Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stanford Seniors Remain Unbeaten at Home

Just got back from watching the Stanford Women’s Basketball beat…Seattle? A rare non-conference game during conference play. The two teams have never played each other. Stanford has a 79-straight game wining streak going on at Maples, longest in the country. Seattle is making the three-year transition from Division II to Division I. C and R were so confused when Betty, the Maples announcer, kept saying Seattle’s team name, we thought she was saying “The Red Hots” instead of Redhawks, all one word.

Subbing in for the Red hots….
Foul on number 11 of the Red Hots...
30-second shot clock violation on the Red Hots….
You get the idea.

Even though senior night already happened on Saturday, there was no way the Stanford seniors were going to lose this last home game of the season. In fact they built a 14 point lead with 7 minutes to go on the first to make it very clear who was boss. But Seattle didn’t get the memo. Maybe not being beat year in and year out by Stanford, they were not intimidated. They hustled after loss balls (while Stanford seemed flat-footed) and applied a trapping half court defense that exposed the Card being a little too casual with the ball. In fact Stanford recorded 9 turnovers in the first. Seattle would cut Stanford’s lead to 6 before Stanford woke up and realized they were for real.

The score at the half was 43-29, Stanford. Freshmen Amber Orrrrange had a great first half scoring 8 points by attacking the basket. She would finish the game with 10 points and a season high 9 assists. She added 5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot, too.

The second half was all Ogwumike. Senior Nneka Ogwumike, who was seemed a little off in the first would come to life in the second. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Nneka scored 5 points and sophomore sister Chiney scored 6 straight to go on a 14-5 run and extend their lead 59-36. Chiney would end the game with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Nneka would have 19 points and 11 rebounds, for a double-double. That would make her 15th double-double of the season and 47 th of her career.

Again, though, C and R do not like the offensive set in the first half. We saw that one-four, the guard bringing the ball up and 4 in a line near the three-point line. Every once in a while Nneka or Chiney would break to the basket and Amber would hit them. When Seattle went to their half court trap, Stanford went to 3 perimeter players with Nneka and Chiney taking turns flashing from the block to the free throw line. Options looked pretty limited but in the second half as Seattle tired, and Nneka and Chiney scored at will, hence the 14-5 run. Still, as one fan yelled out to the perimeter players who stood in their spots instead of moving without the ball, “You won’t beat Baylor that way.” Forget Baylor, we still have to get past Cal on Sunday, and then the Pac-12 tourney.

To stop our harping for a moment, Stanford did hit 7 of 16 three-pointers, for 43%. Noted three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson hit 4 of them herself for 12 total points. Jos Tinkle hit 2 out of 3 from beyond the arc, and ended up with 14 points. Once again, Stanford had 4 players, all starters, in double figures. And that will beat Baylor.

Visibly hurt was the fifth starter Toni Kokenis. She rode a stationary bike when not in the game and seemed to walk with a limp. Last game she had a heating pad (or ice) on her thigh. She would still turn on her jets when needed, but she doesn’t seem right. Hopefully she can rest for a few days.
Cute Game Note:

Sometime in the second half, mini tree came out to dance, and danced just like Poppa tree. The Stanford Tree Mascot has a cone of wires strapped to back pack frame (we surmise) and min-tree was wearing an inverted tomato cage with green leafs. It was A-Dor-able! See SGC72’s photo:

Happy Leap Year and see you at Cal! Expect some Questions from Cal Golden Blogs soon.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stanford Seniors Get Win Over Utah

Stanford Women’s Basketball celebrated Senior Night in style, with a win and sending this group of seniors out without ever losing on their home court. Well, small technicality, Seattle University comes in here Wednesday, but everyone is already looking past them to the Pac-12 tournament. And there is that away game vs. a surging Cal, currently number 2 in the Pac-12 Stanford will have to contend with. But for now, the night belonged to the seniors.

Some senior stats: 127-11 overall record. Never lost at Maples. Went to 3 Final Fours (and counting). Have achieved 3 conference championships (and counting) and 3 conference tournament championships (and counting). Pretty impressive.

