Saturday, January 28, 2012

Exciting Finish to Stanford-Cal game

Finally, a well-hyped game that lived up to its promise! C and R, are of course, talking about the Stanford-Cal women’s basketball game. It featured freshmen vs. freshmen, a career high scoring and rebounding night for one player, tough rebounding, one team clawing back to force overtime and one Hall of Fame coach and one who executed a great game plan and put her team in position to win. Of course, it’s easier to enjoy the game after the fact when your team wins, as Stanford did, beating Cal 74-71 in OT. Let’s get to the highlights (or low lights, in some cases).

Freshmen vs. Freshmen:
This game featured two starting freshmen guards, one for each team. For Stanford, Amber Orrrrange and for Cal Brittany Boyd. Brittany Boyd was talked about the most in the press, and they kept emphasizing she is not a scorer but a playmaker, she gets others involved and leads the way with assists. Today she channeled another great Cal guard, Alexis Grey Lawson, who was a point guard who drove to the basket and scored, sometimes to the detriment of a pass. Today Boyd was that scorer. She drove the lane and went inside and scored 14 first half points. The two freshmen were guarding each other for the first few minutes but then Orrrrange fouled and went to the bench. She came back in and fouled again and went to the bench again, where she stayed for the rest of the first half. She came in briefly in the second half, disappeared and then came in to a tight game with a minute and a half left where she got a block but made a crucial turnover, then got yanked and did not return for the rest of the game. Her stat line, 10 minutes, no points, one assist, one block. C and R wonder had she stayed in longer, she could get into a rhythm. In the second half, Brittany Boyd drove the lane but pulled up and made some impressive shots. She would finish with 19 points. She was full of confidence and shot the ball almost every time she touched it, and kept Cal in the game.

Career high scoring night and rebounding night for one player:
First, let’s talk about who it was not. It was not Stanford’s all-everything Nneka Ogwumike. She had what you might call an off night, and we will get to why she had such an off night in a moment. She “only” scored 12 points for the game, 8 in the first half. More importantly, she shot 6-18, read, she missed a lot of shots she normally makes. And she “only” got 9 rebounds (we say only because that would be a great night for a sixth man, but all year Stanford has lived by Nneka’s ability to rebound and score in the 20’s, and not many have stepped up to help her). Would someone tonight? Yes they would, enter her sister, Chiney. Or as C and R like to say, Chin-nay saves the day.
Chiney scored a career high 27 points, 13 in the first half, and most importantly, was the only Stanford player to score a basket in the five minute overtime period. She also was a beast on the boards, grabbing a whopping 18 of them. Which leads us to…

Tough rebounding:
Cal came into the game second in the nation in rebounding and first in the conference during conference play, according to Nate at Swish Appeal, which surprised the heck out of C and R. Because every Stanford game we’ve seen, including conference play, Stanford out rebounded everyone, especially the sisters Ogwumike (Ogwumikii, nicknamed by Cal Golden Blogs). Something had to give. Cal did an outstanding job boxing out and establishing position under the basket on both ends and keyed on keeping Nneka off the boards. When she did grab a rebound on offense, two players swarmed her and stripped her of the ball numerous times, taking away her ability to score. But Cal did such a great job keying on her, they left Chiney open to gobble up boards and put them back for points, hence the 27 points and 18 boards. The rebounding totals for the game were 47 for Cal and 51 for Stanford. From the stands, we thought Cal had the rebounding edge.

One team clawing back to force overtime:
That team was Cal, if you haven’t figured that out. The game was back and forth, and around the 12-minute mark in the second half, Stanford did their usual “take over” at Maples. Toni Kokenis hits a three pointer, the crowd of 6,000 goes crazy, steal and quick pass to Chiney for a lay up, crowd on their feet, time out by Cal Coach Lindsey Gottlieb, now fans giving energy and love communicating, oh yeah, we go this! But red Stanford hats off to Cal, they didn’t back down. Brittany kept driving and now she got help from Layshia Clarendon, who would drive in and pull up for a jumper near the foul line. In fact, that seemed to be the only play Cal could make, but it worked every time. And our guards can’t seem to jump to contest that shot, so they both scored that way. Clarendon scored 17, including a three-pointer with 36 seconds left to evaporate Stanford’s 11-point lead down to 2, 69-67. She also hit 2 free throws to send the game into overtime at 69.

But it was only her and Brittany in double figures; they needed one more scorer. Ditto for Stanford, the Ogwumikes were doing their part, and Toni Kokenis used her quickness to drive in and hit pull-up Js of her own and she scored 18. Again, 3 players scoring 57 of 74 points is troublesome. We need more balance. Quick side note, Stanford’s Hall of Fame Coach Tara VanDerveer inserted freshmen three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson at the five-minute mark in the second half and she hit two three-pointers in a span of 30 seconds to put Stanford up by 9 with 3:14 left. Unfortunately, it would be the last basket of the half for Stanford, letting Cal come back to force overtime, where Chiney’s basket and a free throw by her and one by Toni would hold up to just a 2-point basket for Cal. ‘Nother side note, why did Claredon get off two three-point shots in 9 seconds that would have forced a second over time? Someone guard her, please.

