December 17, 2009

Good work -- now work some more

The 71-55 win over No. 7-ranked Duke was a good reason for the No. 2-ranked Stanford women’s basketball team and its fans to celebrate on Dec. 15. “This is one of the most athletic teams we’ve played,” fifth-year senior guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude told the Fast Break Club after the game.

“I’m tired. That felt like a heavyweight fight,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “This was a big win for our team. This is a really special team,” she said, praising Ros and fellow guard Jeanette Pohlen for their defense. “We want physical play,” she said. It will help prepare the team for not only the Dec. 19 home game against No. 3 Tennessee and the Dec. 23 away game at No. 1 UConn but also all other games, including the NCAA tournament.

“They (Duke) were probably surprised at some of the calls,” she said. She was referring to Duke’s amassing 23 fouls compared with Stanford’s 11. The disparity was especially apparent in the first half. With only 2:58 remaining, Duke had nine fouls, while the Cardinal had only two. Overall, Stanford outscored Duke 19-7 at the free throw line.

One fan asked Ros if the team had practiced boxing. She laughed and said, “You battle back. Your team sticks together and you have each other’s backs. You have to be aggressive” and take good shots without rushing. “We bought into our schemes. Bobbie did a great job scouting,” she said, referring to assistant coach Bobbie Kelsey.

While Stanford had fewer personal fouls, a good thing, it also had fewer rebounds, a bad thing. The team was outrebounded – 44-39 – for the first time this season. Even worse, Duke had 25 offensive boards compared with Stanford’s 11. “We know we have some things to work on,” associate head coach Amy Tucker said. Still, “it was a great win.”

Forward Michelle Harrison was back in uniform after missing the DePaul game because of a mild concussion. Center Sarah Boothe (foot) and guards Hannah Donaghe and Melanie Murphy (knees) were still in warmups.

Looking ahead to the Tennessee game, Tara said her players would study the videos and look for ways to improve their rebounding. They’ll need all the boards they can grab because Tennessee is “a really tough team,” Tara said.

This was the first FBC gathering in Maples, according to Amy. “We really appreciate the energy in the building tonight,” Ros said. The official attendance was 4,719, the highest so far this season. A few minutes later, Ros asked the fans to sing “Happy Birthday” to guard Lindy La Rocque, who was standing on the sidelines with teammates.

Besides celebrating the win over Duke and Lindy’s birthday after the game, fans honored the Stanford football team at halftime. Wearing red jerseys with their numbers, the team sat in the northeast corner of Maples during the first half, then gathered on the court for the fans’ cheers and high hopes for the Sun Bowl game against Oklahoma on Dec. 31. The cheers were especially loud for running back Toby Gerhart, who was runner-up in the closest Heisman Trophy voting ever. After most of the players had filed off, a few stayed to compete for bragging rights in a half-court shootout. Those rights went to kicker Nate Whitaker.

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