Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

If you have been as mesmerized by our little count down graphic at the top of the page as we have, then you would know Stanford plays its first exhibition game of the season this Sunday, November 1st!

All C and R can say is…FINALLY!

We know these girls are smart, they do attend Stanford classes, after all, but now they have to go to point guard camp. The SF chronicle reported that Tara is running a camp for point guards. R thinks are biggest question mark will be the point guard spot, although she loved the look she got from JJ Hones in an early practice. Now, let’s hope she is healthy in time for regular season play.

The Chron article also said that they want Jayne to, gulp, take more threes?!? We know Kayla plays that way, and that you want to be more versatile as a team, but don’t take your best player away from her strength. Jayne scores her points close to the basket, rebounds well close to the basket, and when double-teamed near the basket, is the best passer to find the open player even closer to the basket. I think it would be a mistake to have Jayne on the perimeter.

Well, we will find out in the coming weeks…

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Open Practice

Hi, it is R (solo) again, a second blog in a month! And you thought the world was going to end in 2012! Anyhoo, I told C that I was going to Stanford today to watch Lacrosse and support Coach Jaime. She couldn’t go because she was going to watch her son dunk other boys, I mean play water polo. She informed me that Stanford Women’s Basketball is having an open practice and BBQ and although she was bummed to miss that, she told me to go and take notes. These “open” events are for the Fast Break Club - fans who contribute financially to support Stanford’s program. Since I am not a member of the FBC, I rationalize that our blog helps with PR or marketing efforts or hmm, and well, I walked into Maples Pavilion to watch an impressive scrimmage with Refs!

After the scrimmage and before the BBQ, I saw a Lacrosse game. OMG, that is a sport for the toughest chicks with stix and Stanford’s team is good. They were killin’ their opponent. I was amazed and confused at this new sport. How much time do you have before you have to pass or shoot – is it unlimited?

And, after a goal is scored what is the ref doing with those two opponents before whistling the start? (Wikipedia: The "draw" is what starts the game and keeps the game going after a point. The draw is when two girls, one from each team, stand in the center circle with the backs of their sticks facing each other. Then the referee places the ball between the two sticks. Each player has to push their sticks together parallel to the ground to contain the ball.) Bizarre. If I were reffing, I’d be sure to get the heck outta Dodge before whistling the start.

And, had I had the opportunity to run around a field and smack another kid with a stick when I was growing up, huh, basketball may have taken a back seat! I immediately call C to tell her all of this. She shouts into her dying cell phone she would love to go to a Lacrosse practice and run around with a stick and chase a ball.

So, after about 45 minutes, I head back to the Basketball BBQ. As I approach Jimmy V’s, I see Jayne and her entourage, I mean the Stanford Women’s Basketball team leaving. Boy, Jayne is the one everyone gravitates towards. Everyone wants to be in her orbit!

With the team exiting, I figured that I missed my opportunity to mingle. But then I heard Tara addressing the fans, so I walked in, again. Tara impressed me. She seems to be growing and learning along with her players. She mentioned the pressure defense we will face this fall and how competitive this season will be – I read her words to mean that we will not have an easy time, even winning games in the Pac-10 will be challenging.

Specifically, Tara named a few who will make the rotation and continued that not all 12 women play in every game. She said Jayne is in the rotation although not 100% healthy today, and maybe will be at full strength in a month or so. She named Kayla and new and improved Nneka as great contributors (notice the new way we will spell Nneka’s name. I think we saw it in a press guide once). Then she mentioned the two freshmen; Joslyn could be in the rotation and continued that Mikaela is probably not ready. Tara added that Jayne improved immensely from her freshman year to her sophomore year -- giving hope for Mikaela next season.

Tara said that many players are battling staying healthy and that Ros lost her big toenail in today’s scimmage – and showed it to Tara –purple nail polish and all. I don’t know if Tara talked about her starting point guard, but I hope it is JJ Hones. I saw JJ pass the ball today – well, she reminded me of Diana Taurasi. Overall, I was impressed with the high level of play at the scrimmage. I don’t think we are any match for Geno’s team, but we will likely win most of our Pac-10 games. The fresh start of a new season always brings such unbridled hope and anticipation. I can’t wait for the games!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jaime Part II

Remember we talked to Jaime Sellers, Stanford Assistant Women’s Lacrosse Coach. We recently heard from Jaime and she had some more to say. Previously we asked her how she got a paying coaching job right out of college and Jaime wanted to talk more about her wonderful head coach Amy Bokker.

