Sunday, December 19, 2010

Which hurt more?

By Wally Mersereau

There is no doubt that losing both games on this road trip is indeed a downer. As we left Thompson-Boling Arena, the Halfs and I voted on which loss was the most painful. Cherie and I voted for DePaul, Fred abstained. My reasoning was that the DePaul loss was more unexpected, especially by such a margin--a really major upset--a shocker, with DePaul out-playing Stanford from start to finish. I was numb after the DePaul game, but only disappointed after the Tennessee loss.

Tennessee is always tough, especially at home. The program showed that the cumulative results over the years before this game was Tennessee with 21 wins to Stanford's 6. In tonight's game, Stanford was down by 14 at one point in the first half, made up the half-time deficit of 8 points with about 9 minutes to go in the game and hung in there for the 70-70 tie in regulation. That was a very nice comeback. But the overtime was all Tennessee, out-scoring Stanford 12-2. Jeanette fouling out when the score was still 70-70 pretty much ended any hope, especially with Tennessee into the free-throw bonus.

Tennessee lost its last game to Baylor (having previously lost to Georgetown) and was admitting in the press that it didn't yet have its team well organized. Pat Summitt was reported to have forcefully displayed her unhappiness with her team and this may have had some effect. I didn't notice any lack of organization by the Lady Vols tonight.

There were about 60 or so Stanford fans in attendance among the thousands and thousands of orange-clad Volunteer rooters. Stanford tried to change its luck by switching to red uniforms from the black worn at DePaul. I thought we had been told that only one color of uniforms were taken on road trips, so this might have been a first from an attire standpoint.

Apart from the game, there were two unusual features: the Star Spangled Banner was sung by a Nashville pro who produced the twangiest version of our anthem that I've ever heard. And the half-time entertainment was provided by a talking parrot on a perch. I haven't seen that before.

It would have been sweet if Tara could have obtained her 800th win by beating Pat Summitt. It looked possible for about four minutes in the second half. But it was not to be. If the team learns from these losses, happier days may lie ahead. At least the Xavier and UConn games will be at Maples.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Demons demolish discombobulated Cardinal

By Wally Mersereau

It was a cold night in Chicago--21 degrees to be exact--and a few snowflakes were drifting downward. But inside McGrath Arena on the DePaul campus the Blue Demons were fired up and red hot. They out-played visiting Stanford from start to finish. Stanford's black uniforms did not intimidate DePaul in the slightest. The Blue Demons were better on both sides of the ball for the entire game, playing non-stop aggressive defense and making heart-breaking shot after heart-breaking shot. In comparison, Stanford looked pretty inept over-all. DePaul answered basket for basket and then some.

Halfway through the first half Stanford managed to catch up and take a two-point lead, but it lasted less than a minute. Stanford struggled back again to get within two points at the half, 37-35. The closest Stanford could get in the second half was one point with about 15 minutes to go, but it was all down hill from there as DePaul dominated and ran away with the game to a final score of 91-71. This was just a plain old fashioned thrashing. I haven't looked at the stats, but I'm sure they will favor DePaul in every category.

And this happened in front of one of the largest collection of Stanford fans ever for an early-season road game because of the absolutely great turn-out of supporters for Chicago-area players Sarah Boothe and Toni Kokenis and near-by Ohioan Mikaela Ruef. I sat behind Sarah's high school coach and beside Mikaela's grandfather. There were hundreds of Sarah, Toni and Mikaela fans, but they had little to cheer for. The Fast Break Club had five members present: Fred and Cherie Half, Kellee Noonan, Douglas Lee and me.

I may have jinxed Stanford by optimistically having a banner prepared to celebrate Tara's 800th win. But that will have to gather dust until another, brighter day.

What else? Well, Kayla did not play, apparently being saved for Sunday's game at Tennessee, and, of course, she was missed. Jeanette made many clutch shots to end with, I think, 23 points as Stanford's top scorer. Chiney appeared to be seriously injured with just under 14 minutes left in the game when a DePaul player fell hard on her as she lay on the floor. She could not put any weight on one leg as she was assisted from the floor and went to the locker room. She reappeared with about 10 minutes to play with an ice pack in her hand and almost at once went back in the game and played most of the remaining minutes without showing any limitations. Joslyn made some nice 3-pointers. Toni started, but didn't score her first basket until the waning minutes.

