Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jayne Shines for Stanford!

This just in….at the half, it’s Iowa State 25, Jayne Apple 27.

Yes, that’s right, Jayne Appel of Stanford has single handedly outscored the whole Iowa State team in the first half. How did she do it? Well, it’s more a matter of what Iowa State didn’t do. They didn’t double cover her in the paint. Left in single coverage the whole first half, she scored 15 of the first 18 Stanford points. Pohlen hit a three in there. Then, around the 11 and a half mark Necka got a basket. Lindy got a three, I think. But it was Jayne going left, Jayne going right, Jayne missing and getting her own rebound and putting it back in.

The score was 38-25 at the half, with 27 of the points Jayne’s.

C and R have traveled again to Berkeley to see Stanford in the Elite Eight. We see someone cleaned up the peanut shells under our chairs. Thanks, Cal. Seatmates ask R what Jayne’s career high is, and R, with her fancy phone finds out it is 33.

Iowa State lives and dies by the three pointer and it looks like to C and R the Stanford team is on notice that if your player makes a three, you go to the bench. At least that’s what it seems like with Necka. She gets taken out a few times when her player scores. And all of our players are out on the perimeter, even our big girls of Jayne, Kayla and Necka. It seems to work as we limit them in the first half.

When the second half opens, Jayne goes right back to it and scores the first six points. Iowa State then half-heartedly tries a double team on Jayne. At first she kicks it out to other players and then decides the double team is not that strong and takes it in herself. The double team, instead of stopping her, just fouls her! And she has been struggling at the line of late. But she makes enough to get 33 with 17 minutes left.

Then it’s Jayne 34, Iowa 29, hee hee. The pro-Stanford crowd, while not as big as Saturday’s, is still pretty big for a Monday and is loving the Jayne Appel show.

Another seatmate asks R what the tournament record is. C remembers Candice Wiggins had 44 last year in the tournament, so that is the Stanford record, at least.

Jill is on a mission to get the ball to Jayne. The whole team must want Jayne to get the record, whatever it is. Jill is trying so hard to get ball to Jayne that she keeps forcing it and we keep turning it over. It is actually cute to see Stanford be so uncharacteristically unmethodical and sloppy, and care so much to hit Jayne.

Jayne hits her free throws for 40 points.

We have all our starters still in with 6 and a half minutes to go. C and R wonders if Tara is trying to make some kind of statement, such as, “you gave Duke the number one seed and they lost in the second round and we are still here beating teams by 20 or more points”. Also, if we let off and put in subs, and Iowa hits 3 or 4 three pointers, they are right back in it, or will make the score look respectable. And this game wasn’t even close.

Jayne ties Candice with a hook shot with three and a half minutes left. She gets one more basket to end up with 46, a school record and third best in tournament history and Tara says okay, and pulls her with 1:43 to play. Stanford wins 74-53, so 20 points it is.

The nets come down and Stanford is set for the final four….against…..Uconn.. Gulp.

The good news is we are the last team to beat them! The bad news is no one has beat them all season. Off to St. Louis!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sweet Sixteen for Stanford!

C and R have done the unthinkable. We have ventured into enemy territory. We have gone to….dunt-dun-dun….CAL!

Someone was looking out for the Cardinal when they made sure that if they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen they would play at the Berkeley Regional on Cal’s campus, right up the road. Cal, meanwhile, had to fly to Trenton, New Jersey! Hee hee! (Although C had Cal losing in the second round and now her bracket is all messed up!). Stanford will be playing Ohio State with the winner going to the Elite Eight.

This is our first trip to Hass Pavilion ever, even though it is less than an hour away from us. C and R drive around Cal trying to figure out the parking signs and finally park. The concession stand is a nightmare, as Cal students can’t figure out how to properly pop popcorn. (It’s true, they would fill a single bag in the back, and one person would walk the bag to the popcorn popper out front and place it inside and then go back for another single bag!) While C was standing in line, they ran out of hot dogs and drink lids. Maybe they were not expecting this to be a big crowd for women’s basketball. Stanford fans like their hot dogs and sodas.

C sees they have bags of peanuts for sale and buys one. When she gets to her seat (whoa, steep trajectory to the sunk-in floor, don‘t want to tip over!), she realizes she has no where to put her shells, so C and R take turns piling up the shells under their seats on Cal’s floor! (Hee Hee) We settle in to watch the undercard match, Michigan State vs. Iowa State.

We are with about a dozen friends and we ask V, the person who had enough foresight to buy this block of tickets for us way in advance, who she thinks is going to win. She says she wants Iowa State to win but thinks Michigan State will win. Oh, the old hedging bets routine. C and R have no vested interest in this game as we had both teams losing in earlier rounds in our brackets; although Stanford will play the winner of this game if they get by Ohio State.

Michigan State has a small lead in the final two minutes but plays with no sense urgency and they manage their timeouts wrong. Iowa hits two three pointers at the end to pull off the victory. Michigan State deserved to lose by not playing smart at the end. C and R realize after watching Stanford all these years that Tara has the players ready for any scenario and she manages the clock well. We are, in a good sense, spoiled.

C asks R if she thinks this game will be a sell out. The place is pretty packed, but we notice there is an empty block of seats in the middle front. The place will look empty if the TV camera pans there. C and R have been screaming all tournament about empty arenas. We hope this won’t be the case here, where we support women’s basketball. We wonder if the seats are corporate giveaways and the people they gave them to couldn’t be bothered to show up. As the minutes count down, most of the seats do get filled with Stanford fans. Good, we were worried. They announce a crowd of 6,178. Not bad. That is certainly better than the PAC-10 Tournament at USC and other regional sites.

The bands are regulated to little boxes and the Stanford student bandleader already decides he can’t fit in the tiny box. He stands outside the box with the cheerleaders to be able to move around. When Stanford plays, they move their bodies and swing in time to the beat and those who are not playing their instrument at that particular moment dance. With their red vests and kooky hats and individualized pins and other doo-dads, the band is indeed an eclectic bunch. The Ohio State Band wears matching maroon polo shirts with no individualization whatsoever, sit when they play and do not move a muscle or show an ounce of emotion. Those who do not play their instrument sit quietly waiting to play again. The bandleader is some elderly gentleman with headphones on, all the better to not hear the music. When Ohio State shoots a free throw the whole band spells out "O-H-I-O" in block letters with mechanical precision. It is a little scary!

The game starts and we have our big lineup in, and Jayne actually wins the jump. Repeat, Jayne won the jump! But then we look rattled and nervous and make rookie mistakes, because Necka is a rookie and keeps throwing the inbounds pass away, and we are quickly down 2-8. Their center, lat name Lavender, is 6’4 and their point guard, Sammy something, is quick and pushes the tempo. Necka gets yanked for Ros and Ros hits two threes and brings us some calmness and sanity.

Whenever there is a timeout, and this game, actually being shown on regular ESPN, not ESPN 2 or some shopping network, has a lot of loooong TV timeouts, uh, I lost my train of thought, those timeouts were so long. Oh yeah, whenever there is a timeout the Ohio State bench, who has perfectly good chairs provided by Cal, mind you, brings out these little canvas camp chairs for everyone to sit on in the middle of their half of the floor. They have a little camp out right in the middle of the game, with some s’mores and hot chocolate and the coach telling ghost stories about this giant Jaaayne and the Creature known as Kayla coming to get you….Wait, I digress, but it is funny to see Ohio State camping out on the floor!

