November 25, 2008

Lots of pluses but a big minus at Rutgers game

Fans of Stanford women’s basketball had many reasons to cheer Nov. 23 as the Cardinal defeated Rutgers 81-47. Nevertheless, they were dismayed and saddened to see junior point guard JJ Hones leave the game with a knee injury with about 3:10 to go in the first half. Her status was uncertain as of this writing. In the meantime, be sure to see the tributes to her in “With Love to JJ” under Stories of the Season. They’re all well deserved.

Except for JJ’s injury, things went well for the Cardinal. Center Jayne Appel recorded a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds in her 33 minutes of playing time. Her fellow big, forward Kayla Pedersen, chipped in 17 points and four rebounds in 37 minutes, while freshman forward Nneka Ogwumike came off the bench to rack up 11 points and six rebounds in her 30 minutes.

Nneka was the target of some of Rutgers’ most flagrant hits, absorbing at least two painful blows, but to her credit, she didn’t lose her poise. For that matter, all the players kept their poise and focus, not letting JJ’s injury or Rutgers’ aggressive play rattle them. Rutgers had 24 fouls to Stanford’s 13.

Before leaving the game, JJ contributed three three-pointers for nine points plus six assists. Also scoring the long shots were guard Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla with two each, and forward Jillian Harmon and guard Lindy La Rocque with one each for a total of nine. Jill’s three-pointer was the first Cardinal score of the game.

Those nine three-pointers fattened my tournament travel fund. I got the idea when Lindy unleashed seven in her Cardinal debut in the exhibition against Chico State and her teammates chipped in eight more a total of 15. For every three-pointer the team scores, I’m putting $1 in an envelope to build an expense fund for tournament travel.

The Vanguard game raised the fund to $19. Minnesota added $3, followed by $5 from Baylor, $12 from New Mexico and now $9 from Rutgers, raising the total thus far to $48. I don’t know how much there’ll be by the end of the season, but Head Coach Tara VanDerveer said after the New Mexico game that the team’s goal is to shoot at least 10 threes per game. I have high hopes that the team will exceed that goal and help me save for some of the travel costs all the way to St. Louis.

Besides the resounding win over Rutgers, the day was brightened by the annual Fast Break Club auction, which raised tens of thousands of dollars for the team. Congratulations to fund-raising chair Dana Stewart and her band of volunteers, who had everything so well organized. Dana also was an affable emcee.

She had some help at the microphone when guard Melanie Murphy served as the auctioneer soliciting bids for a chair used by the team at the Final Four tournament in Tampa last season. The bidding started at $200 and went up to $450.
Then Lindy oversaw the bidding for a quilt made by her mother, Beverly, and her mother’s friend Janet Weinberg. It has a square with each player’s name and number, along with the names of the coaches and a red ‘S’ dominating in the center. The bidding started at $300. Jeanette soon came forward to hold it up. Then Mel came along to help her. Then more players came up to touch it and enhance its value. As forward Sarah Boothe joined them, Mel commented, “Look at the subtle detailing of the ‘S’.” Along came Jayne and Kayla. “This is big time,” Lindy said. Soon the whole team was there.

Lindy then announced that if two people would bid $800 each, her mom and friend would make another one. Sure enough, two $800 bids came along, and the Las Vegas quilting team had another project ahead.

Nneka auctioned off a clinic conducted by the coaches and players for $200, and Assistant Coach Bobbie Kelsey got the bidding up to $775 for a bench seat at the Tennessee game.

Between the live auctions, the players circulated around the crowd, chatting with everyone, graciously signing autographs and posing for pictures. One shy but smiling little boy who looked to be about 6 or 7 years old started to kneel down next to 6-4 Jayne for his picture, but realized that might not work. Still smiling, he quickly stood as tall as he could – about tall enough for Jayne to pat him on the head without leaning over. It was a fleeting moment, but one that spoke volumes about the admiration that the Stanford women have earned from the younger set.

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