Sunday, April 5, 2009

Finally, the Final Four Games.

C and R settle in for an evening of women’s basketball, on regular ESPN, no less. The two games of the Final Four are on tonight and we appreciate how much attention ESPN has given to the women’s game. On the opening pregame show, they have all four teams singing and dancing. Stanford can’t sing or dance. We are dorks, says R. In the outtake section, Jayne says, "Once again, we fail on National Television". Perhaps it was a clairvoyant look of things to come.

The first game is Oklahoma vs. underdog Louisville. Louisville misses their first twelve shots and look horrible. Even though they are up 16-2 seven minutes in, R is not impressed with Oklahoma. Courtney Paris, with all the attention she has gotten, certainly doesn’t hustle down the court. Both teams look nervous and are playing ragged. Not the game you want to see in a Final Four. Courtney’s twin sister Ashley is outshining her sister. It is 34-22 Oklahoma at the half.

They bring in Tara during the half time show and she sounds so smart and at the end of the interview thanks them for supporting women’s basketball. She says all the right things and is always aware that the game is always on display and national media interest can be taken away in a heartbeat.

C goes to makes tacos thinking this game is over and comes back to R screaming, "we got a steal and the basket, we are only down by two, 33-35, another steal, miss, rebound, and their foul, tied up at 35!"

Apparently, R has adopted Louisville the underdog, even though we love Bay Area native Courtney Paris and her brash guarantee to pay back her basketball scholarship if she does not bring home the National Championship. Louisville’s one outstanding player, Angel McCoughtry, comes alive in the second half.

In the last 10 minutes, Oklahoma is behind! With 19.5 seconds left, OK is down 60-57, a time out is called and coach Sherri Coale smiles to tell her team everything is okay. They draw up a play. OK executes it. It is a pass inside to Courtney Paris. She makes it. The OK bench jumps up and down for a second until they realize they were down by three and two points don’t help them. They have to foul, so they do. The Louisville player is shooting free throws and makes one so they are up by two. She misses the second and Courtney rebounds and dishes to a guard with 5 seconds left. She runs and shoots a three, even though they are only down by two and it looked like she had time to take it in for a lay up to tie. It rims out, Oklahoma loses. They shot a two when they needed a three and three when all they needed was a two.

Man, we hope Stanford wins the next game because they will kill Louisville. They did not look good. They did not look well coached or prepared for every situation as Stanford usually does. Courtney gives a great exit interview, tears and all and vows she will replay the scholarship.

We watch Pat Summit give commentary, and evade the question if she will ever play Uconn coach Geno Auriemma again. She hates him and vowed to never play him again in the regular season.

We are so emotionally drained it is hard to get up the energy for Stanford vs. unbeaten Uconn. Plus we ate a lot of salty chips and salsa and tacos. Next time we should skip the first game.

It is a sell out crowd, and we are glad to see that, as St. Louis, where C went to school, is not known as a hot bed of women’s basketball. Stanford is wearing the black uniforms from last year and C and R don’t remember them being worn this season. We last remember them when they were worn when Candice Wiggins was the team’s heart and soul throughout the NCAA tournament and we honestly though Tara had retired them to honor Candice. Maybe she wants some of Candice’s magic to rub off on the team tonight, as they were wearing them when they beat Uconn last year.

Jayne losses the tip, but makes up for it and more by scoring early and often in the paint. Uconn sets the tone early by hitting the first shot of the game, a three pointer shot from four feet behind the line. I think it was Renee Montgomery. Not a good sign. These women are strong. They press Pohlen and steal it from her. Another not-so-good-sign.

Every time Stanford passes the ball to Necka near the basket, she loses it. The third not-so-good-sign.

Jayne decides to take it in herself. Stanford, well, Jayne, fights back to 14-13 Uconn. Jayne scores 10 of the team's first 14 points in the paint. At one point, Jayne goes for a rebound and gets her feet knocked out from under her and she lands on her hip. Hard. She gets up slowly and runs down the court and banks it in for two. Running the other way you can see her grimace in pain. She will not quit, tough.

Then it becomes the Rene Montgomery show. C and R stare in disbelief on the many ways she can score. Slashing, driving, pulling up, hitting the three…Uconn scores the next 18 out of 22 points and take a 31-18 lead.

At the half it is 37-24. We couldn’t even get a shot off before the buzzer.

Uconn looks more athletic; they are fit, fast, and strong. They play smart. They are everything the two teams before this game were not. When the half opens Uconn goes on a 13-0 run. Stanford doesn’t score in the first five and half minutes. Maya Moore is now going off on us. This is sad to watch. They double our score.

Stanford shows a little spark with seven minutes left. That is, if you consider being down by 31 and scoring a few a spark. Necka actually shows some energy. But no matter what we do, Uconn scores on their end. We get it back to within a 20-point deficit. They can do no wrong.

Jayne finishes with 26 points but she didn’t have anyone helping her. Necka added 12, and those were in garbage time. Kayla had 10. And Montgomery scored 26 points, Maya Moore had 24.

Final score added up to 83-64. At least we only lost by 19, a small victory after being down by 31.

All in all, it was sad and depressing to watch us lose in this manner. And it didn’t look like we had any special game plan to beat them. Tara talked about having 5 days to prepare. What did they prepare to do? At times we let Renee Montgomery drive and score at will. Maya Moore could hit a three from anywhere. Where was the innovation to stay with them? Or maybe we did have plan and nobody except Jayne executed it. Because we did not make our shots when we absolutely had to.

Well, it was a great season and C and R thank you for your hard work and dedication. We will miss Jill, the senior, the most. It was a fun four years with her. Just sorry our last game had to be such a blow out.

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