Cal’s rookie coach impresses:
Her game plan was to limit all-star Nneka Ogwumike and dare Stanford to beat them with other players. It almost worked. It wasn’t so much that Nneka had a bad game; it was that three blue shirts surrounded her at all times. They also stripped her off the ball if she grabbed a rebound, as we mentioned, and they did not let her get untracked near the basket on offense. Thank goodness for Chiney doing the heavy scoring and Toni being our third scorer. Third side note, Nneka came out for autographs and we asked her what Cal did to limit her game. She said they had three people on her at all times, but she was proud of the way Chiney stepped up. Then she said, she would rather take Chiney scoring all the points then a loss any day. Oh, BTW, Nneka moved past Val Whiting into fourth place on the Stanford all-time scoring list.

Whew, great win at Maples, but we can’t help but feel anxious for when we play Cal at their home the last game of the season.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Stanford-Cal Preview, Q & A Part II

And now, here is NorcalNick from Cal Golden Blogs with his answers to C and R’s Q’s:  (Oh, check out his blog with his questions about Cal-Stanford WBB and our answers plus Scott from Stanford’s Rule of Tree. Very informative. And Rule of Tree did their own Q and A with Cal Golden Blogs. C and R are getting dizzy.)

C & R Q: You have a new head coach, Lindsey Gottlieb (Who likes to use Twitter, no less, her handle is @CalcoachG), what type of energy does she bring to this team?
A: Well, in the literal sense she brings the energy of a new, fast-paced style of basketball that has the Bears racing up and down the court when given the chance. But in a metaphysical sense (that's what it's all about, right?) Coach Gottlieb seems to have brought a renewed sense of fun and confidence to the Bears. There were some chemistry issues last year, but team camaraderie and cohesiveness seems improved. Maybe the old adage about winning making everything better applies here.

The twitters and other social media outreach has been a fun bonus for the fans. We Bears don't have an embedded ESPN reporter like Stanford (so jealous!) but the staff has done a remarkable job keeping the fans informed and engaged to a team and sport that doesn't get much attention from mainstream media.

C & R Q: We’ve been hearing all about the one and only Brittany Boyd (her twitter handle no less, is @ONEandONLYbboyd, and we are sensing a theme). Just how good is she, and is she really Alexis Gray Lawson in disguise trying to have four more years of college eligibly?

She's an unbelievable amount of fun, because she plays with a flair and excitement that I find very infectious. Obviously as a freshman she presumably has not reached her full potential, but she has already shown a gifted ability to pass the ball, and her ability to get to the basket has added a dimension the Cal offense has generally lacked over the last few years.

The Alexis Gray-Lawson comparison is hard to avoid because of similar statures (Boyd is one inch taller), positions (guard), and backgrounds (East-Bay locals) but the main similarities they share is the aforementioned ability to drive to the basket. The point guard Boyd is a better passer while shooting-guard Gray-Lawson is the more gifted shooter. But despite the differences it warms the cockles of my heart to see a 5'7''/8'' guard barrelling through the lane with no fear.

C & R Q:  Nneka and Chiney clean up any and all rebounds. What do you see Cal doing to keep them off the boards? (Short of breaking legs?)

Frankly, this issue concerns me - not as a basketball fan, but as a member of the human race. If Gennifer Brandon and Nneka Ogwumike both jump for the same rebound, I fear the extreme physics involved may rip some kind of hole in the space-time continuum or create some kind of quantum vortex. Physicists from both campuses are researching preventative measures as we spea. From meta-physics to actual physics we go!

I think the reality is that both Cal and Stanford will get their fair share of rebounds, which probably benefits Stanford. I fear that Cal is much more dependant on their ability to control the boards to earn a win. But watching these two teams battle for missed shots is worth the price of admission alone.

C & R Q:  What’s with no last names on the home shirts? Can your uniform maker not spell? How will we tell whom Nneka is dunking over?

Well, being a public school, I'm guessing that the players huddled up and decided to forego names to save the taxpayers of our great state a few bucks on stitching. It's tough fiscal times and the Bears are nothing if not conscientiuos California citizens! (hee hee, good one, C and R).

C & R Q: Down by one against Washington State, Brittany Boyd loses her shoe but continues playing, passes and Cal scores, she gets an assist. Was that a planned ploy to distract the other team? (An our Toni Kokenis beat her to it last year, she ran so fast she ran right out of her shoe yet had the presence of mid to throw it back to the bench).

