Flores Cardinal's On-Court Catalyst





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With a little under five minutes left in a game that was already over, Shavaki Jackson was breaking to an unguarded basket and was in position to receive an up-court pass that would give her the opportunity for her easiest two points of the night.

After pointing to a teammate who was supposed to be guarding Jackson as if to say, "This player is almost a foot taller than me and you expect me to break this one up?" Milena Flores did just that, stripping the ball away from Jackson and denying her an opportunity to score.

The play was indicative of what the senior point guard does for Stanford. When there is a play to be made, a much-needed basket, or an open teammate who needs the ball, Flores is the one for the job. She gives the Cardinal what the Bears do not have - an offensive operator.

"Obviously Milena is kind of the engine of this train, she makes us go," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.

Friday night, Flores ran the Cardinal offense to near-perfection, scoring a team-high 15 points, and still found time to get the ball to her teammates.

But perhaps most importantly, she did what there is no statistic for - made good decisions.

The senior took the smart shots, making sure not to rush herself or shoot too early in the possession. Flores also found the open teammate, and pushed the ball up the floor in transition.

"I thought she had a good game," Cal coach Marianne Stanley said. "We went to a full-court press one time and we couldn't contain her - (she) broke through it."

In the opening minutes of the second half - when Stanford was extending its lead to 20 points - Flores scored eight points and added an assist, finding Jamie Carry for the third of three consecutive Cardinal three-pointers.

Flores played 36 minutes against the Bears, but after the game she was fielding questions about the last four minutes of the game, when she got a much-deserved rest.

"I definitely feel good when everybody gets to go out there and gets some really positive minutes," Flores said. "And then to be able to rest feels good. It would have been different had we played two games this week, I maybe would have enjoyed it a little bit more."

By the time she came out of the game, Flores made it clear what Cal lacks: a floor general of its own.

The Bears' problem at the point this year has been their lack of continuity. The team has not had a consistent point guard this season, and many times Stanley has been forced into playing a player out of position.

Coming into the season, Stanley was excited at the prospect of actually having depth at the point with the return of redshirt sophomore Masa Radovic and incoming transfer Nicole Ybarra.

But after playing most of the preseason, Radovic was lost for the season when her recurring back problems returned in Cal's Pac-10 season-opening trip to Arizona. Ybarra - the closest player to a pure point guard the team possesses - has had to play with a sore Achilles' tendon this season and has received limited minutes.

At 6 feet, Radovic was not the quickest player, and did little for the team in transition, while Ybarra has not helped her team offensively (19.1 percent field-goal percentage) and has had more turnovers (31) than assists (28).

With Radovic down and Ybarra unready for the starting role, Stanley assigned shooting guard Courtney Johnson the ball-handling duties.

Johnson has handled the job well for the most part. She missed two games last week due to the lingering effects of a concussion she suffered against Santa Clara Dec. 2. In the first game she missed, the Bears' offense hit rock bottom, scoring a Pac-10 record-low 33 points.

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