Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stanford Trio Does in UCLA

Once again, a Pac-12 win for Stanford and once again, the scoring was lead by the trio of Nneka Ogwumike, Toni Kokenis and Nneka’s sister Chiney. One of these days that is going to be Stanford’s downfall but if the other team’s five can’t stop those three, then they deserve to lose. To wit, take a gander at what Stanford did to UCLA.

Stanford comes out in man to man defense, except their scouting report must have seen something about UCLA’s starter 5’4” Mariah Williams. They decided to not even guard her, thinking she is not an accurate shooter. The UCLA announcers says it is like UCLA’s four on offense vs. Stanford’s five on defense. Early in the game Williams catches the ball out on the three-point line. No one is on her. Stanford is daring her to shoot. She does. She misses. Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer looks like the genius she is.

Stanford’s Amber Orrange comes into the game and she is basically being a floater on defense to help stop any drives to the basket, leaving Williams alone. UCLA passes to Williams but Amber is so quick she makes the steal and goes all the way for an uncontested lay up. Once again, genius. VanDerveer. They left Williams alone all night. Several times she found herself wide open on the three-point line and the other nine players were practically inside the paint. The crowd implored her to shoot, but she remembered her lesson and then had to wait, wait, wait for someone to get open. We only got three that can score, but all five can play defense.

But back to our scoring trio. Nneka had 18 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes and Chiney 15 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes. Toni finished with 11 points, and four boards in 26 minutes. That’s 44 of Stanford’s 77 points in a game won 77-50. And the three only played a little over half the game. In fact, when Nneka went out of the game for good in the second half, and Chiney a minute later, the sisters had 33 points and 21 rebounds, compared to 30 points for UCLA. Wow.

Stanford definitely had the edge on size as well as healthy bodies. At times, UCLA looked intimidated, missing on shots and lay-ups if they thought they heard footsteps. Stanford went on a 15-2 run (or 25-7, take your pick) to close the first half. Oh, score at the half was 40-23, Stanford. UCLA shot a dismal 27.9% for the game, although we are bothered by Stanford’s three-point percentage. It was 15%. UCLA’s was 9%. At least Stanford’s free throws improved to 70 %.

We do have to do our due diligence and point out UCLA has just been decimated with injures. First of all, UCLA’s best player, Jasmine Dixon is out for the year with a ruptured Achilles, like our Alex Green. Further injuries to UCLA include junior Atonye Nyingifa (knee), junior Jackie Shepard (foot) and freshman Alexis Perry (shoulder). Nyingifa was averaging over 14 points and nearly 9 rebounds before tearing her ACL against Tennessee in December. Another UCLA player, junior Markel Walker had off-season thumb surgery and was heavily taped for this game.

Oh, C and R would be remiss if we did not thank UCLA for allowing their All-Access feed to be shown live on the Internet. We got to see the game for free, thank you, and the announcers were not totally pro-UCLA. They were very complimentary to the Cardinal, especially Nneka. One announcer had met her personally and could not stop raving about her as a person. We feel the same way. However we were a little bothered by the replays of UCLA scoring while Stanford in real tie was down on their end scoring. (Although that wasn’t an issue in the last seven or so minutes of the half, when Stanford went on their run, hee hee). And also sometimes the live action would be replaced with the word “defense” rotating and spinning and then we would hear the announcers stating how Stanford scored. Don’t do that.

And what was up with that gym? Okay, were they playing in a high school? Bleachers with no backs that only went about 10 rows back, a bazillion lines on the floor so it’s hard to tell what’s what. Can’t we play in the big-girl gym, please? Or is that reserved for guys only? UCLA. No wonder Nikki Caldwell left. Women’s teams down there get no respect.

Although it was cool during a time out that the UCLA dance crew let fans come on the court to dance. C and R saw some Cardinal Red shirts out there groovin’, although the announcers said later the facilities crew were not happy.

Side Note:
UCLA has two sisters, Rhema and Rebecca Garner, like Stanford’s Ogwumike’s sisters. Rhema is a sophomore and Rebecca is a senior, like Chiney and Nneka as well. USC also had sisters. It seems to be a Pac-12 trend.

Second Side Note:
Saw Erica Payne playin’ some point. Guess when you have a 30-point lead you can experiment. She looked uncomfortable bringing the ball up, and when pressured, threw it away. Her ponytail looked cool, though.

Third Note:
Thanks to all who wrote into tell us we could have tuned in KSZU when there was no televised play for Stanford-USC. We completely spaced on that one and forgot! So today we DID turn on KSZU for the UCLA game and they weren’t broadcasting it. Day late and dollar short seems to fit us well. It was also explained to us you can purchase the $10 a month or $15 a moth plan on All-Access, but somehow paying for internet content just seems so wrong…

Next up Oregon.

Happy New Year to You and Yours

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stanford Prevails against USC

Once again I race home from work, only to find the Stanford Women’s Basketball game vs. USC to open Pac-12 play is not on TV. I thought the PAC-12 was supposed to change this? The reason for the merger was more exposure for teams, especially women. Just when is this going to happen, people?

I did have a place on the web, supposedly, that I could see that game. It is the CBS All Access site. So I go to the All Access site and discover you have to pay money. The fee is monthly. Hmm, it’s now December 29th. If I buy it, do I only get it for 3 days and then have to pay for a new month? I am cheap. It was a Hard Candy Christmas (Dolly Parton song, go look it up).

So I make the executive decision to go free and cheap with Gametracker, which is why I am not an executive. By the time I get to Gametracker, the website that has the play-by-play acted out by little red icons, we are already down 2-5 to the Women of Troy. Stanford’s Player of the Year candidate Nneka Ogwumike is shooting ice cold, already 1-4 from field in the early minutes.

USC was without their star player Jacki Gemelos, who tore her ACL for the FIFTH time. The jokester in me started to think of some witty word play to write, but then reality hit me; there’s nothing funny about an injury, and to tear up your knee for the fifth time is just heartbreaking.

Back to the game. This time Gametracker is really bad. There are jumps in scores, omissions of Stanford scoring, phantom fouls. Nneka shooting but no foul called? I cannot make heads or tails, so I go and get a sandwich.

When I come back with said sandwich, we are up 13-5. My how fortunes change. Nneka still looks like she is cold, though.

Finally I switch over to ESPN’s website and play-by-play. You don’t get to see the little red icons running around, but it is more reliable. At the official TV timeout at 9:36 in the first, it is 15-14, Stanford. Wait a minute, TV time out? What TV time out? This game isn’t on TV! Then Stanford is up by 10. ESPN website has a lag, so I switch back and forth between the two to try to keep current. Yeah, it’s just not the same to read the play-by-play as seeing it live or digitally.

Then Chiney Ogwumike gets a foul with 3:51 left in the first. It is her first of the game, which is record for her. Usually she fouls in the first minute of the game and head coach Tara VanDerveer makes her take a seat for most of the half. This game she got to play a lot early on and Stanford is up by 9. Jos Tinkle comes in her stead. With Chiney out, if Gametracker is to be believed, USC makes a comeback. The score is 31-28 and the Stanford lead is only 3 with 48 seconds left, so Tara makes a bold move to put Chiney back in. It is a risky move if she picks up a foul in such a short time. She doesn’t, but Toni Kokenis makes the a bad choice to foul USC’s Briana Gilbreath with 6 seconds left. She is a good shooter and hits both free throwsto go into the locker room with her team only down by 3, 33-30, and enjoying an emotional boost. (By the way, she plays with her older sister Stephanie Gilbreath, like the Ogwumike sisters).

Wish we could tell you who did what in the second half but we were limited. Stanford clung to the same three point lead for the first 13 minutes of the second half. Well, it was more like a three point swing for those 13 minutes, with the teams staying neck and neck and trading baskets and the lead. At one time USC went up by one. Then in the final minutes Nneka got a little hotter, Chiney also heated up, and Toni decided to score. Nneka would end the night with 19, Chiney 12, and Toni 15. Everyone else for Stanford would have one point, to make the final score 61-53. In other words, the same 3 did all the scoring. Should we look a gift horse in the mouth? They did get the win. Or should we be troubled Stanford can’t get five consistent scorers?

One thing that did stand out on Gametracker was missed free throws, in particular Chiney who went 4-9 from the line. The team as a whole was 13-22, for a total of 59% free throw shooting percentage. Tara cannot be happy about that. Floor shooting was not much better. Of our big three scoring threats, Nneka was 6-16 and Toni was right behind her going 7-16. Chiney was a more respectable 4-6 from close range.  Lindy LaRocque, also a starter, was 1-9. Hmmm. Maybe the air down there is affecting them. The bad news is they have to stay and play UCLA next.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Stanford Powers over… Bakersfield?

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team played a rare day game on a weekday yesterday against Bakersfield, and the Cardinal Faithful weren’t happy about that, as many fans had to work. Well, C did anyway, but R went giving my seat to M.

She reported the stands were empty, texting a picture of empty red seats to C, who was able to listen to KSZU at work (thanks, guys, for broadcasting).

Long story short, it was like, if Nneka Ogwumike is a woman playing among girls, then the team was like a college team playing among high schoolers. R said it was no contest. Nneka was just flying around. After her outstanding 42 points against Tennessee, the only thing stopping her from scoring 100 was her coach, Tara VanDerveer, who sat her in favor of ample opportunity for her bench to play.

Nneka must have decided, consciously or unconsciously, after her attention-getting performance to let her little sister feel some of that love, because she seemed to make it her mission to feed Chiney. She would end up with 4 assists. Then Nneka and her sister Chiney sat down after a quarter of the game to make way for the freshmen and other non-starters. Curiously, Nneka only had 8 points in 13 minutes to Chiney’s 10 in 15 minutes, and we know how competitive Nneka is, she must have hated that her sister outscore her.

