January 30, 2012

Whew! Too close for comfort

Thanks in part to the efforts of two sophomores, the Stanford women’s basketball team eked out a 74-71 home overtime victory over cross-bay rival Cal on Jan. 28.

Forward Chiney Ogwumike scored 3 (a layup and free throw) of her 27 points during the five-minute overtime, while guard Toni Kokenis recorded 2 of her 18 points in overtime, both on free throws. Chiney’s point total and her 18 rebounds were both career highs. She also had one each in assists, steals and blocks in 42 minutes. For her part, Toni had one rebound, four assists and two steals, also in 42 minutes.

Senior forward Nneka Ogwumike had 12 points plus nine rebounds, one assist, one block and two steals in 43 minutes. Even though her point total was below her usual output, it still was enough to move her into fourth place on Stanford’s all-time scoring list, surpassing Val Whiting, ’93.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer told the Fast Break Club after the game that Nneka had been ill for much of the week and had missed some practices.

Bears make it a nail-biter

It was a tough game as the surging Bears proved to be formidable opponents. The lead seesawed through the early part of the first half, but Stanford slowly edged ahead, ending the half with a 38-29 advantage. The lead had opened to 61-49 with 7:41 to go in the second half, but Cal rattled off 7 unanswered points to narrow the gap to 61-56 at the five-minute mark.

Freshman forward Bonnie Samuelson gave Stanford some breathing room with two quick 3’s, making the score 67-60 with 2:46 to go. After that, Stanford had only 2 more points, while Cal poured in 9 points to tie the score at 69-69 at the end of regulation play.

Overall, Stanford ended with a less-than-stellar 36.5 shooting percentage for the game, while Cal made 40.5 percent of its shots. Bonnie’s two 3-pointers plus one by Toni were the only three of 20 Stanford attempts that went through the net – 15 percent. Cal made four of 16 for 25 percent.

Stanford won the battle of the boards, snaring 51 rebounds to Cal’s 47. Stanford also had the edge in assists, 15-10; blocks, 4-2; and steals, 9-5. Stanford had 13 fouls, Cal 19. Both teams had 15 turnovers.

With a reported attendance of 6,075, Maples was rocking. Cal sent over a contingent of band members, cheerleaders and mascot Oskie. Stanford had its band, cheerleaders, the Tree and the Dollies.

More reasons to cheer

The Peninsula Girls Chorus started the formalities well with a fine rendition of the national anthem.

Twice during the game the fans were treated to a new crowd-pleaser – T-shirts fired from the Shockwave, a T-shirt-shooting robotic cannon. About four times larger than the remote-controlled model cars one sometimes sees zipping around playgrounds, this shiny blue machine featured tubes that rotated into place to fire off the red T-shirts. It was remotely controlled by a teenage boy.

Halftime featured more crowd-pleasing moments. The first was the introduction of Stanford’s 2011 national champion women’s soccer team, which had defeated Duke 1-0 to claim its first victory in its third consecutive trip to the Final Four. Players were introduced individually, but several were absent because they were studying abroad or playing with the Mexican national team.

Those who were there entertained the crowd in a contest in which they had to cross the entire court bouncing soccer balls on their feet without the balls touching the floor. Then, again just using their feet, they tried to make baskets. A few even succeeded.

Much to the delight of Stanford fans, but probably not to Cal fans, the video board showed highlights from Stanford’s Big Game football victory over Cal this past fall to claim The Axe. Then six Cardinal football players paraded onto the court carrying The Axe trophy.

More football memories were evoked during the second half when former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh was shown in the stands. Harbaugh now is the first-year San Francisco 49er coach who led his resurgent team to the NFC championship game the previous week.

During the post-game session, Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations, gave a quick preview of the Pac-12 tournament in Los Angeles March 7-10. Since the top four teams will get a first-round bye on March 7, Stanford is expected to play its first game March 8 at Galen Center. The semi-finals will be March 9 and the championship game March 10, both in Staples Center.

Fans meet Lauren, Liz

Associate head coach Amy Tucker introduced the post-game guests, Lauren Greif, special assistant and video coordinator; and Liz Rizza, intern. Referring to Lauren, Amy said, “She went to a small school across the bay.” Of course she meant Cal, where Lauren was a standout guard who graduated in 2010 and came to Stanford as an intern last season.

Her job as video coordinator entails editing game videos and coding them according to a variety of factors. “All statistics get recorded” during the game, she said. She has 24 hours to upload each game video into a computer program accessible to other teams for use in scouting. By the same token, she also downloads upcoming opponents’ games for Stanford coaches to review and scout.

Lauren is working on a master’s degree in sports psychology from San Jose State and hopes to become a coach. She said she was rooting for Stanford in the game but wore neutral colors.

For her part, Liz said she had become hoarse while yelling for Stanford from the bench. As an intern, her duties are many and varied, she said. She went to high school in Eugene, Ore., and graduated from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, where she played point guard, according to her Stanford bio. She earned her master’s degree at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.

Tara assesses the game

When Tara came out to address the post-game gathering, she started with “It was a great crowd. … What a great win for our team.” She added that she was disappointed that the game wasn’t televised and that “this was a little bit of a gray hair day.”

Just then, Chiney, still in uniform, came onto the floor to head across court to greet her father and others. Tara acknowledged her arrival as the crowd cheered. “Thanks for coming,” Chiney said.

Tara said she was pleased with her team’s rebounding. She also complimented Cal. “It’s great to play a close game.” She was pleased “that we can beat a great team like Cal without shooting well. … We won by playing defense, by rebounding” and other things, she said.

“They’re a great group to work with,” she said of her team, but players’ health remains her biggest concern.

“Basketball is a game of spurts,” she said. This game will help the team realize how important each play is. “It was pretty physical,” but “it’s fun to learn from a game like this.”

No comments:

Post a Comment