That's about it, folks. What more is there to say? Stanford came and DePaul conquered. Time to regroup. End of story.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Time to Order Oregon Tickets

It's time to order a block of seats at the new Matthew Knight Arena and at Oregon State.

To review, our game at OU in Eugene is at 6pm Thursday January 27. There may be a social event of some type following the game hosted by the Oregon Stanford alums.

Our game at OSU in Corvallis is at 2pm Saturday January 29. For logistics and travel notes, see the Travel page.

If you are going to attend either game, and want to sit with other FBC members, please send an email to travel at saying which game(s) you want tickets for.

We need this input next week, by December 17th.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Use It Or Lose It: USF Fan Bus in Jeopardy

At the tent following the South Carolina game, Eileen Roche, director of Basketball Operations, announced that only a few people have signed up for the USF bus ride, and about 30 for the Cal bus. If insufficient people sign up by the fast-approaching deadline, the USF bus will be canceled.

The USF game is at 6:30pm on Wednesday, 12/22. That would be an hour after sundown on the shortest day of the year, just about rush hour on one of the final shopping days of the holiday rush.

Not anyone's favorite time to be driving into The City and looking for a parking space. Being able to sit back and leave the driving to a professional, and not worry about parking at all? Priceless.

It won't happen unless more sign up in the next few days. To sign up, you can

click here

...or, time being short, just call DeeDee in the Basketball office: 650-723-0284.

Oh! And, an anonymous donor has promised fresh brownies on the bus. So call now!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Zigging through the Zags

By Wally Mersereau, Cardinal fan and intrepid traveler

The Utah game was good. The Gonzaga game was great.

The Big Two were back as the Big Three and all three were essential to the win. Nneka had more tape on her fingers than at Utah, but it did not seem to affect her excellent play. I did not learn the mystery reason for Nneka not playing at Utah. Gonzaga was Mikaela's breakout game, in minutes played and in performance. As a Gonzaga fan seated behind me said: "#3 off the bench has been outstanding for Stanford". Chiney had an off day and early foul trouble.

Gonzaga is an excellent team and USC's win over the Bulldogs, even at Galen Center, now seems more significant than it did at the time. Without knowing about other WCC teams, I predict Gonzaga will handily win its conference. It has lots of good players and good coaching. It would rank in the center of the Pac-10.

It snowed in Spokane in the morning and lightly during the game, providing a winter wonderland setting. The sold-out McCarthey Center was rocking with enthusiasm. Before each half everyone stood and participated in an impressive rhythmic clapping and chanting to recorded music. When Gonzaga came back from 12 points down to tie the game with 5 minutes left, the arena exploded. But, as Tara said, Stanford kept its poise and put the game away, thanks primarily to Jeanette's clutch shooting. Tara used an 8-player rotation, plus a couple of minutes for Sara James. Sarah Boothe continued to be inconsistent in her play.

Joslyn's father had an early Sunday Montana men's practice and then drove three hours from Missoula to attend the game. Joslyn's resemblance to her father is remarkable.

The McCarthey Center is a nice, near-new venue with free parking. Above-average concessions included a stand offering several prepared-as-you-watch Asian stir frys. Despite the weather outside being frightful there was a long line at the Ben & Jerry's stand where waffle cones outsold cups eight to one.

Besides the two games, highlights of my trip included getting reacquainted with the Bunyan-size blocks in downtown Salt Lake City, the snow in Spokane, sitting next to and being surrounded by the Stanford team on the flight to Spokane and chatting with Amy Tucker at baggage claim. Travel to away games provides an up-close-and-personal contact with the team and coaches, a chance to experience different venues and the opportunity to see our team deal with someone else's home court advantage.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In the Land of the Utes

By Wally Mersereau

Three Fast Break Club members travelled to Salt Lake City for the Utah game: Kellee Noonan, Doug Lee and me. It was an exciting game with the outcome uncertain until the final 7 minutes or so. Utah played great defense from start to finish and Kayla and Jeanette had trouble getting anything to fall in the first half. But the final outcome was much better than the last Stanford game in Salt Lake City which went into double overtime thanks to Mel's buzzer beater. Mel and Hannah did not travel to this game.

The Big Three was down to the Big Two. Nneka seemed to practice normally before the game, but did not play. She had three bandaged fingers on one hand, including two taped together--otherwise she seemed fine. Tara did as she said she would do and had a 9-player rotation without Nneka and still got the win. Sarah and Mikaela had their best games with 22 and 18 minutes respectively. Although Mikaela did not score, she played well.