Sarah Boothe, at 6’5 towered over Bakersfield, pushing them out of the way to the basket, like a Black Friday Shopper going for a Tickle Me Elmo doll. She would end up with 6 points and 5 rebounds. R also said in the second half everyone was bombing threes, although Stanford ended up making 6 out of 18. She also said we played a zone defense and were very hands off, rather than smothering. It  was  a little embarrassing to be that mismnatched.

Jos Tinkel had a career scoring day with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. Two of her baskets were from three-point range. Freshie Bonnie added 14 points, going 4 for 4 from behind the three-point line in just 20 minutes of play. Erica Payne also had her named called nurmous times by KSZU, who relished saying “Bring on the Payne!” She adding 12 points.

All of that is well and good. We need others to be a scoring threat. But it’s hard to tell how legitimate their threat of scoring is against such a lower level opponent. Stanford was up 23-5 at the 13-minute mark, when the starting 5 were in. Although it was a little disquieting after leading 47-17 at half time that Bakersfield staged a mini come back in the second half. Final score 90-48.

And why were we playing them in the first place? Bakersfield is currently making their transition to Division I basketball and has a first year coach. Five of their players are out with knee injuries, and only 7 suited up for the game. The coach had just recently recruited a senior volleyball player who had not played bball since high school to have enough warm bodies. This was her third college game. If we were playing them as a favor, than careful what you wish for.

Injury report:
Bad news, freshmen Jasmine Camp is out for the year with a stress fracture in her foot. Surgery is set for January. She takes a seat at the end of the bench with other freshman Alex Green. Hmm, 2 out of the 6 freshmen down, not good news. Third freshman Taylor Greenfield also sat out of action with a sore hamstring but is expected to return. Tinkle made the most of the start in her spot.

And oh, the one time Stanford throws a victory ball to our section this year, Tinkle no less, was when C wasn’t there. M made the catch in her place.

Pac-12 play starts after the holiday break. 

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hecka Nneka Single-Handedly Beats Tennessee

There is a saying Stanford Women’s Basketball Head Coach Tara VanDerveer has been espousing all season; “Nneka is a woman playing among girls.” And that certainly was the case tonight when #4 Stanford met #6 Tennessee.

Nneka Ogwumike scored a career high 42 points and grabbed an eye-popping 17 boards to help her team win 97-80 over the Vols. We’ve also been hearing the same refrain all season that other people have to step up for Stanford besides Nneka and her sister Chiney, that we can’t be a one or two woman show. But when you score 42 points, that’s like two really good players having a great game, right?

The funny thing was Tennessee was the more athletic team. They were stronger, faster, could steal the ball at will and shot well (49.1% for the game). Yet Stanford came away with the win. They got just enough from everybody to compliment Nneka’s insane performance. Sophomore Toni Kokenis did do her part well, scoring a career high 26, 5 on three-pointers. In most games, it has been Nneka, then Chiney, then Toni scoring in descending order. Tonight against Tennessee Nneka had 42, Toni 26 and Chiney 14. So Nneka, Chiney and Toni had 82 of Stanford’s 97 total points.  Freshmen Taylor Greenfield added 2 three-pointers for 6 total and even three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson silenced her critics that she couldn’t score one of those crazy shots with the game on the line. She got one, and made 2 free throws for a total of 5 critical points.

We do want to compliment the Tennessee team. One, they didn’t back down. Stanford would score a basket to please the crowd and Tennessee would march right back down the court and knock one down themselves. However when Stanford is scoring 3’s and your only scoring 2, you are going to find yourself in a deficit, as Tennessee did. Stanford made 9 of their threes to Tennessee’s 6.

And the Tennessee game plan was to trap and press, as Tara said they would see. And boy was Tennessee fast! When Stanford made slow, lazy passes, Tennessee was there to steal them. And for every loose ball, Tennessee hit the deck and hustled when Stanford players gave up on the ball heading out of bounds. They also knew whom to double team. Whenever Jos Tinkle and freshie Taylor Greenfield caught the ball in the trap, Tenn. immediately sent two players after them. Our freshmen were not used to their speed and got the ball stolen a lot (Amber Orrange). Stanford finally broke them down in the closing minutes, breaking their full court press and then getting some easy lay ups to pad the score, which is what you need to do against a Tennessee team as they can come back so quickly.

Tennessee also moved the ball quickly on offense and knew to pick Stanford guard Lindy LaRocque, getting her man an open run to the basket. And for some reason, Tara had them playing a zone on defense. Quick ball moment left the Tenn. wings open for wide-open looks or a back door sneaker behind the defense. It helped Stanford dig a hole early, falling behind by 9 before clawing back.

But we have Nneka and you don’t. Back to Hecka Nneka. So when Tennessee pressed Stanford, it took them 15-17 seconds to get the ball across the half court line. Then by the time Stanford got the ball to the free throw line there would be 5 seconds left. Not enough time to go through their whole offense where she stands there and she hands off here and she runs around the Cape of Good Hope… five seconds left they just threw it to Nneka and she scored it.

How did she score? Let us count the ways. She went one on one, she faked, she juked, she banked, she used her speed to blow to the basket or would pull up and shoot a jumper when they blocked her path, she drew contact and the foul, still scoring the basket, she out jumped everyone for the rebound and she calmly hit open shots when they gave her room. One time they just handed the ball to Nneka with about 3 seconds left and she just turned and shot a long 2, just inside the three-point line. Funny thing was, Nneka missed a lot of baskets in the first half, so her stat line reads 19-27. In fact, C and R felt Stanford was lucky to be up by 7 at the end of the half. Then the second half came along. At some point in the second half, Nneka made 11 shots in a row! She was just unstoppable.

We told you didn’t want to miss this historic game because of Tennessee coach Pat Summit, and it turned in to a historic performance by Nneka. It was amazing to behold live. She just could not be denied.

Ah, Pat Summit. Tennessee had some of their fans there dressed in orange, of course. But this game was unusual because many a Stanford fans wore the “We Back Pat” orange shirt with conflicting emotions. Dozens decided to honor Pat and her struggle with dementia and Alzheimer’s by wearing a netraul purple shirt that supported a “Walk for the Cure for Alzheimer’s. This way they can support the greatest women’s basketball coach and yet cheer for Stanford and not the Tennessee team.

The crowd was definitely on her side. Anticipation was high awaiting her entrance to Maples. When Pat came out, a warm welcome, standing ovation and holding of the “We back Pat” towels. (And big shout out to super fan K, who gave us one of his towels since they were gobbled up quickly. Thanks!). Tara and staff went over to hug her, and a video tribute from Tara has just played moments before.

It was a very classy thing to do but it definitely affected the crowd. At the UConn game last year, the fans were so fired up to cheer against Geno and the streak that they gave a lot of emotion to the Stanford team. The crowd gave them positive energy for every great play and a vocal voicing of when they felt robbed by bad calls. The crowd stayed on their feet practically the whole game. This crowd cheered the Tennessee team when they came out, was polite and reverent, but it was not helping the Cardinal. Many times Chiney exhorted the crowd to make some noise and give them some energy to the team. We didn’t need any reminders in the UConn game. It definitely was weird. Maybe that might explain a sluggish first half by Stanford. By the second half the warm glow had faded, and we even saw Pat berate the ref. We also felt embolden to heckle Pat, probably for the last time, all in good fun, of course.

Stafnord’s Mikaela Ruef was still out for this game and is listed out as “indefinitely” with plantar fasciitis. Jasmine Camp had an “undisclosed” foot injury, yet the foot was closed up in a boot and she was on crutches not putting any weight on it. Bummer.

C and R are so happy for Nneka. You can tell she is a senior and she wanted it. She played to the crowd, especially the Stanford football team in the house, and brought her own energy to the team. And when she got an assist from sister Chiney, she had a special smile. It really was wonderful to behold.

R said had she played like this against UConn, they would have won. However, the difference was she was in foul trouble and sat most of the first half of the UConn game. For this game, she played 19 of 20 minutes in the first and all of the second half. She stayed out of foul trouble in the first but got to 3 in the second and had to play smart, and you don’t go to Stanford unless you are smart. Several times we saw her pull up and refrain from contact against Tennessee and was able to stay in the game and single-handedly win it for her team, and her legendary coach, too.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Not Just a Game

You have to get to this game. By “this game”, we mean the Stanford Women’s Basketball team taking on Tennessee. It will be a good game. Many questions will be answered, especially about Stanford’s team. One being can they rise to the occasion, and hey, if the local 49ers football team can knock off Pittsburgh, a game C and R thought surely they would get creamed, then anything is possible.

But really, you have to get to this game for another reason, this might be your last chance to see legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summit coaching basketball. Much has been written about her legend (8 NCAA championships and over 1,000 wins) and about her decision to go public with her early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. A true silver lining is the awareness and influx of contributions to the condition. (For more info see the Pat Summit Foundation).

When Pat went public, she said she as going to turn over more responsibility to her assistant coaches. However, many are noticing she has turned over practically everything to them and he has become the assistant. She no longer speaks to the media after games or in the huddles or travels to see recruits. The San Jose Mercury reported she did not attend Tennessee’s’ practice at Stanford Monday.

Stanford head basketball coach Tara VanDerveer hinted to the crowd after the Princeton game to come out because it would be “special.”  Other opposing teams have already honored Pat in some way when she come to play, and C and R think the word is out, privately, that Pat is not coming back to caching and this might be the last time to honor her.

Listen to Tara VanDerveer talk candidly about Pat Summit in an interview by Stanford alum Ros Gold-Onwude:

Speaking of something special, the first 2,500 people that come to Maples tomorrow get a free "We back Pat” rally towel, and you know how much C and R love free stuff, although Stanford and C and R draw the line at orange: the towels will be red. Highlights of past Stanford-Tennessee games will play before the game (Hope they show the Stanford wins, but with Tennessee holding a 22-6 margin of victory, that would be a short highlight reel. Wait, didn’t Candice Wiggins beat Candace Parker at Maples one year? Yes, we believe so).

