June 27, 2010

SF Pro-Am whets fans’ appetites for 2010-11

Some two dozen fans of Stanford women’s basketball got a tantalizing glimpse of the upcoming season as three Cardinal players helped to lead their SF Bay Area Pro-Am team to victory June 27 at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco.

Returning red-shirt sophomore center Sarah Boothe and incoming freshman guards Sara James and Toni Kokenis all started for the Golden State team, which defeated the San Francisco team 88-71. Although their team now has a 2-0 record, this was the Cardinal players’ first appearance. They were arriving on campus for summer school the previous weekend.

Sarah was playing in her first competitive game since her freshman year. She sat out all of last season after undergoing foot surgery, but she was practicing toward the end of the season. Sara and Toni were both making their Bay Area post-high school debuts.

As the teams were warming up, Sarah did some of the Cardinal’s familiar stretching exercises. She then controlled the tipoff. The game was nip-and-tuck for the first few minutes, but Golden State began to move ahead, leading 48-30 at the half.

All three Stanford women played well with lots of hustle. Sarah led the way with 14 points despite sitting out with four fouls for about 3 ½ minutes in the second half, then fouling out with 2:45 to go. Although this recreational league doesn’t keep stats other than scoring and fouls, by my reckoning Sarah – the tallest player on either team -- had at least eight rebounds plus one block and a steal.

Toni contributed 13 points to go with at least eight rebounds along with four steals and no fouls. She wasn’t afraid to drive to the basket and moved the ball well up the court. Sara, whose parents were at the game (she’s from El Dorado Hills), chipped in 8 points, at least three rebounds and one steal. She, too, moved the ball well.

All three ran the floor well. Sarah made most of her baskets in the paint, while the two guards scored from farther out or drove to the basket. All three shared the ball well and seemed to sense when to pass and when to shoot. They played aggressive defense, especially the two guards. Sarah often set screens.

The Stanford women were involved in several offensive plays that would have been right at home at Maples. I didn’t keep track of assists, but they seemed to recognize that passing the ball to a teammate who scores is just as valuable as scoring themselves.

Sophomore forward Mikaela Ruef and incoming freshman forward Chiney Ogwumike are on the Golden State roster but weren’t at the game. Mikaela was reportedly attending a family get-together, while Chiney was in Colorado awaiting her USA U18 team’s gold medal game later that afternoon. You can read about her accomplishments in Stories of the Season.

Golden State plays again at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 3; 4 p.m. Saturday, July 10; and noon Saturday, July 17. Playoffs are scheduled for the last two Saturdays in July, the first Saturday of August and, if necessary, August 14.

Kezar Pavilion is at the east end of Golden Gate Park with hourly paid parking next door. For directions and other information, go to SF Bay Area Pro-Am.

Toni grabs a rebound

Sara launches a three

Sarah goes up for two