Monday, November 23, 2009

Going to UC Davis

So we find our way around the UC Davis Campus. Very clean, very nice, my daughter looked at this school last year when she was deciding on colleges. It is an agricultural school out in the middle of nowhere, near Sacramento.

Walking to the basketball Pavilion, we see lots of signs encouraging the student population to come out to this game. They say this is the highest ranked opponent to come play at UC Davis (Stanford is ranked #2 in the country) and while it doesn’t say it, we bet that is for men or women. Besides, there ain’t a whole lot to do out here on a Sunday afternoon! (ah, we tease UC Davis, because we love!)

Even with a lot of people coming to the game, UC Davis and Stanford included, we get really good seats near the court. Unfortunately we are right behind Davis’ bench.

We walk in at floor level and see the team warming up. We are a few feet from them, star struck. Boy, they are so tall! Ha Ha. The team is doing lay ups and the players in the center line have do a “move” at the foul line then drive to the basket. We see center Jayne Appel, all 6’4 of her, dribble behind her back and go to the basket. It was slow, but actually not bad. We are sorry for making fun of Jayne’s dribbling ability from the previous game! Mikaela Ruef (Roof), of similar height, also does the behind the back move and that has become her signature move, since the freshmen center did it twice in one game, no correction, make that twice on one play!

The student section for UC Davis has filled and their band is playing. No sign of the Stanford Band, though. The Davis band is more polished, and the students have coordinated chants and cheers. Corny, but they are totally into this, it is so cute!

Pregame, the poor announcer tries to say the Stanford girls’ names. He botches Rosalyn Gold-Onwude. He mistakenly calls Kayla Pederson “Peterson”, but to his defense, there is a Lisa Peterson who plays for the Aggies. Then he comes to Nnemkadi Ogwumike. It was not pretty. He informs us Stanford’s head coach is Tear-a VanDerveer, instead of Tar-a.

Memo to Stanford, have the public relations person go up to the announcer at each away game and pronounce the names for him/her or write them out phonetically.

Stanford is wearing the black uniforms I love, and Nneka gets the jumping duties. She wins easily. Poor announcer guy tries again to say her name. Somebody, please go over and say her name for him!

Davis comes out in a half court trap, something like a 2-1-2. They pressure the guards at the top. They trap Ros and steal it. We have got to solve this press business before we meet Tennessee!

Nneka swats at a Davis player trying to score a lay up. Nneka hits her with her body and gets called for the foul and Tara takes her right out. Just like she did for Jayne her first two years. The poor announcer guy says foul on….#30. She stays out for along, long, time. I think someone finally whispers to the announcer how to say her name as he gets it right in the second half.

Nneka scored 25 points her first two games and the next two game she scored significantly less. We were reading an article that asked, “what has happened to Ogwumike?” The answer is Tear-a VanDerveer. Tara takes her out when she makes dumb fouls and keeps her out for a long portion of the first half. It is hard to score points from the bench, no matter how high you can jump.

Davis’ center dribbles hard to the middle and Jayne is awaiting her with heavy concentration. Jayne is going to block her as soon as she goes forward to the basket. But the center pulls up and shoots a fade away jumper, not giving Jayne time to go towards her to block it. She makes her basket over Jayne. You don’t see that every day!

Davis’ pressing is not letting us get the ball inside so we are “skip” passing to the opposite side, meaning instead of throwing it from the wing to the top guard to the wing on the other side, we are skipping the guard at the top and throwing it directly across court from wing to wing. Jeannette Pohlen uncharacteristically throws it across court and out of bounds. Tear-a instantly yanks her. Pohlen is mad, mad at herself, mad at getting yanked and mad that she is mad about getting yanked. Hmmmm, C and R wonder if that is a good strategy to pull someone for making a mistake instead of letting them take responsibility and show they will not do it again.

Oh, I forgot to tell you I brought my tiny new baby computer to write this blog. My tiny little baby computer instantly finds free wi-fi and I am able to watch the Game Tracker on the Cal and Baylor game. Cal is losing. Thanks UC Davis!

Okay, we cannot penetrate this half court defense. Jayne gets the ball on the high post but nowhere to go with it. They seem to leave Jayne alone down low, but put two people on the guards so they cannot make a quick lob to Jayne. An interesting strategy. It is like saying we know we cannot stop Jayne, but if we can stop the pass into Jayne, she cannot score. And so far it is working. UC Davis consistently keeps the score within ten points. They also run this back door/pick play that consistently gets them open. We will have to stop that.

So we go to Tear-a’s plan B, which is bomb the threes. So far that is working! JJ Honesoff the bench gets hot. Kayla gets a three and makes them pay for leaving her alone at the top of the arc. We start puling away.

Before we know it, it is half time and even though we are up 42-25, the game feels a lot closer. The band goes to the floor to play and the announcer says the big bad Stanford tree has come to scare the Aggie band. We look over and they have a bogus tree, repeat, a FAKE Stanford tree on the court. It actually is pretty cute, made out of green construction paper and all. Then the announcer calls for some cow to help them. The whole student body and the band then break into this elaborate cow cheer/dance. We don’t know what they are saying but they all sure do…like we said, aint’ nothing else to do out here but memorize cow cheers. Then a girl in a cow costume comes out and chasing the fake Stanford Tree. The band plays this really long song, and the cow has to keep chasing the tree until it is over. Both cow and tree look winded. The song finally ends and the tree collapses, rather thankfully. The cow sits on the tree but is so tired slides off and falls to the floor on her back. The band leaves and it takes the cow and tree awhile to catch their breath and get up. Good thing the Stanford Band wasn’t here, because I am sure they would have rushed the floor to defend the tree’s honor, fake or not.

Basketball play resumes and Stanford steals the ball on the back door play that previously went so well for Davis. We play stepped-up defense. We force two shot clock violations.

A quick peak at Cal and they are losing by 20. Hee hee.

Then, with about 7 minutes left, Davis’ Haylee Donaghe, sister to injured Stanford player Hannah Donaghe, gets super hot. They mug JJ Hones in the back court and Haylee misses the lap up but gets her own rebound and puts it back. Haylee gets a three. Haylee makes another steal and Davis gets a three.

I am impressed with UC Davis’ hustle. They are still pressuring in the half court, and now Stanford’s threes are not falling. Live by the three….die by the three. Worse, when we miss, the rebound is long and we area not beating UC Davis to the ball. This is most troubling. Nneka fouls offensively and gets taken out again. We cannot quite put this game away; Davis keeps having spurts and keeping it close. Well, close in that we were up by 27 and they battled back to us being up by 17. It feels like we are losing.

It occurs to us that we have not gotten a single fast break. Davis hustles down the court the whole game. Again, impressive. Finally, with 2 minutes left and a 20 point lead, she subs out Jayne and the rest of the starters. A minute later she lets Roof into the game. (announcer guy calls her "Rough"). She makes a nice back door pass to Michelle Harrison for the score. We win 76-51. Jayne got 18 points and 9 boards and Kalya got 17 points with 11 boards. Nneka ended up with 11, playing only 23 of the 40 minutes.

More practice on the press and half court pressure, please. On the brighter side, we were 12 of 13 on our free throws. Hurray!

On an even more brighter side, Cal did lose to Baylor 69-49. Brittney Griner missed again on her dunk try but she did have 5 blocked shots to go along with her 15 points and was a factor in affecting Cal’s shots.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and we will see you the day after at the game,

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