Back to Saturday’s game, Stanford sure can play some D, as Utah learned. Utah’s first 2 possessions resulted in a game shot violation. They were so harassed by Stanford’s man-to-man that they didn’t even realize that time was running out. The third time down the Stanford band helpfully chanted the clock seconds off to them, starting at 30. They missed that basket, too. In fact, Utah first scored 5 minutes into the contest and had just 6 points at the 10-minute mark. Fifteen minutes into the contest, they were still at 6 points. Now that is some stifling defense. Stanford had 27 at the same juncture.

Utah did a little better the last 5 minutes, and went into the locker room down 36-14. What does a coach say when down by 22? To the Utah coach’s credit, he did get a technical at 2:22 seconds left in the first for arguing with the refs, perhaps to try and fire his team up. All it did was have Stanford’s Jos Tinkle knock both of the shots.

Stanford was still auditioning its new offense. And although there was more movement away from the ball, it still didn’t look smooth. C and R did like freshmen starting guard Amber Orrrrange driving and attacking the basket. She would finish with 12 points. And hey, this was the first time in a long time where Stanford had 4, count ‘em, 4 players in double figures. The talented Ogwumike sisters of Nneka and Chiney had 15 and 16 points, respectively. Chiney had 12 rebounds to make it a double-double night for her.  Jos Tinke would round out the quartet, also adding 12 points and a rebound away from a double-double. And all four are starters, so yay, hopefully this trend will continue. Final score was Stanford 69, Utah 42.

C and R will say one thing about Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, she wants to win games and she is not sentimental, hence her 700th Stanford win tonight. Even though she has 4 seniors on the team, she only started one, Nneka. Sarah Boothe was hurt, to be sure, and Grace Mashore is not utilized much, but Lindy Larocque comes off the bench, she could have gotten a start. Still, with the game well in hand and a 25 point lead and one and a half minutes left, Tara but in all 4 seniors to play with each other. Then she took out superstar Nneka for a standing ovation.

The crowd loves Nneka, not just because she carries the team on her back game after game with her scoring and is a serious contender for player of the year, but also because she is just so warm and wonderful to talk to. So when there was a high loose ball and Nneka leaped up far for it and got side swiped and crashed to the floor, all of Maples had their hearts in their throats, because if Nneka goes, there goes Stanford’s season. Luckily she got up, though in obvious pain. Another time in the second half she made a steal and as the ball was going out of bounds, she dove after it and crashed into the press table. Again, Nneka, we implore you, please save yourself for the tourney!

After the game, the seniors go to walk with their family members and get a bouquet and a hug from Tara (and was Tara crying when she hugged Nneka?). Then the crowd gathered across the way to hear stories told on the seniors. A family member got to speak and then an underclassman got to reminiscence about the player.

We learned Grace Mashore was “not so nice” in preschool. We learned Lindy was a true coaches daughter, and at age 10 questioned why her Dad didn’t have his best player take the last shot in a tie game after the play broke down (She will always be linked to the “Lindy Slide” play that broke Cal’s back). We learned Boothe is “Mama Boothe” and looks after all the other players.

With Nneka, we learned she was full of energy and learned to roll when she was 4 months old. Hey, a girl has to get around somehow. And she was a fun and fun-loving big sister to 3 younger siblings, one who currently plays for Stanford with her and two more that Tara V hopes will follow in their footsteps. Nneka’s Mom told the story of going to the store one day and coming home to a hole on the wall. The explanation dutifully stuck to was the sisters were vacuuming and “accidentally” put the hole there. It wasn’t until years later they fessed up told Mom they had sledded down the stairs and right into the wall. Tara was sure it was Chiney’s idea, the resident class clown, but she assured us it was Nneka, the somewhat rebellious one back then.

Little sister Chiney told of Nneka’s energy and rambunctiousness that got them “sent to private school.” Their mother was constantly looking for activities to keep them busy, such as gymnastics, and then one day sent them to basketball practice. The sisters had never played nor watched a game and when asked to do the simple “weave” drill, they were dumbfounded. Nneka had to try “and looked like a fool” remembered sister Chiney, and came up with a solution of her own, which was to hide out in the bathroom for an hour. But she said Nneka persevered and showed her the way and brought them both to a sport they love and excel in. It was a touching tribute to a wonderful day.

Senior Video Tribute:

Come on out for Wednesday’s game and the REAL last home game of the senior’s career!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Stanford Keeps Home Streak Alive by Beating Colorado

The Stanford Women’s Basketball team got the win and the score looks like a blow out: 68 for Stanford, 46 for Colorado, and yet….Look, it’s hard to complain about a 20-something  point win, but C and R are troubled by this new Stanford offense.

