Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
We register the girls and we see that the camp is being taught by Krista Rappahan, an old Stanford Cardinal who was a great three point specialist, and the male practice player from last year. We didn’t catch his name (Matt, maybe?) but we remember seeing him at every home game last year.
While the girls practiced, C was able to chat with The Stanford Fast Break Club’s Judy Richter. It was a wonderful chat all about Stanford women’s basketball, and who wouldn’t love that! C learned so many things. For example, Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka Ogwumike’s sister, the number one recruit in the country who is coming to Stanford next fall, pronounces her name chin-NAY. C and R won’t bore you on how we butchered it. We are as bad as that announcer guy from UC Davis! We also discussed the unfortunate fate of the Sacramento Monarchs and where Jayne Appel might end up next year. Will she go to Minnesota to be reunited with Candice Wiggins, or to the Monarchs, who are playing in no-women’s-land but we hope the bay area?
After tiring the girls out, we eat our lunches outside by the ticket booth before heading into the game. C explains the concept of coach’s tax on the more delicious items in their lunch boxes. This is what C always does with her kids. (Coach, or Mom gets a bite as a “tax”…hey, it’s never too late to introduce the girls to real life situations and headaches). The girls decide they don’t want to pay up. C is crestfallen.
We are surprised at how crowded it is. Way to go Bay Area. I think we could support a WNBA team, don’t you?
Nneka wins the jump ball. So far we are undefeated in jump balls and in games. The girls ask what a “Gonzaga” is.
The girls cheer on Stanford and Jayne Appel. We explain she is still recovering from the flu, and then watch as she promptly makes the first basket. That’s okay if she is not 100% because dependable Kayla Pederson and Nneka are here. Nneka is sky-ing to the basket, using her jumping ability to score down low. She also makes all her free throws! Way to go Nneka.
Around the 13 minute mark Jayne fouls. We explain to the girls that when Jayne fouls she is punished by being pulled out of the game. Sure enough Head Coach Tara VanDerveer takes her out. Kids this age are very literal. Is she really being punished? Well, we say, and one girl pipes up that you only get 5 fouls before you are out of the game. These girls are always on the ball. You could look at it both ways. The coach is saving her for later in the game, trying to limit her fouls, or saying if you foul you will be taken out, or punished, as a deterrent not to foul. The girls mutually agree if they were in that situation, they would promise not to foul and would like to stay in rather than be taken out. Again, another life lesson you don’t always get what you want. Jayne goes back in, contributes with a lay-up, a steal and a rebound. Always versatile. Then a foul. Out she goes. The girls pout. Jayne stays out for the rest of the half. (That might be because she is still battling the flu)
Then Kalya Pederson fouls. We explain Kayla does not get pulled. The coaches know she is smart and won’t do that mistake again. Unfair treatment? Life lesson number three….
These girls are also math wizards and relize the instant Stanford has exactly double Gonzaga’s score 32-16.
The half ends 59-38. We run around for popcorn and garlic fries. The half starts up again. Jayne is back in. Kayla and Nneka are scorin’ the points. The girls realize Kayla and Nneka have combined for 50 points and Gonzaga has 54 as a team.
One girl asks if we can boo. We answer quickly, never at Stanford. And then, realizing we are role models and the adults, supposedly, and we are supposed to be teaching them life lessons, we tell them never boo the other team because that would be bad sportsmanship. We do actually believe this; we respect the athletes on the other side, too. But then we say it’s okay to boo the refs. Okay, so we blew it a little bit. We say boo the ref when they make what you think is a bad call. Sure enough, a few minutes later they call JJ Hones for a blocking foul that should have been a charge and we tell the girls to boo. They do gleefully. What have we started?
Around the 7 minute mark, Kayla gets another foul. The team observes she does not get pulled. Then 2 minutes later Kayla uncharacteristically fouls again for her third personal foul and this time she does get pulled. C tells the girls this time the Coach IS mad, and she gets punished. Life lesson number four, don’t make your coach mad…
Now the girls start cheering for Stanford to break 100 points. Ros Gold-Onwude hits a three to make it 97. Nneka gets a lay up for 99. Jeanette Pohlen makes a three to get us to 102. The girls stand and cheer. There is about 4 minutes left in the game. Another smart cookie asks us what is Stanford’s highest score? She realizes at the pace they have been scoring that they must be ready to break a record. C and R are stumped! We don’t know! R gets out her fancy phone to try and research the answer. C guesses it is around 120 in a double over time. We can’t find it on the Stanford site. The closest we get is a game against Washington last year where we scored 118. Is that the most? We go on to win 105-74.
Does anyone know the answer or know where the answer is on the web? Email us.
Nneka gets to 29 points before she gets a rest. C and R wonder if this is a career high? Turns out it is. Later we read Kayla scored her 1,000 career point 6 minutes into the first half. We were unaware. She finished with 30 points. A recovering Jayne got 15 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, one block and one steal. Even when she is sick, she contributes in a lot of ways. The big three had a great output.
We fan out for a red victory ball but come up empty handed. The team is not sending anyone out for autographs after the game, a shame. C and R hope they bring that tradition back. We do get free pizza and see Mikaela Ruef after the game.
Now we have two more practices before our first game. We have a lot of work to do.
Friday, November 27, 2009
In fact, C and R are wondering if all the players will be here. Well, we know they will be, but does having this game the day after Thanksgiving mean the players don’t get to go home to their families? Stanford’s own website reports that the Stanford women's basketball team will be on campus for Thanksgiving for the first time since 2005. Jayne Appel is from here, Pleasant Hill, so she probably had Thanksgiving with her family. We wonder if she brought any players who live out of state home for turkey? Or did any of their families come out West to join them?
When we get inside, we are surprised to see that the band is here. I guess none of them went home for Thanksgiving, either. Or maybe these are all locals? Is Stanford a commuter college?
We love getting there early to watch the team warm up, and oh no, Melanie Murphy is on crutches! She is wearing the “Black Sweat Suit of Injury” with Hannah Donaghe, Sarah Boothe and Joslyn Tinkle and the boot. Now what happened? We hope it is not a knee.
The video screen shows highlights of last season in categories. On shooting, on passing, on hitting the floor. As soon as we see that last one we know they are going to show “The Slide”. Yep, sure enough there is the slide of Lindy La Rocque sliding across Stanford’s key, knocking down Alexis Gray Lawson of Cal, grabbing the ball and with her belly still on the floor, heaving it to Jill Harmon under the basket for two. The crowd cheers that great effort.
The announcer announces that every time Stanford makes a three pointer, T-shirts will fly. We haven’t seen a single T-shirt fly all year long. We think we will write to the media person and let them know we miss the free T-shirts.
Utah (the Utes) is also decked out in red and white so C hopes she does not get confused. They don’t look very tall. Nneka Ogwumike jumps and wins. She is undefeated at jump balls this year. We are undefeated in games. Hmmm.
Utah leaves Jayne alone at the high post so Jayne dribbles. We notice she dribbles much lower to the floor this time! Utah boxes us out on offense on the first play. Our defense forces a shot clock violation soon after. This could be a defensive affair.
