Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stanford Wins Rainbow Wahine Classic

Stanford Women’s Basketball scored the hat trick this weekend, winning three games in three days, to secure the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Hawaii. When you first win is over #1 Baylor, it really didn’t matter what happenes afterward, although Stanford remained focused and won two more games. C and R hope they got a trophy or something.

Chiney Ogwumike scored 25 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double in the final game against Tennessee Martin and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. It was heartening to see she got help in the scoring department, most notable from Joslyn Tinkle. Guard Amber Orrrrange was very consistent in averaging around 12-13 points per game.

Jos, Chiney’s self-proclaimed twin, is currently listed as having scored 27 points in this last game, but fans in the stands (all two of them) said she was mis-credited with a three point shot that should have gone to Bonnie Samuelson, so perhaps she had 24. Wait, now they are giving her 25 points, which would be her career high. No matter what the total, she is playing at a different level from last year, and that is great to see.

Both Chiney and Tinkle were named to the All-Tournament Team, and when you are rubbing elbows with Baylor’s Brittney Griner, that’s some pretty good company.

The final score of the final game is still being debated too, as we write this. We think it is Stanford 93, Tenn Martin 67, but they are a little laid-back there in Hawaii. It took Stanford a little longer to pull away in this game then the Hawaii game, as TM did bomb some threes in the first half. Plus, it was the third game in three days. That’s gotta be hard to do physically as well as emotionally.

Now the debate is on as to how the top ten of women’s college basketball should rearrange itself for this week. Aloha and Happy Early Thanksgiving.

Photo Courtesy of Stanford Athletics Facebook Page

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Stanford Handles Hawaii

Life goes on, and The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team still had a basketball game to play one day after knocking off Number 1 Baylor. They played host Hawaii, and Hawaii proved the good host by letting the guests win, 69-42.

Stanford got four of its starters in double figures, and the only drama was could Chiney Ogwumike break her single game rebounding record. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer even helped by letting her stay in for extended minutes deep in the second half, even though Stanford had the game in hand. Chiney would end up with 17 rebounds, 2 away from her record, and 15 points. The three other starters that contributed greatly were Joslyn Tinkle with 16, guard Amber Orrrrange with 13, and Toni Kokenis with 12. Amber Orrrrange has really stepped up her play, making nice penetrating moves and pull-up jumpers.

Now Stanford has to play its third game in three days when it finishes the Rainbow Wahine Classic with a game against Tennessee Martin (I think Pat Summit used to be a player there).

BTW, here is an account from our number one fan, who made the trek to Hawaii. (I know, hardship all around, but someone has to do it). Here are her unedited words:

--J and I made the journey to Honolulu for the tournament.   The flight was actually easier than finding the darn stadium parking lot while the GPS kept leading us through a tangle of tiny one-way cu de sacs to an employee only entrance.  Sigh.   Big stadium, with almost no fans.   The local paper reported over 1400 in attendance but maybe that was the total for all three games being played that night...   Anyway, there were maybe eighty Stanford fans and family scattered behind the bench.   About the same size Baylor crowd right next to us.   We were pretty wound up before the game and delighted to find that they serve beer (!!!) in the stadium.   The coaches came out in casual clothes (wow!  Who negotiated that??).   Brittany Griner was dunking in warm-ups.  Yikes!    We kept telling ourselves there was no downside to this game....   And then there was the interesting starting lineup.  I'm a big Mikaela Ruef fan so I was excited to see her in the lineup.  The players all looked so serious and we could see their game faces.   First half super fun.   We are pinching ourselves and all of us reminding ourselves and each other that it's a long game...   Hands sore from clapping so hard, then the second half the fans are working as hard as they can to cheer every play and shout every break.   Whew.  It was amazing.  I was sure I was going to burst into tears at the end. Just so proud of those girls.  And those coaches!    Kim Mulkey looked each Stanford player in the eye and told them "Good game!".  Yowza.   Totally bummed it was not on TV and so glad we were here.  Truly amazing and a real team effort.--

Another BTW, has any school had a more amazing sports weekend then Stanford? First Stanford Women’s Basketball team knocked off number 1 Baylor. Then Men’s Football knocked off number 1 Oregon. Number one Stanford Women’s Volleyball Team clinched the Pac-12 Title with a win over UCLA. Lastly, number one Stanford Women’s Soccer beat a tough Santa Clara team to advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament. Whew. It’s either be number one, or beat number one. Dang!