Pohlen starts playing like a woman possessed. We pull ahead 9-8 but the Ohio State guard single-handedly pulls them back with her quick drives to the basket, until Kayla draws a charge on her. Kayla is so smart.

Jayne is not having a good half and to make matters worse, she misses a free throw. This ain’t high school, or even regular season, or even the PAC-10 tournament, Jayne, this is the one-loss-and-you-are-out-so-you-better-make-your-free-throws-kinda-game, Jayne! Jayne missed the second free throw.

Jill makes one of her great steals and basket, and is really hustling everywhere. With six minutes left in the first half we have a slight lead, 29-24. Ohio State’s center, Lavender, gets two quick fouls around the five minute mark and goes to the bench, That helps Stanford immensely. Ohio State has another camp out, I mean, timeout.

Pohlen is trying to run fast breaks but Necka seems hesitant to go inside. With 18 seconds left, we knock the ball out of bounds. Ohio State inbounds the ball and Pohlen steals it and Necka runs ahead but not hard enough or fast enough. They steal it back, they can’t get their shot to fall and it is 37 to 35 at half, we have the lead.

After a long stand in lines for both the bathroom and a pretzel, C makes it back with 17 seconds to spare.

We open the half with great defense. Jayne gets fouled as she shoots and the ball gets stuck right between the rim and the backboard. The refs look around for another ball and C yells for Necka and as if she heard, Necka gets up from the bench and looks at Tara to make sure it is okay and then trots out and jumps up to tap the ball free. Hee hee, if that doesn’t intimidate the other team….

Then Jayne misses 2 more free throws.

But to credit Jayne, she is still playing hard. She runs the fast break and Pohlen gives an incredibly long pass, and Jayne and scores and takes out a Stanford Dollie. Slingin’ Sammy from Ohio State keeps up the pressure and slashes and drives in, or dishes off in the last second and Ohio State gets some easy baskets.

Their center, Lavender gets her fourth foul at the 12-minute mark and goes to the bench. She stays out until the 6-minute mark, and that is just what Jayne needs. When she comes back in, Ohio State’s guard, Sammy, wills her team to score and Stanford goes cold. With 5 and a half minutes left, our lead has dwindled. The score is 66-62. C and R are nervous!

Then, finally, with about five minutes left, Jayne and Necka take turns scoring, or passing to each other to score, and we miraculously pull away. Ohio State camps out again to talk about it and /or tell ghost stories, but they have no answer. Jill makes her fourth steal of the game, feeds it to Pohlen on the wing. She gives Jill a give and go right back to her and Jill makes the basket and is fouled. Insult to injury! The crowd roars and roars again as she makes the free throw. The next time down Jill hits a three, and she didn’t make one all season or somehtin’, it’s that kind of magic now.

The final score is 84 to 66, but the game was much, much closer than that. Jayne ended up with 25, most of theme came in the second half. Jill had 16, Necka had 15 and Ros had 10. Ohio State didn’t get much help from their bench, although the freshmen guard had 19 and was very impressive.

We are playing Iowa State on Monday, and from what C and R saw, we can totally handle them! Then off to the final four!! See ya Monday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Duke is Out!

So now Duke lost! Ahg…there goes our brackets all to pieces! I am starting to hate that I got involved in this bracket-picking contest at all. It is keeping me form concentrating on the more important issues, such as the selection committee back East, with its West Coast bias, giving Duke the number one seed over Stanford. And DUKE LOST IN THE SECOND ROUND! They lost to number nine seed Michigan State 63-49. Duke didn’t make a shot for the last seven and a half minutes! Duke was outscored 16-2 in the end! Duke shot 27% from the field! The last time a big-time team like this was eliminated this early in the NCAA tournament was 1997. In the last ten years, the only top-seeded team to lose in the second round was Ohio State in 2006 against eighth-seeded Boston College. Their head coach was booed (well, she did coach at Michigan State for the last seven years before running to oh-so-superior-Duke—who’s laughing now?)

Well, the silver lining is this is good news for Stanford. When they beat Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday on practically a home court, they would face the winner of the Michigan St-Iowa State game. Michigan State is seeded 9th and Iowa State (Iowa State?) is seeded 4th.

Both C and R are tied for second in our basketball buddies bracket. C has dropped down to eighth on Women Talk Sports Bracket. (I made different picks on each bracket). It should be a great weekend for Women’s Basketball!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Women's Basketball Tourney, Round 2

R comes over with pizzas in hand to watch the second round of the Women’s NCAA basketball Tournament. It is on TV three nights in a row, how lucky can a fan of women’s basketball get?

We turn on the TV and see Arizona State is tied with Florida State. “Oh. No!” C shouts at exactly the same time R says, “Go Arizona!”

C looks at R with confusion. If Arizona State wins, it will mess up both our brackets. We both have Florida State advancing. C reminds R of this.

R says she always cheers for a fellow PAC-10 team in the NCAA tournament, bracket picks or no bracket picks. C says normally she would support the PAC-10, too, but she wants to win the bracket competition; a competition is a competition.

A few minutes later, Arizona State wins it, darn it. And we see Cal is winning their game against Virginia. No! We both have Cal losing that game, too!

Hush, now, says C, it’s time for the Stanford-San Diego State game (my daughter got in to that school, too). The media has been saying San Diego will be playing in front of a home crowd and they were so energetic because of that crowd last game, but we see in the camera pans to the stands that they are not even close to being filled. When ESPN 2 shows a flash of the Rutgers game (They won, we also picked them to lose…sigh) on their home court, we see the seats actually filled. Ya gotta pick sites that support women’s basketball, and San Jose, with Cal and Stanford, would have been a good one.

We have our big team in of Jayne, Kayla and Necka. Add Jill and Jeanette, and all of our starters are 6 feet or over. San Diego has one player over 6 feet on the floor.

San Diego fouls Necka on our first possession. She makes both free throws. Fast break to Jayne on the second possessions, she misses but Necka puts in the rebound. They foul Jayne inside on the third, she converts, and they pick Pohlen’s pocket on the fourth. My goodness, this is a fast paced game. C and R can’t even catch their breath. San Diego wanted to come out fast and use their speed. Stanford is matching them speed for speed, even with everybody over 6 feet.

Kayla draws a charge from SDS, and the announcers repeat the mantra that Tara said Kayla has the smartest basketball IQ on the team, if not in the world…well, no, I don’t know if she said the world part, but she did say she is the smartest basketball player on her team.

Then Jayne commits a foul and looks to the bench to be replaced. Tara hesitates, and C and R get hopeful she will leave Jayne in. Ros takes off her sweats and goes in for her the next dead ball, darn! Then Ros gets scored on. Double darn.

Jeannette gets hit in the head. Again. Hope the nine stitches from earlier this year hold her head together. Then Stanford inbounds the ball and she throws a two-handed pass foul line to foul line to a receiving Ros who hits the lay-up. Amazing! And that is why she is playing the point guard. Ros could never make that kind of pass. Then Jeannette fouls again and she has two quick ones and she goes to the bench. Lindy comes in.

Jill makes a patented steal and lay up and we get some breathing room. Jayne comes back in and is money in the bank, hitting from inside. We start to pull away. Then, Jayne shoots, gets two rebounds in the same possession, and can’t make any of the shots. When SDS gets the rebound she reaches in and fouls. Two for her, she gets yanked.

Now both Jayne and Jeannette are on the bench. Arguably our two best players on the bench! Tara, what are you thinking? San Diego is still trying to run on us.

