December 21, 2010

Cheering from afar

Although they were some 2,000 miles from Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday, Dec. 19, the 30 or so fans at Mike’s Cafe in Menlo Park did their best to cheer on the Stanford women’s basketball team in its game against Tennessee.

The good vibes almost worked as the Cardinal tied the game at 70-70 at the closing buzzer, but the tide turned in the five-minute overtime, ending in an 82-72 win for the Lady Vols.

Tennessee’s win also deprived head coach Tara VanDerveer of her 800th coaching victory. However, fans can take consolation in the possibility that they can be there in person to see Tara reach that milestone at USF on Dec. 22.

This was the first FBC viewing party at Mike’s, which is on Middlefield Road just north of Willow Road. Some may recall that it had been Late for the Train restaurant.

Mike’s offers a varied menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, main courses, desserts and drinks. Fans who bought a second drink received their first drink for free. The Stanford group occupied tables at the far end of the room, where several TVs were tuned to the game. The weather cooperated with a welcome break in the rain.

Once again the starting lineup changed. There were the usuals – senior guard Jeanette Pohlen and three forwards: senior Kayla Pedersen, junior Nneka Ogwumike and freshman Chiney Ogwumike – plus a new starter, junior guard Lindy La Rocque. It was good to see Kayla back in action after she had missed the De Paul game while recovering from hurting her head in the Fresno State game. Her leadership and steadiness were missed in the 20-point loss at De Paul on Dec. 16.

By the end of the game, only eight of the 12 Stanford players saw action. Besides the starting five, they included freshman guard Toni Kokenis, sophomore forward Joslyn Tinkle and redshirt sophomore center Sarah Boothe. Senior forward Ashley Cimino did the high-five honors after the eight 3-pointers – six by Jeanette and one each by Joslyn and Kayla.

Several fans at Mike’s said they were recording the game. I was among them, so I watched it after I got home that evening. It was easier to hear the commentators and convenient to fast-forward through the commercials.

It also gave me a second chance to watch the action and take heart. The team was playing in front of a crowd of more than 14,000 -- most of them knew all the words to “Rocky Top” -- yet the Cardinal managed to come from behind and almost pull out the win. It was a good learning experience that will serve the team well as the season continues.

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