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

Follow C and R on Facebook and Twitter, in 2012!


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. 

Follow C and R on Facebook and Twitter, too!


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.

Follow C and R on Facebook and Twitter, too!


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.

Follow C and R on Facebook and Twitter, too!


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.

Follow C and R on Facebook and Twitter, too!


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.

Follow C and R on Facebook and Twitter, too!


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.

Follow C and R on Facebook and Twitter, too!


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.”

Follow C and R on Facebook and Twitter, too!