Boothe is in, with Ros and we look a little lost. They cherry pick us for an easy basket. The announcers said Tara told the team, “No cherry picking! We must not let them get easy baskets in transition.”

A great inside pass to Boothe and she sails the ball over the rim to the other side. When Tara sees this, she yanks her and puts in …Lindy? Not Jayne? How long is Jayne going to sit?

Ros is doing point guard duties, and Jene Morris for SDS is applying great pressure on her in the backcourt. She was an all-defensive-player in her conference. Ros goes to make a pass and instead throws in into Morris, who has anticipated this. Morris gets ready to zoom down court but Ros knows she will really, really get yelled at if they make this basket, so she first grabs Morris’ jersey and then grabs her body to keep her near. The foul is fine, anything to keep from getting scored on and the ire of Tara. The whistle and foul is indeed on Ros and she gets yanked, maybe having saved face a little.

Before C and R know it, it is halftime and we have a 38-26 lead. It doesn’t feel like much of a lead because SDS is not letting up. The announcers say we went on a 22-10 run to take control, but again, it doesn’t feel like we are in control at all.

The TV switches to the Cal-Virginia game. C reminds R we need Cal to lose, but R has decided firmly to root for PAC-10 teams. Cal even makes the shot at the buzzer to end their half and go up 51-33. This from a team that only averaged 66 points a game. They practically got that in the first half.

Our Stanford game starts and the starting five are back in, including Jayne and Jeanette. Thank goodness. Jayne only played 6 minutes of the first half. Jayne either hits inside or when double-teamed, finds Necka cutting to the basket. Jill makes another Jill-type steal and the basket, forces them to call a time out. We are suddenly up by 20.

In one of San Diego’s possession, Kayla blocks them twice. C and R consider Kayla the unsung hero of this game. She does it all, anchoring our defense, drawing charges, rebounding. We noticed she is the first one back on defense to stop the fast break.

San Diego keeps pressing us, because everybody knows we are vulnerable to the press. We start to panic a little. Jill gets tied up with a jump ball from the press; they almost steal it from Jeanette, but foul instead. They come back a little, now it is 50-32, Stanford.

Tara calls timeout and tells them to take care of the ball. Time in and the first thing they do is steal it from Jeanette. This time no foul. They press us again and this time Kayla brings the ball up court. She does this several times. Now Kayla drives, sees Jayne and hits her near the basket for an easy two. C and R nominate Kayla for point guard!

Then Jayne spoils the fun by fouling. Her fourth! Good thing we are up 56-32. Jayne goes to the bench.

After a SDS basket, we cannot inbound the ball quickly enough and get a five second violation. Come on ladies, let’s not panic. Speaking of panic, SDS has a desperate air around them, and while it is not panic, they are going all out for steals, usually double-teaming the ball handler. There are nine minutes left in the game and C and R don’t feel safe. Can we hold on to win?

Tara senses this and puts Jayne back in. A San Diego player drives towards Jayne and Kayla runs over, hands straight up to protect Jayne. How cute! Thirty seconds later, Jayne fouls out. Twelve points, 11 boards, a double-double and five fouls for Jayne.

C and R are a little nervous.

Jill and Necka put on a show and get us up by 25 again. We go on to win 77-49. It is a career night for Necka. She has 27 points and 13 rebounds, both career highs. We will need her to play like this every game.

Next game is against Ohio State (C is from Ohio...), at Berkeley, on a Saturday night, no less, and C and R have tickets, having had friends who had the foresight to get the tickets months in advance. Come one, Stanford fans, let's show the TV people we can pack an arena!

In other news, we see Cal scored 99 points and won! This from a team that only averages 66 points a game! I think they only committed one turnover all game or somethin'. All three teams from the PAC-10 are still in it, darn it. We only picked Stanford.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Women's Basketball Tourney, Round 1

So, C and R were happy to find that ESPN has an interactive women’s bracket that you can fill out and it keeps track of who picked what correctly. In most years, we can’t even find the women’s bracket on a website, let alone get to pick and play, so kudos to ESPN.

If you still want to get involved, it’s not too late. You can join the Women Talk Sports group at ESPN's Women Tournament Challenge (top prize is $3,000 gift card through Best Buy).

C and R are also in a private bracket with their basketball buddies. It gives us a rooting interest in teams not named Stanford. And C won’t mention that in the first four games, R missed three of them to make her in last place! (Well, she did come back strong on Sunday.)

But we have one game this weekend we are focused on, the Stanford-UC Santa Barbara game Saturday night.

C and R turn on the TV around 7 PM our time to check in with what is going on with the Women’s Tournament. We see Cal beat Fresno State. Good, we needed them to win in our bracket. We are now watching San Diego State play DePaul. The game is being held in San Diego. The stands are empty, even for this home team. People couldn’t even go to the arena in their hometown. That is sad. I can’t wait until Stanford makes it to the Berkeley region and the Stanford fans drive an hour or so to pack the arena to show the powers that be that you need to have the tournaments in places that support women’s basketball.

The game ends at 7:30 and they spend the next half-hour with recaps, filler, and some game that is not Stanford. C and R’s enthusiasm, so high at 7 PM, is now waning at the 8 o’clock hour.

Finally, we see a shot of the Stanford dollies and we know we are next. Jayne loses the tip but I think the UCSB center hit it way the heck back to Jeanette, so we have the ball. Jill drives in a tiny bit and hits a jumper at the top of the circle, right in her range, for two. Good start.

Then we come out bombing threes. UCSB is shooting air balls. This definitely ain’t high school. Who was the team to go to the National Championship game last year?

All this week the media, looking for their "hook" story, have been concentrating on Jeannette Pohlen, who has emerged as a great point guard for Stanford. She doesn’t fit the mold and doesn’t play it as other, traditional, point guards, but she has been effective. We see her wing it down court, in traffic, to Jayne who finishes for two. Time out, Stanford up 13-4.

UCSB tries to make a mini comeback and we are stuck at 17-11 for a while before Pohlen makes another three. Then Pohlen makes this incredible steal out of nowhere and ends with a lay up and we go up 22-11. Whew!

Boothe and Lindy go in, and C and R are surprised to see them so early. Then Boothe makes a foul and the camera flashes to Tara who mouths "Jayne". Sarah gets yanked. Just like Jayne does.

Stanford continues the hot shooting from the perimeter. In one series at our basket, Jill shoots and misses and Necka, Kayla, and Jayne all rebound and shoot and miss, too. Well, wait, Jayne made her shot. We are dominating the boards.

Now our third string comes in, with Melanie Murphy and Michelle Harrison, and we are winning 14-42. UCSB has not made a basket since the 5:51 mark. Kayla is still in and she is playing excellent defense, hands straight up, no fouls, taking away shots and sometimes the ball from them.

The score at halftime is indeed 42-14 and the announcers state that Stanford went on a 25-3 run to close the half. I think Stanford wants to make a point.

When the half starts again, Stanford is not letting off the gas. They are pushing the tempo and now that Santa Barbara is guarding the three point line closer, Jayne goes to work inside.

Then more subs and Stanford cruises to a 74-39 victory. Jayne gets player of the game. Four Stanford players are in double figures (Pohlen, Necka, Jayne, Kayla), and Jill had 9. Three players have double figures in rebounds (Jayne, Necka, Boothe), and Kayla had 9. Stanford has a double double-double from Jayne and Necka. Jayne had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Necka had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

So, you think everyone would be happy with this performance, yes? Think again. "We hit our shots, rebounded and took care of the ball really well early on," coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I think we can play better. We will have to do a better job on Monday." So Tara praises them and said they did everything right, yet the have to do better? Boy, think Tara is a tough taskmaster or what?

