February 19, 2010

Tons of fun against Oregon

The award for understatement of the week goes to associate head coach Amy Tucker: “That was a fun game,” she told the Fast Break Club after the Stanford women’s basketball team had dismantled Oregon 104-60 on Feb. 18.

Yes, it was fun watching all five starters reach double figures. It was fun watching guard Jeanette Pohlen open the scoring barrage with a 3 and a 2 before going on to finish with a career-high 26 points, including six of the team’s 12 3-pointers. For good measure, she added three rebounds, seven assists, one block and two steals.

It was fun watching the highlights video on the FBC site the next day. It shows the hot shooting and crisp passing, evidence of a team that knows the true meaning of teamwork and unselfishness. In Stories of the Season on the FBC site, Marian Cortesi advises viewers to see what happens at the 0:53 point of the video. That’s where forward Kayla Pedersen makes the play of the game – inbounding the ball by deflecting it off a Duck’s back, then catching it and scoring.

Some more fun: Hearing Hookslide, a men’s quartet featuring team videographer Bud Anderson, sing the National Anthem to start the game. Seeing all the fans and players sporting some form of pink attire to promote breast cancer awareness. Center Jayne Appel’s dad showed up with a pink tutu over his trousers.

The list could go on. As head coach Tara VanDerveer pointed out, “It really started with Ros.” She was referring to guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, whose tenacious defense has consistently held opponents’ top scorers in check. Oregon’s Taylor Lilley was the latest to find that out, scoring only one 3-pointer and two free throws for a total of 5 points. “Ros is hands-down the best defensive player in the conference,” Amy said. “She’s a pit bull.”

“I liked our team’s energy,” Tara said. “I liked their focus ... I love how Jayne’s playing,” she said. Jayne, like Jeanette, scored 26 points to lead the team. Jayne’s 12 rebounds gave her another double-double to go with four assists and a steal. “It’s a really pretty stat sheet,” Amy said.

“The timing is really important for us,” Amy said. The team can clinch at least a tie for first place in the Pac-10 conference with a win against Oregon State on Feb. 20. The Pac-10 tournament is only three weeks away, and the NCAA tournament is only four weeks away.

The FBC’s guest speaker was Heather Owen, ’98, a former Stanford basketball player who has returned as director of annual giving and leadership gifts in the athletics department.

She gave an overview of some of the numbers involved in Stanford athletics, starting with the fact that the university’s fielding of 35 varsity sports teams is second only to Ohio State’s 36. The department serves about 850 student athletes with an approximately $80 million budget. Most of the budget goes to salaries and scholarships, followed by facilities, maintenance and travel.

Women’s basketball has its full allotment of 15 scholarships, but only 340 scholarships are offered campuswide, leaving some teams with fewer scholarships than players.

The revenue comes primarily from the endowment fund – “We’re still doing fairly well” despite the economic downturn, Heather said – along with ticket sales and annual giving. The department’s annual giving goal is $7.125 million, she said. All of it goes to the Buck/Cardinal Club and is doled out by the administration.

The five sports that bring in the most revenue are led by football, followed by men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball and women’s volleyball.

In looking to increase endowments, her department is hoping to find people to back more scholarships and coaches’ positions. To endow an assistant coach, for example, would require a pledge of $1 million. Endowing a head coach would take a $3 million pledge, but any pledge could start at $250,000, she said.

She pointed out that women’s basketball “is fully budgeted and gets whatever it needs.” Its donors most recently gave about $800,000 earmarked for the team.

One fan asked Heather how she likes being back at Stanford. “I’m thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying it,” she said.

Her comment also could have applied to what the Cardinal players were feeling that night. As Tara put it, “They had fun.” So did the fans.

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