Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stanford Beats Oregon, Win PAC-10 Title

C and R piled in the car with their good friend P, and headed to Maples to see the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team clinch the regular season PAC-10 crown with a victory, on a clear but cold day. The snow that was promised for our area never materialized.

Nice crowd of 5,114 for a night game that was changed to day. We see Nneka Ogwumike, coming off a badly sprained ankle all suited up and even starting and EVEN JUMPING! What the hecka! C and R figure head coach Tara VanDerveer must be a little more worried about this game then she is letting on to risk more injury to their top scorer and rebounder.

And then the game starts and what the hecka was she worried about. Stanford is playing a run and gun team in Oregon, which means they will be the ones to come out and run and gun, and yes, true to form, they emulate their opposition’s style and energy. Jeanette Pohlen makes some incredible fast break passes, along with her threes (and ends up with 20 points). Toni Kokenis runs down the floor as if she has jets on her sneakers. Nneka gets to have a rest after 12 minutes of play. Sisters Nneka and Chiney, true to form, emulate each other with having a contact lens pop out and putting it back in on the floor (all contact lens wearers everywhere in the building mouth, “aren’t they even going to wash their hands first?”). Stanford takes a 56 to 25 lead into the locker room at half.

If anything, the foul calling slowed the pace of play. Ya know, it’s one of those “careful what you wish for” moments. C and R always are ready to criticize the horribly called PAC-10 games, and this game the refs did a great job making mostly correct calls, but they called every-single-thing. Away from the ball, on the ball, every travel, every maybe charge, every reach in and they called it about 90% correctly, which was amazing. However, calling every single contact really slowed down the pace of play and slowed Stanford down. How many fouls were called? We lost count, but Oregon would have three players foul out in the second half. (And the fouled-out players and the band were trying to second guess each other as the band likes to yell “Siddown” when they sit and they kept lowering and raising themselves to try and catch the band off guard.).

Then the Stanford bench got in very early in this game and scored 47 of the 99 Stanford points. The bench held Oregon to 60 points and you have to admire Oregon coach Paul Westhead taking two time outs in the final minute 15 to get them to 60 points. Always play your hardest until the final whistle.

Stanford clinched the PAC-10 title and the PAC-10 commissioner himself was on hand to present the trophy to Tara VanDerveer. He said this was the 25th anniversary of women’s sports in the PAC-10 and Stanford has won the basketball title 20 of those years. Remarkable tribute to the consistency of Stanford’s head coach, who has been at Stanford for 25 years.

The only suspense was were they doing “senior night “ a game early. At half, we heard a rumor that because the last Cal game was changed from 6 PM to 8 PM, it would be too late to do a senior tribute after the game so they were going to do it after this game. C and R and P hang out and they say the seniors were going to come out on the court for a short time.

Seniors Mel Murphy, Ashley Cimino (Cinnamon) Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen came out and did a nice little Q & A with the crowd. However, it was a little bit of a let down from the usual tributes where everyone goes next door and parents tell stories and teammates reminisce, and it has a cozy, intimate family atmosphere. This one seemed more impromptu and hurried and injured senior Hannah Donaghe wasn't even there (she was on a previously scheduled field trip). Just the four seniors came out, no teammates and most parents were not in attendance (exception Jeanette Pohlen's parents, who told the story about the first time JP fiercely wrestled away a defensive rebound to put it right back up in the wrong basket.). At one point, Tara VanDerveer stepped away to check on Toni Kokenis and Amy Tucker stepped in, and it would have been nice to hear a little more from Tara about her players.

Still, it was nice to hear what the players were going to do next year. All thanked the crowd for their unwavering support, whether they were up by 30 or down by one. And thought it was great how the fans cheered a basket, whether it was made by a starter or a reserve. Jeanette said part of the record 60 consecutive home wins and counting record was because of the fans. The internet notes they have not lost at home in more than four season, so we guess it is fair to say these seniors don’t know what it is like to lose at Maples.

We heard Stanford was still going to do the flowers and stuff for the seniors at the Cal game on Thursday. Last year, Stanford’s final regular season game was at Cal, and when Cal honored their seniors, they gave flowers to the Stanford seniors (Jayyyyyynnnnne!). Hope Stanford reciprocates. Remember, game time is 8 PM on Thursday. Broadcast on Fox Sports Net/Comcast Local Sports Network channel.

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