Anyway, come for some great college women’s basketball, and to support and say goodbye to a great college basketball coach who has changed the women’s game forever.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Not a Prince of a Game

One of the neat things about going to the Stanford games is that at half time, we see so many friends to chat with. Sometimes it’s a quick wave as we are bursting to get to the bathroom, and sometimes we stop and catch up. Mostly we get to hear many other's opinions on the first half. Yesterday’s Stanford Women’s Basketball game vs. Princeton was no exception.

We caught up with our good friend P and asked her what she thought of the first half. Mind you, the score was 39-32, and although Stanford had a 7 point lead, they were not looking like themselves. She said, “I can’t decide if Stanford is that bad or Princeton is just that good.” Good point.  Maybe a little of both.

How did the first half go? Well, you can dig up any number of game reviews to verse yourself on a familiar refrain. Nneka and Chiney scored all the points, with few contributors. No one stepped up. Stanford was pressed and they panicked and turned the ball over (17 for the game). Stanford didn’t play with intensity, yet Princeton played like they had nothing to lose.

As we sat with our little girl’s team, they noticed who was scoring all the points, too, asking again and again who was number 30? It wasn’t until Toni Kokenis connected with a three at the 13-minute mark that someone other than an Ogwumike scored for Stanford. The sisters had the first 15. At first, head coach Tara VanDerveer rested the sisters by choice, and then by necessity as they got into foul trouble, (offensively, for both of them, strangely enough).

VanDerveer was probably thinking to rest her star sisters early in the first half and let others have more game time. However with them on the bench, no one scored for Stanford and everyone scored for Princeton. Well, okay not everybody, but we had terrible defense. We gave up fast breaks. Our guards over-played their guards on man-to-man and Princeton constantly drove by them to a wide-open basket. No one stopped to help, because the helpers in the Ogwumikes were sitting on the bench. Princeton has already tied the score twice, and with the sisters out, they got within 2. Then Tara lost her patience and subbed the whole team out. Princeton also screened the heck out of our guards and we could not react in time, giving them wide-open shots. Good thing Princeton only shot 37 percent from the field. Had they connected on a lot more of those wide-open shots, Stanford would have been in a whole heap of trouble.

Inexplicably, we did not box out, a fact we pointed out to our little girl's team. At times, would shot with NO rebounders. The SF Chronicle article reported Princeton held the rebounding edge at half time 22-21. For the game, Stanford had 46 yet Princeton had 42. Inexcusable.

Yes, yes, the second half the starting five came out and played with more intensity. Other people hit some shots, most notably Toni K.and Lindy LaRocque. Stanford clamped down on defense and did their traditional pulling away. The final score was 85-66, in a game that was much closer than that score indicated.

And yes, yes, yes, we know being propped up by the Ogwumikes is a problem, the fans know it’s a problem, and so does the coaching staff. After the game, Tara addressed it to the faithful. Quotes include:
We need more from the upper classman
We need to find 3 others to play with Nneka and Chiney
We have to rebound and take care of the ball, and
We were sloppy

Quoted in the same Chron article, Tara said, “The sisters got after it, but that was the extent of the positives I can say about our team.” She added, “We need other people stepping up.”  (The Ogwumikes scored 43 of Stanford’s 85 points).

One added note is Nneka showed us something new yesterday, hitting outside jumpers. When she caught the ball at the foul line, Princeton expected her to drive and played off, giving her a wide open look. She hit those shots with such ease and a nice touch, you would think she was making those all her life, instead of adding this skill recently. She is amazing.

Oh, Tara added that she expects Tennessee will press and trap. Yes, Tennessee is our next game. And by the looks of this one, I don’t think we are ready for it. We hope to see a completely different team Tuesday.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Back to Basketball

Are finals over yet? Stanford women’s basketball fans, C and R included, have been jonesing for some women’s basketball. Well, the Stanford variety, anyway. We are finally getting our wish this Saturday. Geez, stopping basketball for two weeks to study and take finals, what are these some sort of student athletes? Well, at Stanford they are. And speaking of student athletes, Princeton comes into town for Stanford to take out all their pent up energies. Hey, just discovered former Stanford standout Milena Flores is on the Princeton coaching staff. It will be “the Battle of the brains”, said Nneka Ogwumike ( I Finally told my spell check it’s a legal word. Now if I could just make it like Amber Orrange).

So come one out to the Princeton game, even if you think it won’t be that exciting. Bet you’ll see some of the stuff Stanford will be incorporating in their next game, which is, oh, Tennessee! When we spoke to Tara VanDerveer…yes, let’s all just pause for a moment and let that sink in, when I talked to legendary Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer at the Team Event, she said they had something special planned for other legendary coach Pat Summit. Can’t wait to see what it is.

But back to Princeton. Something special is going on before the game. There is a basketball clinic for kids to work out under the Stfnrod lights. I think for 3-8th grade. All clinics start one hour and forty-five minutes before the game and end 45 minutes before tip-off, so you can cool down before watching the Cardinal show those same skills on the court! Clinic participation is $10/player and all clinics are held at the Arrillaga Practice Gym – located directly adjacent and connected to Maples Pavilion. Our team will be there!

Participants will also need to fill out a pre-game clinic registration and waiver forms. If you have any questions about the pre-game clinics, or to register, please call Lauren Greif at 650-862-5052 or email her at
Also, Stanford Women’s Basketball has partnered with Jobtrain to bring the community. They are collecting unwrapped presents and clothes before the this game with Princeton. If you can help, please do us.

See ya at the game. We are donating our free courtside seats to an out of town blogger/sportswriter in the hopes of getting favorable press. Shhh, don't tell her.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rebounding Key to Stanford’s 93-59 win over Fresno State

Once again, C and R had to miss the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team take on an opponent, this time Fresno State on Sunday, because of a conflict with our little girl’s team. We had practice at exactly the same time. (We need to get our head coach a refrigerator magnet with the Stanford Schedule on it for Christmas).

Oh wait, we just got one at the “Meet the Team Event” on Saturday in Palo Alto. That was an event that didn’t conflict. And it was a fun one. They promised prizes, and C was so happy when they called her name. Her prize? Was it tickets to the Tennessee game? No, it was courtside seats to the Princeton game. We saw so many old friends, who said they won tickets to the very same Princeton game in an online competition (and where the heck was C and R on that one?). Other friends who showed up also won tickets to the Princeton game. In fact, I think everyone there won tickets to the Princeton game, although you can’t blame the marketing department for trying. The Princeton game is December 17th, when it is Christmas break for the students and other fans are traveling or busy with the holidays. They are just trying to avoid a cavernous Maples Pavilion.

There was so much commotion and excitement at the autograph event that C spotted a lone figure in Stanford sweats. It was legendary Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. C, not shy, chatted her up (After all we did “coach” together” meaning C won a prize to sit on the end of the Stanford bench during a game and keep her mouth shut. On the plus side, both Jayne Apple and Candice Wiggins high-fived her, but she digresses). So there was coach Tara and C asked her all kinda questions about the freshmen, etc, then said they were having a devil of a time getting the middle school girls to remember what they did in practice and apply it in a game. And Tara gave this great advice. She said to make practices as much as a real game situation as possible so they will recognize when they need to implement the skill in a game situation. Brilliant! After all, the woman didn’t win 800 plus games by just expecting everyone will know what to do when the time comes.

So while C and R and team were busy scrimmaging and playing out real game situations five on five in practice, Stanford was busy taking care of Fresno State 93-59. We are trying to get our girls to box out and rebound in a game, and we think Tara has imparted her wisdom to her team on when to do it in a game. The answer is rebound on defense and offense. Especially on offense.  The Stanford team grabbed an astounding 67 boards to Fresno State’s 28. The mark of 67 is one shy of a Stanford record. The Twin Towers Ogwumike grabbed 28. Nneka had the team high score of 21 points as well as 12 rebounds and Chiney scored 13 points but grabbed 16 rebounds. That rebounding number was a career high for her.

Other highlights include freshman Bonnie Samuelson making 6 of 8 three-pointers, scoring 18, also a career high for her. Impressive, yet we can’t help but hear the echo of the SF Examiner reporter saying “Yes, but can she score when the game is on the line?” Sorry to put a wet blanket on that, but we also agree. Stanford needs her to step up in the big games, too, and not just the Ogwumikes.

Another positive note was that Lindy LaRocque was back in the line up, after sitting with a hurt foot. We asked her how her foot was at the meet and greet and she said she was ready to go. She scored 10 pints, 2 from three-point land.

Speaking of three-point land, Fresno State was coming into the game shooting 40% from behind the line, and Stanford held them to 23.5%. They launched 34 and made 8. Looks like Stanford played some D to go with those three-point shots and boards.

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team take a break from games for finals (after all they are student athletes, and the University actually makes them take hard classes and work towards a degree-- wow, didn’t mean to imply other schools don’t-- well, maybe some). We next see them December 17th at home against… Princeton. Come on out, we hear they have plenty of tickets left.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stanford-UC Davis Part II (or Basketball at Another Level)

So with 2.5 seconds left, and down by two, our team inbounds the ball…..

No, not the Stanford Women’s Basketball team, they beat UC Davis handily yesterday by a score of 93-44. C and R are talking about the little girls we coach, and their game that happened at the exact same time as the Stanford game (which is why we had to give up our tix to see Stanford Women’s Basketball, and we had to pry the tix out of R’s hand on top of that. It was verrrrry tough to not go to Maples).

Let’s back up a bit. The little girls we help coach are not so little anymore, now in middle school, and we help our friend coach her daughter and her friends. And we coach in the local recreational league. Everyone plays an equal amount of minutes regardless of skill level. The emphasis is on teaching, not the score, and that’s how we like it. And boy, do we teach; boxing out, cross over dribbles, full court press, a Stanford inbounds play. We give them a lot of knowledge. And they respond. They are fantastic in practice. And then we start the game and they forget everything we taught them. A player for both teams each shot at the wrong basket. Luckily they both missed.