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stanford Beats Baylor

STANFORD WINS THE PENNANT! Stanford wins the pennant! Well, not the pennant, that being our little pun about the Giants, and The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team did not win a national championship or even any championship, but they just beat Baylor in the regular season, something nobody, least of all C and R, expected them to do. And it sure feels like a championship of some sort. Even the media was calling it an “upset” even though Stanford is ranked #4 to Baylor’s #1.

This blog is a day late because C was hung over from eating humble pie all night long. Yes, both C and R, who are arguably the biggest Stanford fans when it comes to arguing women’s basketball, had been saying all preseason and through the short regular season, “we’re going to get killed by Baylor!”

Well come on, let’s look at the evidence. Stanford is a young team. They have eight freshmen and sophomores out of 15 players. They also have three players who hardly played last year due to injury; Mikaela Ruef, Jasmine Camp and Alex Green (who still is not ready to play). Plus a veteran who has been injured to start the year (Toni Kokenis, rhymes with tennis). The Stanford exhibition games were a little shaky for the level of competition, getting out rebounded by a much smaller Vanguard University. Add to the fact that #1 Baylor, undefeated defending national champs riding a 42 game win streak, thrashed then #5 Kentucky earlier in the week. Stanford was ranked #4, even though they lost their top scorer, rebounder and heart and soul in senior Nneka Ogwumike. It just didn’t seem possible.

First of all, this incredible game was not televised anywhere. The twitter-sphere was aghast and complained mightily, but all our tweets go to other women’s basketball fans and to no one who has any real power to actually make this happen. (We gotta figure that one out.) The Pac-12 did throw up a feed at the last second, so hats off to them. On our computer, though it was a little jerky, and there was no audio. We streamed KZSU over the Internet, so we would hear what happened and see the compressed action a few seconds afterward. Taylor Greenfield hits a three, now we see it. Joslyn Tinkle gets a rebound and a put back, there it is.

The worst thing about not having the game televised was we couldn’t see Baylor coach Kim Mulkey’s outfit, although photos showed it was subdued athletic clothes. The real surprise was the photos afterward that proved Tara VanDerveer cut loose and wore her Hawaii tourist clothes!

The first half opened when most of us were at work, and imagine our surprise when Stanford went up by seven, nine, twelve….FOURTEEN points over Baylor in the first half. Granted, Baylor did lose their excellent point guard and defender in Odyssey Simms, when she went down just four minutes into the contest with a hamstring injury and did not return. But every team has to deal with injuries or a good player on the bench with foul trouble…or a contact lens issue.

Baylor did come back, thanks to a Baylor’s Jordan Madden, stepping up for 13 first half points. National Player of the Year last year, 6’8 Brittney Griner, was held to just four at the break, due to Stanford’s excellent double team of her. By contrast, Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike had nine in the first, taking it to BG early and often. Chiney Ogwumike even hit her first three! She had a second, but it was called back for a long two.

At the half the score was 31-29, Stanford holding on to a two-point lead. Stanford was buoyed by defensive play from Mikaela Ruef with 12 big rebounds, eight of them defensively. Taylor Greenfield ended up with 16 total points, making four from three-point land. Baylor’s coach was exhorting her team in the first half to show some energy and intensity, like Stanford was. Mulkey would later say after the game that during their streak, they were not tested and didn’t know how to react to a close game. Also, I believe Baylor was 1-13 from three-point range at the half. By contrast, Stanford would shot 7-14 from the three-point line for the game.

The second half, well it was all a blur, what with rushing home through traffic, trying to coordinate when to dash inside from the car with the KSZU radio on and get the computer fired up to see and hear over the Internet. Just when we were believing Stanford could do this, imagine our surprise, again, when Baylor took the lead with 7:11 left to play. Brittney Griner got unleashed and showed some of her moves and scored 18 more points in the second to have 22 for the game.

