Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year’s Eve in Westwood

By Wally Mersereau

A fast-paced 77-50 win over UCLA was a nice way to end the year and set the stage for a romp to Stanford’s first Pac-12 conference title. Especially because the Bruins had picked off Cal two days earlier 60-55 in the same venue.

Because Pauley Pavilion is being reconstructed, the game was played in the adjacent Wooden Center on the UCLA campus. The UCLA ticket office had told me all seating was general admission, but this was incorrect and half of seating along one side of the court was reserved, apparently for Bruin season ticket holders. Wooden has a capacity of only 1,800. Seating is on all four sides of the court in benches that go eight rows high. There is a single concession stand.

I arrived at 12:50 pm to find a long line of well over a hundred waiting for the doors to open at 1:00 pm. By the time I got inside all of the top row seats which let you lean back against the wall were taken so I took an aisle seat on one of the plastic-topped benches. The benches are slightly contoured, making them a little more comfortable than the upper level benches in Maples.

For once, my estimate of actual attendance and the official count closely agreed. I guessed there were about 1,500 there and the official attendance is 1,426. There were at least 100 Stanford fans present, twice as many as at the Thursday night USC game.

Only 9 Bruins were suited up to play, with 5 injured players on the UCLA bench. Unlike USC, there was no band and only a scratchy recording of the UCLA fight song was played when that team took the floor. One encouraging sight was Mikaela jogging across the floor before the game to get practice balls indicating some mending of her injured foot.

Wooden shows only the score with no display of player numbers or points. The announcer gave the count of personal fouls when these occurred, but no report of cumulative points scored by individuals.

As a suggestion that the game was not going to go UCLA’s way were three Bruin fouls in the first 90 seconds. And, unlike the USC game where the Trojans kept narrowing Stanford’s lead in both halves, this game provided a steadily expanding Cardinal lead. With 11:30 remaining in the first half, Stanford was up by 3, with 5:30 left in the half up by 8 and at the half the score was 40-23.

The second half was more of the same as the Stanford lead grew to 19, then 25, then 32 with 4 minutes left in the game. All Stanford players got on the court and 10 players had more than 11 minutes each.

The Big Three of Nneka, Chiney and Toni led the way with a combined total of 44 points. Both Nneka and Chiney had double-doubles with 18 points and 10 rebounds for Nneka and 15 points and 11 rebounds for Chiney. Stanford’s free throw shooting improved from 59% at USC to 70% today. But Cardinal 3-point shooting was dismal, connecting on only 2 of 13 attempts for 15%, with Toni and Sara getting one apiece.

UCLA played aggressive defense, occasionally pressing and trapping, but it could not contain Stanford. Stanford topped UCLA in rebounds 49 to 27. The Cardinal had 19 assists to 14 turnovers, while UCLA ended with a mere 5 assists to 11 turnovers. This game was Stanford all the way, ending with a decisive win that puts Stanford at 2-0 in conference play.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

USC Plays Tough at Home

By Wally Mersereau

It was a sloppy, hard-fought battle at the Galen Center on Thursday night with Stanford able to prevail in the last 8 minutes. Up to that point the game could have gone either way.

Stanford built a 12-point lead in the first half only to have USC cut it to 3 points at the half, 33-30. USC held close for most of the second half, achieving a 41-41 tie with 12 minutes left, then taking a small lead. With 8 minutes left Stanford was up only 46-44. Stanford then went on a 8-0 run to get the score to 54-44 with 4 ½ minutes left. In the ending minutes USC outscored Stanford 9 to 7, but it wasn’t enough for the Women of Troy, with Stanford hanging on for a final score of 61-53.

Senior point guard Ashley Corral had a great game for USC, ending with 21 points. Christina Marinacci had 12 points and 9 rebounds, Briana Gilbreath had 7 points and 12 rebounds. USC made 71% of its free throws. Stanford made an embarrassing 59% at the line with Chiney reverting to her free throw funk, making only 4 of 9. Nneka did well at the line with 7 of 8.

Tara used 10 players, but only 6 had more than 10 minutes—the starters plus Bonnie. Bonnie made her first two 3-point shots, but then missed her next 3. She contributed respectable defense, including a block.

Stanford was led by Nneka with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Stanford could not have won without her. Toni continued her stellar play with 15 points and 3 steals. Chiney achieved a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

This was a thrilling game, but it didn’t bring out USC fans. My guess at total attendance is 1,000, including about 50 or so Stanford fans. All seating was general admission and the most expensive ticket was $7. Parking in the adjacent garage was $10.

The LA Times continues to give almost no coverage to women’s college basketball. Today the Times gave a preview of the USC and UCLA men’s games that were played in the Bay Area, but gave only one line to the local USC and UCLA women’s games with nary a comment. In contrast, the New York Times devoted more than half a page to the Texas A&M women today.

Cindy and John Pohlen attended. Lisa Leslie had a front row mid-court seat. Ros Gold-Onwude was doing the KZSU commentary and went over for a half-time chat with Lisa. Several former Stanford players were there, including Krista Rappahahn.

So Stanford is 1-0 in Pac-12 play, but it was a worrisome win, as road games often are.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Good seats at University of Oregon

Thanks to our helpful rep Jason at OU, we have a commitment that our block of seats at Matt Knight Arena will be in section 102, behind the visiting bench. Here's the floor plan.

Three people have signed up so far; keep it comin'!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

OU Brunch and Ticket Buy

Fan Brunch Before OU Game

The Cardinal play Oregon in Eugene at 2pm, Saturday February 18th

Prior to that game, Andrew Nelson and others of the Eugene alumni group will host a brunch for visiting fans at a local restaurant convenient to Knight Arena. No booking or prepayment is needed for this, but we would like an idea of how many are coming -- see below!

Group Ticket Buy

We will pre-purchase a block of seats for this OU game. (For the OSU game of Thursday evening, 2/16, buy at the door.)

To participate in the ticket buy, please request your seats by email to travel (at) soon, but at any rate no later than the Washington game of January 21st. Whether or not you want tickets, use the same email address to say if you plan to attend the pregame brunch in Eugene.

Hopefully we'll have tickets to hand out at the "Behind the Bench" after the UCLA game of February 12th.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11s no jinx in Texas

By Wally Mersereau

On the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011 the Stanford women, with the eyes of Texas upon them, won their first official game of the season in Austin. They won it without Nneka who was out with some kind of “upper body injury”. They did it with important contributions from two of the freshmen. And they did it with Tara using 12 players, including 5 freshmen. It was not a pretty win, but it was a clear and important W.

Seven players had 21 or more minutes, including freshmen Taylor with 29 and Amber with 25. Taylor started the game, showing that her start against Vanguard was not just an exhibition oddity.

The first 6 minutes of the game were essentially a tie. Stanford took the lead and kept it with 8 minutes left in the first half. At the half it was Stanford up 35-30. Mikaela played for the first time this season—a total of 9 minutes.

Texas really stepped up its defensive pressure in the second half and maintained it to the end of the game. Stanford withstood the pressure well, although its lead shrank to 4 points with 13:30 left in the game. After that Stanford pulled itself together and kept control of the game, ending with a final score of 72-59.

On this Veterans Day, important veteran playing came from Chiney, Joslyn, Toni, Lindy and Sarah. Two outstanding freshman performances were provided by Taylor and Amber.