“When I was hired, I recognized Amy was taking a risk in hiring someone with very little to no actual coaching experience. Amy's mentoring nature and giving young aspiring coaches the opportunity to be a part of something great is one thing the Amy feels is of the utmost importance to the growth of not only lacrosse, but women in sport. I feel lucky that a coach of Amy's caliber and experience believed in my ability and desire to coach.”

Wow, we are lovin’ Stanford’s head coach more and more. C and R enjoyed listening to Jaime talk about her experiences with trying out for the national team. We have never personally known someone who has made it that far in her sport, so we appreciated the insight and first hand knowledge. Jaime wanted to add to what she said.

“ The experience was great, but I am unsure I will participate in the process again. I felt the try-out was very well organized, but by the end I started to feel that the coaches already had in mind who they were most likely going to pick. With my best play coming at the end of the weekend, I was hoping I could impress the selection committee, but unfortunately it was a little too late and I fell short of doing so. Overall, I want to stress how honored I felt to make it to the last round and that it was, above all, a great learning experience.”

Monday, October 12, 2009

WNBA Finals

Congratulations to the Phoenix Mercury, for winning the WNBA Championship over the Indiana Fever in a best of five competition. The papers say it was the “big three”, Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter and Penny Taylor that did it, but we sooooo love Diana Taurasi. The powers that be agreed with us by voting Taurasi the Finals MVP to go along with her league MVP. Diana didn’t always have the most points, but she contributes in so many ways. She really helped her team by stepping up her rebounding and her defense.

This is Phoenix’s second championship in three years. Phoenix won it with the super-speed style that then-coach Paul Westhead used in 2007 and Corey Gaines adopted when he took over. And we love this quote:
“When I first started coaching in the WNBA coach Westhead, who is my mentor — who we owe this championship to as much as him being here right now — he told me, ‘We're going to coach the players as players, not women, ball players”' Gaines said. “And it's funny how they embraced it because they enjoyed being treated that way. Instead of being treated as women basketball players, we treat them as ball players.”

We love that many are saying this WNBA finals is the finest in the WNBA’s 13 year history. The five games were entertaining and so well played that it gave a lot of attention and respect to the WNBA.

In the deciding game five in Phoenix, Phoenix Suns captains Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash and Grant Hill purchased the tickets in the upper bowl of US Airways Center, then gave them away, leading to a sellout crowd of 17,313. We here at C and R wish they didn't have to do that, that the public will come out on their own after seeing and hearing how great these women play.

The great Mechelle Voepel reports that:
“Television ratings and attendance were up, with the last three games of the Finals being sellouts. The total attendance for the series was a record 82,018. Upper-deck seats were bought and distributed by members of the Suns organization for the contests in Phoenix, which no doubt helped. But both games in Indianapolis sold out with no freebies.”

Going from on the verge of losing the WNBA franchise, so selling out your home games in the finals is great for Indiana. We hope they are around next year for Phoenix to beat again!

Friday, October 9, 2009

#1 Fan?

C and R got an email from the University of San Francisco Athletics Department. They wanted to let us know about their new ad campaign to attract more fans to their women’s basketball games and wanted our help to get the word out. Then a week later we got a similar email from St. Mary’s. At first we thought, boy, we are glad someone out there knows how to use Google! Then we realized we are turning up in Google when people are searching for women’s college basketball. Cool! Nothing like invented pride to swell ones head! Our little ol’ blog is getting noticed, typos and all. And with a great blog about women’s college basketball comes great responsibility. So we want to do our part to help promote women’s basketball, not just Stanford.

So I picked up the phone and had a wonderful talk with Rachel Engrissei, Assistant Media Relations Director for theUniversity of San Francisco Athletics Department. Anytime I get to talk women’s college basketball with someone equally excited, it’s a good day! We both acknowledged that there is a need to attract more fans to women’s games in general. She told me The West Coast Conference has launched an innovative marketing campaign titled the “WCC Fan Draft”. She gave me some background on this new campaign.

Wait, first, go to the website listed below, pick a team and try it out. It is cute! Then come back and finish the rest of this post.

In the quest to find the “No. 1 fan” for all eight institutions, fans should visit and enter their name and phone number to attend the virtual WCC Fan Camp and have a chance to win tickets to the 2010 WCC Basketball Championships on March 5-8 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. (What happens in Vegas…hmmm, maybe C and R will go to the Final Four this year!)