Let’s start at the beginning. The game at Maples was lightly attended due to the school night start, but after the tip, Stanford was all business, on defense that is. They wanted to defend Maples, now that they own the longest home win streak due to a UConn loss, of all things, and the intensity showed. However, the offense stalled.

The half time score was 26-18, and the only reason Stanford had the lead was because Colorado also shoot poorly (33% for Colorado, 31.6% for Stanford) and sank no threes. And Stanford’s stifling defense made it hard to go inside. Stanford would have 6 blocks for the game, to none for Colorado. So what was going on with Stanford’s offense?

Stanford was lining up in a high line somewhere between the free throw line and the top of the three-point circle. The guard would bring the ball up, and, we think, quick passes at the top of the key were to ensue. If passing quickly enough, someone would be open for a three-pointer, or the constantly shifting defense would make a mistake and leave someone (such as Nneka or Chiney Ogwumike) open inside for a second.

It reminded C and R of the Stanford women’s soccer games we saw this season (shout out to their winning the Nat. Championship, BTW). The soccer tem played possession soccer, having the back line furthest from the goal hold, hold, hold the ball, constantly passing in a straight line parallel to the goal instead of attacking it, until the other team got lulled to sleep and boom, one of the back line players would kick it up to a streaking offensive player and then a goal. It worked really well.

The only problem with duplicating that strategy in basketball is there is a shot clock. You can’t just hold, hold the ball. The soccer players also moved with the ball, even if was only laterally. Stanford basketball players must have been instructed to hold the ball and pass quickly, and not dribble or move. Which they did, to their determent. It would be when the shot clock got down to under 10 seconds with no one open that someone, would try to drive in against two or three defenders. Did we mention they shot 31% in the half? And only made one three-pointer? The passes were not quick enough to free anyone up. Colorado was also trying to make a statement that they weren’t backing down on Stanford’s home court. They were very physical, however that strategy got their players into foul trouble, and an early shooting bonus for Stanford.

When Stanford did get it down inside to the sisters, or needed someone to drive Nneka or Chiney would make the moves and/or get fouled. The first six points were all made free throws, made by the Ogwumikes. In fact, the sisters O made the first 14 of 16 points.

The team also seemed to be getting used to where everyone was supposed to go in this new offense, and a lot of turnovers happened. Fifteen in the first half alone. Some could be attributed to Colorado’s quick hands, but the majority were passes that missed their mark. Stanford head Coach Tara VanDerveer must have addressed that at half time in the locker room, because only four more occurred in the second half.

Speaking of the second half, the team came out of the locker room to practice mid range shots. The first play of the game had Nneka hitting an outside shot just inside the three-point line. Someone joked that for a center that usually plays around the basket, she will be hitting threes before the season is over.

Then the sisters just took it inside. Together they scored 22 points in the second, from driving or being fouled, and the rest of the team scored 20. They got the lead up to 35 points with just 9 and a half minutes remaining. In that same time period, Colorado had just scored 6 points, making those keeping score at home 59-24. Stanford sank a season-high 27 free throws in 33 attempts. The Ogwumikes went to the line for 22 of those attempts.

An yet… Stanford would close out the game by scoring only nine more points in a little less than ten minutes left in the game, after having a 33-point outburst in the first ten minutes of the second. It’s a head-scratcher.

It was nice to see freshmen guard Amber Orrrrange drive the lane in the second half. She’s got some speed and some fearlessness. She would end up with seven points for the night. Lindy Lacque would connect on two three-pointers, plus a foul when shooting one of them. She made  the free throw to also finish with seven. More troubling was the fact that Stanford would make just three three-pointers for the evening, yet took 17 shots from behind the line.

Jos Tinkle would contribute a healthy eight points. Nneka scored 23 points with 11 rebounds, for double-double, and sister Chiney would have 18 points and seven rebounds, seeing her minutes limited in the first by foul trouble. Oh, shout out to Chiney for doing a Nneka. A Nneka is catching an alley-oop pass and shooting it before landing back on the floor. It was great to see it run so perfectly, and glad to know we have another payer who can execute it besides Nneka.