Stanford plays the hometown favorite San Diego State Monday night around 6:30 ish, but not to worry about a big crowd.

In other, unrelated Stanford news, Pat Summit’s Tennessee’s team lost! This is the first time Tennessee has lost in a first round, going 42-0 through the years. And it wasn’t even close, they lost 71-55 to Ball State. Tennessee also became the first defending champ to lose in the first round of the women's tourney. Old Dominion won the title in 1985 and failed to make the tournament the following year.

C and R talk about how sad it is Pat Summit is out, and we hate to see her go, and this… really, really messes up our bracket!

Also saw Uconn rolled to a 104-65 victory over Vermont. Yikes!

However, C would like to note she is tied for first in the Women’s Talk Sports bracket pick!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bracket Talk

So the media keeps asking and hoping to get Stanford all riled up about "only" getting a number two seed in the NCAA women's basketball tournament. Ya know, the draw we got is not that bad. Duke and Tennessee will have to meet each other in the sweet sixteen. We will, if all goes right, meet Ohio State in the sweet sixteen. Gee, play against the greatest women's basketball coach in Pat Summit or little ol' Ohio State (although with C being from Ohio, she is always happy to see an Ohio team do well). And if Duke prevails over Tennessee to advance and we make it to the elite eight, well, we have a point guard now, and three people over 6'2. As Tara said, we are the most improved team in the country.

Cal, not so lucky. Number 4 seed Cal has to get by number 5 seed Virginia and then play the all star team of number 1-in the-whole-world seed Uconn.

And, oh, former Stanford player Candice Wiggins checked in from Spain and totally agrees with us on her picks. (Wonder if she wants to join our bracket contest?) She said Stanford to the final four, then steamrolled by Uconn. That's what C and R say, too, but she was kinder. She also said nobody plays like our Jayne, not even in the WNBA! But then they were BFFs at Stanford, so maybe we should take that with a grain of salt! Oh, wait, here is more on her picks, which I totally agree with!

Go Stanford! Saturday's game against UC Santa Barbara (oh, my daughter just got accepted there!) is on a "normal" TV channel, ESPN 2, I think at 8 ish after the first game at 5 PM.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Basketball Bracketology

It’s Women’s Bracket Monday and it might have been on TV or not, we don’t know, we couldn’t find the Home Shopping Network. R calls me around 6 PM to say it is not on TV, but Stanford a got a number 2 seed. We go to look it up online and after five fruitless minutes (and five minutes is an eternity online), we find the Women’s Basketball Bracket. The number one seeds are Uconn, Duke, Oklahoma, and Maryland. What, did the selection committee already make up their mind on Friday and take the weekend off? Oklahoma lost in the semis to Texas AM, who is 11-5 in conference play. Stanford played great this weekend in their tournament and blew everyone away by 25 or more points. Plus, we are ranked # 2 in the country and Oklahoma is ranked #4. How did Oklahoma get the first seed over us? No respect for the West.

Pac-10 Finals

I call R and tell her to hurry over to my house. I can pause live TV and then go backwards and make our own replays. I turn on the shopping channel that had the game yesterday and see the game is not on. I call R in a panic and tell her I can't find the game. She says she already stressed and looked all up and down all the channels and found it on channel 89. What? Okay, it is the CSNCA channel, whatever the heck that is.

We turn on the channel and we see a Stanford fan holding up a sign that says, "Jill the Thrill." The TV features shots of Jill. This is going to be a good game against underdog USC.
Stanford goes with the big line up of Jayne, Kayla and Necka, then Jill and Jeanette. Kayla wants to contribute more this game, as she didn't score a point last game. She drives inside and is fouled. She makes both shots.

We seem to be playing a perimeter offense, setting up on the three point line with quick passes but we can't work it inside. Luckily, Jeanette hits a three. Next possession, another long three by Pohlen but she missed and USC gets the rebound and Jayne reaches in and fouls. Bye Jayne. Lindy comes in, which is good because we need some better three point shooters if we are going to play on the perimiter. Necka takes it inside and gets whacked in the face mask, she stays down for awhile. Once hit in the nose, twice shy.

Jill flies in for a rebound and shoots and is fouled. Her shot goes in and she shoots her one free throw and she misses. This ain't high school. She makes up for it by hitting a three next time down, and we go up 14-6.

One of the announcers goes into the stands to talk to the USC men's basketball team. They just won the men's PAC-10 tournament and they are there to support the women. That is nice.
Ros comes in and gets a quick three. She picks up where she left off last game.

Next time down on offense, the USC center hits Jayne hard she doubles over and her hands touch the ground. Jayne gets up and "accidentally" swings her arm backward and hits the center in the face. It wasn't as obvious as the push but Jayne gets called for it. So she gets taken out.
But that is okay, Kayla is playing great defense, and we are up 21-8.

C and R love to see that Stanford is starting to drive in, as we normally don't see that from Stanford. A USC player knocks into Necka and she falls to the floor. USC gets called for the foul. The replay shows Necka helped herself down to the floor a little, just a little.

They press us and 6'4 Kayla takes it up the court, no fooling around. USC starts chipping away at our lead. Jill makes a basket and then a left-handed block on USC at the other end with a minute left.

Stanford plays great defense in the next 30 seconds and forces them into a thirty second shot clock violation. We get it with 7.8 seconds left. Pohlen is just going to take the whole thing in and she does, driving down the lane and makes it. We are up 33-24 at the half.

The announcers catch Tara and she praises her team's defense and guarding against the threes.
The half starts and Jayne is back in. Yay. She connects under the basket and the announcer says that is her first basket of the game! And yet we are still in the lead. She has been passing off the whole game, when not on the bench.

Kayla knocks down 2 quick shots, she has 16 points already. She wants to prove a point after not scoring last game.

Jill makes a steal and is tiptoeing up the sidelines on her way to the basket when she runs smack into the ref and runs out of bound. Jill turns and gives her a look that says, "Hey, I would have had a lay up!" Then she sees the ref is in pain and holding her knee and Jill pats her on the back as if to say, "Oh yeah, sorry I hit ya."

Jayne starts hitting inside and scores easily, we are up 57-37.

Jill goes up for a rebound and gets poked in the eye. She dribbles out of the key one-handed, holding her eye with the other hand. She dribbles to the sideline not sure what to do. Tara calls a time out for her. Now we are up by 30 points.

C says to R that we need to win by at least 20 to get a number one seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. It was doubtful going into this weekend that we would get a number one seed. With Oklahoma losing in their Big 12 tournament, and with us destroying all the teams we have faced, we are looking good. Luckily, our second string is doing well, as now Melanie Murphy, Cinnamon, Michelle, and even Grace goes in. We are up 87-55.

The subs hold on to win it 89-64.

Nobody is in the stands to see the trophy presentation. If this were played up north....

They announce the tournament first team and Jill got on it for the first time. So does Necka for the first time, because, well, she is a freshmen. Most outstanding player....R guesses it will be Jayne.....Kayla Pederson! Kayla Pederson gets most Outstanding Player?! Granted she had a great championship game, but she didn't even score a point in the semis. Did Jayne make anything? No Pohlen or Jayne. That was surprising.

