July 19, 2010

Big threesome powers team to victory

Three Stanford bigs powered their Golden State team to an 83-74 win over Bay City in San Francisco Women’s Pro-Am competition July 17 at Kezar Pavilion.

Though limited by four fouls, red-shirt sophomore center Sarah Boothe led the way with 18 points, along with five rebounds and a steal. Most of her points came from nifty shots under the basket. She also ran the floor well.

Right behind her in the scoring column were sophomore Mikaela Ruef and freshman Chiney Ogwumike with 17 each. Fresh off being named Gatorade Female Prep 
Athlete of the Year on July 14, Chiney made it a double-double with 10 rebounds plus a steal. She showed strong athleticism in getting to the basket.

Mikaela, who had her best game this summer, added six rebounds and two steals. The two forwards also had two 3-pointers each.

Also scoring in double figures was freshman guard Sara James with 12 points, including two 3’s, to go with four rebounds and one steal.

Fellow freshman guard Toni Kokenis had two points but showed her defensive prowess with six rebounds and two steals. All of these numbers are unofficial.

Sara, the only Cardinal to start, was stationed in the center circle for the opening tipoff, which she controlled. Chiney and Sarah joined her with 17:42 to go in the half and Golden State trailing 7-0. Sarah immediately scored the first points for Golden State, which began surging ahead. Most of that surge resulted from the gradual addition of Stanford players until all five were on the court at 11:04, but Sarah had to go to the bench at 10:00 when she picked up her second foul.

Golden State led 44-34 at the half. Bay City crept closer several times when the Stanford bigs were on the bench, but as soon as they returned, they took control.

It was fun to see 6’ 5” Sarah and 6’ 3” Chiney going against Cal’s 6’ 3” DeNesha Stallworth in the paint. Cal’s 5’ 7” Eliza Pierre tossed in two 3’s when Mikaela was late on defense. Eliza followed them up with cartwheels as she ran down the court. She was called for unsportsmanlike conduct the second time, but there was no penalty. One suspects that Cal head coach Joanne Boyle won’t let her keep that move in her repertoire.

As usual, there was a good turnout of vocal Stanford fans. The cheering section included Sara’s parents and the family dog, Sadie, a terrier mix that came from the SPCA about eight years ago. She was a hit with fans of all ages.

Chiney’s parents and two younger sisters also were in the crowd, as well as her older sister, junior forward Nneka Ogwumike. Nneka arrived with senior forward Kayla Pedersen and junior guard Lindy La Rocque.

Regular play in the recreational league ended with the 4-1 Golden State in first place even though two other teams also had 4-1 records. According to the league’s Web site, a point system was used to determine first place.

Therefore, Golden State won’t be back in action until the championship games at 2 p.m. Aug. 7 and 8. If a third game is needed, it will be at 2 p.m. Aug. 14. Admission to all games is free.

The games are played at Kezar Pavilion, 755 Stanyan St. at Waller at the east end of Golden Gate Park. Paid parking is available in an adjacent lot.

Nneka, Kayla and Lindy crack up over one of Mikaela's 3-pointers

Erika, Lindy and Olivia

July 12, 2010

Stanford players lead team to victory

For the first time this summer, all five Cardinal players who signed up for the San Francisco Pro-Am women’s basketball league played at Kezar Pavilion. In the process, they led their now-3-1 Golden State team to an 86-77 victory over still-winless Bay Pride.

All five also showed up in my unofficial scoring column with freshman guard Sara James leading her team with 15 points, including three 3’s. Two forwards, freshman Chiney Ogwumike and sophomore Mikaela Ruef, were close behind with 12 points each. Mikaela’s total included two 3’s.

Red-shirt sophomore center Sarah Boothe chipped in 10 points, while freshman guard Toni Kokenis added 4. Thus the fivesome accounted for 53 of their team’s 86 points.

They also contributed rebounds, led by Sarah’s 12. Chiney had six, and Mikaela and Sara had five each, while Toni had three. As for steals, Chiney had three, Sara and Toni two each, and Mikaela one.

Sarah and Sara started the game. Chiney joined them with 17:33 to go in the first half, followed by Mikaela at 16:28 and Toni at 15:08. Thus all five Stanford players were on the court until 12:10, when Sara and Chiney went to the bench after picking up their second fouls. All of them were in and out after that, but no one fouled out. Chiney came close with four fouls, and Sarah had three. Mikaela had two, while the guards had one each.