Michelle Harrison was scoreless in the first half, but found her range in the second half with four 3s and a lay-up for 14 points. She was selected as Player of the Game by the court announcer and addressed the fans after the game. She and Tara embraced and exchanged a few words after the game.

Official attendance was 2000, but I estimated only about 800-1000 were actually there, including about 150 students. Students were offered a drawing for a $300 certificate for books, but had to be present for the drawing midway in the second half. Almost all of the students stayed for the whole game and were noisy throughout. Utah provided its band, its red-tailed hawk mascot and 13 dancing girls. One fan participation event I liked was the Hamster Roll in which two competing players were inside 6-foot-diameter clear plastic balls and had to propel themselves down the court and back, knocking over some plastic bowling pins at the far end. There also was a clown busily making balloon animals for kids. But only one concession stand and two pairs of restrooms were open. I was able to get an over-sized ice cream drumstick for $3 that prepared me for the second half.

I took the light rail from downtown to the Huntsman Center--only 13 minutes each way and no parking hassle. There was an event at the football stadium tonight that generated a lot of parked cars--perhaps a high school football game. During the day hundreds of high school students visited the university, arriving in yellow school buses.

The weather in Salt Lake City was overcast and windy with a high temperature in the 50s, but no rain. The highly visible mountains are covered with snow.

I was satisfied with the game. Utah narrowed Stanford's lead to two points twice in the first half and got it to 36-35 in the second half. But Stanford always quickly increased the lead and had solid control of the game in the last 7 minutes or so. Chiney was the first Stanford player to reach double digits. Jeanette and Kayla began scoring at their usual pace part way through the second half. And nine players got significant playing time even with Nneka on the bench. I was glad I came and felt this was a good W and a good experience for the team.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Buying Tickets for Utah, Gonzaga, DePaul and Tennessee

At least one FBC member is going to attend all four of the opening road games. Here's what Wally Mersereau reports about ticket availability.

I have purchased tickets for all 4 away games in 2010. Good seats are available for Utah and DePaul. Not so good for Gonzaga and Tennessee. Ticket info:

Utah - ticket office: (801) 581-8849. My ticket is in Section K, Row 4, behind Stanford bench. Cost $11, including postage.

Gonzaga - ticket office: Tickets West (800) 325-7328. My ticket is in Section115, Row 22, Seat 4, behind Stanford bench, but 22 rows away. Cost $9.50, including postage. All of the lower bowl (first 15 rows) is sold out.

DePaul - ticket office: (773) 325-7526. My ticket is in Section B, low row--single tickets go on sale on October 27, so I wasn't given a precise location, but this is behind the visitor bench. Cost $14, including postage.

Tennessee - ticket office: (800) 332-8657. My ticket is in Section 320, Row 13. Cost $?. This is the upper of 3 levels and across from the benches. The first two levels are sold out throughout and all three levels are sold out on the benches side.

Anyone else going to these games? Remember, an FBC member is allowed to call the Basketball office and inquire as to the team's hotel.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Great new airline booking site

When planning your flights based on the slowly accumulating schedule, be sure to try out a very useful new site:

You enter your starting and destination cities and your travel dates, and in very short order up pops a table listing all the flights for all airlines.

Each row of the table is a flight, and the flights are ordered by price from least expensive up.

Each flight is shown in a compact but highly informative way, a single color-striped bar showing you at a glance when it departs, where you lay over, and when you arrive. Clicking the bar opens a pop-up with full details. In the popup is a "buy now" button that sends you to one of the standard travel sites, such as Orbitz, to complete the purchase. There's also provision for round-trip scheduling, so naturally designed there's no need to explain it.

Great site. Book your trip to the Final Four now! If that link gives only the basic search page, get fresh results by entering from: SFO; to: IND; depart: 04/01/2011 (that's a Friday, enter 04/02 if you can't leave until Saturday, missing attractions like the high-school All American game); return: 04/06/2011.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Some Texas Wildflowers

On our off-day we went for a drive south of San Antonio to see the fabled Texas spring flowers. There were flowers blooming along most roadsides and in the median of main roads. Here are a few pictures.

Typical roadside flower patch. The blue and white ones are the famous Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis). The yellow ones here are Sneezeweed (reckon somebody had allergies? Helenium elegans).

