So PAC-10 play opened with a game against archrival Cal. It was a strange game. Stanford was totally off, and you have to wonder if there is a letdown from playing a NCAA-type schedule that got progressively harder. They were probably focusing so hard on Tennessee and UConn, that the rest of the season seems an afterthought. Hmmm, might want to rethink scheduling two big games in a row so early in the season.
The game was strange in that Stanford keep missing easy shots, put backs and even lay-ups, yet kept the lead. The paper reported Stanford made their first two baskets then missed 14 in a row, and 21 of 23 shots to keep Cal within 4. So Cal is still losing when we miss 14 straight and misses 21 out of 23? Cal started 4 freshmen, (there were a lot of turnovers, 11 in the first half and they certainly did not function as a team) and I wonder how that feels to the “old timers” who have put in the work?
The good news is we got a lot of offensive rebounds in the first half. The bad news is we kept missing the basket. Most series we would get two or three attempts to put it back in and kept missing. Some of the misses were due to rough play and zero whistles by the refs. Poor Jayne Appel. She didn’t seem herself. She was 2-for-11 in the first half, and missed a lot of inside shots, her specialty. And she made a beautiful transition play, anticipating the Stanford rebound, out in front on the fast break, Kayla chucked it down court, Jayne all alone, and MISSED! Jayne still looks like her knee is still hurting, wearing a knee brace.
Head Coach Tara VanDerveer said after the game that “…this is not a game where Jayne was effective,” however she acquiesced that Jayne is playing in the high post to give room to Nneka Ogwumike to create. But this is what I admire and respect about Tara. The next thing out of her mouth after saying Jayne was not effective is, “But one of the great things about Jayne is that even though she's struggling, she didn't get down; she stays in the game, keeps playing hard.” I really like that she comes back with something positive about her player in public.
Speaking of Nneka, she did create. I love that when she is waiting for the other Stanford players to run around in their set offense and when no one is open, she takes it inside and spins left or right, or jumps high for a jumper. Stanford has needed that kind of player for along, long time. She finished with 24 points. Also impressive was Melanie Murphy. She was inserted for ball-handling duties as Cal was harassing Jeanette Pohlen. She not only handled the ball well, but scored a career-high 11 points and had a great no look pass to Nneka on a fast break.
Alexis Gray-Lawson, the lone hold out from last years team, playing with the four freshmen, hit a three in the closing seconds to make it 35-24 at half. It wasn’t until later we realized it was her only points of the first half. And even more later we read she was the ninth Cal player to reach 1,500 points in a career.
But enough of boring stats you can get anywhere. We took our little girls basketball team. We all had tinkle bells in the ready. C even passed them out to her seatmates. Joslyn Tinkle got in the game early and often, and you could hear the tinkle bells throughout Maples. Let C and R tell you what happened after the game.
So our little girl’s basketball coach is from Montana and played college ball there. Joslyn Tinkle is from Montana and her dad coaches college ball there. It was arranged the two fellow Montana-ites would meet. As we were waiting, Jayne Appel came out to talk to her family. Our little girls mobbed her for autographs. Jayne could not have been nicer or more gracious. She asked the girls about the game, did they like it, have fun, play basketball themselves? Just very polished and they type of role model all ages could appreciate.
Then Nneka came out. Again, very gracious with the girls, big smile, who wears number 30? She asked if they caught a red victory ball and C’s “No” answer was the loudest and poutiest (Yes, R, C knows that is not a word). She offered to throw a ball their way next time. Both Nneka and Jayne posed for pictures. C and R have heard Tara VanDerveer say she coaches her players to be gracious and be an ambassador for the game, and these players have taken that to heart.
As we were still waiting for Tinkle, we found out the players who did not play a lot of minutes have to do a workout after the game to keep in shape. We were surprised the players had to do that, and the Tinkle had to as well because she played 14 minutes.
Okay, then we were there long enough that we saw almost the entire team. Jeanette Pohlen came out, swollen ankle and all (She got knocked to the basket on one play and left the game to get it taped), JJ Hones (She asked who was the point guard for our team?) Grace Mashore, Ros Gold-Onwude, who only had a few minutes but still graciously signed the posters, and finally a sweaty Tinkle. She knew our Montana coach was waiting and came out as soon as she could. Our girls were already in heaven.
We shook our tinkle bells for her and we asked if she could hear them during the game? She said yeas and her teammates kid her for it. Hee hee. She and our coach talked about Montana and basketball of course they had to compare the weather from sunny, mild northern California to cold and drab Montana. Although both said they missed seeing the beauty of the snow.
Here’s a hint, before the January 16th game against Washington, girls and boys can sign up for the Stanford camp, and after the game, the whole Stanford Women’s Basketball team will come out for an autograph session! See ya there.