Monday, August 30, 2010

“Then I will have two fillings…”

Hi, C here, and I just wanted to let you know no one wrote in to say they knew the Brandi Chastain “I will have two fillings” line, so I guess you REALLY have to be a women’s soccer fan to get the reference. Anyhoo, it was from a commercial for the 1999 World Cup about playing as a team. It was great 11 years ago and it’s still great now. When I first saw it in 1999, I want around for six months saying to everyone who asked me a question, “And I will have two fillings.” That’s how much of a women’s soccer geek I was…am…still is…still am…am…
Enjoy Brandi and Mia Hamm and company courtesy from the You Tube.

Quick, can you name the US goalie seen in the commercial? No fair using the Internet! Don't forget to buy tickets to see Brandi October 2nd. For more information, including ticket purchase information, go to Reach Up World Foundation.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Who Are You Rooting For in the WNBA Playoffs?

So C and R have been taking in the WNBA playoff games, when televised on a channel we actually get, even though we have no vested interest, meaning we have no home team to root for, thank you very much Sacramento and the Moo-oaf brothers. So the next best thing is to root for teams that have ex-Stanford women’s basketball players and after that, players we just admire.

We were delighted Jayne Appel’s team, the San Antonio Silver Stars, were in the playoffs. Unfortunately they had to play Phoenix, which is lead by Diana Taurasi, who falls under the category of players we admire. We admire the heck out of her.

Predictably, Phoenix beat San Antonio two games to none, but we did get to see Jayne Appel play, and C and R must admit, for the first time all season it finally looked as if Jayne belonged in the WNBA.

For those of you not in the know, Jayne had a stellar career at Stanford and in her senior year lead her team to the championship game, where, hampered by a painful stress fracture in her foot plus a sprained ankle, went scoreless and left college with a bad taste in her mouth. Her summer in the WNBA has not gone well either, and it is hard to tell if it is the lingering effects of her injuries or the higher level of play or a combination.

Anyway, she looked good in the loss. At one point, Jayne was being guarded by another former Stanford women’s basketball player, Brooke “The Hook” Smith. They were guarding each other so C and R took turns punching each other on the arm and saying, “Look, Brooke’s guarding Jayne, Jayne’s guarding Brooke!” We noticed both women play very similarly, but we believe Jayne is just better. Not that we have anything to back it up with, we just believe that!

Well, at least we can now root for Nicole Powell on the NY Liberty.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Barn-Stormin’ Brandi Chastain!

Hey, this just came in over the wires. Brandi Chastain (who faithful readers like mom will know, C and R have actually met her several times, and C even shot craps with Brandi!) yes, that Brandi, is retiring from Women’s Professional Soccer and having a soccer game/party to celebrate. You get to pay money to see her play soccer with her friends. Who are her friends? Oh, only Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Aly Wagner, you know, just the All Star cast of the US Women’s National Team, that’s all. And your money goes to Brandi’s new charity. (New charity, is she still involved with BAWSI?).

Heck, C and R would play money just to see Mia Hamm play soccer against five year olds. She has been a personal favorite of C’s, for years. Wait, R says Mia has been a personal favorite of HERS for years. Oh yeah, C was a fan of Mia before Brandi kicked the overtime penalty shot against China in 1999 to win the World Cup. In fact, C is such a big fan of the Women’s US National Team that she even has the Sports Illustrated cover photos of Brandi celebrating in her bra directly after that moment in the drawer by her bedside (no kidding). In facto again, C is such a fan of Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain AND women’s soccer (boy, you can tell who wrote this blog, can’t you) that C challenges all our readers to see if they can explain this quote…. “Then I will have two fillings….”

First person who writes in gets a women’s sports Information red rubber bracelet like “Live Strong” except it is red. And says Women’s Sports Information. Go ahead, try and cheat and Google it. It’s so obscure that it’s not on the web and only a true, true fan of women’s soccer would know the reference. Oh shoot, I just found it on You Tube. Okay, no fair cheating. No Internet. You either know it or you don’t.

Oops, enough clowning around, C and R are not doing our job here. We are supposed to be helping promote Brandi’s retirement game and make money for her charity. She played her college career at Santa Clara, and is married to Santa Clara’s women’s soccer head coach, where do you think the game is going to be? Yes, at Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara. C has taken her girl’s and boy’s soccer teams to see Santa Clara games at Buck Shaw over the years and it is just such a fun time. You are close to the field and get to see a lot of action, not a bad seat in the house. Wait, let’s do this proper and actually let you peak at the press release.