More Bluebonnets mixed with White Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

Evening Primrose, pink version Oenothera speciosa

Flax Linum rigidum var. berlandieri

Primrose, Verbena, one dandelion

Primrose-eating donkey

Indian Blanket, Gaillardia Pulchella

Winecup Callirhoe involucrata

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Final Four Notes and Events

Gitcher Tickets

You can pick up your pre-ordered tickets at any of three times: At the Alamodome will-call during Stanford's Open Practice (see below), at the Hotel Contessa during the reception (see below), and of course at the 'dome before the first game.

Saturday Fun

Saturday April 3, 11am to 12:30 in the Alamodome is Stanford's open practice period. It will be followed by an autograph session.

Then, if you can make that event, stay around the Alamodome until 3:45 for the Battle of the Bands, when the four team's bands have a play-off judged on musicianship and showmanship. In Tampa, the LSJUMB won this event.

Pregame Reception and Sendoff

Stanford hosts a reception Sunday April 4, 3-5pm, in the Hotel Contessa (see map below). Cash bar, free tex-mex nibbles. You must RSVP to Lisa Ortiz ( or 650-723-7415).

One Game at a Time, But...

If the Cardinal advance to the Championship game, Stanford will host another reception, from 4:30 to 6:30pm at the Rio Rio Cantina, across the street from Hotel Contessa. The Rio Rio is the "official" Cardinal gathering place.


The NCAA is providing a wealth of online clickables, starting here. Sort of buried in it is an 8-page PDF, the (right-click and download) Final Four Fan Guide.

Downtown Map

From the fan guide we have extracted a very useful one-page map. Click to biggify, then print.
Note especially #4 on the map; that's the Hotel Contessa where the reception is planned. Also note the route of the NCAA shuttle; almost all downtown hotels are within a short walk of its route.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Heading to Sacramento

(Updated 3/22 with bus and social info)

Suh-weet Sixteen

The Cardinal move to ARCO Arena in Sakamenna (homage to Herb Caen) to play the "Sweet Sixteen" game against Georgia and then possibly the "Elite Eight" game.

Game tickets from the Stanford ticket office (1-800-STANFORD) starting tuesday morning. Or, if you can stand to wait, you can order them from Ticketmaster beginning Wednesday noon. Click here for Saturday tickets, click here for Monday. In both cases, use the promo code CARDINAL.

The round of 16 games will be on Saturday 3/27. The Stanford-Georgio game begins at 6:04; Xavier-Gonzaga at 8:30. Prior to the first game, the BB office will sponsor a no-host Social. If you are an FBC member you've received email with a link to register for this $20 event. If not, here's the link. You have to create a name and password registration, ho-hum. But don't do that if you plan to take the bus!

The BB Office is also organizing a bus from campus. Just email h.owen @ to reserve bus seats. The bus will leave campus at 2pm and return after the second game. Bring something to read; it's a long ride. Your $55 ticket (for non-FBC members) includes the social, and you can skip the online registration. Game tickets are separate.

Leet Eight

The Elite Eight game will be on Monday 3/29 at 6:07. The Office will sponsor a bus for this game also; $45/seat for you non-FBC members (cheaper because no Social is planned). Will leave campus at 3pm.

Arco and Sacramento

If you've not been to Arco Arena (many FBC members were there last year to see a Monarchs/Lynx game), it sits in the middle of a vast flat agricultural plain just off I5. Here's a Google map (also available by clicking the Arco link on our Schedule page).

There are few amenities near, although there are a couple of chain restaurants near the Del Paso/Commerce intersection. We ate at the Outback Steakhouse there and it was not bad.

Drive up or spend the weekend?

Some Bay Area fans will no doubt expect to drive to Sacramento on each separate day—especially since Stanford is organizing a bus from campus (see above). Out-of-town fans and some locals may consider spending the long weekend in Sacramento.

If you will stay the weekend, you can look for a hotel at either or at (click 'em for a list of hotels).

That settled, you only have to figure out what to do with a Sunday and most of a Monday in Sacramento. Here's a list of links to things to do:

Besides these, Sacramento has a large number of performing-arts venues: ballet, orchestra, theater and others. We aren't going to comb through and figure out what's on for that Sunday night. But you can open the Yelp Performing Arts listing and look for something that piques your interest.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PAC-10 Meetups and Events

For Your Reference

Here's the complete PAC-10 tournament bracket which includes game times.

And here's the FBC Travel Page with a long list of things to see and do in L.A.

Also, here (thanks, Eileen!) is a Chowhound thread on "Good east walking distance from USC?"

