STANFORD -- Coach Tara VanDerveer has relied on variations of the triangle offense for so long that it has become a Stanford women's basketball trademark.
When the Cardinal opens the season Friday at Maples Pavilion against Fresno State, the team will unveil a new style of play that the Hall of Fame coach hopes leads to a sixth consecutive trip to the Final Four.
The loss of All-America post player Nneka Ogwumike and the emergence of sophomore point guard Amber Orrange have led Stanford to increase the tempo with pick-and-rolls and perimeter shooting.
"I tend to play better off a pick-and-roll," said Orrange, who is primed to become the Cardinal's best point guard in years. "I feel honored that they trust me."
The transformation began at the end of last season when Stanford played vigorously in reaching the national semifinals, where it fell to center Brittany Griner and top-ranked Baylor 59-47.
When asked about the patented triangle, VanDerveer said: "We're not always running that. We're trying to be more creative on offense -- stuff we've never done before."
In recent years Stanford relied on a steady diet of low-post offense behind future WNBA players Jayne Appel and Ogwumike. Cardinal guards rarely drove through the lane to break down defenses until Orrange arrived.
Now her slashing style will be featured because the school's best inside player, Chiney Ogwumike, isn't as imposing inside as her sister Nneka.
"We will flash her in there, but we're not going to have a one-post offense," VanDerveer said of the preseason All-American.
However, the Cardinal isn't rejecting its highly structured offense completely.
"You can never get rid of the Stanford triangle," Chiney Ogwumike said. "But coaches see how the game is evolving."
Over the next two months VanDerveer will search for the right combination of players who can withstand the rigors of the Pac-12 and perhaps the NCAA tournament schedules.
"I'll consider anything," VanDerveer said.
Senior forward Joslyn Tinkle, junior guard Toni Kokenis and sophomore Taylor Greenfield probably will join Chiney Ogwumike and Orrange in the starting lineup. But six others will get a chance on a team that should be deep.
The triangle will return with the evolution of the Cardinal's next big-time post player -- 6-foot-5 freshman Tess Picknell of Medford, Ore. The bulky center will have a steep learning curve with the rest of the team, which faces Griner and top-ranked Baylor on Nov. 16 in the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic in Hawaii.
The Cardinal also has tough nonconference games at Gonzaga (Dec. 2), South Carolina (Dec. 19) and Tennessee (Dec. 22). The school plays host to second-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 29 in what could lead to the end of the nation's longest home winning streak.
Stanford has won 79 consecutive games at Maples since the start of the 2007-08 season. It will be favored in three home games before facing UConn.
"If you lose a player who averages 22 points a game and is the whole focal point of the team like Andrew Luck was, it ain't going to be pretty every minute of the day," VanDerveer said of life without Nneka Ogwumike.
In other words, Stanford fans might see a lot more close games than in previous seasons.
"This is the first year where Stanford is going to have to look over their shoulder a little bit," USC coach Michael Cooper said. "Whoever wins the conference title may have one or two losses this year."
If so, the Cardinal's conference-record win streak against league schools would end. Stanford will open Pac-12 play Jan. 4 at Colorado having won 78 games in a row.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.