Monday, January 3, 2011

Stanford Rebounds to Beat Cal

C and R have a plan. Our plan is to drive almost to the Berkeley campus, where the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team is playing Cal, and park on the street. R has gotten the inside dope from a friend who is a Cal fan that the meters don’t require feeding on Sunday. Yes, that is the focus of C and R’s worry on Sunday, and yes, R has another friend and can you believe she is a Cal fan? Stanford, on the other hand, became everyone’s friend by knocking off UConn and has to worry about a big post game let down since they had their biggest victory in years and make sure they don’t overlook a young up and coming team in Cal.

Speaking of feeding the meter, tip off is right around lunchtime so C and R need to feed their faces so they also have a plan surrounding that. Their favorite Greek café is right on the way to Cal’s Gym and they stop and order falafels (only in Berkeley) but we want our food to go so they make falafel burritos, double only in Berkley.

So the third thing we have to accomplish is tickets and as of Sunday morning we don’t have a plan, we were just going to show up and get tickets at the box office, but late Sunday morning R’s other two friends named D & C, who, gasp, are also Cal fans call and offer her two free tickets. So C and R are set.

With the car successfully parked on the street for free, falafel burritos in hand, we find our Cal friends with their friend J on the steps of Haas Pavilion and skip the long long lines at the ticket booth. The attendance is 5,198 and quite a few are Stanford fans. The Cal fans give us their tickets for free, and that is a class act right there, and inform us we won’t be sitting by them. C suspects they thought we would be insufferable after the UConn win and banished us to Siberia. R ferrets out that they bought the tickets at a later date for their parents who decided at the last minute not to make the trip so their was no ulterior motive for giving us tickets away from them We promise to meet up with them after the game and go celebrate either way. And the seats were NOT in Siberia, they were fantastic, right behind the Stanford bench. We saw the Ogwumike family and JJ Hones again. Once we get situated in our great seats we dive into the falafel burrito; they are good. C likes hers so much she bites into the foil. Twice.

Oh yeah, there was a game, wasn’t there?

Cal introduces its player NBA style with spotlights and smoke and everything. It is fun to see, especially because C and R know straight-laced Stanford would never do that. Eventually the game starts…

Cal comes out with a lot of energy and very aggressive and makes the first basket. C and R worry. Stanford responds like a brick wall returning a tennis ball, that is they match their energy and take it inside with much success. Jeannette Pohlen drives inside, posts up, and in short is continuing her game from Xavier and UConn. What has gotten into her and how can we spread it to the rest of the team?

Once again Stanford coach Tar VanDerveer has a tailored game plan for Cal. Kayla Pedersen, who is 6-3, is on Cal’s 5-8 guard Eliza Pierre. Eliza is super fast and likes to slash and drive to the basket. We are worried she will totally blow by Kayla. We watch as Kayla often leaves Pierre to help double team and lays off her on the three point line, daring her to shoot. Pierre is reluctant to shoot the three and misses the only one she attempts. The gamble works. She does not burn Kayla driving inside, nor does she burn them with threes. Once again, what do C and R know?

Cal goes flat and Stanford curiously does too, almost like an echo effect. We are slow and plodding against slow teams and try to out-energize the energetic teams. We also stop taking the ball inside in this game and do not compensate with threes.

We pick it back up again, mostly thanks to Nneka Ogwumike and at the half it is Stanford 38-17, and we meet up with D & C & J. They also noticed how flat Stanford was in the middle of the first half and it was too bad Cal couldn’t take advantage of them. Well observed. We need Cal to get back up so Stanford can get back up!

Early into the start of the second half, around the 17:52 mark, Nneka hits the ground hard after a foul while shooting. R saw her head bounce. She stays down and clearly is in pain. Little sis Chiney checks in on her on the floor as they are helping her up. After she gets helped up and moved to the bench, the way she is moving so gingerly, C and R are worried she has a concussion. She did not return to the game. The internet would say she hurt her shoulder, and has a headache.

Tinkle comes in and is holding her head up high ever since that UConn game. She makes a steal around the foul line and instantly looked down court, but because Stanford was on D, no one is down there so she takes off down court for a fast break, and no, she decides, no fast break and slows up for everyone and then sees Jeannette Pohlen pull ahead so finally decides, yes let’s run and does and passes to JP for the lay up and that has to have been the slowest fast break C and R have ever witnessed!

Tara does a good job emptying their bench. Cal matched up size-wise with Stanford having two players as tall as Kayla an Sarah Boothe, but Stanford won the rebounding battle 49-26. Cal is sorely missing a “go to” player who can take charge and ultimately score. The team is mostly made up of frosh and sophs, so expect Joanne Boyle to bring them along every year. The final score is 78-45. Our Cal friends invite us out for salty snacks at a yummy taco bar that had the most impressive salsa bar! They actually watch a lot of different women’s basketball games, not just Cal and Stanford and it is great to get the inside scoop from them. Hopefully they will travel to Stanford when Cal comes to town!

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