Band Send-offs

If you haven't seen one before, what happens is the LSJUMB plays loudly and the Dollies dance on the hotel porch or portico while the team is filing out to get on the bus. If the band plays well, team members are sometimes inspired to dance with the dollies. This will be happening in front of the Downtown Marriott, 333 Figueroa street before each game, assuming the team keeps winning:

  • Friday at 11am (conflicts with the Cal-ASU game)
  • Saturday at 12:15 (plenty of time to get to the meetup after)
  • Sunday at 12:45

Saturday Meetup

If the Cardinal win on Friday (in the post-season, you can never be sure of anything) join Heather Owen and other fans for an informal meetup prior to Saturday's 2:30pm game.

Gather starting around 1pm 12:30pm in The Lab, just up the street from the Galen Center.

Sunday Brunch

Strictly uncoordinated, but if you want to see other fans and have a nice brunch, make your way to Canter's Deli between 9:30 and 10:30 am Sunday. It is located west of city center, and a convenient walk from a big cluster of museums and parks described on the Travel Page above. Here's a map...

View Larger Map

Monday, February 22, 2010

PAC-10 Logistics Updated

The PAC-10 tournament bracket is up with times for all games so we can finalize our plans for a weekend in LA!

Thursday 3/11

Two play-in games, at 6pm and 8:15pm. If the tournament was held this weekend, these would be UW v. WSU at 6 and AZ v. OSU at 8:15.

Friday 3/12

First session of two games begins at 11am. The #1 seed (guess who?) plays in the second game at 1:15.

Second session features the #2 seed at 5pm (as of today, that would be UCLA, which would draw a decent crowd), and the fourth game of the day at 7:15.

Saturday 3/13

Happily you have all morning to amuse yourself in L.A.; check out the extensive list of things to do on our Travel page.

The two-game session begins at 2:30pm. Be on time, the #1 seed plays in the first game. Second game, featuring the #2 seed, at 5pm.

Sunday 3/14

The championship game is at 3pm. Allow 2 hours for the game and 30 minutes of trophy-awarding and net-cutting. It would be a bit tight but security lines should be short on a Sunday night, so you could book a flight home from LAX for 9pm or later.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Who's going to the PAC-10 Tournament?

We need to get an idea of how many FBC members are going to the PAC-10 Tournament this year. If we know people are going, we can plan some activities. Last year there were some fun meet-ups with drop-ins by alumni. Please send email to if you are going!

If you haven't decided whether to go, or for what days, here is a run-down.


The tournament starts on Thursday March 11. There will be two games that evening (6pm and 8:15pm) in which the four lowest-seeded teams play each other to see who gets into the real bracket. While these aren't the premier teams, they are evenly matched and the games are competitive and entertaining.


We like to call this "iron-butt" day because there are four games in two sessions: 11am and 1:15pm, then 5pm and 7:15pm. It's eight hours of squeaky sneakers and loud horns, with a break from 3 to 5 to find an awkwardly late lunch or early supper.

Rather to our surprise, according to the official PAC-10 schedule (scroll to the bottom), the #1 seed—and you know who that's going to be—plays in the first session at 1:15pm. Sorry, worker bees, you need to take Friday off to see the Cardinal play this game.

Saturday and Sunday

On Saturday there is one session with two semi-final games. The #1 seed will play in the first of them. Times have not been set for these games, which is awkward because until they are set, we don't know what part of Saturday will be free to enjoy Los Angeles.

The Sunday championship game is scheduled for 6pm, so we definitely have all day Sunday at liberty.

Logistics and Amusements

We're putting our info on travel logistics and on things to do in LA on the Travel Page but we can always use more info.

  • What will you do to pass a day and a half in LA?
  • Will you fly in and out of LAX, or use one of the smaller regional hubs like Anaheim or Long Beach?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Meet-ups for the L.A. Trip

This coming weekend the Cardinal play at USC at 7pm Friday, and at UCLA at 2pm Sunday. Following the Friday night game at the Galen Center, fans might like to meet for a post-game drink at McKay's Cocktail Lounge in the next-door Radisson Midtown hotel. If you are stuck for things to do on the free Saturday between games, good news: Pepperdine is playing at home! It's a WCC league game against Loyola Marymount, so both teams will be playing hard. The game is at 4pm in the Firestone Fieldhouse on the beautiful Pepperdine campus (click for directions; print out the main campus pdf map for reference).