After trading leads, none other than Chiney Ogwumike does a reverse lay up over Brittney to put Stanford up by four with 22 seconds left. Chiney would end up with 18 points for the game. Of course we could really couldn’t see this, so we just took the KZSU guy’s word for it. After Destiny Williams hit her first three of the year, and just second three-pointer of the game for Baylor, to draw within one, Toni Kokenis would hit one of two free throws, making the score 71-69, Stanford. Baylor had the ball with four seconds, down by two, and Stanford knew the ball was going to Brittney for the last shot. It did, she shot, she missed and Stanford wins…the…the…Best Women’s Basketball Game nobody saw.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stanford at Santa Clara

The Stanford Women’s Basketball team traveled down El Camino Real to Mission Santa Clara to play the Broncos. C and R rode their bikes approximately one mile and saw the original Mission Wall and their stunningly clean campus on a clear and crisp fall day. That, coupled with a 92-57 Stanford win and promise of free burritos, made it a great day.

C and R have always had a soft spot for Santa Clara sports, what with it being in the city where we live and all. C remembers taking her girl’s soccer team to many Santa Clara soccer games, especially when they had that one player who would do a complete flip when she did a throw in. She also took her Girl Scout troop to a couple of SCU basketball games, too. In one memorable game, the player's program said if Santa Clara hit a three and spelled out ”Santa Clara, ” everyone would get a free burrito. Now, ten three-pointers in a game are hard to make. Those girls cheered and cheered, most not understanding the intricacies of the game or the rules, but they knew what a three pointer was and what free food was. In the closing seconds, Santa Clara hit the 10th three, won the game and endeared their team to our troop. As fate would have it, the troop was visiting the Fire Station right down the block from Mondo Burrito the next day, and we got our free burritos.

Fast forward to present day, and we see on Santa Clara’s jumbo jumbo-tron if Santa Clara hits threes and spells out “Mondo, ” everyone wins free burritos. Now five three-pointers are much more manageable. So, although we were rooting for the Stanford win, we wanted those five threes. The Broncos obliged once again. Unfortunately, Mondo Burrito is closed on Sundays, a fact C and R did not discover until we rode our bikes there in the early afternoon. So R will have to go Monday to pick up some yummy burritos. Keep in mind, in the past, there were just plain bean and cheese burritos, nothing on them, so you might have to spring for the full size thing to get the whole Mondo effect.

It was a festive day for the Stanford team as well. They had a new line-up with Erica Payne and Jasmine Camp added to Chiney Ogwumike, Joslyn Tinkle and Amber Orrrrange. The extra energy was a tonic for a lackluster outing just two days ago against Fresno State. Stanford worked it early and often inside to Preseason All-American Chiney, and Amber Orrrrange drove and penetrated and pulled up.

In fact, Amber lead all scorers for most of the game, and C and R were thinking this might be the first time in more than a year that someone other than an Ogwumike might be high-scorer. But Chiney wouldn’t have any of that, and took over late in the game, driving inside and putting the ball up strong. Her strength is clearly around the basket, although she did hit a jumper at the free-throw line. Chiney would lead all scorers with 22, and become the 33rd Stanford player to score 1,000 points.

Back to the first 5 minutes of the game: Stanford went up 15-5. Then Chiney went to the bench. And Stanford looked flat. And Santa Clara almost caught up, 19-14. Granted, head coach Tara VanDerveer was subbing people in and out to try to give everyone a tryout again, and that might be disconcerting, but it is a bad omen when Chiney is on the bench, Stanford becomes ordinary and teams gain confidence to score.

With Chiney in the game, she got help from Tinkle with 19 points and Amber’s 18. Glad to see this triangle doing well. However, it is a huge drop off from there. Stanford as a whole also shot the three better, making 5-12, for 41%. Stanford also out-rebounded Santa Clara 37-25, a better job than last game against Fresno State. Still, it is not clear who the fourth and fifth starter will be. Stanford better figure it out quickly, as the next game is Baylor in balmy Hawaii.

