Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stanford Sweeps Hawaii Tourney

By Wally Mersereau

Like a trade wind, or a new broom, the Stanford Cardinal swept through its three opponents at the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu to emerge undefeated and uninjured. In fact, the team was healthier at the end than at the beginning as Toni’s illness appeared to be cured by the trip to these tropical islands. I’m sure Toni would recommend this treatment for whatever ails you.

Although not being prone to boast, if pressed, Stanford at this point, with all due modesty, can point to a 5-0 season record, including a win over the vaunted Lady Bears, once thought to be the finest in the land. This trip to Hawaii was good for team and fan alike. Gentle breezes blew and the swish of basketballs passing through nets could be heard with regularity.

Stanford’s final tournament game against Tennessee-Martin was not dull. It was a really good game. The Skyhawks approached the game as other teams will this season when they face the Cardinal--with nothing to lose, playing fearlessly and loose. T-M has some excellent shooters who kept the Skyhawks very much in the game until about the last five minutes of the first half when Stanford was first able to build and hold a 10-point lead. The score at the half was 41-31.

Although Tennessee-Martin continued to make a good effort, Stanford was fully in control in the second half, steadily increasing its lead to the final score of 92-68.

One thing missing from the game was a crowd. After the first game today where Baylor topped Hawaii 77-42, most of the local fans left. The attendance shrank to about 250 for the Stanford game and the number of Stanford fans dwindled to about 25.

Amber had a great game with a number of dazzling passes. Bonnie and Taylor both demonstrated that they are broadening their range of contributions. Bonnie was a real scrapper throughout the entire tournament and certainly in this game. Taylor played with more finesse, making moves and shots she has not shown before. In the second half Bonnie was not shown on the scoreboard for an extended period when she made several shots. Her points were never correctly credited on the scoreboard, but I think are correct in the final stats.

Mikaela was a key player in this game, contributing more than her stats show. Jos may have had a personal scoring high of 25 while rebounding, defending and passing in a big-time way. Chiney was again amazing, making shots that only she or Nneka can make in racking up another double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Sara could not get a break today. Nothing she tried worked and she quickly picked up fouls. It was not her night. Erica, wearing a black brace on her right knee that I haven’t noticed before, played well in her few final minutes. Tess did fine, but will eventually be able to do much more.

Stats-wise, Chiney played 29 minutes and made 12 of her 16 shots, had a block and a steal and was 1 for 1 in free throws. Jos scored her 25 points in 34 minutes, had 6 rebounds, a block and a steal and was 6 for 6 at the line. Amber was in for 33 minutes with 12 points, 7 rebounds, a block, two steals, 2 of 2 at the line and a phenomenal 10 assists and only 2 turnovers. Bonnie scored 11 points in 14 minutes, including two 3-pointers.

The team shot 57% from the field (much better in the second half), made 4 of 10 threes and had its best free throw shooting of the season at 74%. Stanford outrebounded T-M 46 to 26.

After the game tournament awards were presented with the team trophy obviously going to undefeated Stanford. Chiney was rightfully named tournament MVP, with Jos also named to the all-tournament team.

The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks may have a masochistic scheduler who has matched them against #1 Baylor, #4 Stanford, #8 Louisville and #18 Purdue early in their season, apparently to guard against over-confidence. The Skyhawks have only one win to their name, over unranked Arkansas State, but from the way they played against Stanford they can put a scare into some of their future opponents. It’s hard to see how they could have lost to Hawaii on Friday. Incidentally, Pat Summitt was an All-American at Tennessee-Martin circa 1970.

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