It’s funny how a play develops. That’s why we love watching the game live and not on that stupid game tracker. On offense, Kayla Pederson passes to Jayne. Kayla cuts to the basket and Jayne passes it back to her, but the ball is a little behind her, which is unusual for Jayne. It tips off Kayla’s fingers right into a Utah player’s hands. She grabs it and streaks down the floor. Jeannette Pohlen, who is back for defense, knows exactly where she is going and cuts her angle to the basket. She heaves it anyway and it banks off the glass. Most of the other two teams are trailing. Pohlen grabs the rebound and pushes the ball up court. Most of the two teams try to stop themselves and turn around, but Nneka is the first to recover and go the opposite way. Pohlen makes an incredible pass to a streaking Nneka, hits her on the fly and she is fouled as she goes high to the rim. She makes both foul shots. Those points started when Jayne missed a pass to Kayla.
Jayne makes a foul early on and Tara takes her out. This is head coach Tara VanDerveer’s way to teach her “bigs” not to foul. C and R wonder at the downside of this. At least JJ Hones comes in her place. We are not able to get the ball inside much so we need her threes. The game is stalled at 7-6, Stanford.
A timeout for rest and we notice only four of the Stanford Dollies, the dancers. Maybe one of them went home for Thanksgiving.
With Jayne out, and she is gone for almost four minutes, Kayla is working hard to get open in the middle but we are not passing to her. Utah has done their homework and has a hand in our faces at the three-point line. We are just not scoring. When Pohlen finally makes a three, no one comes and throws the T-Shirts as advertised. We must get to the bottom of this!
Finally we get Nneka involved in the offense and she takes it inside and is fouled. She makes one and misses one. C and R burn. You can’t miss free throws! This ain’t high school! Then Nneka commits an offensive foul and C and R wonder if Tara is…yes, Tara pulls her. Well, at least she puts in Jayne, but we hate to see Nneka sacrificed for Jayne. We believe they should be in together. Nneka stays out for 3 and a half minutes.
Jayne takes their center one on one and makes the basket. We believe Jayne can beat anybody one on one.
Oh, we think the Stanford Band should get an assist! Or get a technical for cheating. Either one. Here’s what they did. As the opposing team’s shot clock is winding down, they start chanting the time a few seconds off to panic Utah into shooting early. The second time they start chanting 10, 9, 8 when there is 25 seconds left on Utah’s shoot clock. As a basketball player, you would think the players would have an internal clock inside their heads and know there is still plenty of time left. When the band chants 3, 2, 1 there is actually 15 seconds left. The Utah player shoots the ball at the count of 1 and produces an air ball. Stanford grabs the ball and says thank you very much.
Jayne goes down on the floor to grab the ball and knocks it out to Pohlen. Both Kayla and Nneka wear red kneepads but not Jayne. It is rare to see her dive on the floor, so we appreciate her effort. The next time down the floor we notice she looks tired. She doesn’t go for a rebound on offense.
Now the band starts counting backwards or should we say upwards for Utah….
At one point, Jayne gets the ball at the top of the three point line and faces the basket. The whole Utah team knows she is not about to shoot a three and guard everyone else. All nine players are smashed in the middle of the key. There is a good 7 feet between Jayne and another player. The crowd screams for Jayne to shoot. But she waits until someone wings out and passes the ball. I guess there goes Tara’s grand experiment to get Jayne to take more three pointers. She is just not comfortable with them.
As if watching a live action chess match, Tara immediately puts in three-point specialist Lindy La Rocque. She figures if Utah is going to leave the three point line so unguarded, let’s make them pay. Lindy gets the ball on the three-point line and C and R scream for Lindy to shoot it. She does and just coming off the bench, she makes an airball. Sorry Lindy!
Jayne fouls again and gets taken out. While we do not like that she gets taken out when she fouls, she does look very tired. We hear from a reliable source that Jayne is sick and they gave her two pints of fluid intravenously before the game. Probably the flu. Wow, and she is out there running up and down the floor.
Consequently, with having Jayne sick, Nneka on the bench and our three not working for us, it is a low scoring game, only 19-8 with 5 minutes left. While we should be happy we have held the opponent to only 8 points, the lack of scoring on Stanford’s part is troubling.
Then we notice something really interesting. Kayla has been playing heads up ball; doing the fundamentals well and making little plays away from the ball that are really smart. Then Kayla commits a foul. We hold our breath. Will Tara take her out? She doesn’t? It could be that Jayne is sick. It could be that Nneka is not scoring. It could be Stanford needs her smarts. Whatever it is, C and R like to think that Tara has so much confidence in Kayla that when she fouls, they trust she is smart enough not to do it again. We wish she would extend that trust to Jayne and Nneka.
There are 7 seconds left in the half. C says she would give it to Kayla to shoot the three. She has been the anchor all night. Kayla is inbounding the ball. Pohlen stands at the opposing free throw line. Kayla sees the other team is not contesting the throw in and the clock will start when Pohlen touches it. She motions for Pohlen to move closer to the half court line and gives her a leading pass so she touches it at the half court line when the clock starts. Again, a really small thing that will not show up in the stats column, but so court-smart and aware. They pass it to Kayla and she shoots the three, just like C imagined. Unfortunately, she misses in real life. It is 24-11 at the half.
C and R walk to get popcorn and see Nneka walking towards us. Wait, she is in street clothes…oh my, it is not Nneka but Nneka’s little sister, Chiney. You know the one, the one that is the number one women’s basketball recruit in the country and gave her commitment to Stanford for nest year. She is walking and talking to her friend and C is standing there grinning like an idiot so she finally looks at her. C says we are glad you are coming to Stanford next year. She gives a big smile and says thank you. It was a really neat moment, for C and R, anyway! Later we hear she is sitting in the stands with their mother. I guess that answers the question what Nneka did for Thanksgiving. Everyone flew from Texas to see her!
We are surprised to see Jayne back in. She looks like she is hurting. Kayla makes a steal and goes coast to coast for the lay up Good thing the ref didn’t see she double dribbled near our foul line. Maybe some home cookin’? Utah is making the moves on our bigs, especially Jayne. Jayne is missing her usual quickness and would have blocked a few of those points. Utah gets it within 7 points, the score 31-24.
Okay we need to score some points. Tara has Lindy, JJ Hones and Pohlen plus the two bigs of Kayla and Nneka. This is a good line up. Nneka starts taking it to the basket and drawing the foul. So does Pohlen, something we don’t see that much of. Than Kayla takes it in. We love this aggressiveness to the basket, creating instead of waiting on the play to develop. We are also getting them in foul trouble.
This is probably how the bigs are used to operating in high school. Their team gives them the ball and they just go at it and because they are usually taller, or in Nneka’s case, can jump higher, and they can score at will. They look comfortable in this role and it is working.
Then Tara does something strange. She takes Nneka out. Nneka is currently the high scorer with 15 or so points. Jayne is sick. Why take Nneka out? Thank goodness for Kayla. Now Kayla hits a three over a smaller defender.
