March 7, 2009

Lesson learned – never underestimate anyone

“Whew! That was too close for comfort,” was the prevailing sentiment among FBC members after the Cardinal eked out a 70-67 win over Arizona on March 5. “We were fortunate,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “It was a tough matchup for us.”

Both Tara and associate head coach Amy Tucker commented on how much Arizona has improved since Stanford played the team in Tucson earlier this season. “They shot the ball extremely well tonight,” especially in the second half, Amy said. Arizona also changed its tough defense a lot, forcing 15 Cardinal turnovers that led to 23 points.

Tara credited two sophomores, guard Jeanette Pohlen and forward Kayla Pedersen, for their excellent play. Jeanette led the team with a career-high 21 points, most of them coming from a career-high five of eight 3-pointers. Kayla contributed 16 points, including two 3-pointers. “Kayla’s on a roll,” Tara said, citing the back-to-back 20-point games she had in Los Angeles last week.

On another note, Tara said that freshman Nneka Ogwumike will wear her protective mask through the end of the season as a precaution. Her nose was broken during practice a few weeks ago. Nneka, who scored 8 points against Arizona, delighted the crowd with another feat. When the ball got stuck between the glass and the rim after a free throw attempt early in the second half, no one seemed to know what to do until Nneka left the bench, leapt up and knocked the ball loose.

Because of this tough game against the Pac-10’s now eighth-ranked team, “We will not be overconfident next week” going into the conference tournament,” Amy said. Still, the win assured the Cardinal of the No. 1 seed in the tournament and at least a two-way tie with Arizona State for the Pac-10 regular season title. The Cardinal could win the title outright with a win over the Sun Devils on March 7. “We don’t want to share it,” Amy said.

Before the coaches comments, Krista Rappahahn, ’06, told fans what she’s been doing during the past two and a half years. She’s a first-year med student at Stanford and plays coed intramural basketball with a med school team. Having just returned from a game, she was still in her team outfit, noting that the name on the back of her jersey is Rapamycin, a pun on an immunosuppressant drug used in organ transplantation.

She’s the only woman on her team. “No one wants to guard me because I’m a girl,” she said, but apparently her skills are turning some heads. “I made a bunch of threes tonight.” She also attends as many women’s games as she can, but “it’s hard to sit too close because I want to get into the game.”

Before returning to Stanford, Krista played professionally in Sweden for two seasons and lived in Stockholm, where she also did some research. Her team won the national championship in the first season. Between seasons she worked in Ireland at a camp for children with serious illnesses.

Communicating with her teammates in Sweden wasn’t difficult because they speak English well. Because it’s such an egalitarian society, though, it’s hard for people to step up and lead, a role that Krista assumed. On the other hand, American fans are more reserved than their Swedish counterparts.

She said she’s enjoying med school but hasn’t decided what her specialty might be. She’s scheduled to work in a neonatal intensive care unit and in orthopedics.

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