Chiney had a double-double in her 26 minutes, despite early foul trouble. She was high scorer with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Amber with 25 minutes and Joslyn with 23 minutes each scored 14 points and had 6 rebounds. Joslyn finished the game with 4 fouls. Toni scored 10 points and had 2 rebounds in 25 minutes. Taylor had 9 points and 2 rebounds in 29 minutes. Lindy’s stats were not impressive, but her play was. Sarah scored 6 points and had 6 rebounds in 21 minutes.

This was a hard-fought game with the outcome not certain until the last 5 minutes. Texas is a strong team and deserves its #24 ranking. Interesting comments from Texas fans seated behind me were that Chiney was the best player on the floor and that Tara is not afraid to substitute.

What were some of the lessons learned? Not having Nneka makes a big difference, but not a fatal one. Chiney is a leader and was able to rise above her early foul trouble to finish strong. Joslyn is truly much improved this season. Lindy and Toni can come through under pressure. Taylor and Amber both are excellent all-around players who did exceptionally well in their first real tests.

Tara substituted more freely than she usually does. She used eleven players in the first half.

Improvement is needed in rebounding and free-throw shooting, along with Nneka’s return to health.

Official attendance was 4,700, but my estimate was 3,500. Somewhere between 35 and 50 Stanford fans were there, including Taylor’s parents and an enthusiastic group of Amber’s family members. The win was satisfying and the trip to Austin worthwhile. This Stanford team needs lots of improving, but it is a good one--and this should be an enjoyable season.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Texas Pre-game Party Finalizing

Austin-based Stanford Alum Sam Chang and the Stanford Club of Austin are finalizing the headcount for a pre-game dinner party near the game site, the afternoon of the Cardinal's game at Texas. Email Sam ( to get on the list if you haven't already.

Also be aware that if you stay in Austin through Saturday, you needn't miss watching the Stanford-Oregon football game. The same organization is planning a game-watching party and all are welcome; email Sam for details.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tickets for UCONN and UCLA

UConn Tickets from Stanford

If you plan to attend the pre-Thanksgiving game at UConn, you can order tickets right now for $22 from our Women's Basket office. Call the office (723-0284) or email Eileen Roche ( with your request.

UCLA Seating Is All G.A.

As noted in the preceding post, UCLA is playing in an 1,800-seat venue this year, and no single-game tix for Stanford's New Year's Eve game at UCLA will be sold. If you have clicked-through to buy a "Mini-Plan" at the UCLA ticket sale site, you may have noted that it appear to be selling you specific seats by row and number. Not so! Wally Mersereau talked to the UCLA ticket folks and:

The ticket office rep told me the row and seat numbers are meaningless and are just a quirk of the computer system. I was told that no one, including season ticket holders, have reserved seats. I was told the doors at the Wooden Center will open one hour before game time. If you are there when the doors open and are fleet of foot you can sit in the seat of your choice wherever it may be.

Waiting in line to pick up will-call tickets might make you a loser in this foot-race. Do as Wally did; call the UCLA central ticket office at 310/825-2101 and order your tickets to be mailed to you.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Limited Seating at UCLA

Wally Mersereau has been shopping ahead for away-game tickets and reports:

The UCLA women's basketball team will not play in Pauley Pavilion this season because it is being rebuilt. The team will play in the John Wooden Center, a student recreation facility that is diagonally opposite Pauley, on top of the underground parking garage that is entered from Sunset Boulevard at Westwood Plaza. The Wooden Center has limited seating.

Here is the UCLA page. Collins Court is a gym with pull-out bleachers and a capacity of 1,808. Wally continues,

I just learned this morning that single game tickets will not be sold for the Stanford-UCLA game at the Wooden Center. To get a seat you have to buy at least a Mini-Plan ticket good for 5 games that costs $29... Single game tickets for UCLA will go on sale on October 4, but not for Stanford and some other "big" games.

According to the NCAA, UCLA in 2010 had average attendance of 1,689. The Stanford game would no doubt pull more than the average; hence, they are likely to fill this small facility. On that basis, it is probably smart to order tickets ahead.

On the other hand this game is on Saturday Dec. 31st, New Year's Eve; many students will be off-campus. And, the sight lines in a small gym are short, so it wouldn't matter much if you were in the top row corner. On the other hand, $29 isn't so much on top of the other costs of a trip to L.A. Here's where to order tickets.

Monday, September 19, 2011

2011-12 Travel Plans Forming!

Dinner meet-up in Austin

Stanford alum Sam Chang and others in the Stanford Club of Austin are planning a pre-game dinner meet before the Stanford-Texas game on Friday, November 11th.

If you are planning to make this trip and want to join in, email Sam directly (

New Travel Info Posted

The FBC Travel page has been updated with fresh info for 2011-12! The general info has been refreshed (big surprise: airport parking costs $1 more than last year). Also, logistics info and travel suggestions for the first two trips (Texas, and UConn/Xavier) have been added.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

That’s All, Folks!

By Wally Mersereau

South Bay, the team with Stanford players in the summer Pro-Am league at Kezar Pavilion, was short two of its Stanford players on Saturday, July 23. Taylor Greenfield was present on the bench, but not suited up. Joslyn Tinkle was not present. I do not know the reason Taylor did not play or why Joslyn was missing. Alex Green, the sixth freshman, who is recovering from an ACL injury was again sitting on the bench as she has all season, quietly supporting her teammates.

Joslyn has been the team’s dominant player, averaging about 30 points per game, while snagging rebounds, blocking shots and providing leadership. She was sorely missed on Saturday. The team had no one to replace her scoring and defensive contributions. The team was down to 7 players in this first play-off game against the San Francisco team which has several Cal players, including Natasha Vital, Talia Caldwell and Lindsay Sherbert, and the brilliant freshman Brittany Boyd. Boyd again was outstanding, doing everything well, while always displaying great confidence. She will be a real asset for the Bears.

Bonnie Samuelson was back after missing the two games last weekend. Stanford was represented on the South Bay team by Bonnie, Amber Orrange, Jasmine Camp, Erica Payne and Markisha Coleman.

It was a closely matched and excellent game. South Bay was ahead 51-47 at the half. In the second half South Bay increased its lead to 13 points with 11:00 minutes remaining, but then its lead began to shrink. South Bay led by only 3 points at the 8:00 minute mark and the game was tied with 7:15 left. South Bay trailed by 5 with 2:00 to go, but managed to battle back to end the regulation game tied at 92-92. Jessica Kellogg, formerly of San Jose State, was a great clutch player for South Bay.

With 3:00 remaining in overtime and the score 94-94, Erica fouled out, the third South Bay player to do so, leaving only four players available. Despite being short a player on the floor, South Bay still had a chance with 30 seconds left and the score 94-97. The final score was 95-100 and South Bay’s season ended.

It seems clear that if Joslyn had played South Bay would have won and moved on in the play-offs. In her absence, Bonnie had her finest game, making 6 of 7 three-pointers, including her first four attempts and ending with 30 points. Bonnie made all but one of her free throws. Amber was the second-high scorer with 14 points, all in the first half.

Amber and Jasmine are fast. Jasmine plays fast most of the time. Amber tends to amble down the floor, but she can take off like a rocket when she decides to do so. Both are fearless around the basket, undeterred by taller players. Amber had several good passes today.

Erica had a relatively poor game, troubled by fouls, but provided some excellent defense as always.

Bonnie will benefit from time in the weight room and coaching encouragement to play more aggressively, but she is an outstanding 3-point shooter, a nice specialty.