With Stanford finally scoring inside, it is 56-35. Utah puts in their scrubs with three minutes left. Blessedly, Jayne goes out, too and Ashley Cimono (Cinnamon!) comes in. We finally put in our remaining subs with about 2 minutes left. Freshman Mikaela Ruef (Roof) makes it in the game. Roof shoots a three. Roof misses the three. Freshman! Well, we do like that she is not afraid to shoot the three and feels comfortable out there on the perimeter. We need to mold her like Kayla, a big that can rebound and hit the three. Roof makes a nice back door lob to Cinnamon for a lay up.
We win 60-41, a low output for us. Kayla leads all scorers with 18 points and had 12 boards, another double double. Nneka was close behind with 17 points and 8 boards. Jayne was limited to 2 total points and 6 boards. We know that is the sickness talking. Get better, Jayne, for Sunday and Gonzaga.
This just in… Mel Murphy hurt her knee in Wednesday’s practice and is out until she gets it examined to see if she needs arthroscopic surgery. Joslyn Tinkle is still out for the next few games with a stress reaction in her foot. (Boy, we knew the pressure at Stanford was rough, but to stress out your foot?)
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
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,
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Oh, I forgot to mention when I was at the Pepperdine game WITHOUT R, who was getting her roots done…see that long sentence from the Pepperdine blog….. Maples showed this really funny video of the two freshmen, Joslyn Tinkle and Mikaela Ruef, two players whose names my spell checker hates.
Anyhoo, another word my spell checker hates, the video was entitled “Superheroes with Ineffective Powers”. And it was really, really, funny (Form of SOMETHING else round!). Not only did this video feature the two freshmen, it featured Tinkle and her boot. Her foot is still in a boot like cast. At one point she tries to run and kick a ball and she limps about two inches a step.
Here is the setup. Two Evil Guys steal superfan Woodina. Yes, that is NOT a typo. Last year, if you remember your You Tube Lore, a really cute video of Jayne and the team asking “Woody”, a six-inch wooden artists model doll, how to get to the game or something like that. I guess this year they decided the name Woody was not appropriate for women’s basketball so he/she is named Woodina. So the eveil guys steal Woodina and the two freshmen try to get her back. Check it out.
So just what is up with Tinkle’s booted foot? Jake Curtis of the San Francisco Examiner reported this about Joslyn Tinkle:Joslyn Tinkle will be sidelined for several games after an MRI detected a problem with a bone in her foot. ”I don’t know whether it’s a stress reaction or a stress fracture or a bone bruise, but it’s not right,” VanDerveer said.
We also found this cute interview with the two freshmen and here how they roomed together during summer school/orientation. Oh, Mikaela Ruef, (Roof from now on in this blog) is from Beavercreek Ohio. We didn’t point this out to make fun of the city’s name, you can do that easily enough at home, but because C is from a little town outside of Dayton called West Carrollton Ohio. West Carrollton is very close to Beavercreek, so we are practically from the same hometown! I think we played them in high school basketball. Of course that was before Roof’s time, probably before she was born!
We do learn Roof is a leftie. My friend, N, noticed that in the Pepperdine game. I took it for granted because although Jayne is a rightie, she goes to her left so well. She must practice that a lot because that is hard to do. I am sure it an advantage for Jayne because defenses are used to playing right handed players and trying to force them left out of their comfort zone. Jayne takes what they give her and scores at will. Let’s hope Roof can utilize her left-handedness, too.We do have one question for Tinkle. In the video, she wears a hat with “(406)” on it. She says it is the area code for Montana. C and R want to know, is it the areas code for the whole state of Montana? Anyway, watch and enjoy for yourself. See ya at the game.
We just discovered we can make the drive to UC Davis to see Stanford win on the road. Hannah Donaghe’s older sister, Haylee, plays for UC Davis. For last year’s game, Haylee was out with a torn ACL. This year Haylee is healthy and Hannah is out with a torn ACL. That can only mean one of two things. One, torn ACL’s run in the family, or two, their mother really, really doesn’t want to see them play against each other and has somehow jinxed them so she will not be torn about which team to root for. And we just discovered Baylor is playing Cal across the bay. Let’s hope Brittney Griner is up for the challenge and gets her first college dunk at Haas Pavilion!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The owners said they wanted to focus all their energy on the Sacramento Kings, a team currently third out of five in their division, yet the 4th and 5th place teams are the hapless Clippers and the Warriors so they don’t count.
Reports are swirling that League President Donna Orender is trying to find a way to bring them to the Bay Area. You go Donna; finally someone who understands women’s basketball has a great following in this area and a women's professional team would thrive.
One thing, though, have the team come to the Stanford, mid peninsula area or the South Bay. That is where the support is. Not Oakland. Oakland would seem like a logical choice because you could piggyback it with the Warriors (see above). No, we don’t feel there is the type of support in the East Bay you see on this side of the bay (sorry Cal fans, we just calls ‘em like we sees ‘em). The Warriors have already issued a statement. They said they support the “idea” of a WNBA team playing in Oakland, but would not affiliate themselves with a franchise. Ringing endorsement there, guys, thanks.
Well guess what, we (meaning C and R) don’t want a WNBA team in Oakland. It’s funny, just last month C outlined her plan to R to have a WNBA team play in Santa Clara University’s Leavey Center. It is small and intimate, relatively new with okay parking, it is accessible to the entire mid peninsula on down Stanford and women’s basketball fans, the police staion is just across the street for those rowdy women's basketball fans (bring bail money) and it is two miles from my house. Win, win, win.
Okay, now whom do we talk to about our idea?
Friday, November 20, 2009
Okay, wow, there is a SF columnist that runs a yearly contest to see who can write the longest sentence that makes sense and I think I just won. Unless it doesn’t make sense.
Anyhoo, back to Stanford. I am going it alone, without R, yet I am meeting my friend N and her daughter, and my new little computer. We coach little girl’s basketball with N, and N is from that cold place in Montana, same as Joslyn Tinkle, so I will be sure to bring extra tinkle bells. But back to my new little computer. It is so cute! It is one of those netbooks, so it is about 8 by 6 inches folded. Wait, let me measure it. It is 9 x 6.5 inches. It runs on Windows XP and I got it form just over $200, although I probably shouldn’t go around advertising this because then you can beat me up and steal it because it is so tiny!! I got it to be a more efficient blogger. Usually I have to take R’s fancy phone and try to hit the little buttons like a teenage texter and I am neither. (Teenaged or a good texter). Now don’t you feel bad for pointing out all my typos? You try to hit those little buttons while standing up and fist pumping every time Jayne makes a basket. Plus I want to look professional when we meet Tennessee in December. R and I have this crazy plan that we are going to get to talk to Pat Summit….more on that next month
But I digress again. So my fancy (and cute!) little computer and I drive to Stanford without R (feels weird, no one to argue with about which way to go) to meet N and her daughter. Tinkle bells jingling all the way…oh what fun it is to ride….stop it! Back to Stanford.