When we got to the gym last night, the other team was doing this fancy four-corner drill complete with two balls. It looked like something right out of Stanford. Two of the girls were almost as tall as us. One looked really big and strong. We often forget to box out in practice, let alone games. R turned to C and we both thought, we are going to get creamed. But our girls held their own. The nice thing about this league is they really balance the teams and the girls are all ‘sometime players’, not the year around club players. They all shoot crooked and with two hands heaves no matter what we drill them on.

Still, the other team had a commanding three point lead on us (Hey, when games are usually won 10-9, three points is a lot). But our full court press rattled them and we got within two! We kept trading baskets in the final minutes and both teams got to the 20’s. We were so impressed with our team. It was 23-21them with 16 seconds left. They inbound and we pressured them to turn it over in their backcourt out of bounds with 2.5 seconds left. We call time out and tell them they have to catch and shoot.

So with 2.5 seconds left, and down by two, near our basket we inbound the ball…..We inbound by the skin of our teeth and our guard heeds are advice and heaves it and is knocked to the ground. Hard. We run out to the fallen girl. There are some tears, lots of hugs. The clock has expired. The kind elderly gentleman ref has given us and 1 and 1 call (they had seven team fouls, we only had three).

As she is crying, C (me) has a thought, one that is kinda an antithesis to the league mentality. I know, I know, it is abut teaching not the score, but the coach in my, the competitor in me, just wants to use every advantage we have. So I am thinking if she is hurt, which the tears seem to indicate, then we can replace her with another player, preferably our best free throw shooter. As I turn to our best free throw shooter to ask her about taking the shot, the elderly gentleman ref comes over and voices my plan. He says, “ya know, if she is hurt, you can replace her with another player to take the shot.” See, he’s like me, nothing wrong with playing smart. However, the hurt girl wipes her tears with the back of her hand and says, “No. I’m okay, I’ll take the shot.” And you know what? I instantly changed my mental attitude and thought that was awesome that she wants the pressure and the responsibility of these final shots. Guess coach learned something today.

Since time has expired, everyone steps to half court. She is the only one at the basket. The whole half court is empty except for her and the ref, who bounces her the ball and steps back. She is all alone. She dribbles. She aims. She thinks about it for a long time. It is silent in the gym. You could hear a pin drop. She shoots, gives a little jump. The ball arcs high… falls to the basket… and misses the rim, the net, the backboard. Everything. Not even close. As coach, you just smile and clap, say “way to go” and make a mental note to work on free throws in practice. I motion to the ref she’s done, shake my head no, it was 1 and 1 and she missed. He shakes his head yes. He is giving her another shot, even though it won’t help us win or is technically legal in a 1 and1 situation. He bounces her the ball. She misses that one too. Oh well, we cheer the other team and slap their hands and make our players shake hands with the refs. Good sportsmanship is always practiced in this league.

After the game, it was one of our player’s birthday, so we embarrassed her by singing in the gym for all to hear. Then everyone shared cookies and juice, making crumbs everywhere. There were lots of smiles and giggles. Thinking back, C turned to R and said, “we totally won that game.”

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stanford Starts Slowly, then Finishes UC Davis 93-44

C and R couldn’t make tonight’s Stanford-UC Davis Women’s Basketball game, but someone who has never been to Maples did. She wrote us a little ol’ blog, even mentions the other team, too. It’s our twitter buddy and huge women’s basketball fan, Jessica Lantz, who writes for about 500 outlets, and her own freelantz blog. Here she is in her own words:
The Stanford Cardinal took time out of their busy Wednesday evening schedule to dominate UC-Davis at the Maples Pavilion, coming away with a 93-44 drubbing of the Aggies.

As a first-timer to Maples, I was surprised by the quaint, cozy atmosphere walking into the building. Tree was a highlight to my night, prancing and dancing about in a surprisingly good looking costume. UC-Davis came out to play, unintimidated throughout the game, but particularly in the early stages of the night. In fact, the score was tied at 13-13 with 12:31 remaining in the first half. From that point however, the Cardinal turned on the jets sparked by a 10-2 run. The Aggies managed only 23 points in the first half and missed four of their last five attempts of the period.

The Ogwumikes played like you always expect, with Nneka finishing as the high scorer of the evening. Her 20 points in 21 minutes was coupled with nine rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. Chiney chimed in with 18 points and nine rebounds (six offensive) of her own. The sisters took 13 of the 15 Stanford free throws in the game, hitting a combined 10 of their attempts.

Joslyn Tinkle was quietly effective in the game, especially in the deep stages of play. She finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Bonnie Samuelson used her unorthodox 3-point shooting style to sling in five long-range bombs for 15 points, going 5-of-8 on the evening. Guard play was shared, and Jasmine Camp recorded the start and led the squad with six assists. Amber Orrange came in in relief, assisting her teammates to points on five occasions.

The Cardinal defense was stout, forcing 14 turnovers and holding UC-Davis to 36.2 percent shooting, and a 7-of-28 effort from beyond the arc. Stanford scooped up a huge 47-16 rebounding edge against the smallish Aggies. UC-Davis was impressively led by 19 points from guard Hannah Stevens. She was 7-of-9 on the night and hit 66 percent of her 3-point attempts (4-of-6). She never backed away from the obvious height advantage of her competitors, on both offense and defense. Despite the scoring disparity, it was apparent that the UC-Davis players and staff were using the game as a learning tool up until the final whistle.

Sounds like a through-and-through thrashing, right? Well – yes and no. There were obvious times when the freshmen looked like freshmen, where the posts didn't want to touch the paint and the team lacked a spark that I'm generally used to seeing from my usual seats in Big 12 arenas. I also can't deny that I am unused to seeing a slower game unfold before me. But all said, I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to the Stanford campus and am looking forward to my next opportunity to see a game.
Jessica Lantz
freelantz sports media

And why couldn’t C and R make it to the game? Find out in part II tomorrow.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Too Much Nneka for Xavier

It’s so hard to write a blog about The Stanford Women’s Basketball team’s win over Xavier if you don’t see the game live, televised or even follow it on Gametracker. Both C and R were doing family things the day after Thanksgiving (and not pepper spraying our friends, thank you very much) and had to read the news reports just like you.

First we opened the box score and play-by-play. Hey, Toni Kokenis made a three right off the bat. Gulp, then Stanford would miss their next 9 three-point attempts and would not hit another one until the second half. Hey, Jasmine Camp, the freshie started. Gulp, she wouldn’t’ score any points, going 0-2 from behind the arc. A quick scroll to the bottom of the half finds the lead changing hands several times and Stanford only up by one at the half. What the heck?

Here’s what we gleaned from the various electronic outlets:
In the first half, Xavier shut down perimeter, forcing Stanford into missing threes, as we mentioned. Also, Xavier got their game plan from UConn, which was to get sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike on the bench with fouls. They consistently drove to the basket to draw the defense into making fouls. Xavier made 11 free throws in the first half to keep it close, although Nneka and Chiney would be smart and finish the game with only 3 fouls each. Score 33-32, Stanford nursing that one point lead.

The second half was a different story. Well, the same old story since game two of this season. The story line goes like this: Hecka Nneka. Nneka would score 34 points for the game; 23 in the second half alone, and grab 13 boards overall. Xavier’s coach said they even tried to push Nneka outside to shoot jumpers, but Stanford fans know how high and accurate she is on those jumpers. Sister Chiney added 18 points and 8 rebounds.

Toni Kokenis would add 14 points, but again the underlying story is no one else is scoring. Stanford was 3-18 from three-point land for the game. Very troublesome, if you ask C and R. Still, Stanford was more aggressive on defense, stealing 5 times and scoring 23 points off of 20 Xavier turnovers. Ya gotta like that! And we do.

We think Tara is concerned, about being a one-note team, too, and in her press conference she added another Tara-ism to the collection. When asked about Nneka’s scoring all the points, she said, “Yeah, we don’t want to be just a one-move Mary.” Or Not a one-note Nneka. Other notes will have to sound off if we hope to be the full orchestra Tara VanDerveer wants to conduct. (Sorry for the clumsy a metaphor).

Work in progress...

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Stanford UConn Gone All Wrong

What a frustrating game. Frustrating for Stanford, frustration with officials and frustration for C and R who couldn’t WATCH the game. Frustration for C’s spell checker that hates those fragmented and run on sentences. Let’s recap our experience and the game, if you are not too bummed out already.
  • First, C sets DVD to record ESPNU. Then drives to work.
  • R calls and says we don’t get ESPNU on our crappy cable plan.
  • C says she wouldn’t be able to set the DVR to record if we don’t get the channel, because a day without C and R arguing is a day without sunshine, which it was this morning.
  • R says well, she just set her DVR to record even though she doesn’t get that channel, so there goes that logic. Sometimes C and R can be really dumb about technology.
  • C changes five lanes to avoid the 22 Eastridge bus, the same one that takes you to Stanford.
  • R says she is still coming over tonight to eat all of C’s homemade chili, even though they can’t get the game
  • C stews all day at work, then gets stuck a half hour later than planned, getting in car at 5:30 PM, game started 4:30 or something.
  • C calls R on hands free device to avoid ticket and be safe.
  • R reports Stanford losing at the half 32-26.
  • C stuck in traffic, R following Gametracker. Frustrating all around.
  • R then says why don’t you turn on your car radio as you can pick up the Stanford station?
  • For living in high tech Silicon Valley, sometimes C can be so really dumb about any technology.
  • C turns on radio just in time to hear Stanford scores 4 straight points to start the half. Then the foul calls come. The KSZU boys were pretty cute with their Stanford loyalty and lack of objectivity, so we were not sure if the fouls were truly earned or not.
  • C pulls into driveway and runs inside during another questionable foul call on Stanford and turns off KSZU on car radio and turns on live streaming of KSZU online. Sometimes C can be pretty smart about technology.  
Still, we can’t believe a game between the then current number 2 and 3 teams was not “National TV,” as promised. ESPNU is a niche channel, not on basic cable, and is one that you have to pay extra for. Bummer. We deserve better. The “we” being all of women’s basketball fandom.