It was kinda ironic that C and R were sitting right next to the Santa Clara guys with the Vuvuzelas. Remember those horns from the World Cup, when blown make that deep, obnoxious noise? They had a version of that. We are all for fan fun and games. I mean, we did start the Tinkle Bell tradition. We now know that you can’t bring any artificial noisemaker to a basketball game. However, we never rang the Tinkle Bells during anyone shooting a free throw, as these guys did. There has to be some sportsmanship! They gave a sharp blast when a Stanford player shot a free throw. The second time, the ref caught him and made an official go over and confiscate the horns.

Does anyone know if the Baylor-Stanford game November 16th will be on TV or online anywhere? Right now we don’t see it scheduled. Let us know.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Stanford Beats Fresno State, Keeps Home Winning Steak Alive

Just a short blog tonight, as C and R have ot prepare for tomorrow’s road trip at …Santa Clara…a mile from R’s house. We are going to attempt to ride our bikes to The Leavey Center, although we heard it will be cold. That’s okay, we are making a pit stop at Mondo Burrito. That salsa should warm us up.

So how did the Stanford Women’s Basketball team do in their season and home opener against scrappy Fresno State? It’s funny, after the fact, and on paper, Stanford looks good. They won 72-61 yet struggled mightily in the first half against a team that is not in the top 25. Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer said she wanted to run and shoot the three. Well, Stanford can shoot the three alright, they shot 16 of them. I guess Tara needed to specify they had to make them, too. Stanford only made 1 of 16, for a 6% three point success rate. Ouch. Fresno State was 6-25, for 25% success rate, by comparison.

Chiney Ogwumike scored 23 points and grabbed 17 boards. She was phenomenal under the basket. That really is her strength, getting the ball and worming it back up to score points. The bad news is Stanford gave up 25 offensive rebounds. In one ridiculous play, Fresno State must have grabbed five, six rebounds in one possession. Granted they kept missing, but Stanford seemed allergic to the ball.
In the first half, Stanford shot a lot of three and missed a lot of threes, and did not rebound well. When Fresno’s 5-5 guard gets 10 rebounds, you know the other team was clearly out hustling Stanford.  In the second half, Stanny worked it to Chiney down low, and although there were some bad passes and forced mistakes, when they did get it to her, Chiney did her best Nneka impression and would not give up until the ball went in. Chiney saw limited time in the two exhibition games, yet turned it up a notch tonight. And played the whole game.

Good to see. Toni Kokenis saw limited action this game as well, coming off an injury, and when she was inserted in the second half about the time the game was tied at 42 all, her two quick steals for lay ups opened up some breathing room for Stanford. Guard Amber Orrrrange made some nice drives and ended up with 14 points.

Defensively, Chiney had four blocks and Tinkle had three. The team had nine total, although it seemed like more. They were fun to watch, but not so fun to see Fresno State driving to the basket, setting crisp picks and hitting them hard and scoring. It wasn’t until Stanford switched out of their man-to-man to a zone that they were able to limit Fresno State’s scoring chances.

Jos Tinkle was also relentless around the offensive basket. She had some nice boards and put backs and ended up with 20 points and 8 rebounds. An article in the paper stated Stanford needs to see more from the “twins” of Chiney and Tinkle, and C and R want to be the first to coin the phrase “TinkleTwins” (copyright pending).

However, Stanford needs to be more than the Chiney and Tinkle show. Last year it was the Nneka and Chiney show, but Stanford needs some diversity. Fresno State just sat in 3-2 zone on defense, resting and waiting to steal and score a quick lay up or on a drive to the basket. They didn’t need to guard the three-point line, obviously, and could stack up Chiney. Other teams will follow that template if there is not more creative scoring from others. And don't even get C and R started on Stanford trying to break a press (Chiney dribbling...gets it stolen for a layup the other way...)

Stanford is still a work in progress. A couple of bench players made some brief appearances, but if you don’t’ show Tara something, or worse, show her some mistakes, it’s right back to the bench for you. Why does this matter? One more game tomorrow, then it’s off to Hawaii, and a date with number 1 Baylor.