I actually get parking by the field house and hurry to the front of Maples to await N, as I am giving her R’s ticket. Then assistant Kate Paye walks right in front of me. I turn to tell…no one, because R is not with me. So I turn back to her and say, “Good luck tonight,” as if we are old friends. She looks right at me and smiles and says, “Thank You.” Tara has trained her well to acknowledge the fans, even the over zealous ones, and remember that you are always representing Stanford Women’s Basketball. I quickly call R to gloat.
I meet up with N and her daughter and realize I left the Tinkle Bells in the car. I am so bummed. We go in the gate and N’s daughter has a pass for the Cardinal Club and it does not work. So they let us in and take N into a tiny office to get it straightened out. She does not emerge. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down. They have kidnapped N! We see a guy go by on a unicycle and I ask if he is performing at half time and he says yes, but the pedal is busted. He has 30 minutes to get it fixed. Finally, N returns to us and we head to our seats.
Nneka Ogwumike has now taken over the jump ball duties, which is good because Jayne did it last year and I think we lost every single one! Pepperdine actually has a couple of players around 6-4, so they might give us a game. Nneka skies and knocks it towards Ros Gold-Onwude but it happened so fast it hits off of her body and we lose it. So even when we win it, we lose it. Oh well. Maybe if we lose the tip, we win the game. That was certainly the case last year.
N, as I mentioned is from Missouala, and she asks me which one is Joslyn Tinkle, the freshmen also from Missoula. We scan the bench and see she is wearing the “Black Sweat Suit of Injury”. She has the boot back on her foot. We know she injured it in practice but she played in the away games. It must not be doing well for her to be back on the bench. Now I don’t feel so bad for forgetting my tinkle bells. Hope she heals soon.
Pepperdine looks impressive. They are not backing down from Stanford and they are boxing out well and getting rebounds, something hard to do when we have Jayne Appel, Nneka and Kayla Pederson in. Pepperdine actually takes the lead. Stanford has several fast breaks but can’t convert and we keep throwing the ball away. Pepperdine is also pressing us, full court, and we know we have not historically handled the press well.
Soon it is tied at 13 and Ros makes a great leading pass to Jeannette Pohlen running out on a fast break. She makes the full speed lay up. They press us in our backcourt when we are inbouding the ball and Pohlen just takes off for our basket and Kayla throws it over the half court line, Kayla is so smart. Pohlen catches up to it and gets another lay up plus the foul. Than Pohlen gets a steal and ANOTHER fast break lay up. Now we are up 20-13 so fegeddaboutit!
One thing about mooching R’s tickets is that her seats are up so close. At one point Jayne has the ball with her back to the basket and she looks at JJ Hones and mouths, “ Go behind me”. She even jerks her head in that direction. Now, if we can see it from the seats, the defender must know to start running with JJ, but she doesn’t. JJ cuts backdoor and Jayne gives it to her and she makes an incredible reverse shot off the backboard.
We are able to beat their press easily. This usually is by having Jayne, our tall center, run to the half court line and the guard throws it over the first wave of the press, then Jayne passes it quickly to someone near the basket. Pepperdine caught on and while they couldn’t intercept the pass to Jayne, they cover everyone else so Jayne has no one to throw it to, so Jayne has to dribble in the open court, probably for the first time in her life! The Maples crowd and the band cheer her on appreciatively. She dribbles so high, it is a relief when she finally hands it off to the guards. When it happens a second time, she looks at all four Stanford players, and seems to be saying, anybody want this, anybody, anybody at all except me. When no one is open, she takes off dribbling again. Oh my, twice in one game!
We are up 50-26 at the half and the only suspense will be to see if we can get to 100. (We don’t). In honor of the “Big Game” between Stanford and Cal’s football teams, Stanford is playing Cal in…. unicycle basketball! Five men for each team on unicycles try to dribble and shoot. The announcer says Cal is in the World Championships in New Zealand or some such place this year. We are surprised there are not more crashes, which, to be honest, is what you hope for in unicycle basketball, just like in Nascar. Cal wins 8-6 and no one needs first aid.
Back to the women playing basketball not on unicycles, we are surprised Tara keeps her starters in, and Jayne, who was not 100% healthy knee-wise at the start of the season in for so long. She even has to dribble again to beat the press. Finally with 8 minutes left in the game, we see all the starters out. The other freshman, who is not injured, Mikaela Ruef (The Roof is one fire!) gets some action.
Pepperdine is still pressing even though we solved it long time ago. However, with the subs, something unusual happens. After they make a basket, Roof inbounds the ball. The guard gets double-teamed and throws it back to Roof, who takes off dribbling. She is 6’3. She is not a point guard. That is not necessarily a bad thing; Kayla is actually a decent dribbler. Roof is no Kayla. She dribbles way to high. She tries to drive through two defenders; they strip her and make a basket going the other way. Stanford needs to solve the press with a better solution than to have your big girls dribbling the ball, and we need to solve it before Tennessee gets here.
The game ends with all of Maples hoping for a final shot but we run out the clock for a score of 99-50. Then the players get out the little red victory balls and the three of us spread out.
I see Kayla running down the court towards my section. I yell and call Kayla’s name. She looks right at me, she mouths, “Write something nice about me in the blog….”
Okay, she didn’t mouth anything. But she did make eye contact with me as she ran and she threw it right at me. RIGHT AT ME! I was about to catch it when the man in front of me reached up and tipped it away. The ball sailed past my hands to the row behind me where it bounced and a gentleman caught it with his knees. Oh, good trick sir, as I don’t dare grab it out of there! I scream in agony! Kayla threw it right to me.
Well, Kayla, I will write something nice about you. You got 22 points and 9 boards, and even though Jayne and now Nneka get a lot of media attention (deservedly so), we think you are one of the smartest players on the floor. You also fearlessly draw charges, and you got one last night. You can dribble and shoot a three as well as be an outstanding rebounder. You also lead all scorers with your 22 points. And you throw a great victory ball. Look for me again, as Stanford has lots more home games coming up.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
In other news, #17 Cal barely beat unranked Saint Mary's, 68-65. One of their Fab Freshmen had to hit the go ahead jumper with 48 seconds left and then added a free throw with 7 seconds left to win. Good news for Stanford.
Stanford at Home, finally, this Thursday. Bring your Joslyn Tinkle Bells.
Monday, November 16, 2009
We are always interested in Tennessee, and this year is not exception. They are ranked lower than us and are coming off an embarrassing and unprecedented first round lose in the NCAA tournament. And Baylor has freshmen sensation Brittney Griner. Have you heard about her? She is 6’8” and can dunk. With two hands. She truly can play above the rim. And she also block shots. She set a record blocking 25 shots in one game in high school.
So we break out the BBQ chips and settle in front of the TV. Then we are promptly disappointed in Brittney’s play. For rebounds, she stands flat-footed with her arms at her sides. Even with the little girls C and R coach, we have them put their hands in the air, ready for the rebound. She does not box out or go to the ball if it is not in front of her. You can say we are picking on a freshman in her first college game, and we are, but we can’t but help compare her freshmen debut to Stanford’s Jayne Appel’s. She boxed out on rebounds, taking up space and going for the ball no matter where it came off the glass. At one point in the game, Tennessee missed a shot and then got the rebound. Brittney is standing flat footed in the center. Tennessee proceeds to miss and rebounds the ball, we count in the replay, five times. Five times and Brittney stood around on all five rebounds and shots. She has a 7’4 wingspan! She just needs to extend her arms sideways and she gets one of these balls! She definitely needs more work.
