appreciate it.”

A head coach since age 24, VanDerveer, a Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame inductee, celebrated with thousands on her team’s home floor with a couple dozen former players on hand to cheer the Hall of Fame coach on for yet another triumph in a 45-year career filled with memorable accomplishments.

And for a nearly full arena, this was also a chance for fans to show their love for a Hall of Fame coach who has been shining her light on women’s basketball for 4 1/2 decades.

“Tara! Tara!” they yelled in the closing seconds before the celebration began.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for Tara VanDerveer, who is already one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of basketball,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “This is yet another milestone to add to an amazing legacy. More important than all the astounding numbers and career accomplishments, she’s positively impacted countless lives as a coach and a mentor. Tara remains a true guardian of our sport.”

It was tense at times, with VanDerveer standing with arms crossed and pacing the sideline as Kiki Iriafen and her supporting cast made the big plays when it mattered most — including Iriafen’s first 3-pointers. Stanford was missing All-American Cameron Brink because of a lower left leg injury suffered in Friday’s win over Oregon.

“I just love how our team battled,” VanDerveer told the crowd. “How ’bout Kiki!”

Iriafen contributed a career-high 36 points on 16-for-26 shooting and 11 rebounds and Talana Lepolo 14 points and six assists for the Cardinal (17-2, 6-1 Pac-12). The game drew a near-capacity crowd of 7,022 at Maples Pavilion, which holds 7,233.

VanDerveer improved to 1,203-267 overall and 1,051-216 over 38 seasons at Stanford. A 17-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year with five national Coach of the Year honors, VanDerveer has captured three NCAA titles with Stanford — 1990, ’92 and 2021 — and coached the 1996 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal at the Atlanta Games during a year away from Stanford.

Stanford led 28-22 at the break having shot just 12 of 34 but was willed in the second half as former star players such as Jennifer Azzi, Chiney Ogwumike, Ros Gold-Onwude and Jayne Appel-Marinelli were among those in attendance along with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice supporting the beloved coach.

“What does it mean to me? It means everything. It’s like your family member getting married or someone had a baby, Coach is making history, we all come back and we celebrate,” Ogwumike said. “It’s just a part of our life now. Showing up for Tara is the same way you show up for a sister, an aunt, a brother. She’s family to all of us.”

VanDerveer received warm ovations at every chance, from the moment she walked out onto the court during pregame warmups and again for introductions. She credited the Beavers for their grace in offering congratulations in the hand-shake line after the final buzzer.

“I got to play for the greatest coach of all-time,” Azzi said.

Raegan Beers scored 18 points to lead Oregon State (15-3, 4-3), which had won three straight games.

Stanford missed 10 straight shots during a first-quarter funk before Brooke Demetre connected from deep at the 1:50 mark.

Oregon State coach Scott Rueck credits VanDerveer for elevating the entire over the decades.

“The most remarkable thing about her is she’s done it for so long and she’s remained at such a high level of excellence,” Rueck said. “And that’s her preparation, her attention to detail is the separator.”


Oregon State: The Beavers dropped to 1-35 all-time on Stanford’s home floor and coach Scott Rueck is 3-22 vs. Stanford. Oregon State has lost the last 13 in the series dating to a 50-47 victory on Feb. 24, 2017, in Corvallis.

Stanford: VanDerveer, who didn’t have the playing opportunities growing up before Title IX, has considered herself so fortunate to get an early start in coaching at Idaho in 1978-79. She turned around the Vandals program and did so next at Ohio State then Stanford. She earned her 1,000th win Feb. 3, 2017, and became winningest women’s coach on Dec. 15, 2020, by passing the late Tennessee coach Pat Summitt (1,098).


Oregon State: Hosts Colorado on Friday night.

Stanford: At Arizona State on Friday night.

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