Things we learned from listening:

  • Stanford couldn’t shoot the three.
  • Yet we controlled the inside.
  • Stanford had too many turnovers (16).
  • Stanford had the turnovers in the face of pressure, a very bad sign.
  • Nneka Ogwumike would score 22 points in 23 minutes, but they had no answer for UConn freshmen Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who is eerily Maya-Moore like, and scored 25.
  • Others need to step up and help Nneka score. Sister Chiney was cold with only 7 points on 3-12 shooting, and only hitting 1 of 3 free throws.
  • Two starters were so ice cold they got big doughnuts for points, Taylor Greenfield and Lindy La Rocque going scoreless.
  • Both teams either nervous, not used to big games, or played tough defense as Chiney Ogwumike would score the first points of the game for either team, a foul shot with 3 minutes and 18 seconds gone.
  • Foul calls perplexing
  • Refs called phantom fouls, at one point Stanford boys said UConn player swings an elbow, Nneka gets the foul. Nneka was limited to 23 minutes and you can’t score from the bench.
  • Stanford Women's Basketball Head Coach Tara VanDerveer trusts Nneka so much she not only lets her stay in when she fouls (take note, Chiney) but lets her play with 4 fouls, as she did for the last 8 minutes.
  • A Stanford freshman did stand out, and it wasn’t Amber Orrange, who went scoreless, it was Jasmine Camp, who scored 14.
  • It was not a blow out and Stanford didn’t get out-muscled, rebounds 46 for UConn to 45 for Stanford, and although the final score was 68-58, Stanford had the lead three separate times and tied the game 9 separate times.
Things we learned from Twitter:
  • Freshmen Alex Green ruptured her Achilles tendon in practice and did not make the trip. Bad news for the youngster coming off ACL surgery.
  • Former Stanford guard Ros-Gold Onwude gave her final thoughts “It’s early. More important who learns the most from this and improves the most come March.”
  • Amen
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stanford’s New Motto, Fear the Three

This should be an easy blog to write, or at least find a theme. The theme of the night for the Stanford Women’s Basketball team against Old Dominion was “shoot the three!”

But let’s start at the beginning: the game was over before it even started. Okay, not really, but Old Dominion was losing 2-0 before the game started. Stanford was awarded a two-shot technical foul, against OD before the game. We have only seen that one other time, and the reason given was the scorecard was messed up, so OD must have had some administrative error that cost them. Head Coach Tara VanDerveer gave Toni Kokenis the honor of shooting, and she made both. Stanford up 2-0 and there’s nothing you can do about it. That must be a little demoralizing for a team. Then the game started.

And how it started. Nneka Ogwumike is our jumper of the jump ball, and C and R usually place bets with each other over who will win the jump ball. We both bet on Nneka so it’s not really much of a bet. Bit wait, let’s back up even more so…

Thanks to the Internet, C and R culled video footage of the last season the Ogwumike sisters played with each other in high school. It was the high school championship game. Nneka went up for the tip, totally out-leaped the other person and did a volleyball spike of the ball towards her basket. At the same time, Chiney broke from the jump ball circle and was at the three point line when the slam came, corralled it, dribble two long strides and laid it in. It happened so fast, the other team didn’t know what hit then. When they realized they had to go inbound the ball and were down 2-0, you just knew the fight was out of them and they were going to lose. They did. Nneka and Chiney won the State Title.

So, back to present time, Nneka jumps, hits the ball, not quite so hard as the spike in high school but gets a good hit and Chiney is already moving off the circle, grabs it, dribble 3 or 4 times and lays it in. Now Stanford is up 4-0 with about 2 seconds gone. Talk about double demoralized.

And then guess what happened, Stanford fans? Well, if you saw the other 2 regular season games, you saw Chiney would foul before two minutes were gone and get yanked by Tara. Chiney fouled with a minute 10 seconds gone and took a seat. But it’s okay, Stanford was up 10-4 before she sat down, thanks to 2 made three-point shots by the starting freshmen Taylor Greenfield.

Stanford would shoot 9-15 from beyond the arc in the first half. Stanford brainiacs all over the Twitter world and scoreboard computed that the made percentage of three’s equaled 60%, and that the made percentage of 2s equaled 51%. When do you ever see that? And too bad Stanford discontinued the habit of throwing T-shirts every time a three was scored. C and R would have twenty on right now.

Lindy Larocque would have 5 three-pointers in the first half, and end up with 15 points, a career night. Sara James and Toni Kokenis would each have one as well in the first. Freshmen Jasmine Camp would get one in the second half, along with 2 more from Sara James, for a game total of 12-22, or 54.5%. Half time score would be Stanford 56, OD 24.

C and R are getting the picture after the Gonzaga game where the Ogwumike sisters scored everything and team was a zero for dismal (really 3-13) from three-point land that they needed to shoot and other people needed to be scorers. We are sure Tara might have mentioned this a time or two in practice. It worked. In fact, we are thinking this might be the game plan for the UConn game (Shhh, don’t tell them, let it be a surprise).

Oh don’t get C and R wrong. Nneka and Chiney still worked it inside and scored, especially in the opening of the second half. Nneka and Chiney each played 16 minutes, yet they scored 14 and 13 respectively. Nneka could still elevate and score, as evidenced by a steal and an open court fast break with the crowd hoping for a dunk. She laid it in, but her hand hit the backboard. And Chiney could still get the offensive rebound and put it back. She would have 9 boards, 5 on offense alone. And Chiney did a Nneka, twice. A Nneka is where you grab the ball and shoot without hitting the ground. R pointed out that Chiney gets a 2-for-1 when shooting a Nneka, a rebound and a basket.

With the veterans firmly taking a seat, Tara is still auditioning the freshmen, giving them ample playing time. At one point she had four freshmen and Sarah Boothe. C and R love freshman Erica Payne. She is scrappy, hustles and makes steals. We think of her as a Jillian Harmon type player, who played for Stanford a few years back. Freshie Amber Orrange not a typo had a smart block, smart considering she’s 5’7. An OD player went up and Amber jumped up, the OD player hesitated in the air, so Amber hesitated, keeping her arms in and when the OD player raised the ball, Amber moved her hands into the ball and blocked all ball, no foul. If she would have gone up high waiting for the block, with her smaller height, she surely would have fouled. Very smart, and quick hands and thought process.

Final score would be 97-48, and the only drama was could they reach 100? They didn’t, but the scoring was shared, mission accomplished.

Well, next game is UConn. It will be a question mark as to how that game will unfold. Will it be the Nneka and Chiney show or bombs away from three point land. Tara is probably hoping for a little of both. It will be different from last year, that’s for sure, and that’s what makes it so exciting.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Candice Wiggins, Coach

WNBA Champion Candice Wiggins surprised the heck out of everyone (well, C and R anyway) by not going overseas to play ball. Instead, she added “assistant coach” to her resume. Candice joined Occidental College as assistant coach. Her responsibilities will be grooming the guards. Did C and R mention that Candice was a four-time All-American guard at Stanford before playing in the WNBA? Oh, you knew that already.

Before you say “Occidental who?” or “isn’t that a life insurance policy?” know that Occidental is a small liberal arts college down south in LA that plays in Division III and is coached by a woman named Heidi. As in VanDerveer. Tara Vanderveer’s sister. Heidi VanDerveer is Stanford Women’s Basketball Head Coach Tara Vanderveer’s sister (say that five times fast!).

What a perfect match. Candice was a favorite of Tara VanDerveer during her four years at Stanford and we are sure Heidi likes her equally as much, if not more, because, well, she’s Candice Wiggins. Who wouldn’t like her? Going through four years of a Stanford program helmed by master minded Tara VanDerveer gives anyone an advanced degree in basketball smarts. Having the exuberance and outgoing good energy that motives a player to do better than their best is priceless. Ice should make an excellent assistant coach, and we wish her and Occidental college the best of luck.

Other Stanford Stuff:
What are you doing this Friday? Come on down to Maples, but not for Basketball. Come for Volleyball. The National Anthem will be sung by Stanford players, but not for Volleyball. For basketball. Say what? Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, Jasmine Camp, and Natasha von Kaeppler will be singing the anthem around 6:45 before the Stanford vball game vs Pac-12 foe Oregon. They’ve been practicing!

Heads up for December 3rd: Meet the Team at Town & Country Village, Palo Alto, for autographs, pictures and prizes! Fun starts at 1 and goes until 2 PM.

Lastly, this Thursday, against Old Dominion,.bring  a canned good, get a general admission ticket. Or just bring a canned good, no perishables, for the Big Can Drive.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

All Ogwumike, All the Time

C and R step into a well-warmed Maples to get a look at their beloved Stanford Women’s Basketball team in person, playing their first game at home, second of the season. It will also be the first regular season game for All-America Nneka Ogwumike, who was held out of their first game with an “unspecified upper body injury.”

We see the team warming up and an extra Cardinal Red pad on Nneka’s right elbow, so perhaps that is the source of the mystery injury. We are looking forward to seeing sisters Nneka and Chiney play together for the first time in the regular season this year. We also see Gonzaga warming up, for the first time with out standout guard Courtney Vandersloot, who graduated to the WNBA. We will see if there will be a drop off in scoring.

The game starts and Gonzaga is the impressive one in the opening minutes. They have such strong fundamentals and are quick, and push the ball in transition. Also, it doesn’t help that Nneka is flat and missing shots. And it doesn’t help matters even more when a minute and a half into the game Chiney Ogwumike picks up her first foul and gets VanDerveered (benched by head coach Tara VanDerveer).