This was an above-average Kezar season for Stanford fans. There was the high number of freshmen to observe. There was the rare presence of a junior in Joslyn, who has never looked better. The quality of play by South Bay was above average and its games were fun to watch. In short, Kezar provided an interesting and encouraging preview of the incoming freshman class and of an improved Joslyn Tinkle.

Next up: the start of official practice in October.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Win One, Lose One

By Wally Mersereau:

South Bay, the Stanford proxy team, played at Kezar twice this weekend to make up for the first week of the season when South Bay could not field a team because Stanford’s summer school had not begun and the student-athletes had not arrived.

This week’s Saturday game on July 16 was attended by a goodly number of Stanford fans, by Kezar standards--perhaps as many as 25. They were treated to the most shared scoring yet by the Stanford players. The final score was South Bay 98—East Bay 65. East Bay ended the game with a 0-5 season record, putting it exclusively in the cellar and out of the playoffs. South Bay’s league-leading record at game’s end was a nice 4-0, the only undefeated team in the league.

My scorekeeping for Saturday gave Joslyn Tinkle 33 points, followed by Jasmine Camp with 13, Amber Orrange with 12, Erica Payne with 9, Markisha Coleman with 7 and Taylor Greenfield with 6. Markisha plays with abandon at Kezar and does quite well at the point.

Bonnie Samuelson did not participate in either of this weekend’s games, probably because of her uncle’s recent death.

As point guards, Amber and Jasmine were either a little off in their passing on Saturday or East Bay was more nimble than most teams have been in disrupting their passes. Amber and Jasmine also had some passing problems on Sunday, but played well otherwise.

I thought Sunday’s July 17 game was the most exciting of the season, although it produced South Bay’s first and only loss with a final score of 87-91. The winning team was Mission Rec, the Kezar team with experienced veterans who have playing time together. Mission Rec is led by Toni Russell (a Kezar veteran who has played in Europe), Amanda Lassiter (with WNBA and Europe experience) and KiKi Moore (formerly Washington State, now Fresno State). Only about a dozen Stanford fans were present on Sunday.

South Bay got off to a good start leading by 12 points or so in the first half, but let its lead dwindle to 47-43 at the half. South Bay built its lead back to 12 points in the second half, but Mission Rec slowly came back, pulling to within one point with 4 minutes remaining and tying the score with 2 minutes to go. The regulation game ended in an 84-84 tie. The overtime period was tied 87-87 with 1:30 to go, then Mission Rec got up 87-89 with 30 seconds remaining. At that point I thought an official made a wrong call on an out-of-bounds ball, turning the ball over to Mission Rec and depriving South Bay of a chance to tie or pull ahead. Late in the game I thought Mission Rec combined its greater experience with more fire in the belly to will itself to the tie and then to the win, aided by the unfortunate out-of-bounds call.

Erica Payne had a great game on Sunday. She is an aggressive player, always in the mix. While continuing her stellar defensive play, she scored 24 points, just behind Joslyn’s team-leading 28 points. Amber finished with 11 points on Sunday.

In my opinion, based on the five Kezar games to date, the three best, always hustling, freshmen are Amber, Erica and Jasmine. I think these three have the best chance to make it into the Stanford rotation this fall, probably joined by Bonnie because of her 3-point shooting ability.

So the Kezar regular season ended with Mission Rec and South Bay having identical 4-1 records, but because Mission Rec beat South Bay it became the winner of the regular season and will not play again until August 6 when it will meet the survivor of the playoffs among the 2nd to 5th place teams on July 23 and July 30. The good news is that South Bay is now in the playoffs and will continue to play. South Bay’s next game will be at 2 pm on Saturday, July 23.

Stanford fans will have a least one more opportunity to see the freshmen, plus Joslyn and Markisha, do their best to make it into the championship series against Mission Rec. If you haven’t enjoyed Kezar’s laid-back ambiance, give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another Kezar win

By Wally Mersereau

Despite a couple of problems to overcome, the predominately Stanford South Bay team kept on winning on July 9 in the Kezar summer league. The final score was 96-68 over the Golden State team that had a couple of incoming Cal freshmen. The game was closer than suggested by the score, with South Bay only up by a point or two with 8-10 minutes remaining. Golden State only had 6 players (to South Bay's 9 players) and probably got tired. South Bay did a lot of fouling and Golden State did well with free-throw shooting and that kept the game as close as it was until near the end. At the half South Bay led by 44-40.

Jasmine Camp collected four fouls, which limited her playing time. Markisha Coleman had three or four fouls.

The most surprising South Bay problem was Bonnie Samuelson's shooting. By my count she made only one of twelve 3-point attempts. Her misses were not particularly close, but she kept firing away. Bonnie played well otherwise, making a couple of lay-ups and passing and rebounding well.

My vote for outstanding defensive player of the game goes to Erica Payne who had a great second half. During one stretch she seemed to be a one-person defensive team, stopping Golden State on possession after possession with blocks, steals and rebounds.

Amber Orrange and Jasmine Camp again did really well as point guards with Amber perhaps doing just a tad better overall. Both passed very well, often deceptively. Amber was two for two from the 3-point line and Jasmine was one for two. Amber drove for a basket, Jasmine drove for three.

Joslyn Tinkle didn't seem as dominant as in the first two games, but still scored 34 points, including two out of three 3-point shots. She was followed by Amber and Jasmine with 14 points each.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sparkling at Kezar

By Wally Mersereau

The early Fourth of July sparklers lighting up Kezar Pavilion on July 2 were the incoming Stanford freshmen. They all played well in their second summer-league game. Last week I was able to rank the four newcomers who played. This week I just have to say they all played well and all looked good. Joslyn Tinkle out-shone them all by a healthy margin as she did last week. At Kezar it's hard to tell how good Joslyn really is. She has been head and shoulders above the freshmen, literally and figuratively, in the first two games. As a junior she should be a lot better and she is. Joslyn has been doing everything remarkably well and is the go-to player on the South Bay team. But we all know about Joslyn.

Of greater interest are the freshmen.

This was Erica Payne's first game. She did not play last week because of an ankle injury. There was no hint of any ankle problem today. Erica played aggressive offense and defense whenever she was on the floor. She seemed to get to the right place at the right time and often battled for the ball. She made some nice passes and shots.

Amber Orrange is a lefty. I didn't notice that last week, but she relies on her left hand for mid-range and long-range shots. Amber looked very good at point guard. She made two driving baskets and her passing was crisp.

Jasmine Camp played twice as well as she did last week. She is fast and quick. I like her style of play. She stayed close to her assigned player on defense. She also made two driving baskets. I thought Amber and Jasmine were equal at point guard today.

I ranked Taylor Greenfield last among the freshmen last week, but she was more assertive this week. She played aggressively on defense, shot well and did as well as any of her frosh teammates.

Bonnie Samuelson didn't shoot much last week and was somewhat inconspicuous on the floor. This week she had some open shots and made four 3-pointers. She was more in evidence at other times too. Bonnie looks like a dependable 3-point shooter if she gets open.

There was better teamwork for South Bay today. They actually appeared to be running plays. There were a number of passes to cutting players, screens were set and there were several multiple-pass plays.

