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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