On offense, Brittney does not post anyone up, and the Baylor play is for her to flash from the baseline to the foul line. She does it so timidly that even Tennessee knows she is not a real threat. In the first few minutes, her teammates get her the ball down low but center Kelley Cain has already pushed her to the baseline when she catches it and steps around, she is behind the basket! We saw at least three shots that hit the edge of the backboard. Again, contrasting the way from day one Jayne would post up strong near the block, holding the defender at bay on her back and take the ball strongly to the basket. She just looks unpolished and not ready for college. And that is coaching, my friend. You can say we are picking on the kid, but we are really picking on Baylor’s head coach, Kim Mulkey. I guess we are spoiled by how Tara gets her freshmen ready to play, and leaves them on the bench if not. (We did see Brittney have a great block down low)
At half time, they showed highlights from the top 25 women’s games. They start off by showing actual visual highlights of Stanford beating Rutgers. Yay. Wait a minute; if there are actual visuals, then this game WAS televised. They probably showed it with in a two-mile radius of the Baylor campus. Too bad they couldn’t show it within a 2-mile radius of the Stanford campus, too. There’s Jayne, hi Jayne.
After showing some more teams, they start talking about the preseason favorites for the Wade Trophy, given to the best women’s college basketball player. The first person they feature. Jayne Appel! They show a picture of her going to the basket, hard, as they talk about her accomplishment. In the freeze frame, we see the ball in her left hand (she is right handed), and her right arm extended out in front of her to block all comers as she goes strong to the basket. We look closer and see that the hand cradling the ball is adorned in cardinal red nail polish. SO Jayne.
We have lost a lot of interest in the Baylor-Tennessee game because we are so bummed Brittney is not ready for prime time. A few minutes into the second half she gets her fourth foul and goes to the bench. For a long time. Tennessee goes on to win 74-65.
We do love that Tennessee Coach Pat Summit is wired and we get to see and hear her scare the heck out of her team at half time. And we love listening in on her time outs. She is a great coach. If she stared me down like that at half time I would say, “Yes, M’am” and go out and score 50-100 bazillion points to keep her from tearing me apart.
Can’t wait til Tennessee comes West to us in December.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Hey, there’s a women’s college basketball game on TV today! Too bad it is not the number 2 in the country Stanford and number 25 Rutgers game. C and R are stuck watching the icons battle it out again on Game Tracker on the web.
But the game that IS on TV, channel ESPN2 a semi-legitimate channel, is #7 Baylor playing at #8 Tennessee. The irresistible for TV match up features freshmen sensation Brittney Griner. She is 6’-8” and dunked 52 times in high school, but who is counting? She already dunked in a college exhibition game, but it doesn’t count in the record books until she does it in an official regular season game. She will be matched up with Tennessee’s 6-6 Kelley Cain.
Mechelle Voepel writes, nothing like playing Tennessee for your first college game, eh?
Wait, it is time for the icons to come out. When nothing happens for 5 minutes past game time, I reopen the website and see that the game in progress. Ros Gold-Onwude scores the game’s first basketball. Our icons are in red, but wait, instead of the opposing team’s icons being in blue like last time, they are red and white. I know I am going to be confused all day. The red and white icons that are not Stanford score to make it 2-2. Then we score again. We already have 3 rebounds so I hope that trend continues.
I think Nneka Ogwumike gets fouled and she makes the free throws. Good, we do not have to chant at the computer screen, “This ain’t high school.” It is 8-7 Stanford, with five minutes gone in the game. This looks like a great game; too bad we can’t see it. The game takes a “Media Timeout”, so maybe they are showing this game somewhere, perhaps back East. We hope people are watching.
Wow, the Britanny Ray icon for Baylor blocks Gold-Onwude .It looks impressive because the icon jumps high and blocks the heck out of the Stanford icon. Then the teams trade the lead back and forth. So far it is a nail biter. Joslyn Tinkle comes in (we shake the tinkle bells), misses a shot and then FOULS. She gets quickly yanked. In senior Jayne Appel’s first and second year, if she fouled, she got yanked, a lesson of tough love to get her not to foul. We mentioned Tinkle plays a lot like Jayne so it looks like they are treating her with the same approach.
With the score tied at 17, Jayne takes a three and misses. C and R grind our respective teeth. We hate that Jayne is that far out, as she is not a pure shooter like the almost equally tall Kayla Pederson. We rebound and get it to JJ Hones, and she gets the three to fall. She is the one who should be taking the threes. Jayne is 0-4 shooting, not good, but not just her, the whole team is 7 for 27, or 25 % shooting. Come on Stanford, we need more of your shots to drop.
Nneka commits a foul with the score 22-20. Baylor makes both to tie the score 22-22. We hold our breath to see if Nneka will get yanked like Tinkle and Jayne before her. She does not, then promptly makes the next basket and is fouled. Wow, we love that Tara VanDerveer left her in. Then she misses the free throw. Nneka, this ain’t high school! Tinkle gets to come back in after crossing her heart and promising not to foul. She gets an offensive rebound.
How did it get to be us, 32-22? We scroll through the play-by-play and see we had a couple of steals, a couple of threes, and that is how we got to 32-22. Oops, as we were scrolling, JJ made another three! It looks like awe are using our outside shooting today inside of pounding it inside, although as we typed that sentence, Jayne gets basket inside.
Tinkle gets a block, Jayne fouls, and gets yanked. Tinkle gets an offensive board and puts it back to end the half, Stanford 39-29. We have 29 rebounds to their 19. Our shooting improved somewhat to 34 % and we are hitting 33 % of our threes. JJ Hones has 12 points, all threes.
So now the half time chess match between coaches begins. Will we try to keep up with the outside shooting now that Baylor has time to try to make adjustments during half time? Or will we now work it more inside since we will guess that they will be spread out more to prevent the three? Only Game Tracker will tell when the icons come back out.
Our computer screen starts moving and the half starts back up with Jayne getting her 10th rebound. Way to go. Jayne! Nneka makes a basket and is fouled. Then she misses the free throw! OMG, don’t a make us say it….
Kayla makes a three, so I guess we are going to stick with what works. Either that, Baylor is not adjusting to get a hand in our faces on the threes. We are up 49- 33 with five minutes gone in the second half.
Now Stanford can’t score inside or outside and goes on a drought. Rutgers climbs back to 50-45 with 12 minutes left. We are nervous for the Stanford icons. Luckily Rutgers fouls us. Twice. This time Nneka makes both of her and Pohlen sinks her two. Make that fouled by Rutgers three times. Nneka gets two more points. We are up 58-47. Then Kayla gets a three! And a two and they foul Jayne. Jayne misses one of two. We shout….something about high school. Okay, Now we are up 64-49.