I was much more impressed with the Stanford freshmen in their second game. Maybe they had more confidence and were a bit more comfortable playing together. I rank all of them equal today. This was an enjoyable and encouraging game to watch. Oh yes, South Bay won 111-81 over San Francisco which was dominated by Cal players. Cal has a great incoming freshman in Brittany Boyd from Berkeley. She is good at everything, has lots of confidence and was the best player for San Francisco, even outplaying Natasha Vital.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Today at Kezar

Wally Mersereau travelled to San Francisco today and posted the following report of the South Bay vs Bay City game at Kezar.

Stanford players showed up for the first time at Kezar today to play on the South Bay team. Those present were Joslyn Tinkle, Amber Orrange, Jasmine Camp, Bonnie Samuelson, Taylor Greenfield and past player Markisha Coleman. Because of a shortage of players for opposing Bay City, Markisha played for that team. Erica Payne was a no-show with an injured ankle.

About 15 or so Stanford fans attended.

Bonnie Samuelson made about 80% of her pre-game three-pointers, but took very few shots during the game.

This was a typical sloppy, but enjoyable, Kezar game. Bay City took a healthy lead of 11-12 points in the first half, led by Brittany Spears (formerly Colorado), Jessica Kellogg (formerly San Jose State) and Amber White (Utah State). Markisha played very well, especially on drives to the basket.

Joslyn led a South Bay resurgence in the second half, allowing SB to take the lead for the first time with 10 minutes remaining. After that the lead went back and forth until SB finally wrapped it up in the last couple of minutes to win 85-81.

Not surprisingly, Joslyn was the best of the Stanford players with good blocks and rebounds and with a variety of scoring shots, mostly spin moves and hooks. Joslyn also made about three 3-pointers. Amber and Jasmine alternated at the point. They handled the ball well. Amber was aggressive with lots of drives to the basket and a nice pull-up jumper. She probably was the second high scorer from Stanford. Jasmine made a few baskets, including at least one three. Bonnie scored maybe three times from behind the line. Taylor did well on rebounds, but shot little.

Based on this first viewing I would rank the freshmen in this order: Amber, Bonnie, Jasmine, Taylor. None of the freshmen looked like starters. Neither Amber or Jasmine looked close to challenging Toni Kokenis at the point.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Stunned by the unthinkable

By Wally Mersereau

I thought this was the team that deserved a national championship. It entered the first Final Four game relatively healthy. It had experience. Texas A&M seemed like a preferable opponent for the semi-final game rather than Baylor--no Griner to have to deal with. I came to Indianapolis to see my first Final Four because I thought this would be the time.

There was a good send-off from the Crowne Plaza hotel by maybe 250 Stanford fans, the band, the Tree and four Dollies. A two-motorcycle police escort with sirens led the team bus to the arena. Somewhere between 800 and 1,000 Stanford fans attended the game. There was an Edy's ice cream concession at Conseco Fieldhouse. The stage was set.

I have seen every Stanford game this season. I can attest that Texas A&M presented the most effective defense Stanford has faced. The Cardinal initially appeared rattled by the tight defense and was down by 7 in the first half, but fought back to take a 4-point lead at the half, 27-23. I thought and said it could have been worse. Stanford had ended the half with a little momentum.

The second half went much better for Stanford through the first 15 minutes with the Cardinal generally having an 8- to 10-point lead. But the lead was never a comfortable one and team fouls began to climb. With 4:20 left the Stanford lead was down to 5 and Chiney fouled out. With 3:41 left the lead was down to 3. Stanford managed to get up by 4, 58-54, with 2:23 remaining. At the 1:33 mark the lead was one. With less than a minute to go the game was tied and then A&M was up by one. Nenka's two free throws reversed the lead to 60-59 Stanford. At some point Mel fouled out. A&M made a lay-up with 19 seconds remaining and it was 60-61. Nneka's quick lay-up made it Stanford ahead 62-61 with 9 seconds left. A thrilling win seemed likely--but no, it was not to be. With 3 seconds left A&M made a final lay-up to win 62-63. A desperation down-the-court Stanford heave on the inbound was picked off by A&M and it was over.

Nneka was the only Stanford player that could deal with the A&M defense to score an amazing 31 points, along with 7 rebounds. Jeanette was the only other player in double digits with 11. Kayla and Chiney were both held to 4 points. Kayla grabbed 10 rebounds which may have been enough to give her a new careeer rebounding record.

Seven Stanford players had 11 minutes or more, with the biggest surprise being Mel's 27 minutes, during which she scored 8 points. Kayla played the entire game, Nneka and Jeanette had 39 minutes and Mikaela had 20 minutes. Chiney's foul problems limited her to 19 minutes. Toni was ineffective and played only 4 minutes. Another surprise was that Joslyn did not play at all.

The only thing that has eased the pain slightly as I write this is that Notre Dame beat UConn in the second game 72-63. So no #1 seed will be in the championship game on Tuesday. Two semi-final upsets. The anticipated Stanford-UConn rematch will not happen.

And so the dream has ended abruptly in Indianapolis. It was great while it lasted, it just didn't last quite long enough. Once again: so near and yet so far.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pre-game Activities in Indianapolis

If you are going to Indianapolis for the Final Four, note the following activities that occur on Saturday:

  • Open practice and autograph sessions, 10:45am to 3pm. The schedule is:
    • 11am-noon, Stanford
    • noon-1pm, Texas A&M
    • 1:35-2:35, UConn
    • 2:40-3:40, Notre Dame
  • Battle of the Bands, 3:45-4:15.
  • WBCA High-school All-American game, the roster including Stanford recruits Amber Orrange and Taylor Greenfield, 4:30.

All the above take place at the Conseco Fieldhouse, the venue for the games as well. Click that link for arena information including floor plan. Here is the official NCAA event schedule.

On Sunday 4pm-6pm there is a reception and band send-off at the Crowne Plaza hotel. Click here for more info and the address to request a reservation.

The recommended bar and watering hole for Stanford fans is the Buffalo Wild Wings Bar and Grille at 7 East Washington Street.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How sweet it is!

By Wally Mersereau

What a difference a game makes! There are wins and there are wins. Two nights ago I was wrung out after the down-to-the-end battle with North Carolina with Jeanette making only one basket from the floor. After this game, along with all of the Stanford fans present, I was thrilled, happy and had plenty of energy. At the trophy presentation the words were: "The trophy for the Spokane Regional is presented to Stanford University along with an invitation to the Final Four in Indianapolis". No sweeter words could have been spoken. How amazing that this team is going to its fourth consecutive Final Four!

It was especially satisfying for this win over Gonzaga to end in such a dominating manner. All over Spokane were signs reading "Good luck, Lady Zags" and "Go Zags". 11,000 locals packed the Spokane Arena and roared in anticipation before the game. An article about Courtney Vandersloot in today's Spokesman-Review came close to having her walking on water. She is a truly outstanding player who can do just about everything. In the first half she was unstoppable, making 21 points this way and that. But in the second half Courtney made only 4 points and her team made only 8 of 34 shots.

There was a nice send-off of the team from the Davenport Hotel (they stayed in the old hotel this time) with the band, Dollies and Tree performing before a line of clapping players and a good representation of fans. The news of Tennessee's loss to Notre Dame was learned by smartphone just at the opening tip-off of the game and that put Cardinal fans in a good mood. Nneka, as usual, got the opening tip and Stanford scored first. Slowly, Stanford pulled ahead. The lead was one after 4 minutes, 8 after 7 minutes, 10 after 10 minutes. Then Gonzaga battled back, led by Courtney, narrowing the lead to 5 points with 6 minutes to go. At the half Stanford led 47-38. At that point Nneka led Stanford scoring with 15 points to Courtney's 21.

