August 9, 2010

End of the line

The five Stanford players in the San Francisco Pro-Am women’s basketball league saw their summer season come to an end Aug. 8 when their Golden State team lost 75-70 to the Mission Recreation Center team. This was Golden State’s second loss to Mission Rec in the best-of-three championship series at Kezar Pavilion.

Unlike the Aug. 7 game, which saw Golden State losing 77-61, this game was much more competitive and better played, especially by the Stanford women. Together they scored 53, or 75.7 percent, of their team’s points.

According to my unofficial count, freshman forward Chiney Ogwumike led the way with 16 points, followed by sophomore forward Mikaela Ruef with 13, red-shirt sophomore center Sarah Boothe with 12, and freshman guards Sara James and Toni Kokenis with 10 and two respectively. Chiney and Mikaela were the top rebounders among the Stanford women with 11 each, followed by Sarah with five, Sara with three and Toni with two. Sarah, Chiney, Mikaela and Sara had one steal apiece.

Golden State led 33-31 at the half, then fell behind 48-40 with 15:33 to go. At 12:31, however, the score was tied 50-50. At 3:16 the score was 70-66 in Golden State’s favor, but the team never scored after that.

Chiney fouled out with 5.2 seconds to go, but it was a deliberate foul, a desperation move in hopes of getting the ball at the end of a very close game. Sara had four fouls, Sarah three, Mikaela two and Toni one. As he did the day before, the Mission Rec coach drew a technical foul after arguing with a referee about a call. The Golden State coach sent Sara to the free throw line, where she sank both shots.

All five Stanford women were on the floor together for less than a minute in the first half, but there were many stretches with three and a few with four. Sarah, Chiney and Sara all started. After controlling the opening tipoff, Sarah scored Golden State’s first basket – a sign that she was not to be denied after being shut out in the previous game.

The Stanford women also were responsible for some plays that would look right at home at Maples. In one particularly nifty no-dribble sequence in the first half, Mikaela passed the ball to Sarah, who quickly passed it to Chiney, who scored, was fouled and made the free throw. Twice during the second half, Mikaela made a defensive rebound and lobbed baseball passes to speeding Chiney, who scored. I didn’t keep track of assists, but all of the Cardinal women did well in that category.

The crowd wasn’t quite as large as the day before, but it included three Stanford starters: senior forward Kayla Pedersen, senior guard Jeanette Pohlen and junior forward Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney’s sister.

Although the Stanford women were undoubtedly disappointed, the loss means they’re out of the playoffs and can head for home Aug. 14, when the summer session ends. They’ll return to the Farm for limited practices starting Sept. 15, followed by the first day of fall classes Sept. 20 and regular practices Oct. 5, associate head coach Amy Tucker said earlier this summer. Judging by their Kezar games, I’d say they’ll all make positive contributions during the coming season.






August 7, 2010

Unfamiliar experience for Cardinal fans

Fans of Stanford women’s basketball aren’t accustomed to seeing their team lose. On the rare occasion when it does, the score is relatively close – or so it has been in recent years. Therefore, it came as a shock to see a team stocked with Stanford players lose by 16 points after trailing by as much as 20.

That was the case Aug. 7 when Golden State lost to Mission Recreation Center 77-61 in the first championship game of San Francisco Bay Area Pro-Am play at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco. The two teams meet again Aug. 8 in the two-of-three competition.

Of the nine Golden State players in uniform on Saturday, five were from Stanford – red shirt sophomore center Sarah Boothe, sophomore forward Mikaela Ruef, freshman forward Chiney Ogwumike and freshman guards Sara James and Toni Kokenis.

Back: Coach Chris Valentino, Natalie Jones (Arizona/Germany), Lena Gipson (Santa Clara), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Sarah Boothe (Stanford), Mikaela Ruef (Stanford), Jackie Sheppard (UCLA), Coach Steve Neal. Front: Dellena Criner (Nevada/Poland), Sara James (Stanford), Toni Kokenis (Stanford), Rometra Craig (USC).

Mission Rec fielded only seven players, but their quickness and sharp shooting, especially from the free-throw line and the 3-point arc, were too much for Golden State.

Back: Coach Rudy Russell, Whitney Sutak (Santa Clara), Nicole Harris (Cal Berkeley), Lauren Bell (Pepperdine), Kamilah Jackson (Hawaii), Jazmine Jackson (Pepperdine), Coach LaRyan Russell. Front: Toni Russell (USF/Montenegro), Amanda Lassiter (WNBA/Spain).

For its part, Golden State was plagued by fouls, turnovers, poor shooting and lack of teamwork. Too often a player would try to get to the basket by herself instead of passing off to a more open teammate.

The closest Golden State came to good team play was when all five Stanford players were on the court, but that happened for only slightly more than two minutes in the first half. They have been playing pickup games on campus with teammates who are in summer school, so they presumably have a good notion of teamwork. However, they don’t practice with their Golden State teammates. For its part, Mission Rec reportedly does practice together.

Moreover, Golden State hadn’t played for two weeks because it was the No. 1 seed. During that time, Mission Rec played and won two games to earn its spot in the finals.

Chiney, Sarah and Sara were in the starting lineup, but Sarah picked up her second foul at 17:16 and went to the bench, followed by Sara for the same reason at 15:01. Both returned to action later.

According to my unofficial figures, Mikaela led her Stanford teammates with 12 points and 10 rebounds, closely followed by Chiney with 12 points and nine rebounds. Toni had three points, three rebounds and a steal, while Sara had two points and five rebounds. Sarah was held scoreless, but she had four rebounds. They all played good defense and showed a lot of quickness.

The score was 30-24 in Mission Rec’s favor at the half. Then within the span of 75 seconds, Mission Rec was up 37-24. Mission Rec also was called for two technicals during the game, one on the coach and one on a player.

The game drew a large crowd of Stanford fans, including Sara’s parents and the family dog, Sadie. Also in the stands were Left Coast Hoops writer Michelle Smith (this is her report) and four Stanford players – senior forward Kayla Pedersen, senior guard Jeanette Pohlen, junior forward Nneka Ogwumike and junior guard Lindy La Rocque.

The second and possibly deciding game is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, at Kezar Pavilion, 755 Stanyan St. at Waller at the east end of Golden Gate Park. Admission is free. There’s paid parking next door. Allow plenty of time for heavy traffic.

If Golden State wins, the deciding game will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14.