February 24, 2009

FBC’s most spirited fan

Don Anderson, whose Photo Journal graces the FBC Web site, has been honored as the winner of the Fast Break Club’s Fan Spirit Award for 2008-09. He received the award Feb. 21 after the Oregon game.

According to the biographical information that accompanies his emotion-capturing photos of games, he is a retired health care consultant. Besides shooting for the FBC, he photographs for Bootleg, creates photo documentaries of theatrical presentations at Gunn High School in Palo Alto and does photographic projects for Momentum for Mental Health, a South Bay nonprofit.

The entire team attended the tent to help honor the FBC executive board, committee members and locker sponsors for Fan Appreciation Day. There even was a belated birthday gift for Scout, the older of coach Tara VanDerveer’s two golden retrievers.

FBC membership totals 584, said Eileen Roche, director of women’s basketball operations, adding that the FBC Web site is the envy of teams across the country. Besides cheering the team at games, FBC raises money for its activities. Proceeds from the wine tasting last fall, the auction earlier this winter and the shoot-a-thon on Feb. 23 will go toward the team’s trip to Italy, which starts Sept. 14, said associate head coach Amy Tucker.

Amy also gave an update on the condition of sophomore guard Hannah Donaghe, who tore not only her left ACL, as previously announced, but also her MCL. She sustained the injury during a practice when she caught the ball and landed wrong when trying to maneuver with it. There was no contact with anyone else. “It’s just one of those strange things,” Amy said. Hannah will have surgery after the swelling subsides. In the meantime, she’s getting lots of advice from teammates who also have had ACL injuries. “Hannah has a great attitude,” Amy said. Whether she’ll be able to travel to tournaments with the team will depend on what her doctors say, Tara said later.

After the fan appreciation festivities, Tara allowed the team to leave, then said to the audience, “You had to be a great fan to stay (for the game) today.” Even though Stanford won 68-49, “today was a challenge,” she said. When the Ducks pulled ahead to 12-6 about 7 minutes into the game, Tara pulled the entire starting five and sent in the top five bench players. Led by freshmen Nneka Ogwumike and Sarah Boothe, those players went on a 25-2 run, greatly pleasing the coach. She gradually returned the first five to the game and started the second half with them. “We started better in the second half,” she said.

“We didn’t have that kind of depth last year,” she said. Still, “we need all 12 healthy players. We don’t have a big margin for error,” she said, noting how young the team is with only one active senior – Jillian Harmon – on the roster. Still, “I have great confidence in our team,” she said. “They’re a great bunch of young women.”

Asked about the team’s struggles with 3-pointers, she said such shots are “almost like the cream. We’re a skim milk team.” The shot “will be there when we need it.”

Although the coach praised several players, she singled out junior center Jayne Appel, who had an uncharacteristically low 4 points. “I think Jayne is an All-American,” she said. Jayne has the stats to back that contention. Tara also praised freshman guard Lindy La Rocque, who will probably be remembered throughout her career for the dive she made to retrieve the ball and, still on her stomach, pass it to Jill for an easy layup in the Cal game Feb. 14. “Her ticket is being scrappy,” Tara said. “We call her Little General. She’s gaining confidence, and she’s a terrific team player.”

Fans have appreciated that everyone on the team is a team player. Sophomore forward Kayla Pedersen summed up that attitude in response to a question about her favorite part of the game of basketball. Her answer: “Playing with my teammates and spending every day with them.”

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