The second half was all Stanford. With 16 minutes to go the lead was 16, it grew to 20 with 12 minutes left and to 23 with 7 minutes remaining. The final score was a sweet 83-60, with Mel making a pretty floating lay-up just before the end.

The box score is not available as I write this, but in this game minutes played were mostly by the starters. Toni came off the bench first, then Joslyn, then Mikaela. Jeanette had a few wild passes in the first half and Tara sent Mel in to replace her just before the half ended. My impression is that the starters played almost all of the second half. There was no reason to replace them as they shut down Gonzaga while scoring and rebounding at will.

Jeanette had five 3-pointers to bring her season total for threes to 93, breaking Krista Rappahahn's Stanford record by two. Lindy and Kayla added more threes. At one point Kayla had four straight rebounds and she had more as she nears the season rebound record. If Nneka wasn't scoring or rebounding, Chiney was. Nneka led Stanford scoring with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Chiney had 18 points and 15 rebounds. Jeanette had 17 points and Lindy 11. Kayla's totals are not available to me now, but she was everywhere, doing everything. There was nothing hesitant about the team tonight. They played with confidence and great determination. There were a few mistakes, but they were far outweighed by stellar playing, individually and collectively. This was a great team performance, unfazed by the 98% Gonzaga capacity crowd. And certainly Tara and her crew did an outstanding job, especially with half-time adjustments.

The All-Regional Team was announced at the end of the game: Italee Lucas of North Carolina, Courtney Vandersloot, Kayla, Chiney and Nneka with Nneka being named MVP.

I was expecting to greet the team when it returned to the Davenport, but learned that it headed straight for the airport after the game for a charter flight home.

And so it is off to the Final Four once again. How sweet it is! May the good times continue.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Through the wringer

By Wally Mersereau

Before coming to Spokane I told a friend that the games here would show whether #1-seed Stanford has enough fortitude and composure to earn another trip to the Final Four. I guess that's what it took to win the Saturday game over #5-seed North Carolina, but the composure of the 300 or so Stanford fans present was entirely gone by the end of the tension-filled, emotionally draining game. As I walked to my car in the post-game drizzle I could hear Tara's TV interview over the outside p.a. system at the Spokane Arena. She was excited and happy. I was wrung out.

But let me start at the beginning.

There were long lines at the arena doors and will call windows when I arrived. It took me a while to find the Stanford will call window where there was no line and my ticket was quickly produced. The Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena was virtually full and the game was reported as being a sell-out. The official attendance was announced as 11,339. 95% of that number were Gonzaga fans. All of the arena was used, including the upper section that reaches to the roof. There were very few North Carolina fans present--not more than 50 by my estimate.

In the first game #11-seed Gonzaga had a 35-24 half-time lead over #7-seed Louisville. The Bulldogs generally played with more maturity and poise than the Cardinals. Courtney Vandersloot was outstanding for the Zags with 27 final points to Shoni Shimmel's 18. Five minutes into the second half Gonzaga had increased its lead to 20 points and looked as if it would just keep pulling ahead. But Louisville somehow began to slowly claw back and Shoni, who had only 2 points at half-time, began to score repeatedly. With 3 minutes left in the game, Louisville had pulled to within 3 points--a miraculous comeback. But Shoni and her teammates could not progress further. After Gonzaga made a number of game-ending free throws the final score was 76-69 with the grossly under-seeded Zags deservedly making it to the Elite Eight and a rematch with Stanford on Monday.

Tara, Kate and Bobbie watched the first game from mid-court seats. Tara and Bobbie left with 10 minutes remaining, but Kate stayed for the entire game, indicating she was the primary scout.

And then came the Stanford-North Carolina game. I had wondered what the Tar Heel mascot would turn out to be. It was a strange-looking goat with curved yellow horns and a somewhat mouse-like face. The mascot was not impressive in appearance or performance. But the North Carolina players were most impressive and generally stuck like tar, answering Stanford basket after basket for the entire game.

The first half was close with the teams exchanging narrow leads. The game was mostly tied during the final 6 minutes of the first half until Stanford managed to end up by 4 with a score of 39-35. Better than the last UCLA game, but providing no level of comfort. The game was not pretty and no Stanford players really stood out. Most of the Gonzaga fans stayed for the start of the Stanford game, but a lot of them left at the half.

The second half was similarly close. Stanford led for the most part, but only by two to four points. The Tar Heels lived up to their sticky nickname and just would not go away. Italee Lucas was the stand-out player for North Carolina. She is only 5'8', but Stanford could not stop her from scoring in an assortment of ways. It basically was a two-point game for the final 10 minutes. And then those wonderful Ogwumike sisters came through, scoring 12 crucial points between them as the clock ran down. There was less than a minute to play before Chiney increased the lead to 4 points and for the first time North Carolina did not answer back. Jeanette missed all but one of her shots from the field during the course of the game, but she fortunately was the player the Tar Heels fouled in desperation and Jeanette was able to put the game beyond reach with her free throws in the last 30 seconds.

Nneka was again high scorer for Stanford with 19 points, followed by Chiney with 16 and I think Kayla with 14. Kayla again played the entire game and did everything.

And so the Elite Eight game of the Spokane region is set for Monday: Stanford vs. momentum-propelled local favorite Gonzaga. The arena will again be packed with more than 11,000 Gonzaga fans and they will be loud. The exhausted Stanford fans in Spokane will have two days to pull themselves together and get braced for what probably will be another epic contest.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The hard way

By Wally Mersereau

Well, Saturday started off pretty much like Friday. A walk up Figueroa Street, the band and Dollies playing and dancing, the players getting on the bus, etc. The tournament championship game against UCLA started a half hour earlier, still pretty much the same. Attendance was far better for the final game. It looked to me as if about 2,500 were present with about 250 of them supporting Stanford, including Condi Rice in a mid-court, court-side seat. There were many more UCLA fans.

Stanford got off to an early start as it did the day before. UCLA was supposed to be a tougher opponent than Arizona--and, sure enough, it was. This was a far superior performance by the Bruins than in the two previous games--no comparison really. Stanford maintained a lead for the first 8 minutes of the game and then the wheels began to get a little wobbly. With 5 minutes left in the first half the wheels came off and UCLA took a 3-point lead. The Bruins increased their lead to 6 and then to 9 when the half ended. The half-time score was UCLA 30, Stanford 21. I know it's a lot more fun to win than to lose, but it also is a lot more fun to lead than to fall behind. That is the wrong kind of momentum. That is what Stanford's opponents face most of the time.

During the half-time interlude I tried to find some hopeful indicators and found none. A Stanford fan asked me, "Do you think they can come back?" and I said I didn't know. UCLA played better and better as the first half progressed, confidently, and with breaks seeming to go its way. I didn't see any breaks go Stanford's way and I wondered where they might come from. I wondered how the Bruins could be stopped and had no clue.

Four minutes into the second half Stanford was still down by 9 points. And then Toni entered the game to replace Lindy. Things suddenly began to look up. The UCLA lead shrank to five and then to three, then back up to 6 and then down to four. Then, wonderfully, the sun broke through and with five minutes left in the game Stanford was up by 3--the first Stanford lead in 20 minutes of playing time. Not only did Stanford recapture the lead after crawling out of its hole, but it never gave it back. A bit later the Cardinal was up by six and then by seven and finally by nine--the same margin it had trailed at the half. So Stanford out-scored UCLA by 18 points in the second half, an impressive comeback. The kind of comeback great teams are capable of. The final score was 64-55.