Speaking of Nneka, she moved up to number two in the all-time scoring list for Stanford. She passed Kate Starbird in this game, and currently has 2,230 points. Number one is the untouchable Candice Wiggins, who has 400 or so more points than Nneka, so as much as we love Nneka, we don’t think she’s gonna do it.

It was fun to see the team don their Pac-12 Champion T-shirts and pose for photos with the Pac-12 regular season trophy after the game. Let’s hope they do the same thing after the Pac-12 tournament.

Come on out Saturday afternoon for Senior Night. Special Tribute after the game for Nneka Ogwumike, Sarah Boothe, Grace Mashore and Lindy Lacque.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stanford Beats Oregon, an Eyewitness View

Hidey-ho Stanford fans. C and R were away from their computer all day yesterday, so we invited guest blogger TH, who lives in Oregon and actually got to see Stanford live the last two games, to blog about Stanford playing Oregon. And for someone who lives in Oregon, she is probably a bigger fan of Stanford Women’s Basketball than C and R, if that is possible. Without further ado, here is T in her own words. (And just what were C and R doing all day yesterday? Oh, just coaching our little girls team to second place in the end of the year tournament. Everyone got trophies, including C and R, which made C’s day! We hardly recognized our girls from the beginning of the season to now, they have grown and improved so much! Oh yeah, here’s Stanford)

Greetings from Oregon, C&R.  I love it when Stanford comes to play our two teams.  It’s like hosting an annual visit from some fancy relative who comes to town, wows your friends, gives you a ride on the back of her motorcycle and then tears off down the road while you wave goodbye, kind of slack jawed and woozy.  I dare any of my Oregon sports buddies to say otherwise.  Uh huh.  You can’t.  You know it’s true.

So, in today’s game against Oregon, Stanford was relaxed, on target and well oiled from the first minute.  Nneka Ogwumike sunk a decisive, take-that kind of bucket, then Jos Tinkle sidled up to the arc and dropped a three-pointer.  Pretty soon, the Stanford threes were dropping like Oregon rain.  I couldn’t really keep up.  The nice people sitting behind us tried to help us count.  We think, by the end of the first half, Tinkle had one, Toni Kokenis had two, Bonnie Samuelson and her braid combined for three(!) and we were split on whether Lindy LaRocque had one or two.  But you get my drift.  The perimeter was really lighting up out there.

For several reasons, the defensive play was super.  First—OK--- we were kind of enjoying a height advantage.  But even so, everyone seemed to be scrapping and getting a hand on incoming passes.  Toni K had one of her signature steals, galloped across the court, took a hard foul and sunk one of her free throws.  Amber Orrrrange also had a great steal and sunk an exciting lay-up at top speed.  And Tinkle had an all out stuff under the basket.  You’ll just have to trust me when I say it was awesome and should have been accompanied by a raspy horror movie voice saying, “Geeeeet Oooouuuuut!”

At the half, we were 42-20.  Not even close.  During the second half, Tinkle continued to play bruiser defense and finesse offense.  She was a box out & rebound machine, but on offense, she had a soft touch all day, including one really groovy, retro looking fade away hook shot.  In Oregon, if you have to cream us, cream us retro-style, OK?

When Tinkle drew a foul in the key and stepped up to the free throw line, some local roughnecks tried to distract her by singing “Tinkle Tinkle Little Star…”  Nice try, fellas. When Chiney Ogwumike took a gratuitous elbow or forearm to the back, as she was already falling out of bounds, the refs called a technical and Coach Tara VanDerveer (Coach V) had Tinkle take the two free throws.  She hit those too.  Final score: 81-46.

The sisters played great—don’t get me wrong.  But today’s performance was more of a well-balanced one with Tinkle scoring 19 points, and lots of 2 and three point jumpers from our guards.  We will surely need all hands on deck next month, so hopefully, we'll continue to see more supporting play from Tinkle and our guards to enhance Nneka and Chiney's ongoing awesome-ness.

Off you go, Cardinal.  Don’t forget to come back next year…

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stanford Crushes Oregon State

They kept saying, this was going to be the close Pac-12 rematch, and then Stanford comes out and stuns them in the first half. How stunned was OSU, or how stunning was Stanford? Well, at the half, Stanford’s contender for player of the year, Nneka Ogwumike scored 16, and OSU Beavers had 16. Other Stanford players chipped into make it 36-16, Stanford. If you can’t stop Nneka, you might was well go home, which OSU already was.