Bay Pride fielded only five players, who thus had to play the entire game, while Golden State had 10. Nevertheless, Bay Pride kept the score relatively close, especially in the second half. Fouls and traveling calls caused Golden State the most problems.

It was fun to see the five Stanford women playing together. One could also sense the rapport that’s developing among them. The rapport also was evident as senior forward Kayla Pedersen, senior guard Jeanette Pohlen and junior forward Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney’s sister, arrived to cheer for their teammates.

Sarah, who didn’t play last season while recovering from foot surgery and who had missed last week’s game, once again impressed the fans with her quickness in transition and her toughness under the basket. She missed a few easy shots early in the game but regained her touch later on, making some close but tough shots. Mikaela, who had joined her teammates just last week, seemed more focused this time.

The three freshmen continued to impress. Sara is not only a scoring threat but also a bulldog on defense. One could picture her as the defensive successor to the graduated Rosalyn Gold-Onwude. Even though fouls have limited Chiney’s playing time, she shows tremendous promise. More than one fan commented that she and Nneka are likely to give most opponents more than they can handle, especially when Kayla, Jeanette and other returning players are added to the mix. Toni, like Sara, is fast, tough and apparently fearless. It’ll be fun to see how these three contribute once they’ve had the benefit of working with the Cardinal coaches.

Golden State’s final regular game is at noon Saturday, July 17. Playoffs are scheduled July 24 and 31, Aug. 7, 8 and possibly Aug. 14. All games are at Kezar Pavilion, 755 Stanyan St. at Waller on the east side of Golden Gate Park. There’s paid parking next door. For more information go to SF Bay Area Pro-Am.

July 4, 2010

Freshman class shows class

Stanford WBB’s incoming crop of freshmen once again showed great promise in San Francisco Pro-Am play Saturday, July 3, at Kezar Pavilion.

Even though their Golden State team lost 83-76 to the Mission Recreation Center team, forward Chiney Ogwumike and guards Sara James and Toni Kokenis gave some three dozen Stanford fans reason to cheer.

According to my strictly unofficial count, Sara led the scoring with 26 points plus seven rebounds, followed by Chiney with 22 points, 12 rebounds and two steals, and Toni with 9 points and four rebounds. Sophomore forward Mikaela Ruef, who missed last week’s game, contributed 3 points, nine rebounds and one steal. All four of them started the game. Red-shirt sophomore center Sarah Boothe, who was so instrumental in the team’s victory last week, missed this game.

The buzz among fans before the game was that this was their first chance to see Chiney in Bay Area action. Last week she was busy leading her USA U18 team to a gold medal against Western Hemisphere teams in Colorado. After controlling the tipoff Sunday, she showed some nifty moves both offensively and defensively. She had to take a seat with 16:57 left in the first half because she picked up two quick fouls. The tenor of the game seemed to change after that, but improved when she returned later in the half. She had only one more foul after that.

She also contributed a 3-point shot, as did Toni, while Sara had three. Both guards showed a lot of hustle while taking the ball up the court, driving to the basket or dishing out assists. They also showed some tough defense. Sara fouled out with under 22 seconds left in the game, but it was an intentional foul when the score was 79-74 in Mission Rec’s favor.

Overall, though, Golden State had some problems. For one, only eight players showed up, while Mission Rec had 10. Moreover, Mission Rec appeared to field more experienced players. For example, its two leading scorers, both with 19 (according to the San Francisco Chronicle), were Santa Clara University alumna Whitney Sutak and Amanda Lassiter, listed with WNBA/Spain experience in the program.

Although I don’t have numbers, Mission Rec appeared to outrebound Golden State. Golden State also was plagued by turnovers, many of them from errant passes. Golden State’s defense often left Mission Rec players open for successful 3s.

The Stanford boosters included Sara’s parents, Mikaela’s mother and Chiney’s big sis, forward Nneka Ogwumike, who had celebrated her birthday the previous day. With her was junior classmate Lindy La Rocque, guard.

Golden State, now 2-1, plays again at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 10, and at noon Saturday, July 17. Playoffs start July 24 and continue July 31, Aug. 7 and 8, and possibly Aug. 14.

The games are played at Kezar Pavilion, 755 Stanyan St. at Waller on the east end of Golden Gate Park. There’s paid parking next to the pavilion.

For details go to SF Bay Area Pro-Am.

Mikaela and Chiney get ready to play

Sara launches one of her three-pointers

Toni stops and pops

Chiney puts up a shot over Whitney Sutak

Cardinal moms Katie Ruef and Kelly James