Tara came up with half-time adjustments and the team carried them out. It was a team effort with many participants. But the spark off the bench, the leading scorer of the game and the heroine of the final game was Toni. It was a great and gutsy performance by the freshman guard. She had shown signs of this in the first half to the extent that an observant Bruin fan seated behind me said more than once, "the one I'm worried about is #31," and he was right on the money. Toni did things no other Stanford player could do. Toni ended the game with a career-high 17 points. Nneka added 15 points and Kayla 12. The Big Three played all 40 minutes. Chiney had foul problems and eventually fouled out in the final minutes, but still played 26 minutes. Things went better when she was in the game. Toni played 23 minutes, followed by Lindy with 18. Stanford shot only 27% from the three for a total of 7, but they were crucial baskets.

They say, "All's well that ends well." This game ended well, but it was a painful ordeal before and after the half. Eventually, Stanford won the game, the tournament, and ended undefeated in the PAC-10. Nneka was selected as MVP of the tournament, and rightly so. But the game ball for the final game goes to Toni.

And so ends the Pac-10 games of 2010-11 with Stanford winning all 20 of its games. Stanford showed its strength and fortitude in this game, but it had to do it the hard way. The easy way is much more fun.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Semi-Finals

By Wally Mersereau

This morning I walked 20 minutes up Figueroa Street from the Staples Center to the Downtown LA Marriott where all of the women's teams are staying. About 30 or so Stanford fans were there to see the team off with the band, Dollies, Tree and cheerleaders. Arizona departed at the same time and both bands played side by side sometimes at the same time to produce a truly deafening sound under the hotel overhang. I was really impressed with the Dollies who are much more vigorous, athletic and attractive up close than they are viewed from a distance on the court. Viewing the high kicking and ever-smiling Dollies from a few feet away was awesome. After the team put their bags on the bus they formed a clapping line, enjoying the music and dancing. The Arizona band also was excellent. The Wildcat dancing girls were unsurpassed with regard to their glistening lipstick, all of the same shade of Arizona red, expertly and liberally applied.

After the send-off, Marian and Dave Cortesi, Judy Richter and I walked several blocks with Peter Ogwumike who had flown in from Africa the day before. I urged him to send his younger two daughters to Stanford and he said that would be fine with him.

It was another beautiful day, a little cooler with a high temperature in the mid-60s and somewhat more haze in the distance. From Dave Cortesi I learned that a rule for tournaments is that the higher ranked team is considered the home team and wears white uniforms, which Stanford did. Attendance for both of today's games approached 1,000 with Stanford fans being about 8-9% of that. There were almost no Cal fans present, but good representations from Arizona and UCLA. An attempt was made to restrict seating to four sections on the bench side of the arena, but this effort failed and fans ended up sitting on both sides.

This was my first visit to the Staples Center. It is a good arena, but not perfect. It had lots of food choices today, including sushi, Mexican, California Pizza Kitchen, McDonald's and even a gluten-free stand, in addition to the usual arena items. The sound system was poor, making the announcer only semi-understandable. The same announcer was great at the Galen Center. There is a new giant central video/scoreboard unit, but there were no video replays. Marian Cortesi gave me her scorecard for Staples: food concessions = A; video/scoreboard = B-; display of stats = C+; tight seat rows = C; ice cream = D and p.a. system/acoustics = F.

Vanessa Nygard and Tina Thompson were introduced before the game as former Pac-10 women athletes.

The Stanford-Arizona game was the clear winner of the most-impressive-display-of-talent-by-two-sisters game of the season. Nneka's 32 points and 10 rebounds and Chiney's 21 points and 13 rebounds were amazing. Probably the second most significant thing about the game was that Mel played 20 minutes and did well. Stanford was up 45-24 at the half and ended with a 100-71 victory. Soana Lucet led the Wildcats with 17 points and Ify Ibekwe had 15 points, with 9 of those from the free throw line. There were no Stanford injuries.

Lisa Willis of UCLA was the former player introduced before the second game. During a time-out in the first half Kayla was introduced at center court as Pac-10 Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Kayla also was given a page in the program where her 3.53 GPA was noted.

UCLA easily won its game over Cal. Clarendon of Cal, who had been a shining star of Cal's two previous tournament games, had only two points--two free throws made with about two minutes left in the game. UCLA got off to an 11-1 start and that ended up being the primary difference in the game. The Bruins were ahead 37-23 at the half. Cal outscored UCLA by one point in the second half, for a final score of UCLA 63, Cal 50. Cal looked uninspired and ineffective for the most part and yet played UCLA even in the second half. UCLA had a couple of successful traps and generally played with more skill and confidence. Bobbie and Kate watched the UCLA game, Tara and Amy did not.

As of this point, with one game to go, combining the men's and women's Pac-10 tournaments seems to have been a failure. A clever idea that didn't work. Attendance at the women's games has been embarrassingly poor, with a top attendance at Galen of 400 and today's at Staples of not more than 1,000. Certainly contributing to this has been the days and times assigned to the women's games. When the tournaments were separated, the women had evening games on all days. This year they had evening games only on the four-game Day One. And Los Angeles just does not support women's college basketball, although the LA Times ran two stories today on page 6 of the sports section, one captioned "USC's NCAA hopes dimmed" and the other "UCLA will face familiar Cal team".

The women's championship game between Stanford and UCLA is Saturday morning at 11:30 am. The team looks ready.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The field thins

By Wally Mersereau

The second day of the Pac-10 Tournament was again held at the Galen Center, featuring only half as many games as yesterday--a reasonable two. The first upset of the tournament occurred in the first game when #6 seed Cal beat #3 seed Arizona State in a low-scoring game 48-43. The Golden Bears move on to face UCLA on Friday afternoon at the Staples Center. In the second game #4 seed Arizona topped #5 seed USC 72-61. With their losses today, both ASU and USC lost not only their respective games but any hope of earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Attendance did not improve by much on Day Two. Only about 150 were present for the start of the first game with 100 more arriving by half-time. For the second game, with host USC playing for the second day, the peak attendance at Galen Center was achieved with about 350-400 attendees. Stanford fans began to arrive in noticeable numbers to see the second day of eliminations. The UCLA team and coaches watched the first game whose winner, Cal, will play the Bruins on Friday. Tara and her entire coaching staff watched both games and the entire Stanford team watched the second game whose winner, Arizona, will play the Cardinal at Staples at high noon on Friday.

Kate Paye was introduced before the first game as part of the series highlighting former Pac-10 players for the 25th anniversary of Pac-10 women's sports.

The Cal-ASU game was close, with Cal up at the half 27-23 and then maintaining a narrow one- to three-point lead in the second half. With 47 seconds remaining in the game Cal led by only one point, 44-43. Free throws expanded the Cal lead to the final 48-43. Clarendon of Cal, named to the Pac-10 team, was high scorer with 22 points. Becca Tobin led the Sun Devils with 10.

The second game was hard fought throughout and was very close in the first half. The half-time score was Arizona 29, USC 28. Arizona extended its lead in the second half to a maximum of 17 points, but USC whittled it down to 9 points with 1:24 left, before ending up with a 72-61 loss on its home court. Davellyn White had 24 points, Soana Lucet had 20 and Ify Ibekwe had 13, all for Arizona. White and Ibekwe had been named to the Pac-10 team. Both have played well in the tournament, as has Lucet.