I think Brittany's game is all improv. If, in a split second decision, she decides her shoe needs to come off to make a play, then that shoe is coming off. Although now that I hear that Stanford has a similar issue, I think we may need to launch a shoelace investigation to prevent the scourge of loose laces from ever again terrorizing our basketball playing youth!

C & R Q:  Breaking news, Cal players campaigned on Twitter to get disco ball on bus on way to Stanford (no really, we saw it on Twitter, look in Coach G’s timeline!). Do you see that as a help or distraction?

My guess is that it depends on the song choices. If the team is getting properly pumped up it could be an advantage. Of course, my choice of pump up music is likely vastly different from your typical 19 year old woman, and also isn't the type of music that generally matches with a disco ball. My guess is that they coaches and players will take the chance to remind themselves of 'this is how we do it,' and then hopefully proceed to then 'do it.' It being winning, I would presume.

C & R Q: See ya at the game!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stanford-Cal Preview, Q & A Part I

And now, in honor of the Big Game, C and R present the 158th annual Q & A with Nick from Cal Golden Blogs. He asks the Q’s, C and R answer them. (Secretly, we think he just wants our Stanford blog to mention his Cal blog, hoping for bad karma or ju-ju or what have you, but I digress). Our questions to him are at the bottom, and we will publish tomorrow or whenever we get around to it. One note, usually his questions are funny and silly, so that's how we wrote ours. Then he writes these scholarly and insightful questions, like he’s been studying basketball or something. Ours look stupid by comparison. Oh well, when have we ever let that stop us! Enjoy.

1. I don't really think anybody has effectively slowed down the elder Ogwumike, but if it can be done, how would a team go about doing so?

A: Break her legs? Just kidding. No really, we kid, cuz then we would have to hunt you down and return the favor. Okay, real answer, and not that we are totally biased or anything, but Nneka is an unstoppable force! LOL. She has always been good around the basket, with an incredible vertical leap. This year she has gone out and got a soft-touch shot from about 15 feet or so. She has so many ways to score it’s not funny. She can drive to the basket, hit a pull up jumper, break your ankles with a move or just jump over your head. (She can grab a rebound and put it back up without touching the ground! Oh, and she can catch and shoot an alley-oop pass without touching the ground, too. Not very many women’s players can do that). C and R’s recommendation to stop her? Go out and kidnap Britteny Griner.

2. After the Ogwumikiis there hasn't been a ton of production (by Stanford's lofty standards, at least). Is that a case of a lack of opportunity, or a lack of the type of depth usually seen on the farm?

A: Haven’t you been reading our blog? All season long it has been the Nneka and Chiney show (no complaints here) and three warm bodies (tons of complaints here). There has been hardly any scoring production from anyone! Jos Tinkle was demoted this year and then cracked the starting lineup the last 3 games and is taking nothing for granted and playing much better. She is averaging about 8 points. Why isn’t anyone else scoring? We have been scratching our heads all year. Could it be the case of watching a talented superstar like Nneka and depending on her too much? Chiney is wily and creates most of her own opportunities and points on offensive rebounds. Not a lot of people can wrestle a rebound like Chiney, not even Tinkle. We hope this lack of scoring by others is something super-genius Tara VanDerveer can solve. BTW, Sisters Ogwumikii? We like that, patent pending.

3. What's the best way to attack Stanford's defense? Drive-and-dish? Entry passes to the post? You have to give us something!

A: Well geez, why should we help Cal? Hee hee. Okay, you twisted our arm. This year, super genius Tara VanDerveer has been experimenting with different defenses, so that makes it harder for teams to prepare for what might happen, as opposed to relying heavily on man to man. Heck, we have even seen some1-3-1, and against one of the Washington schools, they used some sort of “Buzz” defense. So Cal needs to be prepared for many looks, not just one or two. Okay, that was a cop out. Here’s a better hint, attack the weakest player on the floor.

4. Stanford has their usual crop of highly rated freshmen, but I haven't seen any of them yet because they're too young to play much in the biggest televised games. What are your thoughts on the freshmen?

A: Well, two are hurt and gone for the season (Alex Green and Jasmine Camp). Jasmine Camp was the “it” freshmen for a while before she was hurt, now it is Amber Orrrrange (just kidding on the spelling, it’s really just 2 “R”s). She is a good playmaker, but not a huge scoring threat. Bonnie Samuelson has this CRAZY 3-point shot with a super fast release, but only goes in the hoop in games that are not close. Not so much when the game is on the line. Taylor Grenfield and Erica Payne play forward and although they look good, they don’t score and look like they are still trying to figure out the game. Don’t expect to see much of them if the game is close. Tara trusts Ogwunikiis, Tinkle, Toni, and subs out the fifth spot.
5. Any predictions? (Score or otherwise.)
A: Um, Stanford is going to win?