The ad is based on a clever idea Gonzaga had last year that sparked a lot of buzz in the sport business/marketing world. The other colleges in the conference wanted to try it out, but marketing takes money, and we are talking about women's basketball… the WCC applied for a grant!

The program was funded by a 2009 -10 NCAA Women’s Basketball Marketing Grant. The West Coast Conference was one of only 18 recipients of the grant program, which dedicated approximately $750,000 nationally to increase awareness, exposure and increase attendance of women’s basketball.

“With the help of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Grant, the West Coast Conference and its institutions were given the opportunity to design and implement a new and unique viral marketing campaign that would have not been possible in the past,” said WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich. “We feel very strongly about promoting our women’s basketball programs as much as possible, and feel that the WCC Fan Draft concept will greatly enhance each of our school’s women’s basketball marketing efforts for the 2009-10 season. We hope that success from this program will help us to continue to earn these grants in the future.”

We love that the WCC Commissioner feels strongly about promoting women’s basketball. We are going to do our part and some WCC games. Do yours too, and meet us there!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lacrosse Anyone?

This is R. C has taken the lead in writing our blogs and this is my first solo blog in years - although, C will edit it, post it to our website, probably do some formatting, and maybe even spray a little Windex on it…and, well, did I say I was doing this solo?

So, if you remember we got press passes for a WNBA game last month and I thought I was gonna die, I was so excited. Well, now we have the guts to ask for press passes to any event. For example, University of San Francisco would like a little coverage in our blog due to a new ad campaign sponsored by the NCAA to get more people to attend women’s sporting events and yes, we asked for a press pass (okay, more on that in another blog, let’s not get distracted here).

Since it is the “off-season” for women’s college basketball, we are always looking for more things to fill our time, such as the WNBA and other women’s college sports and bad rounds of golf. I want to share an accidental meeting with a Stanford coach not Tara or Amy, or even a basketball coach, nonetheless a Stanford women’s coach of Lacrosse, Jaime Sellers. I don’t know how to spell the sport, nor have I ever watched it, played it or met anyone who has; but she granted us an interview after we met on the basketball court and that is a whole other story. Oh, she whipped me good after explaining that basketball wasn’t her sport, ugh.

We later bonded when I found out she recently climbed Half Dome in Yosemite in the dark! I have made that difficult trek up the Half Dome trail ten times, and made it to the top six. Jaime did it in the freezing dark, started out on the mist trail, slipping and sliding, freezing and cursing and almost turned back. But as in all things, she persevered and continued on for many more hours. Her group made it to the top at sunrise, but she was too miserable and cold to make it all the way to the top. She stopped at the chains.

So, after extensive research on (read I goggled) this coach, Jaime Sellers, and read about an incredible athlete: Jaime Sellers is a first-year assistant coach, having graduated from William and Mary last spring after a 66-goal season that was good enough to break a school single-season record that had stood for more than 30 years. Over her college career, Sellers scored 108 goals and had 19 assists for 127 points. The native of Kennebunk, Maine, led William and Mary in six categories as a senior (goals, points, draw controls, shots, free position goals, shots on goal) and scored five game-winning goals, while earning All-South Region second-team honors.

This former All-Colonial Athletic Association first-team midfield player now handles the defense and scouting as her main Stanford coaching responsibilities. It is funny she was hired by Stanford at all, what with Sellers having burned Stanford for three goals when they met last year, and her scoring three against George Mason. At the time, George Mason was coached by current Stanford head coach Amy Bokker and current Stanford assistant coach Brooke McKenzie. Or maybe that was why she was hired, because they saw first hand what kind of Lacrosse skills and knowledge she had.

So, of course I told C all about Jaime and C said let’s write down a bunch of questions we can ask her. C even bought a digital recorder, she loves the gadgets, which we chickened-out of using even though C practiced on everyone including her cat. Recording interviews is big time, as we learned on our WNBA press pass adventure, and we are small time!

Okay, here are the questions we asked and us paraphrasing what she said:
What are some reasons that you have an offensive record-setting senior year in college after a rather ordinary junior year?

