Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stanford BBall (Sorta)

So R and I decide to head up to cool San Francisco to see some championship basketball. We are still waiting¦ no, no, no, that wasn’t nice, was it? This is C here, one half of C and R, and let’s start over shall we?

Out of the goodness of our hearts, R and I decided to head up to see the best two out of three games in a championship series in the SF Summer Pro-Am league. Well okay, it was not really out of the goodness of our heart, it was for purely selfish reasons, we wanted to see the baby Stanford incoming freshmen play and maybe catch a glimpse of the seasoned Stanford veterans who show up to cheer them on. We are talking about watching the play of future Stanford players Sara James, Toni Kokenis, and already our fave, Chiney Ogwumike, plus, yes dear readers (reader) plus current Stanford players Mikaela Ruef and Sarah Boothe. (Try saying those last two names really fast, it’s fun! Roof and Booth.)

So anyhow, we find ourselves in R’s car heading in the general direction of San Francisco guided by my fancy GPS thingie. Now I love my GPS but it usually gets in a fight with R. Well, that’s not true, it guided us through the lakes of Kirkwood and South Lake Tahoe just fine, but for some reason, we have messed up twice now on our way to see the Stanford women. Well, part of it might be operator error on C’s, meaning me, or my part. Or whatever. The first time we missed our exit, so R reminded me NOT to do what we did last time and wouldn’t you know it I guided us right to the wrong exit again. After negotiating the CRAZY drivers of SF, we arrive at our destination. Which is a big track stadium. Oops, I have successfully guided us to Kezar Stadium. The Stanford women play basketball in Kezar Pavilion! After a joy ride around the park including going the wrong way on a one-way street and just a little sidewalk driving, we find Kezar Pavilion and park.

(R is rolling her eyes and waving her hands to get on with it, so I shall)

So we walk into Kezar PAVILION and C spots a cute-cute little dog like the one on the TV show “Frasier” and bends down and R stays upright and whispers under her breathe, “That’s Sara James right in front of us.” So C, uh, meaning me, geez I hate this third person thing, so I stand up and sure ’nuf I was petting Sara James’s dog, who was on a leash with what we can only assume was her dad. (She’s a local product, so we think both her dad and mom were there at the game. Hi Mrs. and Mr. James, we are excited about your daughter coming to Stanford!). Because we are staring, I take the plunge and say, “You’re Sara James, hello, nice to meet you,” and shake her hand. R, wearing all her Stanford gear, sounds more intelligence and says, “Hello, nice to meet you we are Stanford season ticket holders for almost 20 years, and good luck today.” I want to say, well, technically R has been the season ticket holder and I just ride her coattails and really only jumped on board the Stanford band wagon about 5 years ago and… but Sara has already run down the ramp and jumped and touched the support bar holding the basket, so R shoves me out of my stupid self indulgent reverie and we take our seats.

We sit on the “Stanford Side”, which is really the whole other side of the gym opposite the team benches. There are probably about 100 people, mostly the Stanford faithful. The Stanford players are on the Golden State team and they are playing the Mission Rec team. Mission Rec has 2 subs and we have 4500. Seriously, I think we have 10 players to choose from. We notice Sarah Boothe, Sara James and Chiney Ogwumike are starters. Will this be a foretelling of the Stanford year to come? We can only hope.

Finally the game starts (and finally R can stop poking me to get to the basketball part). We also notice Sarah Boothe has 6 inches over the tallest member of the other team. This should be a cake walk…And yet…

The first time we watched the Stanford players, the game plan was to get it into Boothe and she scored. A lot. This time that game plan flies out the window. Well, the other team, full of small, fast, quick, aggressive guards, pressure our guards and we cannot get it into Boothe. Plus the other team is taking advantage of the fact the refs are not very good and let a lot of contact and slapping go uncalled. A lot of slapping. So we cannot get it in to Boothe and when we do shoot, we take rushed shots.

Then the coach of the other team starts yelling at the refs for his version of non-calls. He gets T’d up. Then the refs feel so bad for giving him a technical foul that they give him back two quick fouls that are hardly fouls, especially compared to what was allowed moments ago. Sarah Boothe goes to the bench with 2 fouls and stays for a long time. We can’t buy a basket.

Ever eagle-eyed, R spots Stanford veterans Kayla Pedersen and Nneka Ogumike coming in the gym and taking position up high opposite the Stanford faithful. We make a mental note to switch seats at half time. Shortly, we see more Stanford veterans enter. First, Lindy La Roque and then Jeanette Pohlen, IN A DRESS! Not often you see such fancy duds at a basketball game.

Chiney looks more aggressive on the boards and even Toni Kokenis is looking much improved. In fact, around the 7:22 mark, all five Stanford players go in. Cool. And boy does the guard Sara James have a nose for rebounds.

But the Stanford team is so rattled by the slapping, missed shots, non-calls and shouting of the other coach, plus the pressure on their guards, that by half time it is only 15-22. Our Stanford team has only scored 15 points? This is not good. Will this be a foretelling of the year to come? We can only hope not.

It was neat to see Mikaela Ruef so animated talking with the rest of the players at the half. Chiney and Sarah Boothe also chimed in and everyone listened raptly. Plus big sis Nneka came over to add in her two coaching cents. Jeanette Pohlen went out to her car and brought back a water bottle for Tony. So nice to see the Stanford players taking care of each other.

The second half starts and it is more of the same, intense defensive pressure, but this time the other team is bombing threes. Sarah Boothe fouls again and the coach takes her out. We hear someone in the gym yell, “Keep her in!” And turn to see it was Lindy. You go, girl! A few minutes alter she yelled, “Put in your high scorer!” as Sarah was still on the bench and obviously had the most points for their team. Chiney starts to get aggressive and made an athletic steal but cannot corral the ball from going out of bounds. Then she fiercely grabbed a rebound, dribbled down court and went coast to coast for the rare basket. All the way Chiney.! (T-Shirt rights patented and copyrighted by C and R, thank you very much). The other team counters by raining more threes.

Sarah Boothe finally goes in and she is posting up strong but the other coach is now yelling “Three seconds in the key!” so loudly that Sarah hears him and instinctively leaves the key, as a good player will do when listening to coach. Problem was, it was not her coach, he was for the other team and he intimidated her to stay out of the key. Then the other team’s speedy little guards start faking the three and driving in. They usually lose their guard defense and make it to the second line of bigger players, where they are fouled while leaping in the air. Sarah Boothe goes back to the bench, then Chiney joins her with her foul trouble and then the other team is so confident they launch threes or drive at will. It is now a 20-point game.

In the closing minutes, everyone on the Golden State team looks tired and there is no sense of urgency. Yes, they are down by 20 with a few minutes left and probably can’t catch up, but they aren’t even trying. That was disheartening to see. This is a championship game, for cryin’ out loud. The final score is 61-77. We go to Chevy’s to drown our sorrows in salty chips and the cute waiter gets points for listening to our sob story and being interested in our blog about women’s sports (unless he was just pretending to be interested and fishing for a big tip, which in case it worked because we gave him one, we are such softies sometimes).

The Stanford women play again tomorrow, but with a performance like that, getting beat by a smaller team was hard to watch. We should have wailed on them. Oh well, basketball Sunday, same time, same place (can C and R find the gym on the third try? Tune in tomorrow and find out).

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