Sorry, that was cheesy, but it is Maples and if you can’t stop Nneka (one team triple teamed her and she still scored!!), it’s all over but the shouting. We predict Nneka will throw us a victory ball (hint, hint!).

Questions for Cal Blog:

You have a new head coach, Lindsey Gottlieb (Who likes to use Twitter, no less, her handle is @CalcoachG), what type of energy does she bring to this team?

We’ve been hearing all about the one and only Brittany Boyd (her twitter handle no less, is @ONEandONLYbboyd, and we are sensing a theme). Just how good is she, and is she really Alexis Gray Lawson in disguise trying to have four more years of college eligibility?

Nneka and Chiney clean up any and all rebounds. What do you see Cal doing to keep them off the boards? (Short of breaking legs?)

What’s with no last names on the home shirts? Can your uniform maker not spell? How will we tell whom Nneka is dunking over?

Down by one against Washington State, Brittany Boyd loses her show but continues playing, passes and Cal scores, she gets an assist. Was that a planned ploy to distract the other team? (An our Toni Kokenis beat her to it last year, she ran so fast she ran right out of her shoe yet had the presence of mind to throw it back to the bench).

Breaking news, Cal players campaigned on Twitter to get disco ball on bus on way to Stanford (no really, we saw it on Twitter, look in Coach G’s timeline!). Do you see that as a help or distraction?

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stanford Starts Slow, Then Beats Washington

You want an analysis of Stanford’s 65-47 win over Washington?  Just dig up any article on their win Thursday over Washington State, rinse and repeat. Stanford started out slow in the first half, couldn’t get it inside to the dynamic duo of POY contender Nneka Ogwumike and her athletic sister Chiney, and couldn’t hit their outside shots (shooting just 23% from behind the line in the first half), and took a slight 27-20 lead into the locker room. Then half time came and Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer had a(n intense) talk with the team and they came out in the second half and hit threes to open up the middle and then Nneka took over inside. Another Pac-12 win for Stanford.

Well, there are some slightly different details. One, they couldn’t get it inside because of Washington’s Regina Rodgers. She is a big presence in the middle and very physical, often wrestling with Nneka for position. It was only when Rogers went to the bench with in the second half that Nneka could get untracked.

Let’s talk about Regina Rogers for a moment. She came in averaging over 16 points for Washington and is their best scorer. Stanford held her to 5 total points, mostly by one on one defense by Nneka and weak side help from others when Rogers touched the ball. But that’s not the point C and R want to talk about.

Let’s back up a bit. C and R missed the first half of this game (and quite a few other Stanford games this season) due to a conflict with the little girl’s team we coach. A commitment is a commitment. These middle school age girls play in the local rec league. They are not destined to play at Division I Stanford or probably play college basketball at any level. Most of these girls just play the sport in the winter, 8 weeks worth, and then forget about it. They are not year-round warriors or typical gym rats Six of the ten girls on our team do not play other sports at all. One girl has never played basketball before and we had to start with, first you dribble the ball when you move, you cannot keep running with the ball.

One of the girls who plays no other sports has a hard time catching the ball. She mentally is afraid of the ball, and that is tough to overcome. If she has never practiced it, and is fearful already, it makes sense she is behind some of the other girls. It is our jobs as coaches to put her in to a position to succeed. We tell our guards to dribble closer and bounce pass to our “centers” so the throw is not so high or scary coming at her head (she is tall and in that group, and this way we are not singling her out). We work on catching with her every practice. We have everyone take 5 minutes to throw the ball against the wall as hard as they can and the other partner has to catch it with both hands. You can try to make the partner miss, so we encourage them to make their throws hard and at an angle so the other partner has to move to catch it. Everyone loves this drill. 

In our game on Saturday, several passes came her way and she fumbled the out of bounds. One of the parents on our team loudly and sharply criticized her with each missed opportunity, to the point he was ridiculing her. She is 12 yeas old. He was holding up a yardstick that we often use to measure pro players, and applying it to someone not even close to that level. And he was picking on someone who is much younger, in a sense, unable to defend herself. Self esteem for a budding middle school girl is still developing and it is crucial it not be smashed by a thoughtless parent shooting off his mouth. We have asked our head coach numerous times talk to him, but as you can imagine, to no avail.

