Here’s all you need to know about the Stanford-Tennessee game from C and R and our friends P and M.
Tennessee did everything correctly except have their shots go in the basket. They were stronger, very quick at the press, could out jump us at every position, and they rebounded well. In fact we could not get an offensive rebound in the first half. In the second half, if we got the offensive rebound, we could not put it back in, thanks in part to Tennessee center Kelley Cain. But the difference between this team and teams of the previous years where they won championships was the shooting percentage. I believe they were about 22% from the field in the first half, only made 7 out of 32 shots, with 1 of 6 three pointers. Stanford took a 30-18 lead into the locker room. If you add even half of these missed baskets as points, you have a ball game.
Summit was missing from this game. When we first got to Maples, we immediately looked at Tennessee’s bench during warm ups and did not see Tennesse coach Summit. Assistant coaches ran the Tennessee warm ups and scouted Stanford when they warmed up. Then about 8 assistant coaches/support staff came out of the locker room. Finally Pat came out right before player introductions. She seemed to be absent and delegated to her large coaching staff. Also, during the longer television time outs, the team would go to the bench and get water and talk to each other and she would gather her coaching staff separately and they would huddle and decide what they should say to the team. Finally, she would address the team briefly. Not very inspirational. In the second half, she was just mad. She would single one player out and be in their face. Bjorkland tried to walk away from her and she yanked her back and yelled at her the whole timeout. I would dread having her talk to me if that is all she did. More importantly, the players did not respond to her browbeating. Getting back to her being absent during warm-ups, etc, and the large coaching staff, I wonder if she is not thinking of retiring in the near future?
Pat tried to insert a spark plug with little 5 foot2 guard Briana Bass. She was speedy, would receive the outlet pass and push the ball up the court. However, the rest of her team could not keep up with her. She would pass off once, not a fast break situation and that was all she could do. Center Kelley Cain would still be at half court. Tennessee looked slower and out of shape for a number three team.
Stanford center Jayne Appel was back on her heels against the taller Tennessee center (Cain). She usually takes it to the basket, especially left handed, and she had trouble getting that shot off because of the height in front of her. Most of Jayne’s misses looked short or hit the front of the rim. She would finish with 10 points, only making 3 of 12 baskets, but 4 for 4 from the line.
Okay, anyone who had interest in the biggest game in women’s basketball this season so far either was there (near sell out of 6,809) or read about it already so we don’t need to tell you Stanford won, and won convincingly, 67-52.
Here’s what you won’t read in the papers (or on the internet):
C’s grand tinkle bell experiment worked. She prepared 60 or so tinkle bells the night before (little sleigh bells tied with a twist-tie so a fan can ring it), grabbed her jingle bell wreath she puts up every December on her front door (so she can hear if her teenagers are sneaking out after she goes to bed) and headed to Maples. She passed out all the tinkle bells, and when Stanford's Joslyn Tinkle entered the game, Maples was serenaded by the ringing of tinkle bells. When Joslyn scored her one and only basket, C bent her wreath!
There were scores of people wearing orange at the game! Say what? R had to physically restrain C from letting the air out of the tires of some Tennessee fans in the remote parking lot. R talked to some and most of them were here to see and support legendary coach Pat Summit, rather than being die-hard Tennessee fans. One group drove all the way from Oregon to see her.
R walked right past Lisa Leslie! Well, to be fair, R was headed to the bathroom and Lisa was sitting in the row right before the press table and got up just as R turned away from her. By the time C got over her shock and tried to flag down R, Lisa had made her way to the three stools at courtside. Lisa was doing color commentary for the game, having just recently retired from a basketball career with the WNBA and a stretch of four Olympic Gold Medals. C parked herself in the second row, about 6 feet away from her, directly behind the camera, so when Lisa had to look at the camera, she saw C’s goofy grin. Finally, after staring at her, Lisa looked directly at C and C smiled her women’s-basketball-stalker-fan-smile and gave her a thumbs up and Lisa cracked up and smiled back.
We lost the jump ball for the first time this year but did not lose the game. Silly superstition or other forces at play? You decide.
During the warm-ups, C and R discussed how Stanford looked tight and nervous and Tennessee looked loose. We also loved Tennessee’s coordinated workout/stretching routine they did with an assistant coach, complete with stretch bands. Only Stanford center Jayne Appel actually cracked a smile on the other side. We thought for sure Tennessee had the advantage over us, but looks can be deceiving. Stanford was prepared mentally on what to do, and even Pat Summit said they played well as a team, unlike her team that only managed 4 assists.
At about the 10-minute mark in the second half, it was Jayne vs. Cain to see who would foul out first. Both had three. At the 8:18 mark, Cain got her fourth, then a turnover and missed jumper and lost the battle. At 6:22 she subbed out.
Ros Gold-Onwude was the unlikely hero for Stanford in the first half, with a pair of threes and a nifty lay up to lift us to 30-18 near the end of the half. Kayla Pederson was the superstar in the second, scoring 16. Nneka Ogwumike sure got blocked a bunch in the first half and did not score. She scored 14 all in the second, mostly by taking the ball to Kelley Cain and drawing the foul instead of just getting blocked. Great adjustment.
C and R and the other 6,907 fans streamed out into the warm California winter sunlight ecstatic. We beat Tennessee!