Friday, November 30, 2007

How Often...

Douglas Lee ‘85 I’m not sure when we heard about the Paradise Jam, but I decided we had to go. How often do you get to watch your favorite team play in St. Thomas? I have realized the question - “How often…” - has caused me to spend money, but it has also led my family to unique experiences that we cherish.

How often do you get to see your favorite team play in Boise? That was our first trip out of Northern California to watch Stanford play. How often will we get to watch Stanford in the NCAA tournament? This was two seasons ago and we went to Denver and San Antonio. Hopefully, we will have many more of these opportunities.

We planned early to attend the Paradise Jam. Traveling during Thanksgiving is always a challenge, but we found some reasonable flights. The weather cooperated and we had no delays flying from SFO to Dallas to San Juan to St. Thomas or back.

The tour company picked us up at the airport. There was another family on the shuttle. The parents graduated from Stanford in the 90’s, but now they lived in Washington. Their two young daughters didn’t quite understand that they were there to cheer for Stanford. One wanted to cheer for Virginia, a place closer to home for them.

We decided to stay at the team hotel, because how often do you get to do that? The Marriott’s Frenchman’s Reef is a beautiful property perched at the end of a rocky isthmus. It overlooks Charlotte Amalie Harbor. Our room was in a wing built into the rocky hillside that looks out to the Caribbean Sea. The view outside our room was stunning. It was a short walk down to the beach where we had breakfast one morning.

On the path to the beach we encountered many iguanas. They look ferocious... ...but are only aggressive if you have fruit, or red toenails. They chase red toenails because they look like berries.

One morning we rode the water taxi to the downtown area.We shopped for t-shirts and jewelry (there are about 400 shops downtown and over 75% are jewelry stores).For lunch, we found the delicious Gladys’ CafĂ© that served more traditional Caribbean fare. The jerked chicken sandwich was delicious as were the fried plantains. Every restaurant has hot sauce, but here they made their own and it was one of the best I tasted the entire trip. The cover of the menu shows Gladys with a platter of scotch bonnets in her hands and another platter balanced on her head. The restaurant is in a converted brick warehouse from the colonial days. We ate well the entire trip. One other memorable meal was at the Banana Tree. It is located on top of a hill in Blackbeard’s castle. Bluebeard also called St. Thomas home. The view of the harbor is stunning and if not for the ugly pool house, the sunset would have been beautiful. The moon was silvery and full as we dined in the open air. The dark rum and brown sugar glazed salmon and double cut pork chops were delicious. St. Thomas has many gourmet restaurants. Oh yeah, there was a little basketball too. All the games are played at the University of the Virgin Islands. The gym is intimate (think mainland high school size). We had great seats for all the games we attended. We sat behind the bench and had a close-up view of the action. We attended some of the other games, even in the St. John division, and got to watch many teams we otherwise might never get to see. Each team has its own personality and style. For me this brings an appreciation of how our team plays and how well they are coached. The games themselves were very exciting. The Stanford versus UCONN game felt like an NCAA tournament game. The ODU game was a very exciting back and forth contest, but we pulled it out at the end. The Temple game was a great comeback and really showed the resilience of this young team. My take away from these three games is how well we played as a team and how each player’s contribution made us successful. I don’t know if Stanford will ever play in St. Thomas again, but if they do, I recommend asking “How often…” Go Stanford!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stanford vs Temple -- a tale of two halves

