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.