Congratulations to Stanford. Tomorrow we see what the seeding committee thinks.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

UCLA and Stanford Battle in the Semis

Finally, after watching 20 minutes of filler after the Cal-USC ruling disaster, the Stanford-UCLA game starts. Necka is starting and scores the first 4 points. This announcer is hip to the Stanford lingo and calls her Necka instead of butchering her full name as the house announcer did yesterday.

UCLA comes out pressing us, what a surprise, and we make long, dangerous passes to half court and then long, dangerous passes across the key. Watch it ladies, those are long, dangerous, passes, and a more athletic team will steal those.

We have our tall line-up in with Jayne, Kayla and Necka, then Jill and Pohlen, but we are missing our guards. Lindy comes in, and she has been a good sub off the bench to rest starters and not have any let down in play. Ros Gol-Onwude also comes in.

Ros hits a three (Ros?) and they blow a whistle at the same time. They give her the basket and a foul to UCLA. We get the ball back. The next time down the court, she shoots another one and it goes it. A whistle also happens at the same time and they give her the basket and a foul to Jayne. What? Jayne gets yanked and Sarah Boothe comes in.

Boothe makes a nice back door cut and finishes this time for two. R says Boothe needs to step up for this tournament and in the NCAA tournament to help Stanford.

UCLA leaves Lindy open and she knocks down a three. Geez, don’t they watch the films? If Lindy has an ounce of daylight, she will shoot a three. Boothe commits a foul and UCLA is already in bonus. Not to make Boothe feel left out, Tara yanks her for making a foul just like she does to Jayne.

Ros hits another three…we know, we know, Ros…and we are up 22-11 at the commercial break.
Jayne gets fouled and misses both free throws, come on Stanford, this ain’t high school, as C likes to remind the TV set.

Jill hits a three, and the announcers tell us she did not even hit one last year. Wow, C and R could have sworn she made one or two. But because she played in the Olympics for New Zealand, the announcers reminds us, she has been working on her outside shooting and her threes.

Boothe runs down court and leads the fast break and she also finishes this one. Way to go, Sarah. Jill attempts a shot in the final seconds but misses, New Zealand or no New Zealand. The score is 39-21 Stanford at the half. Too bad nobody is in the stands to see this live and in person.

The announcers grab Tara at half time and ask her what her team needs to do and she says stop fouling! Good point, Tara, we can see why you are head coach! She also said she was happy to see her young players do well off the bench but the veterans also need to contribute and Kayla hasn’t scored a point yet. Wow.

The half starts with two quick feeds to Jayne and she converts. Then another lob to Jayne and she catches it over her head, spins and does a reverse lay-up. She is putting on a clinic. The score is 45-21 and UCLA has not scored a point since this half.

Oops-sees, then Jayne fouls, her FOURTH. Quickly to the bench. Good thing we don’t need her now.

Jill hits a three. The announcers say this is only the second time this season she has hit more than one three in a game! Really? Wow.

We are up 50-22 five minutes into the half, UCLA only has a free throw to show for it.
The announcers launch into the old story, well, old to C and R, that Jayne played water polo in high school and that his how she honed her toughness under the basket. It always warms C’s heart because her daughter plays water polo, and yes, you have to be tough to survive that sport. They mention the fact her suit was ripped away three times her senior season. They show pictures of Jayne in the pool. Cool. Then they thanked Jayne for getting the network the pictures because Jayne tried to talk her parents through the process of emailing them to her and when they couldn’t handle that (yes, C knows the feeling), her parents drove them down to the San Jose airport to Jayne before their flight to LA.

Jill makes a steal and goes in for the lay up, like C and R have seen her do so many times at Maples. UCLA tries to press us but it seems half-hearted. Kayla brings the ball up the court against the press, and dribbles behind her back left handed! C and R wonder if she even wishes she were a point guard.

Then the subs comes in, and the sub of the subs. We see Michelle Harrison, Cinnamon, and when Grace comes in, you know it is over. UCLA makes themselves feel good by scoring some on our subs but it isn’t even close. Final score 73-47, Stanford. See ya Sunday for the finals, on the home shopping network!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cal Got Robbed

R calls me in the morning all in a panic to tell me she doesn’t think the PAC-10 Semi-Finals are on TV after all. She said she checked the usual sports station and can’t find it. After perusing all 900 or so cable channels I get, I find it on an obscure shopping network. Really. Okay, it is supposed to be Fox Sports Network number 29 or something, but the afternoon is all about hawking jewelry. If this were the winter Olympics, this would be the channel showing curling. And those necklaces, they must be a special deal, because they are only going to show this on TV one time, one time only, so you better hurry….wait, somebody slap me …. they are hypnotic in their shameless pitches.

Anyhoo, I cautiously turn on the TV at 6:00 PM, and good thing for me the jewelry guy is gone and on comes Cal, playing “host” USC. The stands are still empty for the hometown team. Maybe the fans are all across town at the Staples center, where the Lakers and Clippers play, watching the MEN’S USC team, win their tournament. At one point the announcers said if this were still in San Jose, you would see 5,000 fans in the stands for Stanford, and she is correct. I hope they bring it back up north to where more people appreciate women’s basketball.

Both Cal and USC look nervous and C and R see several shots that don’t even hit the rim, including a couple of air balls. Come on, ladies, if we want to get more fans to this great game, you need to play a better game. USC is up 21-14, and they look like they are on a mission.
USC stays up by nine to thirteen most of the game, then with about 4 minutes left, Cal works it inside and creep back. Then, suddenly, down by two, and 7 seconds left, Alexis Gray-Lawson dribbles down court and her foot just slips out from under her, she loses the ball and USC forces a jump ball with .3 seconds. Man, is Cal snake-bit or what?

“Okay,” R pounds on my knee, “I remember this from last year. There is a rule that no one can catch and shot a ball with .3 seconds left. You need to have .4 seconds left. So Cal can’t win.” C is impressed with R’s knowledge of rule trivia.

The announcers say Cal has one chance, a long shot, it has to be a lob, and the player has to catch and shoot in one motion, she can’t land. A lob to the basket. USC knows it, Cal knows it, the 10 fans in the stands know it, and C and R know it. So what does Cal do? Cal throws a lob from half court and Ashley Walker catches and shoots, makes the most incredible shot in the air, she gets it off in time, the game is tied.

The refs huddle.

We see 500 replays. Remember, the clock doesn’t start until the ball touches a player. Ashley catches the ball in the air and the clock goes down to .2 seconds, she shoots it still in the air, the ball clearly leaves her hand as the clock ticks down to .1 seconds. Also remember as long as the ball leaves the players hand before the clock gets to 00, the shot counts, even if the ball is traveling in the air when the buzzer sounds. The ball kisses the backboard and drops right around the buzzer, but that doesn’t matter, it clearly left her hand at .2. It is a legal shot, in C and R’s opinion. The announcers agree.

The refs look at replays and still huddle. The USC coach is angry and adamant and yelling at the refs. Cal is preparing the players for overtime, and the USC coach should be, too, but he is getting upset and the USC players are standing around. They already jumped up and down and celebrated. C and R hope this thing goes into overtime and the USC team is still standing there, unprepared. By the way, USC missed three attempts at free throws in teh closing seconds. Just making one of them would not have put them in this position.

Then the refs say no basket, game over, USC wins, and the refs run off the court. Say what? Cal got robbed, plain and simple.