Around the 16-minute mark, during an official timeout, Stanford brings out on the court Trisha Stevens, who played on the 1992 National Championship team and was just recently inducted into the Stanford Hall of Fame. The video montage of her stats is mind-blowing. Around the same time, freshmen Amber Orrange (not a typo) makes her first appearance in front of the home crowd.

Then the sisters get busy. As R notes, the sisters own the floor, they own the paint and they own the rebounds. At one point, Nneka is thrown an alley-oop pass and she catches and shoots it before hitting the ground. Not a lot of women’s players can pull off that feat (did anyone clock her hang time?). However, the sister’s scoring and rebounding ability, and Nneka’s jaw-dropping plays are tempered by rookie mistakes. Some of them by the freshmen. Guard Toni Kokenis, a sophomore with a lot of playing time last year under her belt is also passing it away. To be fair, Gonzaga is quick, smart and anticipating where Stanford is going to go with the ball. Whatever the cause, Stanford will end up with 16 turnovers for the game, 10 in the first half alone.

When Nneka takes a well-deserved break around the 7 and a half mark, she has 13 points and Gonzaga has 13 points. The score is 22-13, mostly from Chiney and Toni scoring when Nneka doesn’t. Nneka would have a double-double by half time. One notable score was Jos Tinkle (Bells) scoring on a nifty spin move near the basket on a fast break, breaking ankles and showing us some Show Time. Alas, that would be the only points she scores for the game.

Before the half, though, it is Gonzaga that makes its run. In the last 6 minutes, Gonzaga scores 18 while Stanford can only muster 6 points. Gonzaga would tie the score at 29 with 2 minutes left.

Stanford tries to go for one last shot with 30 seconds left and loses the ball out of bounds with 12 seconds left. Quick minded Tara VanDerveer inserts quick-hands Amber Orrange into the lineup for defense. The freshmen promptly fouls and Gonzaga sinks both shots to go up 32-31 at the half. Tara VanDerveer is going to go bald pulling hair while dealing with these freshmen! Media sources on Twitter not related to Stanford are drooling, hoping for the upset.

At the half, Stanford brings out Trisha Stevens again, plus her teammates from the 1992 National Championship to be honored. The video board shows they played at a high level even back then.

At the start of the second half, Stanford comes out with much more intensity, hustling and diving for loose balls. C and R are sure a “pep time talk” by Tara helped spark that. Many hitting the deck, most notably Toni and Lindy LaRocque.

Then it becomes the Nneka and Chiney show. Really, it wasn’t until Toni Kokenis hit a 3 pointer at the 13-minute mark that any other Stanford player scored not named Ogwumike in the second half. They could not stop Chiney inside. Nneka was even falling to the ground on a hard foul, threw the ball up and it went in. The second jaw-dropping play occurred when Nneka picked the pocket of a Zag guard and raced for the lay up, nearly stumbling for running so hard. As she neared the basket on the left, she faked a hard pass to her right. The Zag guard totally turned around to harass the streaking Stanford player on the right, who DIDN’T have the ball. Nneka had kept it and went up for an uncontested lay-up. Brought Maples to their feet.

The sisters would have had more points, but twice Nneka passed up a basket to try to hit Chiney. Gonzaga tried to double-team at least one of them, but really, they should have put all five on the two. No one for Stanford looked like a scoring threat, which, after basking in glee at their scoring, is really, really troubling for Stanford. Three point shooting was a non-existent threat, the team just 3-13 for the game.

Oh wait, was that Candice Wiggins who just walked by? Candice Wiggins in the house! Our section yelled great things to her and she acknowledged us all! She couldn’t get her championship here, but finally got one in the WNBA. She is well loved here at Stanford.

When Nneka finally came out of the game for good at the four and a half minute mark, the score was 69-51. Nneka would take a seat with 33 points and 18 rebounds.

As Stanford was pulling away, Tara put in four freshmen with center Sarah Boothe. With one minute left, Tara calls a time out and yells at her freshmen to “Get over here,” her face red. She was mad. We tell ya, those freshmen will be the death of her yet!

Hats off to Gonzaga, they didn’t quit and they didn’t back down when Stanford made a basket. Final score was 76-61.

Chiney had 19 points and 6 rebounds. Adding Nneka and Chiney’s points together, and you get 52 of Stanford’s 76. Chip in starting sophomore Toni Kokenis’ 14 and other teams are going to figure out who NOT to guard, which is everyone else on Stanford’s team. Troublesome indeed.

Still, it is hard not to be happy about the remarkable performance Nneka had, coupled with Chiney’s rebounding and scoring on the weak side. Now, if Stanford can just get a few more players involved.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stanford VS Texas

Friday Night:
So here we are in front of three, count ‘em three computers to watch our beloved Stanford Women’s Basketball Team. And what online site did we tune in? The Texas Longhorn Network! Blasphemy, or just really glad the content is available online and free? You decide.

Friday Afternoon:
Thanks to social media, C and R found out Nneka Ogwumike was not going to play in the Texas game. After C got over her heart palpitations, and R helped her off the floor, we quickly retweeted it. And worried. The tweet said “Upper Body Injury.” What the heck does that mean? After an exhaustive search of the Internet, we found out she got the unspecified “upper body” injury in practice this week and should be back for the home opener this Sunday vs Gonzaga. Still not very helpful on the “what” but we are glad it is not serious to Nneka and she can still play.

Back to Friday Night:
After getting all the computers fired up, we tuned in just in time for the starting lineup to be announced without Nneka. Starters were little sis Chiney, of course, plus vets Lindy LaRocque and Toni Kokenis at guards, Joslyn Tinkle and a surprising freshman pick, Taylor Greenfield at the center and forward spots. Stanford was also were wearing their black uniforms, the ones C personally likes, and thinks of as good luck charms, something she thinks they are going to need, without Nneka and a lot of untested and inexperienced guards.

Friday Game Time:
Okay, Stanford has Chiney, who has been a rebounding beast in exhibition and can score inside, we should be okay and then a whistle 30 seconds into the game and Chiney has her first foul. Any astute Stanford fan knows what that means, you foul, you take a seat. Stanford head coach Tara VnaDerveer wouldn’t take her best scoring and rebounding weapon out early, with the second best option on the bench, would she? Yes, take a seat Chiney, next to Nneka not in uniform. Now our two best scorers and rebounders are on the bench.

Stanford doesn’t panic and although we are not scoring early and often, as we do when Nneka and Chiney are in, we are not letting Texas getting many scoring chances.

Friday Night, three minutes into the game:
Three minutes into the game and another freshmen Amber Orrange (not typo and pronounced Or-rahn-jah, with the r sound rolling off the back of your throat.) enters the game. She uses her quickness to quickly get a steal. Then just as quickly makes a freshmen mistake, turning over the ball. She, and all the freshmen, will be a work on progress this season, that’s for sure.

So, we know Nneka is not playing, then we keep hearing the announcers say, “Nneka dribbles, Nneka passes”. It’s not our Nneka but it turns out they have a Nneka, too. Texas has a player named Nneka Enemkpali, who also played her high school ball in Texas, like Stanford’s Nneka. And here we though Nneka was such a unique name. Small world.

Friday Half Time:
Score at the half 35-30, Stanford holding on to the five point lead. Unbelievably, when Chiney picked up her second foul in the 1st half she was limited to 6 minutes playing time. Yet she collected 4 rebounds. Although with Chiney out, Texas caught up on rebounds in the stat column.

Almost all the freshmen got to touch the floor in the first half. Bonnie Samuelson and Erica Payne made it in. Bonnie got a three-point shot off with an incredibly quick release, but it seemed more rushed than spot on and missed its mark. (However the official score says Bonnie did not shoot, so maybe C and R are imagining things) Yet it was freshie Amber Orrange who impressed. She had 12 first half points, and scored when Chiney was on the bench. Texas Coach Gail Goestenkors was grabbed at the half for a recap and she told the announcer, “we wanted to limit Stanford’s threes (they did, Stanford only made one in the first half). And we need to guard Orrange and her left hand. Everything is left, and everything is a lay up.” Memo to Tar VanDerveer, teach Amber to go right sometimes. Amber only had two points in the second half for a total of 14 points. Maybe Texas was on to her.

Friday Start of Second Half:
Second half opens and Stanford has better ball movement, nice crisp passes, and scores five quick points in two and a half minutes to go up by ten before Texas takes a timeout to discuss why they have no points the second half. Freshie Taylor Greenfield had a nice pull up jumper and looked calm and poised. She would end up with nine total points.

The second half would see short runs by both teams, but Texas was plagued by poor shooting and could never manage to come close to taking the lead. Stanford also got a lot warmer, shooting wise. Toni Kokenis had two first half points, then ten for the game. Chiney would end up with 16. Tinkle had four 1st half points and ten in the second for 14 total. Several media sources say she looked more comfortable playing with her back to the basket as a true center tonight than as a forward, as she has been asked to do the last two years.

Texas was limited by only dressing eight. Several were out for medical reasons and one for team violations. Texas also hurt themselves by not making a three pointer in the first half. The Texas starting center, Ashley Gayle, was held to zero points. The announcers mentioned several times that certain Texas players were not in “game shape” some due to injuries limited training, but really, this is college basketball, you need to be in game shape the day of the game.

One thing we didn’t imagine hearing this game: “Amber Orrange with the block!” Oh yes she did. She made a block, gathered the ball, and raced for an uncontested lay up. Boy, they weren’t kidding when they said Stanford is a different team this year.

Friday End of Game:
Stanford went on to hold the lead and increase it, winning 72-59, and Texas didn’t help themselves by shooting 34% for the game. Amber was the most impressive freshman, with 14 points and six rebounds. However, she did have five turnovers, and they were mostly rookie mistakes, trying to force a ball in to traffic, a pass that might have worked in high school. Hopefully experience will weed that out. A little startling was Chiney’s free throw shooting. She was 2-7 for the game. Stanford can’t afford to leave points on the board like that.