We keep the lead with a comfortable cushion for good this time. We won 81-66, yay! Roof (Mikaela Ruef) goes in the closing minutes, a testimonial to how she views her two freshmen. Tinkle got in the game early and often, Roof went in after the game was well in hand, and at the 1 minute mark. Roof did get fouled. Then missed one of her free throws. Since she is just out of high school, we can say it out loud again, “This ain’t high school! You need to make your free throws.”
This game was a test to see just how good we were. It’s one thing to beat the UC San Diegos of the world, but to play and beat a top 25 team on their court is different. It was touch and go when Rutgers clawed back in the second half around the 11 minute mark, but luckily for us they fouled us three times in a row. Were our big girls bringing it inside and drawing the fouls? We can only guess.
The box score shows it was our big three that scored the points, plus JJ Hones’ outside shooting. Kayla lead with 22 points, Nneka was next with 21. Jayne got 11 and JJ finished with 15. We also out rebounded them 50-33.
One thing we did have was a lot of missed shots. We were 27 for 71. Practice back in Palo Alto should be mind-numbingly fun, full of shooting, shooting, and more shooting. And oh, shooting free throws, Nneka! We left nine points on the court that will count in close games, say the Tennessee game.
Still, exciting. We can’t wait to see them in person again. November 19th they play Pepperdine at home.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
A little red icon, just a head and torso really, shoots the ball and we are leading 2 to 0. How can a torso with no arms shoot? Then the red icon leaps and shoots and Nneka Ogwumike scores again. Nneka’s red icon is playing under the basket and has all kinds of room to create and score. So Tara VanDerveer’s gamble to move the best post player, Jayne Appel, out away from the basket to let Nneka create is paying off.
Soon the red icons have outscored the blue icons of Old Dominion (ODU) 10-4. Red icon Nneka and Jayne have both missed a lay-up, troubling for any icon. When we read missed lay-up we, imagine a wide open Jayne or Nneka clanking the rim, and since we cannot see for ourselves we are sure it is more complicated than that. Maybe they were contested, pushed, fouled?
Oops, little red Nneka scored again and we are up 12-4. Kayla Pederson for Stanford gets a three to remind them we are not just an inside team, and that our bigs can shoot, too. Then my computer screen goes dark because I have not pressed any buttons in awhile. A quick lunge for the computer and I think Jayne made a basket to go up 16-4. JJ Hones gets a three although the little red icons were on a fast break and then kicked it out to her. I know the words are accurate but is that really how the play unfolded so JJ could get the three? We will never know.
A rude call from an unwanted salesman takes me away from the Stanford icons and they run the score up to 24 points in my absence. We are leading 24-4. The game statistics say ODU is shooting 2 of 13. Stanford is 11 for 17 at this point.
Then the action stops and the words “Media Time out” flashes on my screen. Media Timeout!! A quick race to the living room and scan of all 999 channels (no, really) and I don’t see women’s college basketball anything. Back in the computer room we are now leading 29-6.
I scour the Internet as the game goes on to see if it is televised somewhere else. A bunch of icons sub in and out for each other and ODU is making a come back, sort of. It is now 29-12.
The Nneka icon goes to the free throw line. The icon even dribbles the ball before shooting. She swishes the first. Then the icon with no arms misses the second. What was C and R’s mantra all last year? “This ain’t high school!” which we shout whenever one of the Stanford women (or icon) misses a FREE THROW! You can’t miss free throws in college. Every point counts.
The ESPN website has another type of game tracker which lists the action but no cute icons. At one point it says” Jayne Appel made Two Point Layup. Assisted by Jayne Appel.” Apparently Jayne is so talented she can pass to herself!
Oops, my screen goes dark again and after lighting it up we are up 40-12 with 5 minutes left in the first half.
Oh, with about a minute left in the half we see center Joslyn Tinkle is in the game. She must have recovered from her bruised foot and eye infection (?). We run for our tinkle bells (you have yours handy, right?). She shoots and makes a three. Wait, she shoots a three!?! We shake the tinkle bells even harder! The cats go scurrying for cover.
It is 53-23 at the Half. Nneka has 15 points and Jayne has 11. Together they have outscored ODU. I hope by giving more room to Nneka under the basket we are not hindering Jayne. Still two big posts in double digits at the half is a great thing. The third big, Kayla also has 5 rebounds, to go with Jayne’s 5 and Nneka’s 6. Wow, it does look like we are dominating the boards no matter who is in there.
The little icons start running around again for the second half and when the little blue icon is shooting, a little red icon jumps in the air and swats the ball away. Apparently Nneka blocked it. I wonder if she got as high as the little icon. It sure looked like her leaping abilities!
A quick check on my paprika potatoes cooking in the oven and to feed the cats and when I come back the icons have battled to 59-29 five minutes into the second. I am glad to see Stanford is keeping that 30-point margin they enjoyed at halftime!
The icons run around some more, never tiring and soon it is 89-54 with 2 minutes left. The only real tension at this point is if the Stanford icons and sub icons can keep the 30-point margin up. The game ends with the score 89-56 for Stanford.
Nneka’s icon has points 25 and 12 rebounds for a double double. Jayne’s icon scored 19 and 11 rebounds for a double double, as well. Even Kayla’s icon got 14 points. I guess we used our big girl line up today, and we used it effectively. Jeanette Pohlen’s icon also had a double double in points and assists. Even the freshmen icons of Tinkle and Ruef (Roof) got in, for their first official college game.
Stanford, despite flying into a near hurricane in Virginia, is off to a great start. Rutgers is next on Sunday.
Way to go Stanford and CBS’s Game Tracker, where the icons always sky for shots and blocks and the stands for a women’s basketball game are always full!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Foolin’ around on the Internet and we found more Cardinals Articles, more exposure. These two are from ESPN. This one focuses on senior center Jayne Appel. Yes, I guess she really does love the flip-flops. (a quote we focused on from her Glamour interview)
C and R do love that it mentions she has more to life than basketball and really gets out there and enjoys it. The article mentions what C and R observe every time we see the team, after a game or whatnot, Jayne is the one the team gravitates towards.
Nneka Ogwumike gets special attention from Mechelle Voepel, who has been writing about women’s basketball FORever and a few years ago ESPN had the sense to get her articles on its pages and website. Things we didn’t know about Nneka. She plans to become a doctor, her major is pre-med, taking human biology, she came to basketball late in life and is still has room to improve on fundamentals (her shot), and her sister is 6-2 and looking for a place to play college ball next year. Her parents always placed a high priority on education and in some ways Nneka is not here first for Stanford Basketball, she is here first for the Stanford education. Not a lot of athletes at any school can say that. Her mother has told her, "I've told her, 'Basketball is a vehicle for getting what you want from the rest of your life.'"
