July 24, 2009

Destination – Italy

Spectacular sights and fabulous food await the Stanford women’s basketball team on its trip to Italy in September.

Except for incoming freshmen Mikaela Ruef and Joslyn Tinkle, who are barred by NCAA rules, the entire team will make the trip. They’ll be joined by the four coaches – Tara VanDerveer, Amy Tucker, Bobbie Kelsey and Kate Paye – along with trainer Marcella Shorty and manager Kerry Blake.

Amy gave a rundown on the itinerary during a recent interview in her office:

Aug. 31 – Arrive on campus for physicals.

Sept. 1-3 – Practice.

Sept. 4 – Afternoon flight from San Francisco to Germany and then to Rome.

Sept. 5 – Arrive in Rome, settle in, take a walking tour.

Sept. 6-7 – Sightseeing in Rome, including several hours at the Vatican and “eating as much gelato as possible,” Amy said.

Sept. 8 – Bus to Florence.

Sept. 9 – Sightseeing in Florence, including visits to the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, known as the Il Duomo, and the Uffizi Gallery, considered one of the finest art museums in the world. “It’s a great walking city,” Amy said. “The kids will have a great time.”

Sept. 10-11 – Sightseeing in Venice. Because of the team hotel’s location, the luggage will arrive by water taxi.

Sept. 12-13 – Sightseeing in Lake Como, where the team hopes to reunite with recently graduated Jillian Harmon, who’s playing with Lake Como’s professional team.

Sept. 14 – Go to Milan and fly home.

During the visit, the team expects to play three games against Italian club teams, but the details hadn’t been finalized by the time of the interview. Club teams can be any age group, but the players might be older than the Stanford women, Amy said.

Amy has visited Italy several times, but as far as she knows, it will be the players’ first venture there. Italy is a great place to visit because of the “sightseeing, good food – it’s about as good as it gets,” she said. “The kids are very, very excited.”

Immediately upon returning to campus, the basketball regimen starts. The team is allowed to assemble Sept. 15 and to begin two hours of basketball workouts with the coaches and six hours of strength and conditioning each week.

Classes start Sept. 21. Regular practices begin in mid-October. Competition starts with an exhibition game against Vanguard Nov. 1.

July 22, 2009

Whither the Cardinal?

Summer ’09 has found the Stanford women scattering across the nation and around the world.

The entire team, except for freshmen Mikaela Ruef and Joslyn Tinkle, who are barred by NCAA rules, will go to Italy in September. (More on that in another article.)

Here’s a roundup of what they’ve been doing in the meantime, according to associate head coach Amy Tucker.

Mikaela, from Ohio, and Joslyn, from Montana, both forwards, are attending summer school, working out on campus and playing in the San Francisco Pro-Am league, where their abilities have caught the eye of Cardinal fans.

Sophomore guard Grace Mashore is at home in Virginia working out.

Fellow guard Lindy La Rocque also has spent much of her summer working out at home in Nevada, but she was to return to campus for hoops camp sessions July 22 to 29.

Sophomore center Sarah Boothe is at home in Illinois rehabbing from surgery for a stress fracture in her foot. She’s making good progress, but it’s uncertain when she’ll be able to play. “We will tend to be conservative” to avoid further problems, Amy said. The injury forced Sarah to withdraw from the USA’s U-19 team entering the FIBA world championship tournament in Thailand this month. She was disappointed, but “she’s keeping a positive attitude,” Amy said.

Sophomore forward Nneka Ogwumike of Texas left for the U-19 tournament July 17. “She’s going to have a great time,” Amy said.

Junior forward Kayla Pedersen of Arizona and guard Jeanette Pohlen of California returned home from Belgrade, Serbia, in mid-July after helping the USA team win gold at the World University Games. The two “were major factors on the team,” said Amy, citing conversations with their coaches. Like Lindy, Jeanette returned to campus to help at hoops camp.

Junior forward Ashley Cimino is at home in Maine and working out. She missed spring workouts because of a sore Achilles tendon. Amy said she assumes Ashley is OK.

Junior guard Hannah Donaghe of California is attending summer school while continuing to rehab from ACL surgery. She’s doing well and getting stronger, but she’s not ready to play, Amy said.

Senior center Jayne Appel of California also is in summer school and rehabbing from minor knee surgery after the season. She’s been running and doing strength exercises. “She’ll be ready to play when we need her,” Amy said, citing the conservative approach. She’s joining Jeanette and Lindy at hoops camp

Senior guard JJ Hones is attending summer school after spending the spring term with a Stanford international studies program in Spain, where “she had a great time,” Amy said. Like Hannah, she’s rehabbing from ACL surgery, but she’s further along because she was injured before Hannah. JJ is running and is expected to be cleared to play soon, but she won’t actually start playing until supervised practices this fall, Amy said.

JJ and Jayne stopped by Amy’s office during the interview. Both looked good and seemed to be in good spirits.

Senior guard Melanie Murphy is home in New York recuperating from toe surgery. She’s also recovering from a recent bout of tonsillitis.

