January 16, 2013

Second streak comes to an end

Slightly more than two weeks after UConn had ended the Stanford women’s basketball team’s record 90-game home winning streak, Cal came to Maples Pavilion and ended the Cardinal’s 81-game conference winning streak by a score of 67-55 on Jan. 13.

The game started well as Stanford amassed an 8-point lead at the 14:38 mark, but the Bears began chipping away and built up a 39-31 advantage at the half. It appeared that the Cardinal might rally about five minutes into the second half, but it wasn’t to be.

Playing 39 minutes, junior forward Chiney Ogwumike led Stanford’s scoring with 18 points plus a team-high nine rebounds. Junior guard Toni Kokenis was the only other Cardinal in double figures, tallying 12 points plus six rebounds, one assist and one steal in her 37 minutes.

The only other players to score were sophomore guard Amber Orrange with 9 points, junior guard Sara James with 6, senior forward Joslyn Tinkle with 4, and redshirt junior forward Mikaela Ruef and sophomore forwards Taylor Greenfield and Erica Payne with 2 each.

Cal won the rebound battle 43-39, had eight assists to Stanford’s five and only six turnovers to Stanford’s 16. Stanford was saddled with 24 fouls while Cal had 18.

Even though Stanford hit a higher percentage of its free throws – 78.9 percent to 74.2, Cal’s greater number of made free throws – 23 to Stanford’s 15 – accounted for 8 points in its 12-point win.

The game attracted a crowd of 5,931. A sizable contingent of Cal fans turned out, including pep band, cheerleaders and mascot Oskie, wearing a stocking cap to ward off the cold weather outside. Stanford’s crowd was boosted by the band, cheerleaders, Dollies and Tree.

WBB alums join the crowd

Also in the stands were several WBB alums, including Lindy La Rocque, ’12; Jayne Appel, ’10; Brooke Smith and Markisha Coleman, ’07; and Krista Rappahahn Birnie, ’06. At various times in the game, the video board showed them in the stands.

At the half, the video board celebrated the football team’s recent Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin Then six football players walked onto the court carrying The Axe to celebrate the team’s defeat of Cal in the Big Game, the Pac-12 championship trophy and finally the Rose Bowl trophy. All three had been displayed in the lobby for photographs before the game.

Speaking for the football team, defensive end Ben Gardner looked ahead to the next season, saying, “We’ve got a great team coming back.” He also thanked the fans for their support and had some hopeful words for the women’s basketball team. “We expect them to come out in the second half and beat Cal,” he said. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

“That was painful,” one woman said about the game as fans gathered for a post-game Behind the Bench session.

Jayne talks about her experience in China

However, the session began on a more pleasant note as Jayne spoke about her recent experience playing professional ball in China. She “experienced a whole new culture,” she said, adding that she missed American food and English. Her coach spoke only Chinese, so she had to have an interpreter, a 20-year-old man whose translations didn’t always come across too clearly.

Looking fit and trim, Jayne said she has one year left on her contract with the San Antonio Silver Stars, which drafted her in the first round of 2010. She hopes to return to China to play in the offseason.

The game’s speed was the biggest adjustment she faced in going from college to the pros. In addition, “Everyone knows every trick in the book,” she said.

Asked to comment about that day’s game, Jayne said she was here for the last loss to Cal in 2009. After a loss, she always wanted to get back on the court. “It’s a good thing it’s not March,” she said, adding, “I’m planning my trip to New Orleans already.” New Orleans will host the Final Four.

Plans for fans’ Oregon trip

Dave Cortesi, Fast Break Club travel chair, gave some details about the team’s Oregon trip, which usually attracts a large fan following. Some Stanford alums in the Eugene area will host a get-together before the Feb. 1 game at Oregon, and an alum who has a house in Corvallis will host a brunch before the Feb. 3 game at Oregon State. Fans who want to sit with other Stanford boosters at the games can arrange for tickets by e-mailing travel@stanfordfbc.org.

While waiting for one of the coaches, Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations, talked about the team’s recent trip to Utah and Colorado. The dining room of the team’s hotel in Boulder overlooked an ice skating rink. That’s where the team got a chance to see another talent of head coach Tara VanDerveer, who, along with strength and conditioning coach Kurtis Rayfield, donned skates and took a few turns around the ice, much to the players’ delight.

Eileen also announced that the annual spring banquet will move to a new venue, the Alumni Center, on April 11. Finally, she noted that the Pac-12 tournament will move to Seattle this year and the following two years, hosted by the Seattle Storm.

Amy assesses game, cites need for rebounding, screening

She was joined by associate head coach Amy Tucker, who began her remarks about the game by saying, “It doesn’t happen very often, and it certainly doesn’t feel good. We’ll work on it.”

She cited Stanford’s lack of aggressiveness in the first half and noted that “the game was very physical.” “This was a tough wake-up call,” she said, but several issues are correctable. “We have to rebound better with our bigs,” and do “a better job of screening for shooters,” she said.

“Chiney has been playing great, but we need more help. Our veterans really have to step up. Our offense is in a state of flux right now.” On the bright side, “I thought the crowd was great.”

Asked about the two players who are injured and haven’t played, she said that freshman forward Aly Beebe is working hard on rehabbing from an ACL injury and is expected to be ready next fall. As for redshirt freshman guard Alex Green, there’s “no timetable right now for her return.” Alex missed most of last season with an Achilles tendon injury.

Looking ahead to the Jan. 18 game against UCLA, she said “UCLA is very good, very talented. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Tara calls for smarter, more aggressive play

Tara’s first comment about the game was “a tough day today. We have to play a lot harder.”

“One of our goals is aggressiveness. We have to play smarter. This is what it’s going to be like” without Nneka Ogwumike, ’12, and “big bodies like Jayne, Kayla (Pedersen, ’11) and Jeanette (Pohlen, ’11),” she said.

Hoarse and low-key, Tara agreed with Amy’s assessment that “it was physical out there.” “We didn’t defend hard enough” and passed up shots. “We have a lot of work to do to become a championship team. … Our pace is not what it needs to be.”

She wants to bring out what individual players do well. “We have to compete at a higher level. We have to be more aggressive. You can’t depend on Chiney all the time.”

“It’s going to be exciting to see what they do between now and March,” she concluded.

An aside

In keeping with tradition, one player at each home game has a chance to thank her scholarship sponsors and invite one of her professors to sit near the bench. At this game that player was Joslyn, whose scholarship sponsors are Helen and Peter Bing, both ’55.

Noted for their numerous philanthropic ventures at Stanford, the Bings donated $50 million toward creation of Stanford’s newest building, the Bing Concert Hall, which officially opened with a concert Jan. 11.

I had a chance to peek into this handsome new facility during an open house and concert Jan. 12. It’s a noteworthy addition not only to the campus but also to the Bay Area music scene.

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