And Mechelle, with ESPN again, turns her attention to ranking the top four or so women's basketball teams and a little extra about Joslyn Tinkle. We didn’t know her father coaches for Montana and there was a lot of pressure pot stay in Montana. We are glad she joined the Bay Area, and if she has been outside on the last month and enjoyed this wonderful weather, we are sure she is glad she came here, too.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
C and R saw a nice article in Sports Illustrated about the Stanford women’s Basketball team. You know we are always happy when women’s basketball makes the mainstream media such as Sports Illustrated. Even better, our old buddy, Ann Killion, wrote it. (Yes, C really met her, on a charity run/walk a few years ago, go on and ask her, I am SURE she remembers talking to me, one of thousands of people that day!!) Ann Killion used to write for the San Jose Mercury until they unceremoniously axed her in a cost cutting measure. (This is how C and R imagine the conversation went. SJ Merc: we are losing money all over the paper in every section due to this here internet, so the smart thing to do is and cut anything and everything that has to do with women’s sports, we are sure that is the problem.)
Anyhoo, the article had a neat comparison that the talent gap between the number one women’s team (Uconn) and the number two team (Stanford) is as wide as the geographical gap between the two teams. As much as C and R hate to admit it, we kinda agree, comparing the last time Uconn and Stanford met in the NCAA tournament and Uconn out muscled us.
However a few things Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer has done has encouraged us. One, constantly scheduling really really hard and tough opponents. On the road. Two, really working with the point guards to get them to be an outside shooting threat. Three, the “two looks” her team can have, three “bigs” over 6-2 on the floor and pounding it inside, or a trio or four of shooting guards hitting from outside with only one big. Four, and this one we are not so sure about, asking center Jayne Appel, so good under the basket, to play higher and let Nneka Ogwumike have more room to create offensively under the basket. Hey, didn’t C and R say she needed to do just that after the first exhibition game?
Yeah, sometimes we wonder if Tara or the team ever reads our blog. We have whole fantasies that Tara reads us and takes copious notes on our suggestions, hee hee. Okay, C and R said I shouldn’t be so rigid in my offense and Nneka is secret weapon who flourishes when she is allowed to create offensively instead of following that “everyone stands in their spots and then we ‘hand off’ to the guard” offense. OMG, we are crackin’ ourselves up.
Wherever you get your ideas, Tara, we love that you are not being complacent. And that you are going East to met the grown up, big girl teams. Your first test will be this weekend against Old Dominion and Rutgers.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
We finally found a short cut to the dust bowl parking lot and pulled in, making us behind schedule and we had to run, our Joslyn Tinkle bells tinkling all the way. Our regular readers are in the know about our plan to tinkle a bell every time freshmen Joslyn Tinkle touches the ball. We even brought extras for our section mates. So you can imagine our disappointment when we saw Joslyn all decked out in the “black sweats of injury”. Those who are hurt wear the black sweats, and Hannah Donaghe (torn ACL), Sarah Boothe (broken foot), Michelle Harrison (no idea) and Joslyn were wearing them. Upon closer inspection, Joslyn was also wearing glasses, and we later found out she is out with an eye infection. An eye infection? Oh, also someone stepped on her foot in practice. Well, at least that is a little better. Then we saw Jayne Appel wearing a leg wrap and power knee brace although she was starting. Seems she got kicked in the calf during practice. How is that possible, and just exactly what goes on during said practices?
Nneka gets the jump ball duties now and she won it against UC San Diego, making it two in a row in the exhibition season. The team looks markedly different from just a week ago. We have the “big” line up of Jayne, Kayla Pederson and Nneka Ogwumike, and our guards, Ros Gold-Onwude and Jeanette Pohlen are passing to them inside for easy scores. When our guards miss their shots, our tall lineup is picking up the “garbage” and putting easy shots back up. At one point, tall 6-4 Jayne misses a shot and 6-2 Nneka gets the rebound and puts it back in. It’s hard to defend two trees, and add 6-4 tree Kayla Pedrson on the floor at the same time and they are pretty unstoppable. In fact, Nneka had several rebounds and passes where she would catch it around her chest yet still be in the air and be able to get the ball to her head and shot. Did we mention this was all while she was still in the air! She did not land between grabbing the ball and shooting. Very impressive.
Poor short, smaller, slower UC San Diego. They do get the pep squad award as the bench kept up the cheering for most of the game. They even would start chanting when the shot clock was winding down, a fact not lost on the Stanford Band. More on them later.
This starting lineup also ran more fast breaks than last week; most often lead by Jeannette in the point guard spot. She has great court vision and looks down towards the basket and makes loooong passes, with authority, as they say. None of that “rainbow pass” stuff that gets picked off, such as she did to the other team trying to connect on a long pass down court.
In fact, after starting the big line up, Tara VanDerveer mixed things up with a small guard line up. First, JJ Hones is in there; then she throws in Lindy LaRocque and Jeanette, Mel Murphy, too, with one big to get the rebounds. Now the guards are shooting perimeter shots and knocking them down. Wow, it is almost like Stanford has two different teams. Anyone watching film on Stanford in preparation to play them will have two game plans to defend as the team has two extremely different but successful looks.
C and R also notice they have a new inbounds play and get the ball in a lot faster. Good. But then they go back to that old “hand-off” offense, the one where the high post catches the ball with her back to the basket at the three-point line, and waits for the guard to come around from Italy and the post “hands-off” the ball to her. Sigh. Predictable and takes the whole shot clock to go through all the reads. But then we were heartened when the B-Team would totally abandon the play and one person would just drive in and create something on offense. Mel Murphy was extremely good at this. In fact, she was jumping high for rebounds and sky-ing like Nneka.
The second half was more of the B-Team and more Mel Murphy, and more of the guards driving in. Mel would end up with 17 points. We also got to see more of Mikaela Ruef (The Roof is on fire), and she and the Stanford band shared a laugh. Yes, the Stanford Band and even the Tree were in attendance at this game and were very vocal. The Band that is, not the Tree, The Tree never speaks, just dances strangely. As we mentioned, the UC San Diego bench would start counting down when ever their shot clock hovered around 7 or 8 seconds to help their team get a shot off. So the Stanford band would wait until their clock read about 11 or 12 seconds and start chanting 5-4-3…to get the team rattled and hurry a shot. C and R wonder if that is borderline unsportsmanship. At one point they started counting up, meaning when the clock was at 20, they started counting 10, 11 to get back to 30. Don’t know if it confused San Diego, but it sure confused us.
So anyhoo, Roof (Mikaela Ruef) grabbed a rebound and decided to take off down the court with it. She started dribbling. All 6-3 of her. There is a reason most “bigs” don’t dribble. Most are so tall they have a long way to dribble the ball from their waist to the floor. So Roof takes off and looks like she is dribbling in slow motion. She probably is pretty fast, but compared to a Pohlen or Murphy, she just looks so darn slow. She spots a San Diego player on front of her and dribbles behind her back! Which is hard to do in slow motion let alone fast motion. The Stanford Band Ohhs and Ahhs loudly. She keeps control of the ball and still lumbers on. She gets to the foul line and sees more San Diego players and dribbles behind her back AGAIN! The Stanford Band goes ballistic. She keeps control, splits two defenders near the basket does an underhand scoop and it goes in! It is also the 100th point for Stanford. The crowd goes crazy. The bench erupts and a time out is called and everyone pats her on the back.
