December 12, 2010

Doggone fun for everyone but Fresno

It was the annual Dog Lovers Day as the Stanford women’s basketball team hosted the Fresno State Bulldogs on Dec. 12, and all the dogs shone except for the visitors, who lost 77-40.

Honoring Humane Society Silicon Valley, the afternoon was devoted to Cardinal dogs. Fans and players submitted photos of their favorite canines, which were shown on the video board. Then there were some hilarious videos of dogs and videos of the coaches and some staffers morphing into dogs. To top it all off, agility dogs from ACE Dog Sports made their third annual appearance at halftime. Dogs ranging in size from tiny Molly, a teacup poodle, to Zoe, a Great Dane, showed their stuff leaping hurdles and going through tunnels – all to the delight of the crowd.

The crowd also was delighted with the agility of the team, especially the Ogwumike sisters, who combined for 35 points and 18 rebounds. Freshman Chiney had 18 points and 13 rebounds for the first double-double of her college career, while junior Nneka had 17 points and five rebounds. Both forwards started, along with senior forward Kayla Pedersen, senior guard Jeanette Pohlen and freshman guard Toni Kokenis.

Jeanette passed a milestone in her career, becoming the 32nd Cardinal to score 1,000 points. She hit that mark in the first half and finished the game with 15 points, one rebound, three assists and five steals.

All 12 healthy players got into the game, and 10 of them had double minutes, head coach Tara VanDerveer told the Fast Break Club after the game. Ten of them scored, too.

“It’s really exciting to see so many people play and do so well,” she said while being interviewed by Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, ’10, in front of the Maples crowd right after the game. Ros, a standout defensive player for the Cardinal, was providing color commentary for KZSU radio coverage of the game. Other recent alumnae at the game were Candice Wiggins, ’08, and Morgan Clyburn, ’09. Morgan had conducted a basketball clinic for youngsters in the practice facility before the game.

Tara neared another major milestone herself, notching the 799th win of her college coaching career. “I really try to appreciate each game” and each team, she told the FBC.

Guests at the FBC gathering were the two sophomores, forwards Mikaela Ruef and Joslyn Tinkle. Joslyn said she spent the summer at home in Montana, where she worked on her perimeter game. Mikaela attended summer school along with several teammates, so “we were able to work together” and play pick-up games nearly every day, she said. She and four teammates also played pro-am games at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco.

Both players said they don’t especially enjoy defending against smaller, faster guards. “I try to pretend I’m fast,” Mikaela said. On the other hand, “we have an advantage because we’re taller,” Joslyn said. She and Mikaela are both 6’3”.

Both said they’re glad to have final exams behind them. “It takes a lot out of you,” Joslyn said. The coaches scheduled practices around exams, but “school comes first,” she said.

She took her finals in sociology, a foreign language and earth systems. Mikaela’s finals were in physics, French, computer science and economics.

Now the team faces four more tough tests this month, playing DePaul and Tennessee on the road before Christmas and playing Xavier and UConn at home after Christmas. “We’ve been doing a cumulative scouting” to prepare for those teams, Mikaela said.

Post defense has been an emphasis, associate head coach Amy Tucker said. “We thought we might prepare a little early,” she said.

After the two-week layoff for dead week and finals, “it was fun to get out and play,” Tara said. “I thought we played very well defensively.”

She praised several players along with assistant coach Bobbie Kelsey, who scouted Fresno. Even though the three freshmen – Chiney plus guards Toni Kokenis and Sara James – made some mistakes, as can be expected, they’re “further along than I thought they’d be” at this point, Tara said.

Overall, “I’m impressed with this team’s maturity and their cohesiveness.” The players show “great consideration and support” for each other, she said.

She ended by wishing everyone happy holidays.

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