Watching Stanford play is fun because you get to see some smart and athletic players and the genius of a Hall of Fame coach. How Genius? Well, early in the game with the score 10-5 Stanford, OSU was packing the paint on defense trying to limit Nneka and her sister Chiney. Stanford Women’s Basketball coach Tara VanDerveer instantly subbed in freshmen three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson. She promptly hit a three and Tara looks like the genius she is. Then Toni Kokenis nails a three followed by a pop by Lindy LaRoque and it was 23-7 in the span of about 5 minutes. It’s like one big chess game. You take away Tara’s pawn, she sends in the castle-thingie to clean up. (Or something like that, I don’t know, C never really liked chess, too slow and no ball to chase.)

Tara kept her starting five in to open the second half and they kept a consistent 20-point lead. Nneka got to 27 points in 30 minutes when Tara decided to rest her for good. Some players who don’t normally get a lot of playing time took Tara’s call to action literally and everyone, and we mean everyone, was making threes. Stanford would make 10 of them, on 10-22 shooting. Bonnie and Toni Kokenis would tie in the shootout, each with 3 made three-pointers, each with a total of nine points in the game. (Shout out to Jos Tinkle for her 14 rebounds)

The final score for the game was 78 Stanford, 45 OSU. With that win, Stanford clinched a share of the Pac-12 title. The papers list it as Stanford’s 12 straight conference final dating back to when it was the Pac-10, but Tara VanDerveer proudly pointed out in one of her video interviews, it is their first Pac-12 title.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stanford Beats UCLA in Second Half

Hey, there have been some good Pac-12 basketball games as of late, wouldn’t you say? First USC beat Cal in overtime on Saturday and then UCLA gave Stanford a good game on Sunday.

From the opening whistle, UCLA came to play. They had intensity and drive, and played a very physical game. They even kept up with Stanford for a half. But no matter how Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer tries to hide it, this is predominantly a two-person team, and those Ogwumike sisters of Nneka and Chiney took over in the second.

First, back to the first half. We all know the story if Chiney fouls, she sits the bench. Maybe it is to teach her discipline, and maybe it is to preserve her fouls so she can be around for a long time in the second half. Either way, Stanford misses her rebounding prowess when she is out, this game no exception.

This time Chiney was disciplined enough to save her first foul until the 14-minute mark with Stanford holding a 4 point lead. She didn’t go out right away and C and R were hopeful Tara had changed her tune, but 2 minutes later, out she went. But Tara could only sit her for so long, and brought her back in 4 minutes later with the score 19-15, Stanford holding on to a 5 point lead. A minute and 15 seconds later, Chiney fouled again. So much for being disciplined. Out she went for the whole 9:44 left in the first half, and the Cardinal struggled.

With Chiney out, Stanford tried to force it inside to Nneka Ogwumike. Trouble is, UCLA knew it too and stole the pass, harassed and pushed her if she did get the ball, and made her miss shots she normally makes. And when she did miss, no one was weak side to get the offensive rebound and put it back up as Chiney does. And and and, no one else for Stanford was scoring. Stanford’s outside game was 2-8 from three-point land for the half. Stanford went stagnate and UCLA took the lead. Then Jos Tinkle, playing in front of her father, got some nice looks and some baskets. Nneka got mad from being pushed around and scored most of her 13 points in the half after UCLA took that lead. The half time score was 35-30, Stanford.

The second half opened with Chiney and Nneka, and three other bodies on the court. No, that was mean; it was the starting five with Tinkle, Toni Kokenis and Amber Orrrrange. But Nneka and Chiney only had eyes for each other. The half started and Nneka found Chiney, Chiney assist to Nneka, and so it went. The sisters scored 13 straight points for Stanford and built a 10 point lead before Tinkle scored to make it a 12 point lead, 48-36 with 14:40 left.

During that run, Chiney connected with Nneka, once, twice, and on the third time, C and R knew she was looking for Nneka, everyone in the audience knew she was looking for Nneka, and even UCLA knew she was looking for Nneka. Then Nneka gets open UNDER THE BASKET for an easy lay up and another assist for Chiney. She had 4 assists for the game and Nneka had 3, and we are sure it was to each other. It is such a joy to watch them play. Nneka would end up with 25 points and 8 rebounds and Chiney would have 19 points but only 2 rebounds due to sitting on the bench. Final score 82-59.