On Friday the women's tournament action moves to the Staples Center. Fresh #1 seed Stanford and #2 seed UCLA will meet Arizona and Cal, respectively. Arizona and Cal have both played two demanding games in two days which must have produced some fatigue. Their reward will be to play against one of the significantly strongest teams in the conference, both of whom have had a week off. The winners of the Friday games, which should be Stanford and UCLA, will meet at 11:30 am in the Staples Center on Saturday for the tournament championship.

Four at the Galen

By Wally Mersereau

Wednesday was a beautiful day in Los Angeles with a high temperature of about 75 degrees under clear and sunny skies.

This was first day of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Women's Tournament at USC's Galen Center. This is the first year of tournament sponsorship by Pacific Life with its leaping whale. In recent years the tournament has been sponsored by State Farm. This year, for the first time, the men's and women's tournaments are being held together. All of the men's games are at the Staples Center. The first two days of the women's games are at the Galen Center and the last two days at Staples. Stanford's men lost today in their first game. The Stanford and UCLA women will not play until Friday.

The Los Angeles Times devoted about 78 column inches to the Pac-10 men's tournament, starting on the front page of the sports section. The Times gave 18 column inches to the Pac-10 women's tournament in one article on page 6 of the sports section, headlined "NCAA bid could be on the line for USC".

Wednesday's four games were between the bottom eight women's teams in the Pac-10. All higher seeds won, with one game being extremely close.

Game #1--Noon-- #3 seed Arizona State vs. #10 seed Oregon State. Attendance at tip-off was approximately 115, matched by the combined ASU and OSU bands, cheerleaders, dancing girls and mascots. Nine identifiable Stanford fans were present. By half-time, attendance had swelled to about 200. ASU led at the half 27-20 and increased its lead in the second half only to have OSU close to within 3 points with 3 minutes left. Oregon State is a frustrating team to watch. Its motto could be "So near and yet so far". ASU held on to win 50-44. Dymond Simon showed she deserved her All-Conference selection by scoring 15 points, some in an impressive manner.

Game #2--2:15 pm--#4 Arizona vs. #9 Oregon. Attendance at tip-off was about 200. Oregon got an early lead, but only briefly. At the half it was Arizona ahead 51-36. Oregon players were quick shooters throughout the game, taking lots of early shots. Oregon played remarkably better in the second half as its many shots started to fall. Oregon closed to within one point with 4 seconds left and with the ball to inbound. The inbound play failed and the final score was ASU 90, Oregon 89. Ify Ibekwe, Davellyn White and Soana Lucet were the leading players for the Wildcats, while Amanda Johnson and Ariel Thomas led the way for the Ducks.

On a wall in the Galen Center is a display of Sports Illustrated covers that show a USC player or team from 1955 to 2009. A cover for July, 1996 shows Tara and five members of the USA Olympic team, including Lisa Leslie.

Game #3--5:00 pm--#3 USC vs. #8 Washington State. Attendance at tip-off was about 300. At the half USC led 35-29. If WSU had shot better it would have been a close game. The Cougars played well otherwise. USC pulled away at the end to win 78-66. USC freshman Cassie Harberts was red-hot for the Trojans, scoring 31 points.

Game #4--7:20 pm--#6 Cal vs. #7 Washington. Attendance again was about 300, with a different mix as many USC fans left after Game 3. The Mendiola sisters who played for Washington were introduced before the game as one of a series honoring former players in connection with the 25th anniversary of women's sports in the Pac-10. Taylor Lilley was introduced before the Oregon game. Washington's new Harry the Husky mascot was present, looking fresher but blander than Good Ol' Harry. Oski paced the sidelines, hands clasped behind his back. This was a very close game until the final nine minutes, with many tied scores. Down the stretch the Golden Bears wore down the Huskies to come away with the win. The final score was 58-48.

Four games played over nine hours tests the endurance of the most devoted fans. As the attendance figures indicate, few accepted the challenge. The four survivors of today's games will meet on Thursday afternoon to cut the survivors list to two. Those two will play Stanford or UCLA on Friday.

Monday, March 7, 2011

PAC-10's 3-Ring Circus

The PAC-10 tournament is about to kick off a mini-march-madness week-long circus of games. Now that the seedings are known, here's how the schedule breaks down for Stanford fans (print this page for handy reference):

  • Wednesday
    • 12:00 Galen Center: ASU v. OSU
    • 2:15 Galen Center: UA v. UO
    • 5:00 Galen Center: USC v. WSU
    • 6:00 Staples Center: Stanford men v. OSU
    • 7:15 Galen Center: Cal v. UW
  • Thursday
    • 2:30 Staples Center: Stanford men (if they won) v. UA
    • 3:00 Galen Center: (ASU or OSU) v. (Cal or UW)
    • 5:15 Galen Center: (UA or UO) v. (USC or WSU)
  • Friday
    • 12:00 Staples Center: Stanford women v. somebody
    • 2:30 Staples Center: UCLA v. somebody else
    • 6:00 Staples Center: men's semi
    • 8:30 Staples Center: men's semi in which Stanford might appear
  • Saturday
    • 11:30am Staples Center: Women's championship
    • 3:00 Staples Center: Men's championship

It is not too late to buy tickets from the Stanford ticket office. Remember, although tickets are priced based on reserved-seat location for the men's games, all women's games are general admission. So you can buy the very cheapest seats, up in the rafters of the Staples Center with the bats and owls, and that's where you'll sit for any men's games you attend. But for a women's game, at Galen or at Staples, just show up when the doors open and sit where you please!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Double your pleasure, double your fun

By Wally Mersereau

At the Fast Break Club meeting after the Oregon State game I was presented with the 2011 Margie Santillan Fan Spirit Award. It is an honor to become the latest in a long line of recipients who have participated in and contributed to the strong fan base for Stanford women’s basketball. At the same time, as I commented at the meeting, this is an easy award to win. To paraphrase Woody Allen’s quip, 90% of what you have to do to win is just show up.

I haven’t been showing up as long as many others. I’m fairly new to the game. So I’ve been trying to make up for lost time and lost opportunities to see the Stanford women play and Tara and her staff coach. I never knew Margie and I don’t know how she discovered women’s basketball. But I share her love for this ever-changing team and the game it plays.

I discovered the game while TV channel surfing when I came across a Tennessee game where I was dazzled by the talent and athleticism of Chamique Holdsclaw. I had no idea women could play like that. Eventually, I learned that Stanford had a good team and was close to my home in San Mateo, allowing me to see games in person. I attended a few games at Maples, sitting on the hard, backless general admission benches, then a few more, and finally became a season ticket holder with a regular padded seat and arm rests. A couple of years later I joined the Fast Break Club and my life changed. I started planning my life from October to April around the team’s schedule.

When I told my son how much pleasure I was having watching the Stanford women at Maples, he said: “You know, if you went to the away games you could see twice as many”. He was right. I was able to double my pleasure and double my fun by hitting the road. This season I expect to see every game the Stanford women play.

So here’s my tip to you, dear reader: enhance your life and have more fun by traveling to some Stanford away games. You may not be able to go to all of them, but with a little planning and a little effort you can go to some. There is simply no reason you cannot go to at least one road game. You may have friends or family in a Pac-10 or pre-season city, allowing you to combine a social visit with a game and giving you the opportunity to introduce others to the wonders of women’s college basketball.