The announcers explained that the rulebook already had decided their fate. The ruling says that if there is .3 seconds left, there can only be a tip, not a catch and shoot. It has already been determined not legally possible to shoot it. Geez, then why even let them play? Walker showed you could catch and shoot, as long as it is done quickly, as she did it. Revise the rulebook.

Cal does come out to shake hands with USC. Very classy. All the USC players hug Ashley Walker and she hugs them back but you can see she is heart broken. The whole team is.

C and R see our team warming up in the background as the announcers talks to USC. You go, Stanford, and don’t make it as close as the Cal came so the rulebook can’t bite ya.

Oh, Oklahoma lost in their tournament semi-finals, too, so it’s a good thing Courtney didn’t bet her scholarship on that title! C and R wish her team luck in the NCAA tournament, but now it doesn’t look like they will even get a number one seed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

PAC-10 Tourney

Okay, C and R will spare you our rant about the women’s PAC-10 tournament NOT being on TV, because if you are reading about women’s basketball, then you probably feel the same way about women’s basketball, it needs to be seen more to get more people interested. And this is the PAC-10 title tournament! The men’s PAC-10 tourney was on TV, why not the women’s?

Anyhoo, CBS tried to accommodate all us 10 fans be showing it online. After a download of some useless Microsoft product, I was able to get the game streamed online.

It was a weird experience. The audio came in live but the video was delayed by a few minutes. I would hear that Necka was fouled and then be able to watch it 2 minutes later. It was like having a crystal ball to predict what was going to happen in the future. At least CBS was trying. Thanks, I think.

Whenever the video feed would pan into the stands, you could see the empty seats. If this tourney were not moved from San Jose, that arena would have been filled with Stanford fans. Another lesson, if you want more fans in the stands, you can’t throw down a women’s tournament in a town that doesn’t support the local teams. Holding it in the Bay Area, with the strong support for women’s basketball, makes more sense.

For some reason, the camera kept showing people in the audience, and it was the same five people! The microphone was turned on the audience and you could hear the echo of a lone fan shouting, "Go Lindy!"

In honor of the game being streamed in somewhat real time, I will attempt to write in real time. Stanford is up 10-3 but I can’t keep track of what is happening due to this 2 minute delay. Very frustrating.

OMG, this announcer has no idea how to say Necka’s first or last name. It is different each time he says her name. Necka don’t do anything so the announcer can’t butcher your name! The announcer is happy when plain-sounding Sarah Boothe checks in. Unfortunately, this announcer is not a play-by-play man. He just says the player’s names when they do something, like foul or score. So most of the time I am clueless as to what is happening on the floor.

Oh look, there’s the Tree and the Dollies on the video. Hope the Tree doesn’t get in any trouble for dancing in the wrong spot again. My video feed goes out and I have to go back to the website again. Now the video delay is 4-5 minutes from the audio.

Wait, did Jayne just shoot a three? I think the shot clock was winding down. My screen is so tiny I couldn’t tell. Can’t we get video delayed streaming at least full screen? Stanford gets stuck on 17 for a while and Arizona gets to 11. Come on ladies; let’s not get over confident. Pohlen hits a three, and a few minutes later, I can’t tell how long or what the score is anymore, I hear Lindy hits a three. I still haven’t seen the video feed. My feed is still stuck on 22 points. Lindy hits another three and my feed still says 22 points for Stanford, 12 for Arizona.

Lindy hits another three point basket, the third three pointer and I still haven’t seen the first! I am stuck on 22 points!

Okay, this is a ridiculous way to watch any kinda basketball. Saturday’s games are supposed to be televised on Fox Sports Network, and so is Sunday’s championship game. Geez, couldn’t you have shown today’s games?

Okay, now I see Lindys’ first three, to make the video score 25-12, and now Jeanette has hit a three, so I think Stanford has an extra nine. Wait, Jeanette hit another three, so we are up by an extra 12! I think. My feed goes out.

Wait, after re-clicking, now my feed is up to date. It is 37-14, Stanford. Lindy picks up 2 quick fouls within 20 seconds, and that’s not due to lag. The bad news it happened in the final 30 seconds of the half. I see the first foul, Lindy tried to draw a charge and got knocked down. Stanford gets two shots off in the final seconds but they both miss. The halftime score is 37-16 Stanford. Has Jayne scored a point?

The second half starts, with a four minute delay. I watch the PAC-10 logo float on screen as I hear Jill makes a basket. Then a lot of shoe squeaking. Necka, or as the announcer refers to her, Nen-COD-ee-a, makes a basket. I reclick and find four minutes of the second half have gone by and I didn’t see any of it. The score is 44-25. Jayne makes her third foul…where were numbers one and two? Nen-cod-ee-a comes in to replace her.

I think Jill makes a three. Man, either we are bombing the threes or my screen just makes it look like everyone is behind the three point line! Necka makes a basket and then commits a foul and now she is Nem-bob-e-away.

Then my whole Internet goes down, what happened?

After frustrating minutes pressing buttons and clicking, I get it back. There is 3:26 left in the game, score 69-40.

R called to say they looked bad the second half but at least we won. What, is it over? No, she just assumed we had won, as we were up by 25 when she left her office. I ask her if it was frustrating to hear the audio and then watch the delayed video. She answered that both were in sync for her. Darn it, so it was just me experiencing the weird delay.

Then I hear, "Final score, 77-46 Cardinal." My video feed is still going on. Hey, five hundred minutes later I see Grace is in to give rest to the starters and the subs.

Then finally, the game ends on video, 77-46 like the announcer-man said.

Stanford plays again Saturday at 8:30 PM PST time, and this time it is on TV. Thank Goodness!

Courtney, Courtney, Courtney

Normally C and R hate people who brag and boast, but you gotta love Oklahoma basketball player Courtney Paris. She said she came to Oklahoma to win a championship, and this is her last year here, so, one, she predicts they will win, and two, if they do not, she will refund her basketball scholarship, which is worth about $64,000.

Okay, when other athletes brag, or guarantee a win, they are doing just that, bragging. Nothing to back it up with. In fact, if they don’t win, the only consequence is people get to make fun of them for being so boastful. Look back at Joe Namath’s famous guarantee of a Superbowl win. He didn’t offer to refund any money if the Jets lost. Courtney is actually putting her money where her mouth is and saying she will refund the money. She feels so responsible for bringing back a championship that is she does not, she will refund the value of her education. And that is the difference between bragging and taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Courtney has an uphill battle. March 21st starts the Women’s NCAA Championship Tournament, or as C and R like to call it, the Everyone-else-fighting-for-the–right-to-get-killed-by-Uconn-in-the-championship-game-tournament. Oklahoma is ranked number 3. (Stanford is number two, but we are not bragging or boasting because even we don’t think we deserve it). By the way, Oklahoma met Uconn earlier this season and lost by 28 points.

Well, this is going to make the tourney that much more interesting!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

PAC-10 Honors for Stanford

Usually C and R hate unlucky 13, so we have to cross our fingers and toes when Stanford starts play in the PAC-10 tournament this Friday the 13th. However, the number 13 was lucky for Stanford’s Jayne Appel, as she became Stanford’s 13th PAC-10 player of the year. Make that five out of six years that Stanford has won that award. Head Coach Tara VanDerveer was named PAC-10 Coach of the Year, and it was only 10 for her, but 2 in a row and counting. All in all, six Stanford players were honored.

