Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stanford Final Four Bound with Win Over Gonzaga

Well, that slump is over! Stanford Women’s Basketball player Jeanette Pohlen, probably tired of getting asked about her mini scoring “slump,” responded in the Elite Eight game against Gonzaga by hitting shots and playing with intensity and determination. How intense and determined? Try 60% shooting from the floor, five of them three pointers for a total of 17 points.

Fellow senior Kayla Pedersen had twelve timely rebounds and the team as a whole had 49 to Gonzaga’s 25, thirteen of them being on the offensive end for more chances to score. Kayla’s eight points are little low, and we don’t want to say anythAng, but C and R are sure she will be the next one to have a scoring outpouring.

Two Stanford players who aren’t slumping are the Stanford sister, Nneka and Chiney. They combined for 51 of Stanford’s 83 points and 26 of the 49 rebounds, and had the first 11 Stanford points of the second half . Nneka ended up with 23 points, 18 bounds, and Chiney, 18 points 15 boards. In the first half it was mostly Nneka who was scoring, Gonzaga not having the size to deny the entry pass or stop her path to the basket like UNC previosuly. When big sis Nneka was in a little scoring slump of her own in the second half, missing shots in the paint, it was Chiney who grabbed the rebound and put it back or was fouled trying.

Credit Gonzaga’s Courntey Vandersloot, the incredible point guard, for keeping her team in the game in the first half. She was on fire, hitting for 21 points in the first half and dishing out nine total assists to her teammates. C and R had to yell the now familiar refrain, “somebody guard her!”

So what does basketball genius Tara VanDerveer do in the second half? She goes into a little used zone defense to limit Courtney to one basket in the first 14 minutes of the second half, and four total points for said half. C and R, not the basketball geniuses, didn’t even realize Stanford went into the zone. We just kept our eyes on Vandersloot and just who was going to guard her and would call out, “Lindy is guarding her, now Jeannette, now Kayla, now Nneka” Whew. We thought they were handing her off man to man like they did Maya Moore. Now that we realize they were in zone, they weren’t switching and handing her off, she was just rotating through Stanford’s zone and they were guarding her as if man to man, so maybe a zone man to man. Duh C and R! Well, whatever it was, it worked, shutting down Gonzaga’s amazing point guard and no one stepping up in her place.

And then it was too much Ogwumikes. Nneka misses, Chiney gets it, even though they were being PUSHED by the other team and it wasn’t called (gee, we biased-ly think the refs aren’t calling fouls against Stanford, what’s new?) Courtney is negated, the sisters roll, it’s Stanford by a score of 83-60.

During the game, the announcers kept talking about Pac-10 player of the year Jeanette Pohlen and R prophetically said, Nneka deserves an award. She got one at the end of the game, or, well several. First of all, both sisters were named the “Player of the Game.” And how cute is that? Then Nneka got the Spokane Regional's most outstanding player award. And sometime after that when the all-regional team was announced, it included Nneka, Chiney and Kayla Pedersen. Yay, someone else was watching and appreciating Nneka like we do.

Side Notes:
C and R were watching the Tennessee-Notre Dame game right before the Stanford game. C, wisely learning her lesson about using up her good luck mojo, kept fairly silent throughout the game, even though secretly she was rooting against Pat Summit’s Tennessee team, a team and coach we love to hate. So now she can say those things she repressed for so long. Oh, how sweet was that ND win? Guess 21 times is a charm! And next time, Pat, when playing the green Irish, wear something else besides a mint green suit!!

ESPN cut in late to the Stanford game due to the Tennessee-Notre Dame game. However, C and R persevered. Some of our fans had earlier clued us in to ESPN 3 on the internet and they were streaming the live game and we saw all ten Stanford points, and R said this was the fastest game she ever saw, points flying across the boards for both teams, so glad we didn’t miss a second.

Then when Stanford won, we saw a little graphic that said go to ESPN 3 to see the net cutting ceremony because ESPN had spent long enough on a women’s sport. So back we went to the computer screen and we saw the trophy presentation and net cutting ceremony, with the team cutting the net into tiny pieces to wear behind their ears, Nneka herself cutting about five strands, and Tara VanDerveer throwing what was left of the net to Jeanette, silently expressing she was glad JP was out of her slump.

Cool it was a sold-out arena for women’s basketball. Not so cool it was a home game for Gonzaga and 10,500 were rooting for the Zags. Cool the arena held 11,000 plus. Not so cool Gonzaga got to sleep in their own beds for all four games. Tournament officials said they will look into that, and let’s hope they mean teams have to travel the last two games and not make a rule about sleeping in beds.

Other things to note we stole from the Stanford website:
The top-seeded Cardinal (33-2) will be making its fourth straight trip to the national semifinals for the first time in school history. The seniors of Pedersen, Pohlen and fellow seniors Ashley Cimino and Hannah Donaghe, hold the distinction of a perfect 63-0 career record at Maples Pavilion, and also becoming the first class in Stanford history to reach four consecutive Final Fours

Nneka was named the Most Outstanding Player in the regional for the second straight year while Chiney was named to the All-Regional Team along with Pedersen. Kayla has been named to the all-regional squad for a third time. Pedersen now has 1,256 career rebounds, just seven shy of tying Jayne Appel's all-time Stanford and Pac-10 record of 1,263 boards.

Stanford senior guard Jeanette Pohlen was selected to the Associated Press All-America First Team. Junior forward Nneka Ogwumike earned a spot on the Second Team for the second year in a row while senior forward Kayla Pedersen earned her second straight honorable mention.

Through the regional final win over Gonzaga, Pohlen has shot 41.2 percent from behind the arc and hit 93 3-pointers, breaking the old Stanford single-game record of 91 set by Krista Rappahahn in 2005-06.

And the last award:
The Women's Basketball Coaches Association named Tara VanDerveer the 2011 Russell Athletic/WBCA NCAA Division I Head Coach of the Year.

1 comment:

  1. Anybody else notice that Toni only played 8 minutes on Monday? I think she's still hurt so Lindy needed to step up, and she did!

    I like Stanford vs. Texas A&M a lot more than Baylor - afraid of foul trouble vs. the big G.