So how does this apply to Stanford basketball? Glad you asked. When we first started this blog about 5 or 6 years ago, we also used the pro yardstick to measure Stanford players. We would criticize, why is she in the line up, she’s useless. OMG, did you see that air ball last night? She calls herself a basketball player? Harsh, indeed. Then we got to know the players as young women off the court. And we met their parents. When you shake a dad’s hand and look him in the eye and tell them how much you admire their daughter, it is really hard to point out every flaw and mistake and bad shot she made in the game last night. So we backed off on personal criticism about the player. Now, don’t get us wrong, C and R are not going all soft on ya. We still worry when Nneka, Chiney and a third player have seven-eighths of the points and everyone else has zeros, kinda like this game.(this time it was Nneka, Chiney and Taylor Greenfield with 44 of the 65 points). We have just made a conscious effort not to criticize personally or so harshly. I think it was Tara VanDerveer who said something like, “our job as coaches is to minimize players mistakes, and that’s the very nature of 18 to 22 year old girls but to make mistakes.”

So back to the Stanford-Washington Game (finally, some of you are saying). Regina Rodgers is a big presence inside we reported. We mean, she is big. She is 6’3, and well, she is about 75 pounds overweight. All of it in her stomach. It limits her ability to move quickly up and down the court. How can someone play Division I basketball and be that out of shape? And are we using an unfair yardstick to even mention her weight as a factor? We have seen some players be a “little out of shape” meaning they have some extra pounds around the middle. And we have seem many different body shapes, some happen to be shorter and stockier the others, but this seems out of control. Would this be talked about if she were on the men’s team? Your thoughts, readers?

Anyway, back to the Washington game. In the second half, Stanford made an effort to hit threes to open up the middle. Freshmen Taylor Greenfield responded by hitting 3 three-pointers to spark a 17-3 rally. She would end up with 12 points for the game. Nneka scored most of her 17 points for the game in the time frame, and Chiney got 15 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double.

Really scary moment when Nneka got pushed out of bounds, crumpled to the ground and held her shin in obvious agony. The refs stopped play and sister Chiney was the first one back to help her up. Reading Nneka’s lips, she said plaintively, “she pushed me!” Quoted in the Stanford site, Nneka shed more light on the play, “I was pushed into a screen and kind of fell over someone’s leg. It T-boned my leg.” She was subbed out around the 9-minute mark.

But here’s the thing (And we feel like we can criticize coach VanDerveer, she’s a grown-up), Stanford was up by 18 when Nneka went out limping. Taylor Greenfield promptly hit a three with her on the bench and Stanford was up by 21. Yet 2 minutes later, Nneka is reinserted back onto the line up. Why? Why risk losing your star player? She was obviously limping after each play. She did go on to score 8 more points to get to her 17. She finally was subbed out with about a minute left, and the lead was exactly at 20 again. C and R are surprised and confounded coach VanDerveer would risk her, and the season, that way. 

Nneka did pass Nicole Powell for fifth on the Stanford all-time scoring list, and needs 5 more to take over 4th place. One might think Tara left in her for records, but watching Tara over the years, she usually does not care about the records, and coaches each game by inserting the best players to win the game (or rest some to give others experience.) Nneka usually averages about 29 minutes a game and is routinely rested in blowouts, when she could be kept into up her scoring average. So it’s strange she continued to play.

Hope she is better and not limping for next week’s home game against Cal.

Side notes:
Sarah Boothe did not dress for the game, we haven’t found out why yet. Freshmen guard Amber Orrrrange, recently inserted into the starting lineup, had a season-high 9 assists, 4 steals and 4 points.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stanford Starts Slow, Then Beats Washington State

It was a dark and stormy night… and the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team was out of sync, not even a mouse. Whoops, wait, wrong appropriated story fragment. But it was such a weird night for all and to all a good night.

Stanford beat visiting Pac-12 foe Washington State 75-41, and although they brought some rain with them, the “storm” they promised never really happened. And the storm on the court never happened, either. Yes, a win is a win, and numbers don’t lie. Here they are. Stanford extended their school-record home wining streak to 72 games. Stanford won their 64th straight conference game. Washington State has never beaten Stanford, a streak going back 53 games. Stanford held Washington State to 27% shooting in the first half, 30% for the game. Stanford went on a 16-2 run to close out the first half. Player of the year candidate Nneka Ogwumike scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 29 minutes, for a double-double.  Sister Chiney scored 19 and had 12 rebounds for a double-double, too.

But… halftime score was 31-20, and Stanford looked ragged for most of the first half. Nneka had only 2 points in the first 7 minutes when she sank 2 free throws, and Washington State had the lead until the 5 and a half minute mark in the first. When your star scorer, who you depend upon the most, only has 4 points in the first 10 minutes of basketball, you know something is not right. And when the Stanford Tree Mascot only has one eye, you really know something is not right in the State of Denmark and Maples.
Stanford could not get the ball inside to Nneka or Chiney, and our guards were having trouble dribble penetrating. And they missed18 of their first 24 shots in that time span, thank you Stanford website for the stats.