Jayne was named to the All-Pac-10 First Team, and our fave, Jillian Harmon, was named to the second team and the All-Defensive team. C and R can still see her flying through the air to snatch defensive rebounds in that Arizona State game to win the PAC-10 title. Jeanette Pohlen was also named to the second team and Kayla Pederson was named to the third team. Fresheman Necka Ogwumike was named to the All-Freshmen Team, and Ros Gold-Onwude earned an All-Defensive Team honorable mention. Ros often earned the tough assignment of guarding the other team’s best player. Oh, a bunch of other people won other things in the PAC-10, too. Check it out at the PAC-10 site for the whole story.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pohlen, PAC-10 Player of the Week

Jeanette Pohlen was named PAC-10 player of the week for the week of March 2-8th. Believe it or not, this is her first such honor, what with being only a sophomore and surprising the heck out of coach Tara VanDerveer this year. That makes three out of the last four POTW awards for Stanford!

Pohlen helped Stanford win outright its ninth-consecutive PAC-10 regular-season title and a No. 1 seed in the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament. She also set or matched career highs in the victories over Arizona and No. 18 Arizona State. She shot 50 percent that weekend and scored a career high 21 points in the first game. Her five three-pointers tied a career high for threes. Against Arizona State, Pohlen scoring 19 points, and had five rebounds and five assists in the win.

By winning the PAC-10 regular season title (and not sharing it with Cal or even Arizona State), Stanford has the No. 1 seed in the PAC-10 Women’s Basketball Tournament for the eighth straight year. The good news is Stanford has a bye the first round and will play the winner of the Washington State vs. Arizona game on Friday, Mar. 13 at 5 PM, then again at 8:30 PM on Saturday, and the championship game Sunday at 6:00 PM. Let’s hope they play with the intensity of the Arizona State game! The even better news is Cal and Arizona State are in the same bracket and one will have to knock the other off to face Stanford in the championship game.

The bad news for C and R is they moved the game from San Jose to LA, so we can’t be there in person to catch the confetti! The even worse news is we cannot tell if any of the games are going to be on TV!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 7th, ASU and the PAC-10 Title

It is senior night, or rather senior day at Stanford for the women’s basketball team, and C and R arrive early to Maples. The temporary parking lot is already filled, and they have opened another dirt patch for us. Oh boy, we think, it will be a sell out for Stanford women, what with the PAC-10 title on the line and Jillian Harmon’s last home game.

C and R walk past the Stanford tennis stadium and see a tennis event is going on. A quick peek through the screens tell us the Stanford women are playing, yet there are only a handful of fans in the stands. Always disappointing, and what is up with the opposing team wearing skirts? Can you imagine the basketball team in skirts?

Maples is not sold out, either. We realize there is a baseball game going on and that is where all the occupants of the cars have headed. Again, disappointing, but by the time Jayne loses the tip off, the Pavilion is about three quarters full.

C and R sit down just in time for us to see the seniors for Arizona State get introduced and handed flowers from Tara. What? We thought they changed the senior ceremonies to after the game because R gets so teary-eyed. An announcement tells us to stay tuned for after the game when the Stanford seniors will be honored. Actually, we read that the powers-that-be decided the ceremony before the game got the seniors too emotional and moved it to after the game. Good, we haven’t missed anything. And, geez, C and R decide, we better win.

Pohlen hits a three for Stanford’s first points and the T-Shirt guy is really a girl, a very wimpy-throwing cheerleader. She even hands one to the front row on her side. C and R have no chance at a shirt.

Stanford shows more energy up and down the court, a big difference from Thursday’s game against Arizona. They are back to that slow offense again, and they look a little confused. One thing always works, though, is a feed to Jayne, and she looks less in knee pain and finds the basket.

Now, you know C and R love Arizona State’s coach, Charli Turner Thorne, because she is a former Stanford player under Tara VanDerveer. And we loved her quote in today’s Chronicle that said, “I’ve won at Stanford…when I was a player!” But those four inch heels! Get them off our court, and she kept walking on the court to jaw at the refs. C would have given her a technical ten times over.

Stanford is playing with intensity that was sorely lacking last game. We are especially energetic when Lindy comes in. They are being scrappy and chasing after loose balls and Pohlen takes it in to the basket hard and is knocked over but gets up fired up. This is the way Stanford has to play the rest of the post season and for the PAC-10 tournament, notes R. Stanford feeds it in to Jayne on a single team, and that will be open all day.

Jayne takes it inside to the basket and collides with an ASU player. The ref calls an offensive foul and the crowd boos, as it didn’t look like the ASU player had her feet set. The announcer announces a foul on Kayla. Kayla! The crowd boos some more and C yells, “Yes, give it to Kayla so Jayne can stay in the game! No wait, give it to Necka, she’s on the bench!” C likes to yell things.

Lindy is now guarding Dymond Simon (always loved that name), who is fast and powerful. Lindy keeps up with her. Such poise, and she is only a freshmen! Lindy blocks Simon and throws the ball down court to Pohlen who makes an athletic drive past two defenders to make the lay-up. The game stops as Simon had landed awkwardly and is still down. She is carried to the locker room.

R remarks she has never seen them play this way, with such intensity and purpose, even if C hates that they went back to the old offense. This is not the team we saw on Thursday, she remarks again. Jill dribbles under the basket and makes a reverse lay-up. Fancy lay-ups? This is definitely not Cardinal territory.

Five minutes later the announcer announces they have given that foul to Jayne after all. Now that we have never seen before, changing the fouls way after the fact.
Jill takes the ball coast to coast, and takes out a cheerleader. We look good, although C and R are worried when ASU presses us. We are not the best against the press and the rest of the basketball world knows it, number two ranking or not.

Halftime comes with Stanford winning 39-33. If Stanford keeps playing like this they will win this thing. It doesn’t hurt Stanford’s chances with Simon out, either. C and R later talk to an ASU fan and they heard it was an ACL. Not good for Arizona.

At the start of the half, C grinds her teeth when she sees that offense again with the big post taking the ball at the top of the three point line and handing off, not a pass, a hand off to the guards. At one point, Kayla has the ball at the top of the three with her back to the basket and when no guard comes around to take the hand off, she turns and dribbles, and dribbles off her foot. Okay, this is the reason we don’t want Kayla playing point guard, Tara, please change the offense, and we all know how much Tara listens to our blogs. Arizona State pulls within four, 45-41.

Necka decides to show up for this half, after not doing much the first, and makes athletic drives to the basket. Man, she can jump. During an ASU foul shot, Ros runs on the court and motions and Kayla dutifully runs off, right in to a red-faced Tara who barks her back on the court and yells for Necka to run off. Oops, girls, don’t make Tara mad.

And then the game turns rough, or as rough as the refs will let them get away with, which is a lot. In fact, it seems that the refs are about a play behind. They will miss an obvious travel call on ASU and then the next time ASU comes down they call a phantom travel. They miss an obvious hack and the next time will call a fingernail touch.

At one point we get 4 or 5 rebounds, everyone from both teams gets knocked down at least once, no calls whatsoever, and the next time down on offense, Kayla gives the player guarding her a little shove and gets whistled. They missed so much worse than that.

Stanford keeps feeding it into Jayne and she connects, she is taking it home with no signs of knee pain. It is 52-45, Jayne wants this game, and then it is suddenly 61-45. Stanford has this! Jayne ends up with 29 points.