Friday Evening:
Out for a night on the town with friends

Saturday Afternoon:
Finally get around to writing this blog

It is always good to have that first game under your belt. Game two is Sunday vs. Gonzaga, who won their opener 101-88 over Hofstra. Hopefully Nneka will be back in the lineup. See ya then.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Watching Stanford Play Texas

So here we are, us Stanford Women’s Basketball fans, our appetites whetted from the two exhibition games sprinkled with healthy doses of freshmen and Stanford getting ready to start the season against a ranked opponent, and WE CAN’T WATCH THE GAME! Well, not unless we fly to Texas. It’s like pulling the rug out from under us while meeting the queen, which Liz Cambage did recently (sorry, getting off topic)! C and R thought the Pac-12 deal meant we would see more Pac-12 stuff on TV, including women’s sports?

But thanks to a tip from a Texas fan, of all people, there is a way (and it doesn’t involve Gametracker). The game is being carried on the Longhorn Network, (something we are hoping to see from the Cardinal Network one of these days). Normally, out West, we wouldn’t get this, but it just so happens the Longhorns are offering a free weekend, starting Friday, just in time for the Stanford-Texas game. Caution, this is still the Longhorn Network dot com, so you are watching on the internet, but still, it should be a TV feed, right? Anyway, just go to the Longhorn Network website at game time to watch live. Now we just need to figure out what time zone. ESPN says 8PM Eastern Time, yet Austin is in Central time, which would mean, let’s see, carry the one, game time 5 PM Stanford time? You do the math, you’re so smart.

(Special thanks to Texas Fan Babhorn for alerting us. Read his preview of the game from the Texas side, followed by Stanford’s side).

In other Stanford Women’s Basketball news, when the Stanford faithful DO get to see their team back at Maples, (Sunday Nov 13th against Gonzaga) there will be a half time celebration of the 1992 Stanford National Champs. Also honored will be Trisha Stevens’ Stanford Hall of Fame induction and Tara VanDerveer’s National BB HOF induction. Don’t miss it.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stanford vs Vanguard

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team used their second and last exhibition game of the season to further test drive their freshmen. C and R were surprised to see two freshmen starters in the announced lineup Saturday afternoon. Granted, Stanford was playing Vanguard, but still, how long have the freshmen been playing Stanford ball? Granted, one of the freshmen starting might have had to do with sophomore guard Toni Kokenis resting her wrist as a precaution and not playing at all.

Well, you’re asking C and R, how did they do? Well, freshie Amber Orrange (not a typo) handled point guard duties first, and she definitely brings speed and confidence to the position. Is she point guard ready? Well, she moves fast but she goes so fast that it is almost as if she says, “I don’t see someone open so I’ll just drive to the basket full steam ahead.” R says she needs to slow down and direct the traffic more, be a decision maker and play maker.

Taylor Greenfield was the second freshmen that got the start, and C and R know she can shoot the three, but we must admit, we didn’t see much from her in the first half. She did hit a three and then when she shot again, had a nifty move back inside when they came out to contest her three, so maybe she can add more to that.

Jasmine Camp was the third freshie in and the second to handle point guard duties. She also showed speed and good ball and body control. She had pretty much the same speed as Orrange but seemed to look to pass or create for her teammates more. Both guards were super quick on defense, and played full court man-to-man, even denying the entry pass after a basket. And when was the last time we saw a Stanford guard steal the ball in the back court and get an easy lay-up? We saw it not once but twice in the first half by both speedy freshmen guards. It definitely gives Stanford a new look and something else for other teams to think about.

C and R were very impressed with three point specialist Bonnie Samuelson. She made five 3-pointers again this game. Many have commented on her shot, ugly, coming from the chest area, but heck it goes in. Nate of Swish Appeal even tweeted, “I have no clue how Stanford freshman Bonnie Samuelson's shot goes in with that shooting form...but it does. A lot.” A good friend commented it looks like Kate Starbird’s, and Tara shouldn’t try to fix Bonnie’s just as they eventually left Kate’s alone. But dang, C and R are worried quicker teams will be able to block or alter that shot. (We’re just sayin’). However, for someone so thin, she got rebounds and had a great spin move/put back on offense, showing she’s more than that 3-point shot!

Freshmen forward Erica Payne is in the mold of Jillian Harmon. All around good at everything, very athletic, nose for the ball and scrappy. Gets a rebound even though others are taller. Will get you a basket come heck or high water. We like her in with a taller, bigger Tinkle or Boothe. In fact, at one point, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer had four freshmen and Tinkle on the floor. Tara REALLY wants to see what the freshmen can do in a game situation.

Rounding out the freshmen was guard Alex Green, coming off ACL surgery. She also has speed and more ability to create shots for her teammates. C and R get so nervous when she is in there because we keep reading she is JUST coming off ACL surgery although she tore it in high school. It’s probably been awhile since the surgery, but we wince every time we see her drive up the floor.

C and R would be remiss if we didn’t mention the veterans. We mentioned Toni was resting her wrist and Mikaela Ruef is still resting her planter fasciitis. Nneka Ogwumike still looks head and shoulders above the rest, but the crowd was bummed she had very limited minutes (15 of them).

But let’s talk about Chiney for a moment (Sure she’s never heard that before!) Chiney Ogwumike looked more mature, calmer, and dished off unselfishly to her sister even though she was open. In that case, she knew how to assist her sister. She also rebounded, especially offensively. And for the second game, Chiney outscored Nneka 11 to 6, although it because Tara doesn’t need to see Nneka right now, she knows what she can do.

Big shout out to Joslyn Tinkle (did we hear Tinkle Bells? Oh, that was mostly us shaking them) for getting Stanford to 100. We were just betting our little girls team if they would do it or not and Tink sank two free throws with 2.1 seconds left. Whew, that was close. Final score, Stanford 100, Vanguard 54.

One of the great things about going out to the games instead of watching them on TV or following on electronic devices (Gawd awful Gametracker on the computer) is you get to see so many friends. Big shout out to old friends S and T. (When we golfin’ at Stanford?). Sorry we didn't sit with Twitter Buddy SC (were with little girls team and not enough seats!). We were supposed to meet up with Nate the Great from Swish Appeal, who was in the stands as a fan as opposed to working. He even called R’s cell phone, but we didn’t get the message until we were in the car (technology is hard for C and R). He said he saw us walking away but we missed him. Sorry Nate, please forgive us and let’s go out after the game next time! Also big shout out to Facebook Fan MC!

Well, Tara has almost a week to look at what she saw these last two games and come up with a starting lineup and game plan against Texas. Are we a 3-point shooting machine (14 made out of 35 attempts), or will we push an inside game (Ogwumike sisters) or will we use speed (freshmen guards) to blow past everyone? Or some of everything?
We’ll find out Friday. Follow C and R on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stanford's First Exhibition Game

Bonnie SamuelsonLast night against UC San Diego, C and R couldn’t wait to see what the six Stanford Women’s Basketball freshmen could do, and apparently, neither could head coach Tara VanDerveer. Tara wasted no time in inserting the freshmen into the lineup, usually at a pace of 3 freshmen to 2 veterans, which is the configuration she used on the court. What C and R took away from the game was the freshmen are talented and bring a different skill set to the team, some of which have been missing for awhile, but boy, are those rookies raw.

Freshmen guards Jasmine Camp and Amber Orrange (not a typo and pronounced O rahnge, not orange the fruit) both had blinding speed and were not afraid to drive to the basket, usually beating the defense, skills we haven’t had in a point guard since, well, Candice Wiggins. Tara also has some tall freshmen in the line up, but they were not brought in to bang around and play center, witness Bonnie Samuelson, who probably weights 98 pounds soaking wet. They were both brought in as 3-point specialist and Bonnie wasted no time going off. She made five, count ‘em, five 3-pointers, three in the space of two minutes. Very quick release, although C and R wish she shot the ball a little more from her shoulder, not her hip. She might be easy to block with a quicker team, but hey, you can’t argue her accuracy; she made her five out of seven shots, all taken from the 3-point range.

But there were rookie mistakes. A lot of rookie mistakes. Mostly in the form of ill advised passes.

Veterans shined early on, when they got to touch the floor. The first few minutes or so, it was the Nneka and Chiney show, not that Maples minded. The Ogwumike sisters scored 36 of the 105 points. (Oh, did we forget to mention that Stanford broke a hundred? They did, even with the freshmen getting ample playing time. Final score was 106-56. Well, Tennessee won their first exhibition game by 65 points, and we only won by 50, but who’s counting?). Senior Nneka scored 17 and sophomore Chiney got 19, one of the few times Chiney outscored Nneka. Chiney also gobbled up 14 rebounds, 12 of them defensively. Junior Joslyn Tinkle was third in scoring with 16 and grabbed 11 rebounds, eight of them defensively, although if you look at UC San Diego’s size, we don’t think they even tried to rebound on offense, instead using quick play to try and dislodge the ball whenever they could, even after Stanford might have secured the rebound. Tinkle also had two crowd-pleasing blocks, sending one ball well into the first row. Emboldened by the blocks, she took more chances on swiping on defense and then got called for two quick fouls. Coach won’t be happy with that.

Speaking of fouls, Sarah Boothe fouled out in just 12 minutes of play, scoring just two points, and oh, C and R wouldn’t like to be in Sarah’s shoes after Tara breaks down the game film (Oh yes we would, good or bad, to hear Tara impart her wisdom, even if dressing you down… priceless).
Mikaela Ruef was the only Stanford player not to see any action. She looked like she was limping a little. Hope her injury is minor.

