Okay, now that C and R’s heart rate have gone back done and the adrenaline rush is finally starting to wear off over the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team’s Elite Eight win over Xavier, let’s review and analyze THE play, over and over and over again! (BTW, C's Wednesday Basketball group took turns reenacting the missed lay-ups and racing down the court in 4 seconds. And we are grown women. Everyone is still giddy!)
Yes, they did draw up that play in the timeout; mostly it was Stanford Associate Head Coach’s Amy Tucker’s plan. It was funny, in the timeout, C and R were thinking, don’t throw a long baseball pass like Notre Dame did when they needed a basket in the final seconds and threw it into a crowd and lost the ball without touching it. And Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer thought the same thing, only a day earlier (great minds think alike, except Tara thinks much more quickly and at a higher level then C and R!). Tara had watched that game and asked her assistants what they would do in that situation, playing “what if,” like we all do, except we play, “what if we won the lottery?” (C and R’s answer: buy the Sacramento Monarchs and have them play at Santa Clara’s Levy Center). Anyhoo, in the Stanford coaches make-believe game, they decided they would give it to a fast guard, not knowing they would need this advice the next day. Isn’t that like Stanford, already having the answer without being yet asked the question? Chance favors a prepared mind, says Louis Pasteur. Fate is on their side, say C and R.
So, in that timeout with 4.4 seconds to go, Stanford coaches could afford to be calm and collected because they had thought of what to do already. (Nothing like turning to your coaches and saying, "What the tinkle bells do we do now?" with the look of a deer in the headlights to inspire confidence in your players). The assistant coaches kept telling Jeanette, “Four seconds is a long time.”
When the ball was inbounded, JJ Hones, an unsung hero on defense, set the screen to free Pohlen and she raced up the sidelines, always risky if you get trapped. In fact, Xavier’s Amber Harris was going to the sideline to do just that and stopped, unbelievably, letting Pohlen go right by her. She had four fouls and said she couldn’t risk fouling her. Stanford’s Nneka Ogumike even tried to set a screen for Pohlen and missed and... stopped at half court. Nneka said, “I was paralyzed just watching what was going to happen.”
As Jeanette was off to the races, C and R wondered where was everybody? Said Pohlen, "Everybody was behind me. Once I crossed half court, I think there was someone to my left and [Xavier forward] April [Phillips] was right there, and all I could do was really just go at her. I didn't really have anything else to do. I don't even think anyone from my team was even down there (they weren't, say C and R). So it wasn't even like I could dish it to somebody.”
As a coach, do you yell at everyone else from Stanford for standing around and watching or praise everyone for keeping their defender back and move on. C and R think in this case you say congratulations everybody and move on. Hopefully your team won’t play so poorly next time to be put in that situation where they need a last second basket.
Now for some awards:
Jayne Appel and Kayla Pedersen were named to the Sacramento Regional All-Tournament team. Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike was named the regional’s “Most Outstanding Player.” Congrats, Jayne, Kayla and Nneka, our three trees.
The Associated Press named their All-American Teams today. Stanford did not have a player on the first team, which C and R find surprising. The first team was Maya Moore and UConn teammate Tina Charles (deservedly so), Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin, Virginia's Monica Wright and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender. Jayne and Nneka did make the second team. The second team consisted of Oklahoma State senior Andrea Riley, Stanford senior Jayne Appel and sophomore Nneka Ogwumike, Middle Tennessee State senior Alysha Clark and Baylor freshman Brittney Griner.
Ohio State’s Lavender better than Jayne or Nneka? Not from where C and R are sitting. And Jayne and Nneka are head and shoulders above Brittney Griner, in terms of over-all skills and a more complete game. Brittney is a shot blocking machine, but inconsistent in both her offense and defensive skills, often disappearing for long stretches of the game on both ends of the court. Although she is our last great hope to defeat UConn before Stanford has to meet them.
One announcer said UConn’s Tina Charles and Brittney Griner will cancel each other out and it will come down to the supporting cast, and UConn has the better supporting cast by far. More on BG later.