Friday, February 19, 2010

Stanford vs. Oregon, Again

The first time the Stanford Women’s Basketball team played the high-scoring Oregon Ducks, it seemed the more Oregon pushed the ball up court and played up tempo, the more Stanford responded and scored. They would go on to win that game 100-80. Well, it was an almost duplicate night. The more Oregon pushed, the more Stanford enjoyed, no relished, the tempo and scored, scored, scored. The main difference between this game and the last was that Oregon seemed resigned to losing.

We are sorry to be so harsh, Oregon and Coach Paul Westhead, who has C and R’s vote for PAC-10 coach of the year. The first game, coach, you had your team believing they could out run and out gun Stanford and win. And your team did a great job and were only down by 5 points with 8 minutes left in that contest before Stanford pulled away. Tonight your team seemed slower and not as confident. Your team made all-kinda-crazy shots in the first contest. For this game, your team missed open shots, only hitting 28% in the first half. They weren't feelin' it.

Back to the current game, Oregon came out in a full court press, and anyone watching game film on Stanford this year knows our guards have trouble dribbling out of the press. We either dribble into a two-guard trap or get the ball stolen from our hands. If we survive that, we give into the pressure and make an ill-advised pass that gets stolen or goes out of bounds. So Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer came up with an ingenious way to beat the press. Don’t have the guards dribble in pressure. Beat them with fast breaking players and even faster passes. We noticed three new offensive sets for the full court press. Mostly we would have Kayla Pedersen inbound it near the basket and then we would throw it right back to her. Kayla Pedersen, at 6 foot 4 inches is arguably our surest dribbler and smartest player. As two Oregon players moved to trap her, two of our guards would streak up the left and right sidelines, one who would be sure to be open. Kayla would hit one of them like a quarterback delivering a pass and now our guard has it at the half court line moving quickly and three Oregon players are stuck back at their free throw line trying to trap. A few unpressured dribbles and we now have three Stanford players on two Oregon players near our basket, usually resulting in a score. We would beat the first wave of players waiting to trap us by quick passes over them and not let them get near us as we dribbled.

Of course our favorite set was when Oregon went to a full court man to man press. So we had every Stanford player in our backcourt, along with the whole Oregon team. No one is back by the Stanford basket. Kayla and Jeanette would look at each other and do play number two. Guard Jeanette Pohlen would stand even with Oregon’s free throw line and put her hand out to the Stanford basket and then run. Kayla would throw it from out of bounds in a huge arc to about the half court line. With Jeanette’s Oregon player closer to Kayla, she would be behind Jeanette. Jeanette would catch teh ball at the half court line while running full speed and dribble for an uncontested lay up, as the rest of the Oregon team is back doing their assignment of guarding their man. No one was back to help. Brilliant!

We only had 10 turnovers for the whole game. Usually we have that by half. And guard Jeanette Pohlen had ZERO. Hmm, maybe C and R should reconsider who deserves the PAC-10 coach of the year award.

No she dit-int!
Say it like this, put your left hand on your hip, hold your right index finger in the air and wag it back and forth to the syllables: “No-she-dit-int!”

Yes she did. Kayla Pedersen, the player C and R say is the smartest on a Stanford team that has a combined SAT score of 20 billion, was inbounding the ball under our basket with the five second count winding down and finding no Stanford player open because Oregon was pressuring the pass with their back to the basket, threw the ball at an Oregon player’s backside, stepped inbounds, picked up the ball under the basket and got an easy lay up before anyone knew what was happening. So much so, that C turned to R and said, “Did she just inbound the ball off a Duck’s butt?” Later in the evening during a break in action, the scoreboard operator put together game highlights and included that play! You get away with a play like that once a game, heck, maybe once a season!

All five starters were in double figures that added up to 94 points. Jayne Appel had 26, Nneka Ogwumike had 17, although it seemed like more as she was all over the court when she was in, Kayla had 14 and Ros Gold-Onwude had 11. The biggest surprise was Jeanette Pohlen’s career high 26 points. She is not known for her scoring. We would go on to win 104-60. Joslyn Tinkle was the one to put us over at 100 and we proudly shook out tinkle bells.

A word about Jayne.
Senior Jayne Appel had a great game, scoring 26 points. She looked great under the basket and can take anyone one-on-one. She started out the season slow, for two reasons. One, she was still recovering from a knee injury and two, Tara VanDerveer positioned her away from the low post under the basket to the high post at the foul line to give Nneka Ogwumike room to create and score. Jayne’s strength is under the basket and cannot hit a jumper at the foul line or beyond to save her life. She was averaging around 13 points a game this season. Now Tara takes out Nneka for most of the first half and has moved Jayne back to the low post for most of the game and she is averaging about 21 points a game in the last 5 games.

We have some Internet theories we want to test. You want to hear them? On second thought, nah, who wants to hear crack pot Internet theories by two people who have no scientific or journalistic or coaching pedigrees or insider information to back it up? What? Oh, turns out a lot of people do, that’s what the Internet is here for…so here goes.

Okay, one, Tara wants Jayne’s stock to go up for the WNBA draft, so she is putting her back in the low post and sending Nneka to the bench. Nneka can have her chance next year. Unconfirmed Internet theory number two, something is wrong with Nneka, she must be injured. It is weird, when Nneka touches the ball, she is incredible in her creative scoring ability which is greatly aided by her leaping ability. She got some incredible rebounds last night. But when she is away from the ball she shuffles slowly and it looks like her knees are in pain. She only played 26 minutes last night and Tara would take her out for long stretches, even though she would be on fire offensively. Usually something a coach would do to rest a player.

Either way, we need Jayne to be prolific at scoring, as it seems when she has a great night the team calms down and feels good and limits their mistakes. Also, Jayne needs help to score. Last year we got sorta one dimensional always going to Jayne and Nneka is the perfect antidote to teams doubling Jayne, as Jayne has great court vision and passes well and Nneka near the basket can out leap anybody. R says we are peaking at the right time and we look back on track to focus on the PAC-10 tournament and the NCAA tournament.

This game was a Pink Zone Night, where the fans ands players are encouraged to wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. C and R only have pink bandanas and the free pink shirts were all gone by the time C and R got to the game, so we were disappointed. A big thank you to the volunteer who ran down to our section and threw a pink Stanford shirt right to R! And she actually caught it! C wore it the rest of the night even though it was a size too small. We just love our freebies. Although Stanford, you better throw us a red ball on senior night!

Speaking of which, see ya Saturday for Senior Night.

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