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.

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