C and R hurry to Maples, after all it has been exactly 14 day since we have seen the Stanford women’s basketball team play, live or tele-vised, and we are excited. R is out without her sling, giving her new and improved bionic shoulder a spin. We are pleased to see a good-sized crowd make its way to Maples Pavilion. Then we see the signs proclaiming it is “Dog Day’ at Maples, and we see some dogs and owners waiting outside. They are to perform at the half time show in the agility contests, and C would like to one day see what her time would be.
Ex-Stanford player and C's favorite of favorites, Candice Wiggins is sitting four rows and two chairs away from C and R, not that they notice her in her gray sweater and looking the picture of health. Here’s hoping all the leg/knee issues are healed.
C and R are surprised to see freshmen Toni Kokenis getting her first start, even if it is Fresno State. Head Coach Tara VanDerveer is going with a two guard set, Toni and veteran Jeanette Pohlen and her choice of three trees, Kayla Pedersen, Nneka Ogwumike and little sis Chiney, also a freshmen. Surprising, and it leaves Jocelyn Tinkle odd man out, although she would get used heavily as a sub.
Speaking of Tinkle, or Jingle, as she got inadvertently nicknamed due to our habit of bringing jingle bells to all the home game last years and ringing then when she stepped on the court, C and R have been remiss in getting that trend going again. So C wore her jingle necklace, and when Tinkle came in, we heard other sleigh bells going off.
In fact, we thought it was our good friend, Coach N, who brought some of the little girls from her team this year that were on the team we helped coach last year (time constraints aren’t allowing us to coach this year, bummer). We found them at half time and asked if it was them shaking their jingle bells like a good Montana-nite should and they said no, they still had their bells in their back pack, it was someone else. Good to know the trend has not completely died.
And speaking of Toni Kokenis, as we were before we got sidetracked on Jingle, it was good to see Toni show some emotion. She usually looks so serious and focused, as if nothing phases her, sort of like Tara. Toni missed a fast break lay up and said a bad word that we could never say in front of the little girls we did coach and then when she got called for a foul, she jumped up in the air and stomped on the floor as if to say, “NO way!” She also was smart enough to turn away from the officials as she as doing this lest she get a technical.
Which reminds us, the other team got a technical. It wasn’t for swearing, but for holding down Nneka. It was strange to see the official go to the little courtside monitor to look at the foul and see how flagrant it was before she assessed the technical. We thought they didn’t use instant reply in college basketball.
R has family members who attended Fresno State so although she did not want Fresno to win, she wanted them to do well, so it was she that put the small jinx on Stanford. Fresno was fast and aggressive, and held the lead for 7 minutes early in the first half. Of course, once Fresno got to the score to 9 to 13 around the 15 minute mark, Stanford shut them down and went on a scoring frenzy, scoring 33 to their 4. Half time score was 42-17.
Our man-to man defense was solid and we forced many shot clock violations. Nneka hit her sister, Chiney, with a pass under the basket and then it was as if our confidence soared to work the ball inside. The sisters Nneka and Chiney would finish with 17 and 18 points respectively. Sarah Boothe also had some easy baskets once we worked it inside.
Many dog pictures were shown and many dog videos got played, our favorite being the dachshund-type dogs on the treadmill trying to get the milkbone. Reminded C and R of our jobs, always running runing and getting nowhere, the allusive prize always out of reach (no,just kidding). Jeanette Pohlen became the 32nd Stanford player to score 1,000 points, and Tara got her 799th win. Many subs got to play, and Stanford would go on to win 77-40. Former Stanford player Ros Gold-Onwude got to interview Tara after the game for ESPN, and they played it on the jumbo tron.
Scary moment in the first half around the 8:22 minute mark when Kayla took a charge and hit her head hard on the floor. She was helped off and kept out of the rest of the game. C and R were sure it looked like a concussion. The papers would report they kept her out to be “cautionary”. And I think that was the longest we have been without Kayla in three and a half years. Kayla is a senior and once she made the starting line-up, we think, she has not missed a game, and has logged over half a game in minutes for each game she has been in. Kayla is usually our go-to person, that makes us feel confident and secure with her ball handling skills, excellent rebounding and ability to score a three or drive inside. We wonder how it felt to the rest of the team to not have her in?
Fresno State did press us little, and without Kayla, we did panic a little and lost the ball a couple times. Hope other teams do not look at that footage and get any funny ideas. And of course we hope Kayla is back in for most of the games. Stanford has a tough schedule coming up. Stanford travels to DePaul, and then number 8 Tennessee on their court and then back to Maples for number 4 Xavier (the revenge of the double-missed-lay-up game) and then, dun, dun, dun… number 1 UConn December 30th. Hope Kayla is rested and ready.