Senior forward Michelle Harrison is home in Utah rehabbing from minor surgery to remove a cyst from her knee. She had been bothered by it during the season, but it wasn’t diagnosed right away. Now that it’s gone, she feels much better, Amy said.

Fifth-year guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude of New York is working in sports marketing for Nike in Los Angeles. She also worked for Nike on an internship last summer in Oregon.

Recently graduated forward Jillian Harmon of Oregon will be playing professionally in Lake Como, Italy, where she’ll be reunited with center Brooke Smith, ’08. Brooke, who also plays for the Phoenix Mercury, will join her after the WNBA season ends. Amy is hoping that Jill will be in Lake Como when the Cardinal team is there.

Jill’s classmate, forward Morgan Clyburn of Texas, is sticking close to campus and is happy to do so. She has been hired by a biotech company in Palo Alto.

Amy and her fellow coaches – head coach Tara VanDerveer and assistant coaches Bobbie Kelsey and Kate Paye – have been on the road a lot, especially this month, one of the busiest for recruiting the high school class of 2010. They’re also compiling a list of 2011 prospects in preparation for the first allowed recruiting contacts Sept. 1.

Notch up another win for Joslyn and Mikaela

Once again, incoming Stanford freshmen Joslyn Tinkle and Mikaela Ruef led their San Francisco Pro-Am team to victory on July 19, defeating the Lady Warriors 87-80. Joslyn recorded a team-high 22 points along with six rebounds. Mikaela chipped in 19 points and pulled down a team-high 17 rebounds. She also made three of her four 3-point shots. USF’s Nicole Simmons was second in scoring with 21.

The victory left Bay Pride with a 4-1 record, best of the seven women’s teams. Its only loss came in its first game, before the Stanford players’ arrival on campus.

Giving Joslyn and Mikaela a preview of the kind of play they can expect to see in at least two games in the coming collegiate season, Cal’s Alexis Gray-Lawson led all scorers with 29 points.

She also displayed some savvy moves, the kind of veteran play that helped her gain a berth on the USA team that won gold in the recent World University Games in Serbia. That team also got big boosts from Stanford guard Jeanette Pohlen and forward Kayla Pedersen. Center Jayne Appel had to drop out of tryouts for the team because of minor knee surgery.

The Pro-Am game was moved from its usual venue, Kezar Pavilion in Golden Gate Park, to the Potrero Recreation Center because of a broken basket at Kezar. I found out about the switch when I arrived at Kezar at about 15 minutes before game time and saw the sign on the door. After negotiating my way across town in stop-and-go traffic and finding a parking place on Potrero Hill, I missed the first 10 minutes of the game. I’m wondering if others just gave up and went home after seeing the sign, for there were fewer Stanford fans than at previous games.

One new fan who found her way there was Mikaela’s mother, who chauffeured Mikaela and Joslyn. Mikaela has an aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother in San Francisco and the Peninsula, according to associate head coach Amy Tucker.

July 6, 2009

Tantalizing taste of 2009-10

It was only a glorified scrimmage between two less-than-polished teams, but Cardinal fans got a tantalizing look at what’s to come when Bay Pride beat Golden State 81-66 in the women’s division of the Bay Area Pro-Am on July 5 at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco.

The drawing card for the approximately two dozen Stanford fans at the game was incoming freshmen Joslyn Tinkle and Mikaela Ruef. (Krista Rappahahn, ’06, is on the Bay Pride roster but wasn’t there to play.) Both 6'3" and blonde, Joslyn and Mikaela could pass for sisters in looks. The two post players also share some similarities in playing style, though Joslyn seems to have the advantage at this point. She finished with a game-high 29 points, while Mikaela had 7. Mikaela, whose defensive skills need some polish, was hampered by foul trouble, picking up three in the first half and another fairly early in the second.

On the other hand, her scoring included a 3-pointer in the second half, as well as several rebounds. It also seemed that she and Joslyn were tuning into each other more often in the second half — something that will serve them well at Stanford.

Joslyn has some nifty moves under the basket, and — like Mikaela — she isn’t afraid to shoot from the outside. Both of her 3-pointers came consecutively early in the second half, pushing her team ahead after the score was tied 37-37 at the break. Her first play of the second half was a steal, which also helped her team pull away. She’s also a good shot blocker. Both she and Mikaela run the floor well.

I chatted with them briefly after the game and found both to be friendly and upbeat. They’re happy to be at Stanford but disappointed that NCAA rules won’t allow them to join the team on its trip to Italy in September. Joslyn looked on the bright side, though, saying she and Mikaela can go home for the month between summer and fall terms.

They’re working out with center Jayne Appel and guards JJ Hones and Hannah Donaghe in the weight room, Joslyn said. The three upperclassmen are all rehabbing from knee surgery, so they can’t scrimmage right now.

Bay Pride, now 2-1, plays again at 2 p.m. July 11, at 4 p.m. July 19 and at 1 p.m. Aug. 2. Playoffs are Aug. 8 and 9 with the championship game Aug. 15. Kezar is at 755 Stanyan St. at Waller on the far east end of Golden Gate Park. There’s paid parking next door. Kezar’s amenities are minimal at best, but it’s fun to watch this part of Stanford’s future.