Brandi Chastain Benefit Soccer Game Oct. 2, 2010

Female soccer icon Brandi Chastain--best known for her game-winning penalty kick again China in the 1999 Women's World Cup followed by the celebratory ripping off of her jersey-- will be honored in a Testimonial Soccer Match on Oct. 2, 2010 at 6 PM at the Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.

Soccer celebrities and athletes playing in this special, coed game include Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Tisha Venturini , Kristine Lilly, Eric Wynalda, Leslie Osborne, Aly Wagner, Ethan Zohn, Tab Ramos, Marcelo Balboa and others.

At the game, Brandi will launch her new Reach Up! foundation, aimed to inspire young girls to make healthy choices. Gently used soccer gear will be collected and donated through a partnership with US Soccer foundation.

The Reach Up! Village, a tent filled with food and fun pregame activities, will open at 3 p.m. Also, Brandi and some teammates will hold a special pre-game clinic for 200 participants at 4 p.m. Game at 6 PM. For more information, including ticket purchase information, go to Reach Up World Foundation.

Help spread the word, forward the press release to anyone who is interested in women’s soccer, to your local soccer leagues, schools, clubs, and kid-friendly groups.. Tell them C and R will be there!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

WNBA Playoffs

Hot enough for you Bay Area? C and R are sweating it out and it ain’t pretty. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, the WNBA playoffs started. Seattle ended up with a record tying record, 28-6. But the eight teams that made the play-offs are now saying, “What you did in the regular season don’t mean jack, it’s what you do in the post season that matters.” Or something like that, don’t quote us.

Also saw our Jayne made the play-offs. Well, her team, the San Antonio Silver Stars did, and Jayne is Jayne Appel, former Stanford Women’s Basketball Star who is in her rookie season and NOT tearing it up. We were saddened to see the Stars Chamique Holdsclaw tore her Achilles at the end of the regular season. That’s gonna hurt San Antonio’s chances.

So, as we were saying before we interrupted ourselves, the San Antonio Silver Stars made the playoffs…with a 14-20 record! But it’s okay, not embarrassing, all three teams (out of four) that made the playoffs for the Western Conference had a losing record. Phoenix ended up 15-19 and Los Angeles was even worse than San Antonio at 13-21. Look, if the WNBA wants to attract more fans, we have to but out a quality product. At least in the Eastern Conference the four teams out of eight that made the play-offs had winning records. And the fifth team, UConn lite, uh, we mean the Connecticut Suns, who didn’t even make the playoffs went 17-17, a better record than three out of the four in the Western Conference playoffs! We’re just sayin’.

Oh, wait a minute, C and R’s little pea-brains just flashed on something. Jayne Appel, former Stanford player whose last college game was a devastating loss in the title game to Tina Charles’ Connecticut team, where she was playing on a broken foot and scored zero points for the first time in her college life and transitioned right away to the WNBA where she, as we said, not tearing it up her rookie year and averaging 2.5 points per game, made the playoffs with a team that was 13-21, and fellow rookie Tina Charles, who IS tearing it up as a rookie in the WNBA averaging 11.7 points and lead her team to a 176-17 record is sitting at home?!?!! (OW, R just punched me for that very long sentence.) Even C and R feel for Tina Charles. Something must be up cosmically. Wouldn’t it be great if Jayne goes into a play off game and only scores one basket, but it is the basket to win the championship? Stranger things have happened!

Anyhoo, it will be hard to stop the juggernaut that is Seattle. Superstar Lauren Jackson is supported by Sue Bird and Swin Cash, and that takes a lot of pressure off... well each other, as they don’t have to come out each night trying to score 50 million points. They can feed whoever is hot that night. Lat year’s champs, Phoenix Mercury, were similar in that they had 3 players that consistently scored in double figures. Plus they pressed the heck out of everyone. And fast breaked the heck out of everyone. Plus they had Taurasi. “nuf said.

Well, it will be interesting to see if Seattle can run the table and continue the success they had in the regular season, as what you did in the regular season… uh, see above.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jayne’s Made the Grade!