And then the threes were not falling. Stanford was 4-20 for the night from behind the line. At one point, three-point specialist Bonnie Samuleson shot the ball three times in a row, and missed three times in a row. Of course that means we rebounded the ball after each miss and got it back out to her, but to miss so many wide-open shots is inexcusable.

It was a sloppy game for both teams. Washington had 18 turnovers and Stanford was close behind with 15. Still, Stanford came back from the dead in around the 6 and half-minute mark to go on the aforementioned 16-2 run. Toni Kokenis got a buzzer beater lay up to pad their halftime lead to 11.

In the second half, after a thorough discuss by Stanford had coach Tara VanDerveer we’re sure, they played better. Stanford opened the half on a 24-6 tear to give everyone some breathing room. Nneka had 9 points in the first 12 minutes of the half. Speaking of which, she became sixth on the all-time Stanford scoring chart tonight. She can pass others on Saturday. Another bright spot was the play of Jos Tinkle, getting another start and scoring 9 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.

Well, let’s hope Stanford comes out with more energy and intensity for Washington.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stanford Beats Colorado by a Mile

Utah, Colorado, a mile high, seal level, doesn’t matter, the Stanford Women’s Basketball team just keeps rolling along and winning games. This time Stanford met new Pac-12 foe Colorado and even though a sign in the Denver locker room advised against strenuous activity in the gym because of high altitude, Stanford prevailed 80-54.

Of course it helps if your defense holds the home time to 6.7% shooting in the first ten minutes. Yes folks, that is not a typo; Stanford’s defense held Colorado to 1-15 shooting. The first points for Colorado came at the 13-minute mark and it was 2 free throws. Then Colorado got their first basket at 11 and a half-minute mark , making it 11-4. Colorado would improve to 20% shooting for the half.

Stanford got a scare about four minutes into the game when Stanford superstar All-Everything Nneka Ogwumike tripped and fell out of bounds, hurting her right ankle. Although we didn’t get the televised game, the KSZU announcer said she was in obvious pain. She went to the bench, luckily with Stanford leading 7-0, but surprisingly both she and her scoring sister had zero points so far. Nneka had her ankle taped and returned mid way through the first half. Stanford didn’t need her. When she sat down for good around the five and a half-minute mark in the second half she had a pedestrian 15 points.

It was great to see sister Chiney step up and score when sister Nneka was on the bench. And speaking of sisters, Colorado has sisters, too, Ashley and Brittany Williams. It seems to be a Pac-12 requirement these days. So Chiney picked up the scoring slack early in the first half and then Nneka returned. And then our KSZU feed went out. Then we got it back. Then it was 30-11, Stanford with about 3 minutes to go.
Fun fact, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer has been tinkering with her line up (tinkering with Tinkle specifically), adding Joslyn Tinkle and freshmen guard Amber Orrrrange to the starting line up. She did this in Utah and got the win, and again for this game and Tinkle scored 12 in the first half, making Tara yet again look like a genius. The half ended with Stanford up 32-15, and Tinkle was high scorer with 12 points.

It still is a little troubling to C and R to see the first half stats as this:
Tinkle- 12
Chiney- 8
Nneka- 6
Toni Kokenis-6
Everyone else zero
Only 4 players scored in first half
Okay, only 3 other bench players came in the game, but they have to score something
Amber Orrrrange, a starter- 0
Lindy LaRocque- 0
Sarah Boooohte- 0
You can’t go zeros.

In the second half, the only suspense was who would end up the high scorer. Most games, it defaults to Nneka. Her sister is usually close behind. Jos Tinkle had a head start on everyone from the first half for this game. Chiney came on strong on the second and would end up with 19. Guard Toni Kokenis, who got her groove back this road trip and scored a lot of Utah, also had 19. But it was Tinkle holding on with 20, making 2 of 3 three-pointers and tying her career high for points. And for the first time in a long time, Stanford has 4 players in double figures, and the amounts were high, 20,19,19, and 15.

Which brings us to even more troubling the final stats:
Four players, 20,19,19, 15 for a total of 73 points, 7 for everyone else.

After the game Head Coach Tara VanDerveer said this about Nneka when she hurt her ankle, “She tweaked her ankle, but we are not a one player team.” Hmm, some games it sure seems like it, although it was good to see Tinkle contribute more. Hopefully coach will start her more, too.
Stanford comes home for the next 3 games, including Cal!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stanford Beats Utah

New Pac-12 foe, same old results. Stanford beat Utah on their home court 62-43. Since it wasn’t televised, and since C and R were at our little girl’s game (Same old results for us too, leading the whole game and then lost by a basket, and boy do we need to work on rebounding), we don’t have much to say about the game, but when has that ever stopped us, so here goes:

Same old high scorer for Stanford, Nneka Ogwumike, with 18 points and 13 minutes in 31 minutes. Same old sis Chiney had 11 points and 13 rebounds for a double trouble double –double. What was new was Toni Kokenis showing up for the game. Wait, we didn’t mean that to sound as mean as it sounded. Toni and her points have been AWOL the last few games and if we are going to be a team that has Nneka and Chiney doing all the scoring, we at least need a third scoring threat. Tonight it was Toni, who contributed 13. Freshie Amber Orrrrange added 8.