Yes, to be fair, in the second half Toni Kokenis and Jos Tinkle contributed. Toni finished with 12 points and Jos had 10. But it was disheartening to see Chiney go to the bench in the first and have Stanford stagnate like that, becoming one-dimensional and only looking for one inside player. We are worried when Stanford gets deep into the NCAA tournament, teams will eat us alive. And with Notre Dame going down to Virginia today, any team can rise up and bite you.

Big shout out to Wayne Tinkle, Joslyn Tinkle’s dad. He coaches the Montana Men’s basketball team and has won 8 straight and are 14 of the last 15. We chatted with him at half time. (And good luck with the rest of your season!).

Stanford flies away to Oregon for the next 2 games before coming home for their final 3. Get your tickets for Senior Night!

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Stanford Beats USC, Gets No Respect

Just a quick note on the Stanford Women’s Basketball team’s 75th home win, 69th Pac-12 win and 18th consecutive win overall tonight. They beat USC 69-52. Nneka Ogwumike lead all scorers with 22 points and 8 boards and sister Chiney scored 21 and had a double-double with 12 rebounds. She also had a career high 6 blocked shots. And she was a master at getting position to get those 12 rebounds.

Stanford started out quickly and was easily up 21-9, 10 minutes into the contest. Then all-everything Nneka had a seat, what with 2 fouls and all. Head coach Tara VanDerveer thought she could afford to rest her. And you guessed it, Stanford’s offensive went stagnate without her. At one point Chiney looked for someone to pass to on offense and when no one seemed to want the ball, she put her head down and drove to the basket to make her own points. All we can say is Chin-ney saved the day. Toni Kokenis played the third string and got 15 for the game, and that was it for Stanford scoring (La la la la la, we can’t hear you naysayers and detractors... more on you later).

Half time Stanford was up 33-22, and surprisingly, USC held a 20-19 rebounding edge. They did that by primarily focusing on boxing the heck out of the sisters Ogwumike. Did we mention USC is one of the many Pac-12 teams that also have sisters? They have Briana and Stefanie Gilbreath, who scored 11 and 9 respectively for USC. But you can only stop an Ogwumike for so long, and around the 13-minute mark in the second, the Ogwumikes made their move, opening up the lead with their athleticism and ability to find the basket. They just wear people out. Final score 69-52.

Tara VanDerveer left in the scoring sisters until the end. Why? Stanford had an 18-point lead with 4 minutes left. Why not rest your starters and give the youngsters a chance? Well, because Tara VanDerveer is having a feud with all of the East Coast. Think of it as an East Coast-West Coast thang.

Seems ESPN analysist Carolyn Peck dissed Stanford and the Pac-12 by publicly saying the Pac-12 is weak and Duke deserves to be the number 4 seed instead of Stanford when the NCAA tourney starts. Tara took umbrage to that (hey that’s twice in a month we’ve used such a big word) and said to SF Chron "Duke loses at home to Connecticut and loses to Kentucky," VanDerveer said, "but they should be the No. 1 seed because they play in this great ACC? What's so great about North Carolina?"

She pointed out that the No. 22 Tar Heels (17-5) are ranked even though they lost to Connecticut by 51 and Duke by 40 and their RPI is 101st in the country. "That's crazy," she said.
Stanford, by contrast has an RPI of 4. RPI stands for rating percentage index or what we think of as strength of schedule. Duke’s is 8.

If Tara is outraged, then Stanford fans are outraged and C and R are no exception, and we took to Twitter:

Coach Tara VanDerveer is mad at @CAROLYNPECK for picking Duke as #4 seed over Stanford, no respect for Pac-12

Due to the magic of twitter, Carolyn Peck wrote back to us. Little ol C and R. Here’s her tweet:

@StanfordWBBBlog No disrespect 2 Stanford but the ACC has 4 teams in the top 10 & total of 6 in top 25. Committee has 2 consider that.

I think that’s Tara’s point. At least half of those ACC teams shouldn’t be in the top 25, and maybe some of the Pac-12 should. (Tara has said publicly Cal should be top 25). Message boards around the Pac-12 (or Pac-10 as Carolyn kept calling it) were lit up all day.

Subplot #2:
Nneka Ogwumike moved past Another Stanford fave, Jayne Appel, into third place all time scoring for Stanford. Ahead of her is Kate Starbird and another, nother C and R fave Candice Wiggins. Candice has 2,629 and Nneka has around 2,143or so, so not sure if she can pass her.