Jaime attributed this to a coaching change in her junior year. She felt the previous administration did not communicate well and she always felt off balance and didn’t know what was expected of her. The new coaching change brought in someone not to uptight and could communicate what she wanted out of the players, and trust them to give it to her. This was an environment Jaime excelled in. And it shows C and R that in coaching it is not enough to know the sport, you must be a good and effective communicator.

With the economic environment for women’s sports already limited, it is hard for young women to get a paying coaching job, especially with no previous coaching experience. It is almost unheard of. We asked Jaime how she got a paying coaching job right out of college, especially way out here on the West Coast. The answer is pure Jaime; she worked really, really hard to get this job. Starting right after her senior season, she started emailing and networking for coaching jobs. Sometimes coaches didn’t call her back. Sometimes they told her a spot was imminent only to find out another had been hired. Frustration was high and a lesser person would have thrown in the towel. When Amy Bokker got hired on as the Stanford coach, she was familiar with Jaime’s play. It didn’t hurt that Amy also went to William and Mary and Jaime’s coach knew Amy and put in a good word.

Jaime also told us that her senior year her coach used her as an on field general, and she did direct the defense as well as mentor a strong freshmen core in scoring. So, when her coach put in a good word for her, she wasn’t just blowing smoke. Jaime had coaching experience from how she approached her senior year.

Next we asked if Stanford tutors her or the players on what to say to the media. She laughed, what media? Lacrosse in general and women’s lacrosse in specific does not generate a lot of media interest. Have you ever seen a seen a women’s lacrosse game? Well, it’s hard when none are broadcast, not even the women’s D1 championship game. The athletes themselves don’t get many requests for interviews. As far as what to say or not to say, Jaime said the only rules she knows that restrict her surrounds recruiting: what you can and cannot say to a possible recruit, and since C and R are not going to be recruited for lacrosse (although C secretly wishes so), we are safe in this interview!

As R mentioned above, she has never seen a lacrosse game. We asked Jaime why lacrosse so popular in the east and not here in the west? She agreed, but wasn’t sure why either. She guessed that because lacrosse is big in Canada, it trickles down to that northeastern part of our country. It’s akin to water polo being prevalent in sunny California and Texas, but not so back East. Stanford doesn’t even play lacrosse in the PAC-10, as not enough PAC-10 schools have women’s lacrosse teams. They play instead in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

With the bias that the best Lacrosse is played in the East, we asked Jaime if that colored the NCAA selection committee’s perception. Jaime asked if we researched what happened to Stanford last year. We said we had….’nuff said. Well, except if you haven’t followed women’s lacrosse, (something Jaime hopes to change one day), then you probably hadn’t heard what happened. Let us fill you in.

First of all, only 16 teams go to the Lacrosse championship, unlike the 64 teams we are used to in women’s basketball. Second, since 1982, all of the D1 championships have been won by teams east of the Mississippi. Now imagine that. If you’re not invited, you can’t win.

Last year, Stanford won the Mountain Pacific Sports Tournament championship, but that division gets so little respect, you don’t get an automatic bid to the tournament, like winning the PAC-10 in women’s basketball does. Last year Stanford was ranked 14th in the final national poll, beating three top twenty ranked teams, including third ranked Penn in its final game, yet did not receive one of the 16 bids to the NCAA tournament. Hmmm.

Stanford hopes to change the east’s mind about how we play lacrosse out here. This year, if you win the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, you get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, and after Stanford’s last season’s success, they hope they can do it again.

Not only is Jaime an excellent coach, and was a great college player, she recently tried out for the Women’s National Lacrosse Team. Cool! Over green tea and mounds of food at the local Mongolian BBQ, she told us that the experience was great, but it seemed like the coaches already had in mind who they were going to pick and she wasn’t one of them. She said the end of the three day trial had them scrimmaging and certain players didn’t even need to play. She was hoping she could impress the selection committee, but again, politics, and favorites ruled the day.

Jaime has future aspirations to be a head coach someday, “back east”, she said. We hope she gets a little California sand in her shoes and decides to coach out here. Besides, how else is the west going to overcome this east coast bias in lacrosse if she leaves?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Real Men DO wear Pink.

Hats off to the NFL for helping to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

If you didn’t tune in to a football game this first weekend in October, then you missed NFL players wearing pink or pink-tinged items to help bring attention to breast cancer. C and R’s local paper talked about some of the San Francisco players hesitant to wear pink items (shoes, gloves, hats) until one of the players said he had someone in his family dealing with breast cancer. The shoes several of the SF players wore will be auctioned to benefit cancer-related charities.