As much as we love to talk about scoring or lack thereof, it sounds like it was a defensive game, notably for Stanford. Here’s Nneka talking, from the official Stanford site:
"We don't panic. We just keep doing what we're doing. They were playing us very well in the beginning. It was a bruiser type of game, with lot of physicalness, and we did a good job of pulling away."

Wait, that wasn’t it. Try this line from the official site: Stanford held Utah to just 28 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range. The Cardinal took advantage on the other end, connecting on 43 percent of their field goals.

Next up is Colorado, who actually has a record of 13-2 so it could be a good game. One of their losses is to Cal.  It is listed as on TV, but it is a Denver station. So Gametracker, All Accees for a fee or good ol’ KSZU.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stanford Saved by Nneka Ogwumike Once Again

Why is it whenever C has a continuing education class (And I do seem to need a lot of them!), they take place during a Stanford Women’s Basketball Game? Do the Cont Ed people grab a Stanford schedule and plan this out on purpose? Anyhoo, C had to miss the CLOSEST game this season (heck we beat Tenn by more) in a 67-60 win over Oregon State. R was there and here is her report. All typos are C’s, though.

And not only did I miss the game (This is C continuing, sorry, not ready to turn it over to R yet), I missed my all time fave player Nneka Ogwumike set not one but two, two milestones. She got 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She is the 7th 2,000 point scorer for Stanford, and  the fifth with 1,000 rebounds, joining Kayla Pedersen, (1,266), Jayne Appel (1,263), Nicole Powell (1,143) and Val Whiting (1,134). However, she is the first Stanford player to do both those feats in one game (that I missed). Anyway, heeeeere’s R:

At the onset of the game we were celebrating Dog Lovers; soon we would be celebrating Nneka Ogwumike who hit her 2000th point and grabbed her 1000th rebound -- as our Candice Wiggins Tweeted she did it, “the Stanford way, she’s so legit!” (R had to both tweet and report on this game while eating a hot dog--multi-tasking is so hard for us!)

Back to the dogs; dozens of dogs were dressed as fans --  I especially liked the scrunchy-faced dog wearing the ‘We Back Pat’ towel. One beautiful pit bull enthusiastically licked her owner’s face but I still gave her a wide berth to my seat.

In the first few minutes of the game, our offense was, you guessed it, Nneka, Nneka, more Nneka, and only Nneka. She had the first 8 Stanford points. Then she felt the pressure as her team kept feeding her inside (whether for the records or because we didn’t feel good about our other options, I don’t know), and she shot a couple of uncharacteristic air balls and even missed an alley-oop. I was beginning to wonder if anyone else would ever score for Stanford.  Finally, a 3 pointer is made by the freshman Samuelson to accompany Nneka’s first 8 points.

However, Nneka is not one of these selfish, give me the ball type players. Early on, Nneka did a nice little bounce pass to Tinkle under the basket.  Assist Nneka, bucket Tinkle plus one from the free throw line – nice 3-point play, and smart to get others involved.

On the other end of the court we gasped as Nneka snatched the rebound with one hand while floating a foot above her opponent, a much taller Beaver. Her sister Chiney, scoreless in the first half, wanted a piece of the action so she fouled a Beaver hard – so hard, she knocked her own contact lens out! That’s a first!

The Beavers had intensity and good shooting.  Their 3-point specialist, Sage Indendi, made a quick 3 in the first few minutes. I was very impressed with Oregon State’s coach. He had his team ready to play. Wish I could say the same for Tara VanDerveer. Although she did own up to it in the post-game press conference saying, her team “played casual” and “lacked intensity.”

Halftime, Stanford is down 35 – 31, say what? C called in during her break and couldn’t believe it!

OSU catches on it is the Nneka show and decides to triple team Nneka. Not double team, triple team, and yet Nneka still scores! She was amazing.  How amazing? She scored 33 for the night and grabbed 16 boards. Sister Chiney, humbled by not scoring any in the first half and losing that contact, comes back with a vengeance in the second half and adds 20 points and 10 rebounds. Double doubles for double-trouble, again.

Double troubling was the sister combined scored 53 combined points. Fifty-Three. Out of Sixty-Seven for the team. Not good. Next closest scorer was Tinkle with 5. F-I-V-E. Lindy, Toni and Bonnie each had 3. And that’s it. Very troubling indeed.