Jayne, while resting to let the B-Team get minutes has been talking non-stop on the bench. She is now reliving the scene for everyone on the bench. She pantomimes dribbling behind her back, she pantomimes dribbling behind her back again and the underhand scoop. Everyone around her is cutting up. It is great to see such raucous fun and enjoyment of the game. (BTW, C and R wonder when Tara is going to have a little talk with Roof about the underhand scoop shot she keeps doing. We have seen it several times now in the course of two games and it doesn’t look like sound fundamental basketball. Boy, aren’t we party poopers!)
The game ends 107-55. Wow, another 107 points. Now the regular season comes. And it is a hard test right away. At Old Dominion Nov. 13th and Rutgers Nov 15th. Good thing the Stanford girls are good at taking tests.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Speaking of Jayne, she received another honor. She was named to the Associated Press' preseason All-America team. I am sure it is well deserved. She had a great year last year and when healthy, hopefully more of the same. But isn’t picking a preseason All Star Team really just voting on last year’s performance? I mean it is preseason, no one has done anything yet, right?
After getting whooped by Stanford 107-49, Vanguard went over to Cal and Cal ONLY beat them 101-81. HA. But two of their five hundred freshmen shined brightly, so we are worried about the youth factor. Let’s hope brains and experience can beat them when we meet Cal.
Okay, C and R are always happy when one of our local newspaper, the SF Chronicle this time, pays attention to women’s basketball, so it was nice to see an article about Nekka Ogwumike and her “skying” ability (hey, that’s what we call it when she jumps so high, too). Jayne says she is jumping even higher this year. So much so that Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is concerned that Ogwumike will get called for goal-tending this season. Gulp! And, oh, the Chron used the spelling of her nickname Nneka. So we have to get with the program and start using it, too.
Come out Sunday with your tinkle bells to see Jocelyn, Jayne, Nneka and the rest, here on Gilligan’s Isle, we mean Maples Pavilion. Sunday at 2:00 PM.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Yes, yes, Stanford opened its season with an exhibition game Sunday and we are sorry we didn’t write earlier. But we got side tracked with a gorgeous trip to the beach. But I bet you are glad we are taking that count down scoreboard thingie down, now that basketball is here!
So, we walked into Maples Sunday and were disappointed by the low turn out in the stands. To be fair, the Stanford women’s soccer team was playing right outside on another gorgeous California Fall Day. Make that the unbeaten, number one team in the country Stanford women’s soccer team playing right out side and maybe that drew some of the fans. Although by the time Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Nekka to us now) lined up for the jump ball, it was an okay crowd (sorry we don’t have the numbers).
We like to get there early to watch warm ups. We aren’t the only ones, as the jumbotron scoreboard started to show last years highlights, the Stanford women looked up to watch. It’s easy to forget these young ladies are only in their late teens and early twenties and it’s nice to see they are not jaded about watching all the great things they accomplished last year.
We get to see the new freshmen, Mikela Ruef (as in “the Roof is one fire”), from Beavercreek Ohio, near C’s old hometown of Dayton, and Jocelyn Tinkle. To keep C from being childishly immature about her last name, R might have to buy her a small bell so she can tinkle it when Tinkle grabs a rebound or scores a point.
And wow, Sarah Boothe has lost a lot of weight. So much that she has resculpted her body. And she has a stress fracture in her foot. If she can still find away to exercise and lose weight, then there is hope for C and R! The staff is still unsure of she is going to red-shirt and give up this season.
C and R scope out our opponents. Vanguard University. C sure hopes we beat them because Vanguard is the one that lost nearly half her money in her 401(k)! No? She is confusing the Vanguard Company with little Vanguard University? She does that every year we play them. C and R have to use R’s fancy phone to look them up and remind themselves that Vanguard University is a small Christian school near LA. There must be a connection to Stanford and Vanguard, a former Cardinal on the athletic staff perhaps? We will have to work on that one and get back to you.
Anyhoo, Vanguard is small, with only two players over 6 feet tall. So small that when Nekka jumps for the ball to start the game, their center does not even jump and the rest of the team falls back on defense, conceding the ball.
C and R hate to say this, but Stanford doesn’t look all that sharp to start the game. C says they look ragged. R says they look nervous. They seem to miss many open players. Both teams make turnovers. Neither team scores until 2:20 into the contest, when Nekka gets a lay up.
Dependable Jeanette Pohlen starts hustling and dropping shots. Nekka is so athletic, and can really sky when she jumps. She even steals a pass out of the air meant for center Jayne Appel, and makes the basket. Speaking of Jayne, she still does not look 100% with her injured knee and we hope she can rehabilitate it in time for the opening game.
Stanford finds a rhythm and it is 25-7 when the subs come in. We get to see a lot of Tinkle. She blocks a shot and then gets a rebound on the other end and she looks almost identical to Jayne. Same build, same moves, wow, she is going to be effective off the bench early on!
After a half time of expensive hot dogs, the game starts up again and we notice two things. Stanford is almost predictable in its offensive movement and the out of bounds play takes 4 and-a-half seconds to develop. IN the out of bounds play under the basket, the ref hands the ball off and starts counting and by the time the guard comes around the horn from Africa, the count has reached 4.5 and at 5 seconds they lose the ball. It is pretty close. Maybe this is one time you don’t want to have all those reads and options and instead just throw it in.
So on offense, it could be this is the only offense they have had time to practice, or want to show this early on, but even C and R knew where the players are going to stand and when they would cut. The one bright spot is when Nekka gets the ball and can’t find anyone open, she is athletic enough to create her own path to the basket. If I were a coach, I might want to clear out everyone and hand the ball to Nekka and say, “Go score!” Maybe they could do it every third rotation or something.
At one point, a Vanguard player gets tangled with Kayla Pederson and they both go down but only Kayla gets back up. The Vanguard player stays down and the refs call time out. Finally, one of the Vanguard trainers comes out to her, and another follows. They appear to only have the two trainers. They eventfully help the player up and after the required polite crowd applause, the smaller trainer tries to put her arm around her shorter shoulders and support her weight. Stanford player JJ Hones, out for the game so the subs can play, taps the trainer on the shoulder and offers to take her place to help support the Vanguard player and proceeds to help take her to the visiting locker room. JJ has torn her ACL, twice, so she knows a thing or two about hobbling off the court. Still, C and R thought that was pretty classy.
As the game continues, it is hard to nitpick on a team that is closing in one 100 points. Lindy LaRocque hits another three and Cinnamon (Ashley Cimino) gets us to 100 points. R makes the observation that Melanie Murphy looks really good. She has great ball handling skills, is good at spotting the open players underneath the basket and is not afraid to pull the trigger on passes. She even hits a couple of outside shots. Very impressive.
The game ends 107-49. The Stanford players slap hands and all wait their turn to shake hands with the fallen Vanguard player, now out of the locker room on crutches with a big bag of ice strapped to her knee. Again, very classy. They return to the Stanford bench and ask where are the red balls to fire into the crowd after a victory? Even a preseason victory is a victory. They look just as disappointed as C when the media relations women shakes her head and tells them, “no red balls to throw”. Darn.
Still we get to exit out into the warm California sunshine. Same time next week.