January 9, 2009

Fans relish record win and meet director of sports performance

Much has already been made of the Cardinal women’s 112-35 win over Washington, a 77-point margin of victory that set the record for both the Stanford women and Pac-10 women’s basketball. But there was much more to take from the Jan. 8 victory even though it was over a decidedly underwhelming opponent.

One was free-throw shooting – 18 of 21, or 85.7 percent – along with three-point shooting, 14 of 25, or 56 percent.

Another was the steadily improving play by starter Rosalyn Gold-Onwude at the point. She knocked down four of her five shots, all of them three-pointers, hauled in four rebounds, made four assists and stole the ball twice in just 21 minutes of playing time. She also displayed her usual bulldog defensive style. Head coach Tara VanDerveer, speaking to the Fast Break Club after the game, praised Ros for all the extra work she has put in to hone her game.

Then there were the six bench players, who also showed significant improvement and played more than half of the game, scoring a total of 47 points. Freshman forward Sarah Boothe had her first double-double. “She’s looking more fit. She loves to play, and she loves to work,” Tara said. “She’s very coachable.”

Freshman Lindy La Rocque played point for part of the game and tossed in three of her signature three-pointers. Freshman guard Grace Mashore, who had missed several games because of a groin injury, came in with 5:40 left on the clock and promptly poured in a three-pointer to push the Stanford tally to 100, setting off a crowd uproar. She also scored the game’s final points, another three-pointer, with 41 seconds left. In all, the bench accounted for six of the team’s 14 three-pointers.

“I’m excited for a lot of players on our team, but it’s kind of sad for the other team,” Tara said in her opening remarks after the game. She noted that center Jayne Appel was 10 for 12 in her shooting and that “Jill’s been on a roll,” referring to senior forward Jillian Harmon, who has been a spark plug in recent games. “It’s really great to have that senior leadership.” As for guard Jeanette Pohlen, “she’s special,” the coach said.

Assessing the team’s primary conference rival, Tara said, “It works in our favor when Cal plays well.” So far, Cal has matched Stanford win-for-win in the Pac-10. There’s no opportunity for the Cardinal women to take any game for granted because its cross-bay foe is always breathing down their necks.

Guard Melanie Murphy again sat out the game with sprained big toes. Forward Ashley Cimino didn’t play because of back spasms. Tara hopes to have them back at practice next week.

The one disappointing note on the injury front (aside from point guard JJ Hones, who’s out for the season while recuperating from ACL surgery) is that senior forward Morgan Clyburn probably won’t play at all this season. She underwent surgery on both feet at the end of last season, and the healing has been slower than expected. Nevertheless, “she’s a great mom for the team,” Tara said. She’ll graduate in June and will not red shirt. Instead, Tara expects the biomedical engineering major to go on to great things professionally.

One fan asked if the team will wear the black road uniforms that they sported all the way to the NCAA championship game last season. The coach said that will be her decision. She wants them to be more aggressive. “We haven’t been road warriors yet.”

On the other hand, the Cardinal played some of the best teams in the nation leading up to conference competition. “Our tough schedule really has helped us,” Tara said. “All we want to do is keep improving.”

Prior to Tara’s comments, Brandon Marcello, Stanford director of sports performance, talked about his role in helping all of the university’s athletes. He’s concerned about strength, conditioning, nutrition, recovery and rest – “every single aspect of performance.” All of his and his staff’s efforts are intended to prevent injuries and help the players throughout their college years and afterward.

Brandon’s colleagues include Devan McConnell, recently hired as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the women’s basketball team, along with the team’s trainer, Marcella Shorty. In addition to his staff’s work with players, Brandon is coordinating with other campus resources such as the sleep center, human performance lab and even the engineering department to find ways to help.

Women’s basketball players are undergoing 3-D screenings at the human performance lab to see how their knees function. The goal is to find ways to prevent the ACL injuries that have plagued female basketball players throughout the nation.

He and his colleagues have been counseling JJ, who had her second ACL surgery on Dec. 29, on how to speed her recovery. They have advised her to take 400 mg of fish oil every day to reduce inflammation, eat foods rich in anti-oxidants and eliminate processed foods.

They also have helped Jayne and Jeanette schedule when to eat. In general, he advises athletes to eat every three hours and after exercise. Because it’s important to maintain muscle mass, he advises them to drink a cup of milk before bedtime. Nonfat milk is usually preferred, but whole milk is better for players recovering from stress injuries.

He has three general nutritional rules for athletes:
  1. Eat a rainbow of foods – the more color on the plate the better – meaning lots of colorful vegetables and fruits.
  2. Get your protein from lean sources – the fewer legs they have, the better. That means that poultry is better than beef, pork or lamb, but fish is best of all.
  3. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, certain nuts, among others) to decrease inflammation, but stay away from foods with omega-6 fatty acids (some cooking oils, egg yolks, red meats and organ meats, among others).
He also advises athletes to stay hydrated. Along those lines, he’s planning to get a camera that will help detect when a player is becoming overheated.

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