C and R got some good news today. Former Stanford women’s basketball star and current favorite of R, Jayne Appel was added to the USA Basketball Women's National Team pool. She gets to join another former Stanford star and current favorite of C, Candice Wiggins (although isn’t she injured and out for the season?).

Hold the phone, Jayne’s not on the team yet. She was one of four players added to the players who MIGHT be selected. The three other players and Jayne are all post players.

"Certainly one of the positions that we are trying to shore up is in the post," coach Geno Auriemma said. "With Candace Parker not being available because of her operation, these four additions give us a lot of options to choose from. I'm anxious to see how they fit in. And depending on who's available because of the (WNBA) playoffs, I think it's important to have as many options as possible."

So these selected members of the USA National Team will meet on Sept. 4 in Washington, D.C. for its final training camp ahead of its departure for Europe to compete at the FIBA World Championship. The 12 players for the 2012 Olympic team will be decided from that play.

When Jayne was asked how it felt to be named to training camp after sitting out the first two due to injury (foot stress fracture), she said, “It’s kind of more of a sigh of relief, after having gone to the camps when I wasn’t able to play and having to watch on the sidelines. It makes it even more worthwhile. It also helped me want to be a part of it even more and makes me want to be able to contribute more into the future.”

She also was asked what she could bring to this team, especially since she is not having a great rookie season in the WNBA. She answered she will bring, “Whatever they need. Whether it be rebounding, if it’s giving energy off the bench, being that player who pushes other players every day in practice. Really anything that coach Auriemma wants me to do, I’ll do it.” See, not everyone has to be the superstar. Sometimes the superstar needs someone cheering them on! And I do like the comment that she can be the practice player to push the superstars and be contributing that way, like Sarah Boothe did last season for her.

Although Jayne has limited experience playing overseas (she played overseas a smattering of times, in the U18 USA team in the Pan American games and in the USA Youth Developmental Festival), she was asked to comment on the international style of play. She gave what C and R consider a Stanford-type answer. Rather than comment on the more physical play everyone else mentions, she said the team must also worry about a different battle off the court. “You’re in different countries, you have to get used to the different atmospheres, things like that. But if you keep that circle close within the team, as long as you do that you’ll be fine.” We love that she is mentioning how hard it is to travel someplace new and compete, and how important team chemistry and trusting you fellow players is to doing well. A detail few players mention. Hmmm, wonder if Jayne wants to be a coach some day?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Game Two in SF

Wow, has a week gone by already? C and R were going to update you on the baby Stanford women's basketball players and their championship game at the Summer Pro-Am league, but every time we sat down to the computer, more pressing problems took precedence (Say that five times fast).

So, whew, we have a bit of a breather, so let’s get you updated. They lost.

Yes, yes, we were there, on Sunday. After that thrashing they got in the opening game of the best of three series, we were curious to see how their team responded. First, they played with more energy and intensity in general, and that was good to see. Second, they opened the game sticking to their game plan of getting it to Sarah Boothe, who at 6-4,  was the tallest player on the floor, beating their center by a good 5-6 inches. But when the other team’s guards pressured the backcourt, they abandoned the plan. At least the refs did a better job of calling the slapping and fouls on the guards (and rightfully t’d up the opposing coach, again!).  But we could not work it inside. Many passes to Sarah were intercepted or knocked away because we either telegraphed it, throw it too softly or slowly, or made them too low. Geez, throw the ball six inches above Sarah’s outstretched fingers were no one else could get it, have her jump for it, turn and shoot. We lost a lot of passes inside, and that hurt us.  

The score was closer, 75-70, and in the closing minutes we even got it to 71-70 before we played the fouling game to stop the clock. All in all, the Stanford players looked like young colts, wild, energetic, unstructured and undisciplined, Chiney Ogumike in particular. She was jumping all over the place, leaving her man, hair flying out of her ponytail… Although when they didn’t give her a hair time out, she decided to fix it standing in the paint. The sight of 6-3 Chiney standing in the middle of the key with her hands on top of her head, elbows pointed outward were enough to give all opposing players pause. Drive inside and you get an elbow in your eye. Maybe she should play defense that way every day. Well, let Tara VanDerveer get a hold of them and give discipline to their talents, and the full Stanford team again will be a formidable foe.

Now what are C and R going to do with their weekends? (Hint, go see the traveling French Impressionist paintings at the DeYoung, practically right next door to Kezar Pavilion)

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).