One last thing, want to give a big shout out to the UC San Diego supporters who painted their stomachs with their former high school teammates names. Oh, did we forget to mention they were all young ladies. They had painted stomachs and sports bras and C and R aren’t sure if they lost some bet or just felt empowered and a little bit crazy. Usually the painting of stomachs at sporting events is displayed only by beer-bellied men, so hats off to them for showing their support in a festive way.

Second exhibition game Saturday, 2 PM vs. Vanguard. Bet we get to see even more of the freshmen.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stanford Season Starting

Hi everyone, it’s finally, finally November, and finally, finally time for women’s basketball! Stanford has an exhibition game, let’s check here, oh, tomorrow! They play UC San Diego at Maples at 7 PM. And we finally, finally get to see the six freshmen! C and R can’t wait.

And, C and R want to apologize for not writing more blogs in the off season, as we have been sucked up by Twitter, which we kindly tried to let you have access on our website. It’s just really easy when find an article on Stanford Women’s Basketball to post the link on Twitter, or a photo on Facebook, which then goes to Twitter. (Just as it was easier to post Stanford is 5th in preseason polls, Nneka is a preseason All American, Nneka and Chiney are preseason Wooden Favorites, and Stanford is favored to win the Pac-12, preseasonly). We have noticed Stanford’s official site has been leaning towards Facebook and Twitter, as well. But we will try to write more in depth on the blog in the future now that the season is actually here.

In fact, we had one fan write in to say Stanford’s site was lacking in content and C and R were lacking in coverage. Did you hear that? We have a fan! No seriously, we can we, (and Stanford say), the world seems to be transitioning to social media. It will be interesting to see how Stanford and other sites handle media output this season (and just as interesting to see how Stanford season’s going to go with the 6 freshmen).

That’s it for now, see you at the game and back here afterward.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stanford Women's Basketball Preseason Awards

Women’s Basketball seems like it is taking FOR-ever to get here, so we can only be tantalized by some preseason awards for the Stanford Cardinal.

Nneka and Chiney OgwumikeFirst, Stanford Senior Nneka Ogwumike and her sophomore sister Chieny Oguwmike earned some preseason love. They were both named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list. They are the only players from the Pac-12 on the list and one of seven schools with at least two players, facts we cribbed from the official Stanford article.

The list is “based on last year’s individual performance and team records, and are the early frontrunners for college basketball’s most prestigious honor,” according to the Wooden website.

Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer also won an award, following up her fun summer of being inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame. This award is the Athena Award. The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce selects it. The award is for an "exceptional woman who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in her business or profession; contributes time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and actively assists women in realizing their full leadership potential," according to a news release and from the Palo Alto Online story. Sounds like that fits Tara to a Tee.

Congrats to all, and C and R are watching the minutes SLOWLY tick by until the first Stanford Women’s Basketball Game!

PS- Red shirt junior Sarah Boothe is cleared to practice. She is coming off shoulder surgery. Incoming freshmen Alex Green, who tore her ACL in high school, has also been cleared to practice with the Cardinal.

(Get even more Stanford Women’s Basketball chatter on C and R's Twitter.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October Happenings

October has been a busy month. Women's college basketball practice officially started, Breast Cancer Awareness month is in full pink-force and Candice Wiggins finally has a major championship.

Candice Wiggins with TrophyFirst, Candice Wiggins. Candice Wiggins, who plays for the Minnesota Lynx, stayed healthy this year and provided that Candice-like-Spark off the bench. The Lynx has one of the most talented benches, along with Rookie of the Year Maya Moore in the starting lineup and swept the Atlanta Dream in the finals.  In 2008, Candice’s senior year at Stanford, she led Stanford to the championship game, Stanford’s first Final Four appearance since 1997, but they could not defeat a Candace Parker led Tennessee team. Candice won many individual awards while at Stanford, but never that elusive college championship. Now she has one as a pro. C and R could not be happier for her! (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Lynx Facebook page)

Pink RibbonOctober is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worthy cause to be sure. It promotes education and empowerment for all.  In the last few years, big institutions have jumped on the pink bandwagon, promoting BCAM by wearing or selling token pink things. NFL football “celebrates” Breast Cancer Awareness month by letting players and coaches wear pink gear, then auctioning it off. Cool, brings a lot of attention to breast cancer to a demographic that might not be as in touch with their inner pink.

But let the buyer beware. The campaign “Think Before You Pink,”started by Breast Cancer Action, makes it their mission to point out hypocrisy of companies that put a pink ribbon on their product yet donate a fraction (or none) of the profit.  They ask some good questions about products with pink ribbons and so should you. Here is the shorten version:

Critical Questions to Ask Before You Buy Pink
1. How much money from your purchase actually goes toward breast cancer? Is the amount clearly stated on the package?
2. What is the maximum amount that will be donated?
3. How are the funds being raised?
4. To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?
5. What is the company doing to assure that its products are not actually contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

In other Basketball news, Women’s basketball practices started last week around the country, Stanford included. Curious, Geno Auriemma and Brittney Griner are overseas with the US Women’s National Team. Strange time to go, especially with the start of season and some of the best US players still participating in the WNBA finals. (And even stranger to C and R, trying to start another internet rumor, that Geno is helping his rival’s best player get better).

With basketball practices underway around the country, and now the WNBA over, C and R are even more anxious for college basketball games to officially start!

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19th- Stanford Women’s Soccer V Santa Clara

With Stanford Women’s Basketball still a world away, C and R have been enjoying other women’s college sports, most notably volleyball and soccer. So when C saw that number one ranked Stanford soccer team was playing number 18th ranked Santa Clara at Santa Clara’s Buck Shaw Stadium, which is a mile away from R’s house, well, she knew they had to go.

The game was set for 8 PM on Sunday, September 18th, which happens to be a school night and late for a soccer game, but since the stadium was only a mile from R’s house, as she likes to point out every time we think about going to see Santa Clara, we were still in. When we heard they would retire Brandi Chastain’s number at half time, we knew were would be there early to get a good seat!

It was a beautiful balmy night, the day having been warm for our Bay Area neck of the woods, and we go there to watch both teams warm up. Now, C’s only dilemma was who to root for. See, when she, okay me, hate the pronoun thing, when I was coaching my daughter in recreational soccer, there would be special Santa Clara Women’s Soccer games where tix would either be inexpensive for groups or free for youth if you wore their soccer shirt. So we would pile the whole team in a few minivans and spend the glorious fall afternoons in the bleachers cheering on the Broncos and making up creative cheers for them! The girls loved it. One year I caught a T-Shirt flung into the stands and got it autographed by the whole team after the game. That year they went on to win the National Championship!

When we were going to those games, there was one Santa Clara player that did a throw-in in a crazy way. She would run to the line, then bend and place the ball on the ground, then place her head on the ball and flip herself over the ball, landing back on her feet. As she came upright bringing the ball from way behind her head she would fling it forward. The extra strength would make it sail halfway across the pitch. It was an amazing feat to behold and the girls loved it. “Look, look, she’s going to do the flip again!” they would nudge and tell each other.

One year, an opposing coach placed her defender an inch inside the boundary line, lined up just where the flipping throw-in player would land. She was to stand there and see if she could either disrupt the throw or get collision and a foul called on the player. The girls and I stared with horror as we realized what she trying to do as the throw-in player began her run. With hands over their mouths, we all held our breath, the flipper came upright and threw the ball and stopped her body from colliding with the other player. The girls sighed relief. I was more interested in the other player. Would she flinch or duck when the ball came around? (I know I would!). Amazingly, she held her ground and didn’t move, the only exception was she closed her eyes when the flipper went upright and threw it over her head, as if preparing for a crash. Do you know what kind of muscle control it would take to tell your body to not move a muscle when perceived danger is coming at it? Well, a lot! Just try not to flinch or protect yourself if someone is throwing a hard baseball at you! I dare you. So, I give that player huge kudos for braving that!

Anyhoo, the stadium and C have a long history of rooting for the Broncos. When C and R took their seats, a Stanford fan was trying to get the Stanford troops fired up by starting the “Go! Stanford!” chant. Then we saw Brandi Chastain right before the game started and nudged each other like the little girls! Also, big kudos for Santa Clara for getting a lot of students to walk over to the stadium and cheer loudly for the team.

So to solve our cheering dilemma, we tried to stay neutral, which was easy to do because both women’s soccer teams feature amazing athletes. It is such a joy to watch women compete at such a high level. Both teams played a similar possession-type game, although Stanford was more patient in holding the ball and waiting to pick their time to attack. They were rewarded with a goal in the 30th minute. Then Stanford did a quick free kick to a streaking player and got another goal at the 36th minute. It was 2-0 at the half.

Brandi came out at half time. They announced her number was retired, and listed her accomplishments, and dang, she is accomplished as a player! Then back to soccer.

The half resumed (with no rain and thunder and lightening of the Notre Dame game) and, we are sorry to report, Stanford got sloppy, making mental mistakes and unforced errors, and getting the ball stolen. So different from when we saw them play Notre Dame a few weeks ago where they played about as technically perfect game as you can imagine. With about 10 minutes left in the match and Santa Clara still down by 2, they started hustling after every ball and pressuring Stanford. The result was Santa Clara winning a lot of balls, or Stanford making mistakes to give them the balls. And, Stanford looked tired and just stopped chasing down balls. Santa Clara didn’t, so you got to admire them for never quitting. Unfortunately, SC’s plan of attack was speed, and Stanford could counter that on defense, so Santa Clara remained scoreless, with the game ending 2-0. We were also glad to see Stanford goalie Emily Oliver back in goal, when the last time we saw her vs. Notre Dame, she had banged her knee on a ND goal and was removed from the game.

Santa Clara is playing again this coming Saturday, and their opponent is NOT Stanford. Hmm, we might have to go and cheer for them outright, especially since the stadium is a mile from R’s house! Let’s just take a peek at the opponent…it’s Cal! Oh, now we really have to go!

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