The Beavers also have the Pac-12 leading blocker Patricia Bright, averaging 3.8 blocks per game this season.  Well, the first several blocks were by our sisters Ogwumike and the most awe-inspiring by our Nneka – sending the ball back 10 feet. Maples must be defended, I heard one fan yell.

Patricia Bright DID have a few early blocks on Chiney, but ended up fouling out midway through the second half – our Band verbally marching her off the court. Brutal.

We began to dominate and gain confidence cheering Nneka’s milestones.  She joins Jayne Appel, Nicole Powell, and Val Whiting who have scored 2000 points and collected 1000 rebounds during their play on the Farm.
Although the game was a little too exciting (potentially jeopardizing our home-game winning streak), we get to place a W in Result column. UConn wasn’t so lucky. They lost in OT to Notre Dame 74-67 today.

Our little girls won their game tonight and we went out for pizza. Then we played kick the can in the parking lot by the liquor store. (C ran so hard she nearly threw up her pizza… but you didn’t want to know that). Such warm and fond memories we are creating for them!

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stanford Bombs Oregon

Oregon’s Paul Westhead is a good coach. ‘Course, Stanford’s head coach is no slouch either. But Oregon doesn’t have quite the talent, or, say, a Nneka like Stanford does. He does play a certain style and sticks to it, and that style is fast. He dictated the flow of the Oregon-Stanford game, pushing the ball and constantly subbing in fresh legs. ‘Course again, Stanford has some speedsters, too, and could match them stride for stride.

In Stanford’s practices, when they run sprints, guess who wins then all? Sophomore speedster Toni Kokenis, you might guess. Anyone of the freshmen guards who are lightening quick? Nope, you’re wrong on both accounts. The answer is senior Nneka Ogwumike. She is the fastest Stanford player, so running on Stanford is hard to do. And Nneka loooooves a challenge, She rose to the tune of 32 points and 15 rebounds tonight. She has a double-double after the first 11 minutes. She was amazing. At one point she went so high for a rebound, the crowd gasped. Jos Tinkle threw her an alley-oop pass and the olny reason she didn’t make it was because she was fouled in the air. C and R love the fact Stanford even has that in their playbook. Most women’s basketball teams can’t even attempt that. Oh, Nneka scored 17 points and had 11 rebounds by half. A good amount for anyone playing 40 minutes, let alone 20.

More good news in that Stanford had other people step up tonight besides someone named Ogwumike. (Sister Chiney had a respectable 12 rebounds and 9 points). Freshmen Bonnie Samuelson, who probably won’t win most sprints, popped 6 threes, 5 in the first half for 18 total points. Another freshmen Taylor Greenfield also had a great night, scoring 17. So it was good to see others contributing.

And how, Stanford set a team record for attempting 42 three-point shots. Forty-Two! They made 14, but still. Again, this was because of Paul Westhead. Oregon came into the game as one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation, having attempted 158 more three-point shots than Stanford. They attempted just 17 tonight. Heck, Bonnie shot 13 for Stanford. Weird that Stanford only went to the line 5 times, missing 2, and why are they still missing free throws? Guess Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer wanted to concentrate on the outside game tonight. Also weird in that Toni Kokenis was not all there tonight, in that she only made 1 out of 10 shots, a three-pointer. She has been consistently driving to the basket and scoring over 10 points a game.

And what is up with the Erica Payne experiment? Tara has her playing some point again in the second half when Stanford was up by 20 or more points. Of course, with all the subs, Stanford had five players on the court that were all over 6 feet and someone had to bring the ball up.

So as we said, Oregon dictated this game. Even though Stanford enjoyed a double-digit lead for starting 2 and a half minutes into the game, it never felt like Stanford was in control or was just going to cruise. Oregon didn’t back down. The half time score was 43-31, and Oregon went on a mini spurt to end the half, chipping away at Stanford lead that was 21 and got it to a respectable 12 points.

Not to make excuses, but Oregon was playing hurt. Their best player, 6-2 senior Amanda Johnson was out with a broken left thumb. In addition, senior point guard Nia Jackson had sore knees, and sophomore Deanna Weaver missed practice time with a hurt ankle.

Hold the phone. Did we just say Deanna Weaver? Deanna Weaver, the pride of Wilcox High School right here in Santa Clara? (Okay, my son goes to Wilcox, and although they have a rich sports program, we are a small public school and everyone plays multiple sports instead of concentrating on one sport year around and rarely does anyone from here go DI in anything, so hats off to her). In fact, my son had to play capture the flag against the women’s basketball team one gym period three years ago and he said those women were big and fast and destroyed the guys. Hee hee! You go, Deanna! She scored 8 in the first half in front of hometown fans and finished with 16 for the game. Santa Clara in da house!

Stat Alert:
Nneka needs 3 rebounds to get to 1,000 career boards. Bring your cameras Saturday for the game against Oregon State.

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