February 1, 2010

Forging ahead at 40

Stanford’s 83-62 victory over Arizona on Jan. 30 was big in several ways:

  1. It was another win, giving the women’s basketball team a perfect 9-0 record in the first half of Pac-10 play and 19-1 overall.

  2. It was the team’s 40th consecutive win in Maples.

  3. Even though the team was down 42-40 at the half, it stormed back to outscore Arizona 43-20 in the second half.

  4. The bigs came up big. Together they contributed 74 points with 27 each from Kayla Pedersen and Nneka Ogwumike, eight from Jayne Appel, 10 from Joslyn Tinkle and two from Ashley Cimino. With Mikaela Ruef in the mix, they also pulled down 37 of the team’s 52 rebounds (to Arizona’s 22). Kayla and Jayne led the rebounding with 13 and 12, respectively.

The bigs also had the edge in the team’s eight 3-pointers, with four for Kayla and two for Joslyn. Guards Jeanette Pohlen and Lindy La Rocque had one each.

There were some other factors of note. For example, rather than the usual home white uniforms, the team was wearing its road red uniforms to call attention to the earthquake disaster in Haiti. Jayne and Joslyn, who could be mistaken for sisters, went a step further with red ribbons in their hair, while Lindy sprayed red on one side of her hair.

Following the game, the team joined the Fast Break Club at Dallmar Court for Fan Appreciation Day. Guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude spoke for the team in thanking the fans for their loyalty. “I definitely take notice of the same people coming in at the same time” in their own pregame routines, she said. The team appreciates the fans’ noise, the stomping and everything they do in support of the Cardinal, she said.

WBB is unique among all Stanford sports because of its active boosters, said Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations. The FBC has grown to 753 members, an increase of 173 from last season, she said. Their support extends beyond merely rooting for the team to raising money. The wine tasting raised more than $1,700 while the auction pulled in more than $30,000, she said.

Some of the players answered fans’ questions. Guard JJ Hones said the team came back from the halftime deficit because “We took our time and got stops.”

Center Sarah Boothe, who has not played after foot surgery at the end of last season, said, “I’m doing quite well.” She practices with the team, playing the role of the opponent Jayne is likely to face. Asked about Sarah’s purported reputation for physical play, Jayne shrugged, “I’m pretty used to it from Boothe,” she said.

“She’s full go,” associate head coach Amy Tucker said of Sarah. “We’re very excited about her for next year.” “We’re not pushing Sarah to come back,” Tara said later. “She’s very talented. She’s a fabulous player.”

Guard Melanie Murphy, who has missed several games because of varied injuries said, “I’m trying my best to stay healthy and get better.” Guard Hannah Donaghe hasn’t yet played this season following knee surgery, but she has been dressed for recent games. “My knee is feeling great,” she said. The problem this time is blisters, Amy said.

The team then honored the FBC executive board and committees, handing out T-shirts to committee chairs and autographed team posters to committee members. “We have a great board,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said, adding that Stanford leads the Pac-10 in both victories and attendance. “Every game is Fan Appreciation Day,” she said.

The annual Fan Spirit Award went to Douglas Lee and Kelly Noonan, who have been loyal boosters for many years. Their names will be added to a silver trophy honoring the late Margie Santillan, an avid fan.

Tara then dismissed the players, but their day wasn’t over. They were headed for lifting and conditioning in the weight room at the new Arrillaga practice facility next to Maples. They’re in there at least twice a week, but they don’t lift before a game. Those who don’t play many minutes do extra conditioning to stay in shape. “So much goes on behind the scenes,” Tara said. “Our team is totally committed” to getting better. “It’s really fun to see the improvement.”

“You saw some really good play today,” the coach said, citing defense and rebounding in the second half.

Because Stanford is so dominant in the Pac-10 and in national rankings (No. 2 to UConn), all of its opponents “bring it for us,” she said. Every team has talented players, and “it’s good for us to play against really good players.” Still, “we’re able to wear them down.” Nevertheless, “We have to be aggressive.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming home stand against the LA teams, Tara said, “Next weekend is huge.” She also noted that after the USC game on Sunday, Stanford’s 1990 NCAA championship team will be honored in Maples. Besides players from that team, other alumnae will attend.

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