By Diana Cordova We are just getting back to the hotel from the game. I must say that this, IMHO, was one of the most impressive comebacks I have witnessed in the 20 years I have been following Stanford women's basketball. Stanford came roaring back in the second half and overcame what seemed to be an insurmountable 17 point halftime lead. The team showed great courage, character, and determination in this most gut-wrenching and stirring comeback. For those of us in the stands, it was an exhausting, emotional night as we did our very best to cheer on the team (especially at the beginning of the second half during the monster 15-0 run). I did not recognize the team that showed up to play that first half. Nothing seemed to work. The offense stalled, everyone was missing shots left and right. What's worse, other than Candice and Jayne, no one seemed to want to shoot the ball. Temple, on the other hand was shooting the lights out. They have a tiny point guard (#21 - Morris) who was simply spectacular. She was very quick and made quite a few 3's in the first half along with some circus shots. She is reminiscent of her coach (Dawn Staley) with the no-look passes, speed, etc. Lady Comfort also played very well for Temple in the first half. The second half was a completely different story. Stanford came out with fire in their eyes and proceeded to shut down the potent Temple offense. Stanford did not allow a point for about the first 8 minutes of the second half while going on a huge offensive run of their own. It was a team effort. Jeannette Pohlen and Jillian Harmon made very important shots and rebounds. Roz draped herself all over #21. The fans were on their feet and before we knew it Stanford had tied the game! There was a worrisome stretch after Stanford tied when they looked a bit tired, Temple began making a few shots, and the refs decided to help the Temple cause with some cheap fouls (leading to Jayne's early departure). Stanford was undeterred, though, and kept playing hard. Candice in particular stepped up her game and saw Stanford through. All in all, this was a very good tournament for Stanford. They got two quality wins against good teams and they found out just how much character they really have. Even in the loss against an outstanding UConn team, they never gave up (the UConn fans were still commenting on Stanford's determination at tonight's game). The season now looks a lot better than it did tonight at half time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NY Frame of Mind (3) Dogs of Manhattan

Walking at random around Manhattan we kept noticing two things, very sharp-dressed women and some equally stylish dogs. We thought the women might object to being photographed, but the dogs didn't seem to mind...

NY Frame of Mind (2) Streets of Manhattan

Saturday and Sunday we had time to wander the streets of Manhattan. Here are a few pictures. The Lake in Central Park... Joggers in Central Park... View of Liberty from Battery Park... Tourists play with the Wall Street Bull... Old Grumpy walks the Brooklyn Bridge... We noted a lot of women dressed so sharp they could cut... We had a very nice lunch in an upscale food-market. Actually most of the food prices were quite reasonable. Late Sunday there was a basketball game... Quite enough has been written about it elsewhere. "The RAC" is quite a friendly venue. The lower bowl is about the same size as Maples's. The roof is much higher and the cheap seats climb wayyyy up. The band looks good but didn't have a very interesting repertoire or much excitement. But the announced crowd of 4,300 was very noisy and supportive.

Monday, November 12, 2007

NY Frame of Mind (1) Crack Of Dawn

We started this East Coast expedition with a 10pm departure from SFO, arriving in Newark at The Crack Of Dawn. Still in the airport we stopped in a coffee shop so Marian could add a headline to the FBC website before we started the day's travelling. While there we bumped into Richard Nancarrow and Dal Miranda, who unknown to us had been on our same flight. They were flying on to New Haven, but we were going by train, which we shortly did: New Jersey Transit to Penn Station, and an Amtrak train from there to New Haven. Here in Penn station we got considerate, helpful service from two Amtrak employees, which was the start of a trend. Every single clerk, driver, or waiter we dealt with this long weekend was responsive, friendly, and helpful. This in what is supposed to be the home of the brusque attitude. Anyway, off to New Haven. A half-hour walk across New Haven in chilly (40-degree) air... ...brought us to our hotel for a short break; then out again into the cold for a five-minute walk to the modest gym where the lady Bulldogs play. This small place, and the small crowd in it, reminded us of WCC venues like St. Mary's and Pepperdine. There was quite a sprinkling of Stanford fans. Ros's mom was up from NYC and chatted with Richard Nancarrow and Wally Mercereau. The game was mostly fun; blowouts are always fun because there's no worry about winning. The only suspense is, will they reach 100 or not? Which Mel's free-throw did. But Michelle's injury took some of the fun out of it. Tomorrow: at large among the Dogs of New York.