Monday Night Football featured a dream match-up of Future Hall of Fame Quarterback Brett Favre, now playing for the Minnesota Vikings, facing his old team of 16 years, the Green Bay Packers. Favre wore pink shoes and the announcers showed shots of his wife, Deanna Favre, a breast cancer survivor.

Even the referees got into the act, wearing pink and donating a portion of their salaries to breast cancer charities in October. Their donations will total $24,000.

Many teams will extend the national platform with local efforts. Teams will designate home games in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and plan special in-stadium or pregame events with local organizations.

This from the NFL’s official website:
The National Football League will support October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with team community outreach. Games from Oct. 5-27 will be designated as NFL Breast Cancer Awareness games. The NFL and its players will support October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its largest on-field presence and a national screening-reminder campaign. In collaboration with the American Cancer Society, the initiative, called "A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives," encourages annual mammograms for women over 40.

Game-worn pink merchandise and balls will be autographed post-game and auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society and team charities. Special pink merchandise will be available at and in stadium retail stores, with a portion of proceeds going to breast cancer charities.

We also found this quote on the NFL site, or should we say NFL Shop:
The NFL Shop is proud to support the fight against Breast Cancer. The NFL’s campaign, "A Crucial Catch", in partnership with the American Cancer Society, is focused on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are over the age of 40. Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel to raise awareness for the campaign.

Now, everybody take a deep breath…We really believe this is a good thing. We are sure having professional male athletes that get a lot of television exposure wear pink, breast cancer’s symbolic color, brought a lot of exposure and attention to the disease, and possibly some donations.

We also see words like “portion of the proceeds”. This worries us. When we first started our parent site, Women’s Sports Information, we found this eye-opening site website: Think Before you Pink. It is a project of Breast Cancer Action, and was launched in 2002 in response to the growing concern about the overwhelming number of pink ribbon products and promotions on the market. The campaign calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions.

We especially like these five critical questions to ask before you buy “Pink”.
1. How much money from your purchase actually goes toward breast cancer? Is the amount clearly stated on the package?
2. What is the maximum amount that will be donated?
3. How are the funds being raised?
4. To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?
5. What is the company doing to assure that its products are not actually contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

At the time, a few years ago, the website pointed out a “pink” perfume that only give 50 cents of it’s $30 price to breast cancer research. It also shamefully pointed out a car company, I won’t embarrass the manufacturer by giving the name, that gave about a dollar of the purchase price to breast cancer research, and had set a cap in the low ten of thousands. They were buying their goodwill, and cheaply, too.

The Think Before You Pink site recommends giving directly to the charity or research entity yourself. You money will go further than buying the “pink” products. We like that advice and do give money annually to breast cancer.

So, yes, we applaud the NFL and the players that wear the pink gear. We also look at the products for sale skeptically. We instead focus on the message of awareness (1 in 8 women will get breast cancer) and the national screening-reminder campaign, which encourages annual mammograms for women over 40.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cal's Tierra Rogers

Being a blog about Stanford women’s basketball, we love to make fun of Cal. This year, Cal has recruited an excellent class of freshmen and C and R are already thinking Stanford is going to really have their hands full.

We are sorry to hear about Cal freshmen recruit and Bay Area local basketball player Tierra Rogers. She collapsed after complaining of shortness of breath and was rushed to the hospital. Tests revealed she has a rare heart disease, Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia, a potentially fatal condition if it had not been discovered. She had surgery to have a defibrillator implanted in her chest. Reducing rigorous physical activity will lessen the risks on her heart. Her college basketball career is over.

In high school, Tierra played for Sacred Heart Cathedral. Rogers led her high school team to state titles from 2006-08, including perfect 32-0 seasons in 2007 and '08. She lost only three games in her entire four-year high school career. Last year, Tierra’s father, Terrell Rogers, was shot and killed at halftime of one of her games outside the Sacred Heart Cathedral gym in San Francisco on Jan. 12, 2008. Tierra considered giving up basketball. Instead she went on to finish the season 32-0, winning the state title and being ranked No. 1 in the nation.

We are glad Cal Coach Joanne Boyle is with her. "My first reaction was, 'Thank God she's still alive and with us,' " Boyle said. "We'll figure out another passion for her, but it won't be basketball. She's defined by more than basketball."

She is defined by more than basketball.

We wish her much success in her college career at Cal.