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.

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