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!

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