This game seemed a lot closer than that. It was distressing to see that ASU would set a pick for their point guard and we wouldn’t switch quickly enough, or the big girl would roll and make the shot. We need to solve the switching problem. Also equally distressing was the missed foul shots at the end. Jill missed the front end of two one-and-ones in a row. Pohlen made the first shot and missed, rinsed and repeated. This Ain’t High School! Then she finally made both in a row. Hurray, third time’s a charm!

Stanford wins 77 to 68 and gets the regular season PAC-10 title outright, no sharing.
C and R yell for a red victory ball but none are forthcoming. We settle back into our seats for the senior tribute. They play a montage of Jill Harmon and Morgan Clyborn. Ros came in with them and would be a senior, but she red-shirted and has one more year, and she gives a heartfelt tribute in the video. Boy, someone at Stanford sure got media savvy with these videos.
They honor Matt, the practice player who has helped them out for three years. He is a senior. They also honor Jake the play-by-play guy for Stanford radio. Earlier they showed a cute clip of him doing a play-by-play of Ros going to class and ordering food. It was funny.
R cries a little. Morgan cries going through the line of players to get to Tara. Jill also cries as every single player hugs her and she does what all good ball players do when facing tears; she wipes it away with her jersey.

Tara says thanks to the fans and how ‘bout them PAC-10 champs! We go to the building where the Fast Break Club has gathered to see and hear from Jill and Morgan. Their families tell stories and then it is the players' turn to tell stories. JJ and Jayne are not shy about getting up and taking center stage, and they are funny. Ros is a born entertainer and regales us with stories for so long that Tara tries to take away the microphone. She moves out of her reach and keeps going.

C and R are bummed to see them go, especially Jill. It is like losing a friend, said R. She became one of C’s favorite players this year. We will miss her; after all, we have stalked Jill for four years! What will we do?

Good thing there is the PAC-10 tournament coming up and we have tickets for the NCAA playoffs happening at Berkeley. Senior Day is always so bittersweet.

Friday, March 6, 2009

March 6th, Stanford Number 2?!

What a strange night against Arizona! The most amazing thing C and R saw happened during a dead ball, and the piece of news that got C and R and Maples all excited didn’t happen on the court at all. And despite leading most of the game, C couldn’t shake the feeling Arizona wouldn’t go quietly.

First, the tip, which Jayne lost. Okay, okay, this time she lost it legitimately. She was jumping against 6-foot-7 Beatrice Bofia. She stood over Jayne by four inches and she out jumped her buy 8. But Jayne stole the ball seconds later.

Stanford seemed to be running a new offense, instead of their usual hold it, hold it, then guard comes around the center at the three point line and the shot clock is winding down. C and R were at first were glad to see this, but the offense involved quick, long passes around the perimeter and some over the key, which got stolen. And when the quick, long passes finally freed up a player, they were hesitant to shoot. At one point Jayne sealed off the lane as Jill was driving in, and she had an easy path to the basket, and she pulled up and threw it way the heck back…out of bounds? Say what?

Okay, and this is the team ranked second in the country? You know C and R are the utter in die-hard fans, but even we can’t believe the number two ranking. Tennessee is barely hanging around in the top twenty and they beat us early in the season, and R says she would still put her money on Tennessee. We are still scratching our heads at that ranking, and tonight they sure don’t look like a number two team. Hesitant, unsure, afraid to shoot, and letting a second-to-last in-the-PAC-10 Arizona team stay with them does not look like a championship caliber team.
Kayla is the only one unafraid to shoot and she scores the first 6 Stanford points. Then she gets two quick fouls and we don’t see here for most of the first half. C and R did notice that her first sub in was Lindy, not Ros. Lindy hits a three and T-Shirt guy hits the same people, all ten of them, all night.

On a bright note, Lindy is all over the court. She stops an Arizona fast break, she chases a long rebound, she guards the guard and forces them to inbounds to their second choice. The rest of Stanford look tight and nervous, knowing this game and the next are must wins.

We notice Necka is getting beat up and she goes down early in the half. She is now limping. Boothe looks nervous again and makes a key defensive mistake to let Arizona take the lead. She gets yanked. Finally we get to see Kayla come back in, after watching Necka limp around. And Jayne looks hesitant to take it inside.

We did love the totally useless talent video done by Tara, which was making fun of Bobby and Kate’s shoot out. Tara sells it by being so dead-pan. C and R was surprised she participated because she hates when the players look up at the video screen during time outs. But no, that is not the aforementioned awesome thing we saw during a dead ball moment.

Late in the first half, Jeanette steals the ball and starts the fast break. She has Necka out in front. Jeanette gives an alley-oop pass in the air, I’m-talkin’-in-the-air-men’s-height, and Necka jumps and shoots all in one motion. It wasn’t quite a dunk but impressive all the same.

It is only 35-29 Stanford at the half, and then the news that got C and R and Maples all excited, they announce the half-time score of the Cal-Arizona State game: 29-18 Arizona State.

The second half starts back at Maples, and Kayla shoot the ball and it gets stuck between the rim and the backboard. Dead ball. The ref looks around for another ball to knock it out. None is forthcoming. C actually yells, send Necka in, and as if Tara and the Stanford bench are attuned to her voice (or so C likes to delusional think), Necka jumps off the bench and trots on to the court. Then she stops and looks at Tara, because she didn’t say "Simon says". Tara says okay, and even though Necka is injured and limping, she jumps and hits the ball ten feet in the air. Her hand was an inch or two away from the rim, so yes, now C thinks Necka can dunk! It was pretty amazing.

A word or two about Jayne. She also is limping and looks hurt. Not a good sign. She is not even jumping for rebounds, and we see looks of pain on her face as she moves down court. She does block one shot to set the Stanford mark with 202, passing Val Whiting. We wonder about the strength of her knee.

With five minutes left, and Stanford up by 10, 65-55, R is sure Stanford has this but C is not so sure. Arizona looks fit, confident and healthy and we are limping and unsure. For the next three minutes, Stanford doesn’t score a basket and Arizona hits a three to make the score 65-62. This is especially distressing to R as C keeps hitting her with increasing intensity the closer Arizona gets to our score. When Arizona hits a lay-up to make it 65-64 with two minutes left, R has bruises forming.

Jill takes a long three, a little out of her range, but Jayne saves the day by getting the rebound and muscling it back in with out her feet leaving the floor. Stanford is now up 67-64 with 50 seconds left. Arizona shoots, misses, and Janette grabs the rebound and is fouled. We are shooting on and one.

Jeanette steps up to the line and misses. THIS-AIN’T-HIGH-SCHOOL…C pounds on R’s knee.
Arizona tries to take it inside and Kayla blocks the shot and grabs the rebound, and Arizona fouls her with 16 seconds left. Jayne hugs Kayla as she is walking to the free throw line. Glad to see Jayne acknowledging Kayla stepping up the last few games. She hits the first but misses, but C is so involved with the action she forgets to hit R. We are up 68-64. Arizona throws up a crazy three and it goes in with five seconds left, score 68-67 Stanford. R holds her hands out and moves her legs out of reach. Stanford inbounds the ball to Pohlen and they mug her. This time Pohlen hits both free throws, much to R’s relief, yet Arizona still has time to bring the ball up and shoot a three pointer, which would tie the game. It missed. Stanford wins 70-67.

Only a few red balls of victory are thrown out, as if Stanford is realizes they don’t deserve that win. C and R go away empty handed.

We find out Cal lost 63-41! We can breathe easier, because now it is not a must win for Stanford Saturday on Senior Day.

Come see Jillian Harmon honored and last Maples home game.