Sunday, January 24, 2010

Impressions against Oregon

C and R are impressed, and that is not an easy thing to do. We are impressed with the Oregon Ducks Women’s basketball team, the game they played on Saturday and the turn around in one short season, really just in six short months.

First year Oregon coach Paul Westhead installed a philosophy of shooting the ball within the first 7 seconds on the shot clock. And that they will live and die by the three (more on that later). Simple philosophy yes, but for it to work, you have to have the right personnel to do this, mainly all your players must be shooters, and accurate ones at that, not an easy feat in women’s college basketball. And oh, if you play Stanford, press the heck out of them (more on THAT later, too)

C and R were also impressed with the way Stanford shot their threes. Some of them were three or four feet beyond the arc. And every time we scored a basket, we were impressed with how well Oregon quickly brought the ball up and scored as well. We kept trading the lead in the first half, and we could not relax for a second with their relentless scoring drive and their defense.

We were impressed the game was on cable TV, and also thankful. We watched the first half and then had to tape the second so we could coach our little girl’s game, which was a nail biter as well, with us winning by one basket and our center doing her best Jayne Appel impersonation. To leave in the middle of the Stanford game, a nail biter, witness another nail biter and come back to watch the second half of the Stanford game was almost too much for C and R to take. We thought one or both of us might have a heart attack before the day is through, and C hoped it would be R because she knows CPR and R does not and her insurance is not the best!

Oh, BTW (texting lingo), did you see that last play of the first half? As C and R are preparing to leave, we see Stanford has the ball in the final seconds. Who will they go to for the last shot? Who is their “go-to” player, and since getting the ball inside is not working, who is going to take the three? Will it be one of our guards, Ros Gold-Onwude or Jeanette Pohlen, even gimpy JJ Hones, or maybe three-point specialist Lindy La Roque. Why, it’s Joslyn Tinkle, our big 6-4 freshmen who has taken, I think, three in her short career. Yes, Tinkle shoots the three and it goes in. A good omen for Stanford and tinkle bells all around.

We were NOT impressed, however, with Stanford’s ability to handle a full court press. We turned the ball over so many times in the frontcourt! There were times we couldn’t get it out of the front court, and times we couldn’t even inbound it! How did we turn it over? Let us count the ways. We threw it inbounds and had it stolen. As we dribbled, we had it stolen. We inbounded the ball, then threw a pass and had it stolen. We threw it out of bounds. And C and R’s personal favorite, we got a five second count because we couldn’t find anyone open to throw it to! The announcers said Stanford worked for a week on full court pressure and how to handle it all week. Oregon forced 10 turnovers in the front court, seven in the first half. Think what would have happened if we HADN’T worked on it!

But C and R were MOST impressed by Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike! She scored a career high 30 points. She was everywhere on the boards. She got 23 boards and set Stanford’s single-game rebounding record, which was 21 by Nicole Powell, ex Sacramento Monarch. Nneka also scored 30 points. And her boards and points were very impressive. She skied, she caught and shot in traffic she had fast breaks, and she played strong under the basket.

OMG (more texting lingo), her best play of the day? Her catch and shoot on the two-second inbounds play. And thank goodness the play was on TV, because in the final highlights they showed not one, but two different camera angles on that spectacular play. Stanford had the ball out of bounds under their basket with two seconds left. Followers of Cal will remember that the rules state it must be a catch and release without landing, a stupid rule that makes sense in the men’s game but hard to do in the women’s game (Cal had a similar play but with 1 second left in the whole game, and they caught, landed then shot and made the basket in the final second of an NCAA playoff game, only to have it disqualified and they lost the game). Back to live action, C immediately yells “Give it to Nneka.” Now if C knows this is coming, shouldn’t Oregon put a body on Nneka? No, they are business as usual in a zone. JJ Hones lobs the ball to the middle of the key where Nneka jumps, catches and shoots straight in the basket. It was amazing! Not many women’s basketball players can do that. Oregon, how did you not see that coming!

It was funny, watching the game, it seemed like Oregon was just bombing threes like crazy. Two of them were step back threes! But the stats say Oregon only made 9-28. Stanford, in contrast, made 13-35, the most attempts we have ever tried! So Oregon, live by the three and die by the three, as Stanford out shot you at your own game.

When C and R finally got back to watching the second half, we couldn’t relax until the last nine minutes, in a game that seemed to go on forever! We finally got a ten point lead with our crazy threes and Nneka’s rebounding and Jayne Appel. Jayne had a good second half and scored 17 points for the game. We finally broke 100 and the subs got to come in with under a minute left. The final score was 100-80. It felt like we outlasted them rather than out-played them.

R got the best line of the night when she said, “I would like to see Oregon play UConn!”

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