Subplot #3-Big Head Nneka:
When C and R sat down opposite the opposing team’s bench like we do every home game, quite a few fans had blown up photographs of Nneka. C instantly coveted one, as she does all things Stanford and all things free. She spied twitter buddy @SGC72 amidst them. Moving her thumbs quickly, C ascertained that SC had some extras and that C should come over at half time. The minutes couldn’t tick by fast enough.

At the half, SC introduced C to the Glue-Stick lady of section 4 (we didn’t ask permission to use her name, so she is now Glue-Stick lady, but she was very, very nice). She gave out the pictures for free and asked if C wanted hers glued to a piece of cardboard for waving, on the condition she wave it the rest of the half. Deal.

On the way back to her seat, C spotted the announcers (a rare televised game) with the camera pointed at them with the red light on so she snuck behind them and held up Big Head Nneka and said “vote for Nneka for Senior Class award.” Let me know if that made it out to TV land.

After the game, when NO victories balls were thrown our way, C and R gave the picture of Nneka to a young fan that sits behind us and just loooves Nneka. We made her night, just as ours was made. You know, pay it forward and all, C and R’s motto…

So next game is UCLA Sunday, which is a Play4Kay game, so wear pink for breast cancer awareness. Michelle Smith of Left Coast Hoops is of the opinion Stanford needs to remain undefeated in Pac-12 play to keep the number 4 seed, so come on out to root them on. Seems like Stanford is not playing just against one team, but against all of the East Coast bias.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stanford’s Second Pac-12 Win in the Desert

The Stanford Women’s Basketball team got another Pac-12 win over Arizona Saturday, in a game not televised in California. The final score was 91 to 51, Stanford, and the only suspense was whether Stanford could make it to 100. Considering they had 51 points at the half, it was totally doable!
Kudos to KSZU for broadcasting the game on live radio over the Internet, so C and R could follow, for the first half anyway. We had to turn them off at half time to go coach our little girls team, which is doing well since we got coaching advice from Tara VanDerveer, hee hee, but we digress.

The game opened with Stanford going on a 13-1 tear, after a Taylor Greenfield three-pointer. Arizona finally woke up and cut the lead to 6 at the 15 and a half-minute mark. But then six minutes later, Stanford was up by 23, with the score 34-11. It's hard to know what happened, as C and R are visual people and this was Internet radio, but a 23 point lead means Stanford pretty much had their way. Strangely, it was not an Ogwumike sister leading the way, but Jos Tinkle, who had 10 points in that stretch. Stanford fans (And coaching staff) were pleased to see others contributing points.

When the smoke cleared and the half ended, Stanford was leading 51-31, and the Ogwumikes HAD taken over the last 10 minutes. Half time point leaders were Chiney with 14, Nneka Ogwumike with 12, Tinkle’s 10 and starting guards Amber Orrrrange and Toni Kokenis with 6 each. Stanford was shooting 57% from the floor. The announcer for KSZU said every offensive rebound for Stanford became a basket for Stanford, and you gotta like those percentages.

As we mentioned, we had to leave at the half, but Tinkle didn’t. She would go on to score a career high 22 points and tie her career high for rebounds at 11. Chiney Ogwumike, going for a record 4th Pac-12 player of the week award, got another double-double with18 points and 10 rebounds and that was in just 22 minutes as the youngsters got more playing time. Sister Nneka scored 15 with 6 boards in 23 minutes. Even better, Toni had 11 points and Amber had 10. That’s five, count ‘em five players in double figures. And, all five were starters. There’s hope yet for a balanced scoring attack! Hee hee. Other notables were Taylor Greenfield with six points on 2 three-pointers and Erica Payne (E Payne) also with 6. Not so notable was Bonnie Samuelson going 0-5 from beyond the arc and finished 0-6 for the day. Hope she finds her shooting touch back home.

What did Stanford’s coach think about the balanced scoring? Here’s Hall of Famer Tara VanDerveer in the papers:
"This is great momentum for us," VanDerveer said. "We've got a long way to go, but I'm really excited about getting major contributions from different people. We depend a lot on Nneka and Chiney, and it's great to have Jos play so well. Nneka and Chiney are so unselfish and so excited about other people doing well...I like the fact we were able to get everybody in and everyone contributed."

