April 1, 2010

Sendoff to San Antonio

“Hopefully the third time’s the charm.” Fifth-year senior guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude summed up the goal of the Stanford women’s basketball team on April 1 as it got ready to leave for San Antonio and its third consecutive NCAA Final Four.

“We’ve got high expectations,” she told the crowd of about 100 fans along with the band, cheerleaders, Dollies and Tree as well as TV cameras. Just then a campus fire truck rolled by, tooting its horn, and the crowd began chanting, “Two more wins.” That’s all it will take – victories over Oklahoma and the winner of the UConn-Baylor game – and the Cardinal will bring home the coveted trophy.

The afternoon sendoff began with a serenade by the band as the coaches and team began to assemble after a final practice in Maples. Two people held up a banner reading, “Public Safety wishes the Stanford women’s basketball team the best of luck at the NCAA Final Four tournament.”

Videographer Bud Anderson served as an emcee, saying “We are very excited to be here today.” He asked the crowd for its help in filming a video of some informal Stanford vs. Oklahoma contests, such as the coolest band, best cheerleaders, best fans, best cheer (“Go, Stanford!”) and best mascot (“Go, Tree!”). He had to scratch his head at best musical, though. “We don’t really have that,” he said. Rodgers and Hammerstein apparently didn’t get this far west.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer told the fans that when she got home Monday night after Stanford had won the Sacramento regional with a 55-53 last-second win over Xavier, her dogsitter had put up a big sign, “Jeanette for president.” Guard Jeanette Pohlen may be a bit young for that job, but she certainly won Stanford hearts March 29 when her full-court dash and successful layup made her the Cardinal heroine.

Even though Stanford has been to the Final Four for the past two years, “It does not get old,” Tara said. “It gets better and better.”

“Our team has worked extremely hard to get here,” she said, thanking everyone for their support. “We’re not just going to Texas for barbecue,” she concluded.

After the band had ended the short ceremony with “It’s All Right,” the players mingled with the fans. Ros and forwards Joslyn Tinkle and Nneka Ogwumike were among those interviewed by TV reporters. Tara gave some last pats and treats to her two friendly golden retrievers, Buddy and Scout.

Then the band, etc., filed into one bus, while the team and its entourage boarded another before driving off to the airport for a 4 p.m. charter flight to San Antonio, where we hope the team will prove that the third time is indeed the charm.

Here's a video of the team sendoff rally from Stanford News Service.

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