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stanford Vanquishes Vanguard

So the Stanford Women’s Basketball team played their second exhibition game of the new season, and they had a better opponent than last game (See last blog). Vanguard University, the little insurance company that could…sorry, little inside joke as C and R can’t help but think of mutual finds and financial plans whenever we hear of Vanguard. Looking them up on the web, they also are NAIA, which the web tells us is lower than DIII. Sigh, C and R know that was exhibition, but the next two regular season games are Fresno and Santa Clara, both NOT in the top 25. Why does that matter? Because the THIRD game is BAYLOR, in Hawaii, who is the top 25, number one since last year, to be exact.

So how did Stanford do today? C and R were impressed with Joslyn Tinkle and Sara James in their all-around play. Amber Orrrrange had some good drives to the basket. Tinkle was an especially strong rebounder. Stanford also showed great man-to-man defense and certainly know how to neutralize screens and the pick and roll.

Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer told the media she wants her team to work on their three point shooting this year. And when Tara wants you to concentrate on something, boy does the team concentrate. They bombed the air with threes in the first half. Bonnie Samuelson would make four in the first half, the last one with one second left. Yet there was a stretch of about four or five minutes near the end of the first half where the ball would not fall. Bonnie did make five, but took 12 three-point shots. Overall, the team was 13-35 from three-point land, and if you are going to depend on the three….

C and R wonder if Tara told the tam to work on blocks, too, because Chiney Ogwumike had three in three minutes, one sent to the third row of the stands. She would end up with five for the game. Tinkle also got in the act and had two blocks for the game, but it seemed like more. The team ended up with 12 blocks, and you have to wonder what the record is?

The second half was a different story. Tara told everyone to work it inside offensively, and they did come hell or bad passes. It’s one thing to work it inside and another to force it, to the detriment of threes. Poor Bonnie passes up several open looks to get it inside to a covered player. And they were mostly forcing it to Chiney Ogwumike, who is not a natural center. Stanford is thin at the center, to put it mildly. Freshmen Tess Picknell, at 6’5 is still a work in progress. It was hard to get a feel for Chiney’s play as she only saw 21 minutes. She did score 11 points and had 8 rebounds.

The funny thing is we’re not as strong inside as we should be. At times the Stanford line up would have four players over six feet tall, yet they could not score down low. And with the generous subbing, it was hard to tell who was playing point. Taylor Greenfield ended up with point guard duties for a stretch. Perhaps when the regular season starts there won’t be as many subs and less confusion.

Overall a C plus / B minus but Stanford has to have an “A” game if they are going to beat Baylor. Next game Friday Nov. 9 at home and then Sat Nov. 10 at Santa Clara, also in the Bay Area and about one mile from R’s house. Y’all should be able to make that road trip!

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stanford Destroys Corban University in Exhibition Play

So Stanford Women’s Basketball opened their season with an exhibition match against Corban University. C and R were not able to make the game as we had basketball practice for the girls we coach. When I got in the car and turn on the radio to KSZU, I was shocked to discover it was 63 to 10 at half time (Yes, Stanford was winning). I think Bonnie Samuelson had something like 4 three's in the frist half alone. She would end up making 9 threes for 27 points in the game. Sara James had 24 points and six Stanford players scored in double figures. The final score would be 117-33! The only suspense was to see if Corban could out-score Bonnie.

The KSZU boys were trying to put a happy face on this at half time, saying that hopefully the bench players will get to play a lot the second half. He got his wish as all Stanford players played and only one player did not get a point. Chiney Ogwumike scored 12 points in just 15 minutes of play. One of the Corban players tweeted to her, “Thank you for not playing the entire game.” Chiney later praised the Corban team on twitter and even posed for photos with them, Corban looking as if they were star-struck freshmen, which they probably are.

Photo courtesy of Chiney Ogwumike's Twitter Account.

C looked up Corban, thinking they must be Division III. Nope, they are NAIA, which the web informed her is lower than DIII. Well, you always want to play someone better than yourself if you want to improve.

Next game is Saturday vs. Vanguard at 2PM Stanford time. Check the schedule closely, C was told there were some changes.

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