Stanford comes back for a two game home stand Thursday and Saturday.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Defense Key in 62-49 Stanford win over ASU

Once again, the sisters Ogwumike lead the way and saved the day. And once again a Pac-12 team holds the Stanford’s Women’s Basketball Team close well into the second half and then the sisters get untracked. This time Stanford’s victim was Arizona State, who the Cardinal will only see once this year, thanks to the new Pac-12 alignment. And C and R area betting once was enough for the Cardinal.

Coming into the game, Arizona State lead the Pac-12 in defense, meaning holding teams to around 52 points per game. Stanford came into the game leading the Pac-12 in offense. What was it, 80 some points per game? Something had to give.

Due to the magic of television, Bay Area fans actually got to see this game, so thanks Comcast Sports Net or whatever channel that broadcasted the game. And how is that Pac-12 channel coming along? No rush or anything.

Anyway, at first we weren’t so happy to see the game. In the first few minutes, Arizona State slowed the tempo of the game down and pressured the guards. It worked. Stanford had 5 turnovers in 7 minutes. The announcers said Stanford looked out of sync and flat-footed (being flatfooted all the time myself, I take umbrage to that comment, but I digress) Arizona State’s Kali Bennett was a monster with blocks, having 6 for the game, at least 3 in the first 5 minutes. ASU’s defense helped their own cause by forcing Stanford into 2-12 shooting in the first 8 minutes.

It also was tough in that stretch that the refs were not calling any contact fouls, and ASU was definitely the aggressor.  At one point, Kali Bennett leg whipped Nneka and knocked her to the ground as she lost the ball out of bounds. No call. (Don’t worry, Stanford got their revenge later on in the second).
Also, Stanford wasn’t boxing out and ASU was definitely taking advantage of that, building an 8-point lead with 9 minutes left in the first, making it 15-7 before the Cardinal woke up and fought back. Taylor Greenfield hit two quick threes and like that (snapping fingers sound) it was 14-15, ASU clinging to that one point lead.

When the dust cleared and it was half time, the score was 28-28 and C and R were not looking forward to the fact the game might go into overtime. Again. As the teams were going into the locker room to get feedback/yelled at, Tara told the announcer that Stanford had to be more aggressive, and she was actually excited that they had played so poorly and were just tied. The first part of the sentence threw us, but then we got the Hall of Fame coach’s drift. She also added prognostication to her long list of talents by predicting Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike (the aforementioned sisters) WILL have a great second half. And boy was she right.

The half opened and each team went on their own little tears. Then the score was tied again for the fifth time at 40-40 at the 12:15 mark and about 15 seconds later, a little something happened. We saw the replays, and we weren’t sure how, but Chiney somehow hit Kali Bennett in the face when she corralled a rebound and put it back. Kali went to the bench with a bloody nose, and that’s when Stanford decided to make their move. Actually, Kali came back to the game, but she was never the same and the sisters Ogwumike took over, stretching the lad to 3, 5, 7, 9, then Stanford hit 12 on Taylor Greenfield’s third and finally three of the night. She would finish with 10 and Toni Kokenis with 7 to augment the sister-scoring machine.

ASU did not score a basket until nearly 5 and a half minutes later, when Deja Mann made 2 free throws. Then a short while later with a 15-point lead, Lindy LaRocque threw an alley oop pass to Nneka, who skied high and put it in the basket without touching the ground. Unfortunately Kali Bennett, she of the cotton stuffed up her nose, tried to stop it and not only got called for the foul on Nneka, she had Nneka land on her as she pulled her down and she hurt her back, subbing out for good at the 5:22 mark. Nneka made the free throw to put her team up by 15.

Nneka would finish with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Sister Chiney would have 20 points and an identical 16 rebounds. ASU would only score 9 points from the 12 minute mark to the end, with the final score 62-49, Stanford. Guess good offense beats good defense every time. Well, Stanford also plays some really good defense as well, as the rest of the Pac-12 has found out.

Side Note:
We just found out Nneka had the flu the week before the CAL game and didn’t even practice Thursday and Friday leading up to the game. She was held to “only”12 points, missing a bunch of shots. We uncharacteristically credited Cal and their defense. Now we find out superman was just a little sick, hee hee!

Another Arizona game Saturday, not televised.

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