The most popular trip is to Oregon. With Eugene and Corvallis only 30 minutes apart, attending both road games there is easy and the Willamette Valley is beautiful. Local Stanford alums and the Fast Break Club’s travel committee always arrange some enjoyable events around the Oregon games. Second in popularity is the trip to Los Angeles, easy to get to, and usually providing the chance to see some stiff competition on the court. Wherever you go, even to remote Pullman, you will visit other college campuses and college towns and experience their varying ambiance.

At away games you have the feeling that you are in on a secret, part of a small elite group that shares in the exotic ritual of supporting the remarkable Stanford women. You will astonish strangers when they learn you are not a parent or grandparent, but just a fan who travels to watch the team. More than once I’ve been told by a stranger or opposing team fan: “That’s amazing!” You will be able to see the team play in red or black uniforms and not just the same old white ones worn at Maples. And sometimes, when the stars align, you will find yourself staying at the team’s hotel, riding an elevator with Nneka or Kayla or Jeanette, or being on the same flight as the team and sitting next to Lindy or Sara.

Finally, by traveling to at least one away game you will become eligible to win the Margie Santillan Fan Spirit Award. Give it a try! Extend your horizon! Start planning now! You will find it’s an enjoyable and satisfying experience. I guarantee it!

Go, Stanford!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Two freshmen lead the way

By Wally Mersereau

Nneka was on the sideline wearing a nondescript, non-matching sweat suit. She walked slowly and somewhat gingerly and with a slightly halting step, but she was walking and showed no sign of pain. It was worrisome to have her out of the crucial UCLA game at Pauley Pavilion. Who would be able to make up for her points, rebounds and leadership against the quick and aggressive Bruins determined to get retribution for their earlier loss at Maples?

The answer was #13 and #31--whether you read them forward or backward, they were the answer. Of course it was a team effort and a great one under difficult circumstances. But the decisive factors were two freshmen, Chiney and Toni. They were magnificent. Chiney filled in for her sister and got the opening tip-off. Toni did not start (although she did start the second half and scored the first basket for that period), but both players were in the game for 37 minutes, trailing only Kayla who played the entire 40 minutes. Jeanette was not able to carry out Tara's order not to foul. She did so five times, being forced to leave the game with less than a minute remaining. Despite her foul trouble, Jeanette still played 34 minutes and scored 10 points. These were the Big Four of this game.

This was the last time Stanford will play in the old Pauley. It will close on April 1 for a major renovation and will re-open for the 2012-13 season. The exterior work is already underway. While not certain, it is likely that women's games next season will be in the John Wooden Rec Center which is located kitty-corner from Pauley and seats 1,800. That is plenty of seats for most UCLA women's games, but it would have been woefully inadequate today with an official attendance of 6,725. I think that is an accurate figure. I thought there were about 8 to 10 times more people at the UCLA game than were at Galen Center two days before.

UCLA's frequent pressing and trapping only worked once early in the game when Jeanette was caught in a trap with no escape, but managed to call a time out. After that the Bruins were always pesky and often slowed Stanford's progression down the court, but never were able to trap again.

Toni was first off the bench, going in for Lindy about three minutes into the game. She never came out, scoring a splendid 13 points and grabbing 3 steals. Chiney, drenched in sweat, was high scorer with 18 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. Chiney's greatest contribution was at the free throw line, a place where she did not do well early in the season. Today her style of play earned her 12 free throws and she made 10 of them. Free throws won the game for Stanford. The only two misses were Chiney's. Kayla was 4 for 4 and Jeanette and Toni were both 2 for 2. Altogether Stanford made 20 of 22 free throws, an awesome 91% team percentage--yielding six points more than the 14-point victory margin. Rebounds were about even, 38 for Stanford, 37 for UCLA. Both teams were relatively weak at 3-point shooting with almost equal low percentages. Jeanette did best for three with 3 out of 5, Toni made 2 out of 3.

There was another really bad officiating call, again involving Toni charging the basket, that again brought Tara to her feet looking as if she was ready for another technical, but she calmed herself in time. That was followed by a couple of favorable calls for Stanford that pretty much evened things out.

At the half the score was tied 28-28. Tara did some of her usual adjustments and the team carried them out well in the second half to end with a 67-53 win. This was a great win to cap a great weekend in the Southland. The game was a thriller and Stanford gave a gutsy performance with Nneka looking on.

Nikki Caldwell wore a tight-fitting pants suit and her usual heels. The UCLA band chanted each player's name three times before the game as they always do. I really like that. Josie Bruin was there, but not Joe. The band played a rousing bit from Carmina Burana just before tip-off. After the game, Nikki Caldwell addressed the fans as she always does. She had nice words for Stanford, saying the Cardinal play the kind of basketball UCLA aspires to.

Last season Ros Gold-Onwude scored 18 points, including two last-minute free throws to help Stanford to a 65-61 win over UCLA at Pauley. Today Ros, wearing a spiffy pink jacket, was seated next to Jake Kelman providing the color commentary on KZSU during another Stanford win that should assure yet another Pac-10 title. This was a biggie and Stanford met the challenge.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tough game, tough injury

By Wally Mersereau

Playing in LA is tough. On January 6, 2008 in Galen Center Stanford lost to USC 73-72 when Camille LeNoir made a jumper with 8 seconds left to turn a Stanford one point lead into a Stanford one point loss. Jayne had 22 points in that game and Candice 17. LeNoir had 21, including that final jumper. Three years later the script was different, but for a while a repeat seemed possible. And Nneka was hurt--how badly I don't know. After a tension-filled first half Stanford led by only 38-36. The Cardinal came out with much greater efficiency in the second half and widened the lead to 10 points in only a little over three minutes. And then Nneka went down.

Nneka got a nice pass and made one of her nice lay-ups, but when she came down she crumpled to the floor in pain. She was helped to the bench by Marcella and they went into the locker room for about 10 minutes. For the remainder of the game Nneka sat and never stood. At the end she was supported by two teammates as she left the court, still with no weight on her left leg. It looked very bad to me. I would have given the game to USC if this incident could have been avoided. I feared an ACL, but the AP game report says it was a bad ankle sprain. That is not good, but, if true, is a whole lot better than my initial fears. I don't think Nneka will play against UCLA and may be out for some time.

As I said, the first half was very close. Briana Gilbreath of USC was on fire and made 11 points in about the first 8 minutes with one great shot after another. USC had other great shooting throughout the game, many of them difficult shots. Stanford's largest first half lead was 7 with less than 4 minutes left in the half. In those last 4 minutes USC scored 14 to Stanford's 9 to close the gap to the previously noted two points.

Stanford did much better in the second half, except for Nneka's injury. USC closed to within 8 points at one time, but got no closer. Joslyn got her first basket--a three--with about 8 minutes left in the game and then picked up 4 fouls in about a minute. Mikaela replaced her. Jeanette was a warrior throughout, doing everything well. Kayla was slow to score in the first half, but finished with a rush. Chiney also had a low scoring first half, but then played much better after her sister went out. Toni was the best player off the bench in shooting, defense and ball handling. Briana Gilbreath was contained in the second half with an assortment of Stanford players guarding her. Mel came in with one minute left and looked ok. The final score was 78-64.

This was a hard-fought game. I thought USC made more difficult shots than Stanford did while being closely guarded. USC effectively played Stanford even in the first half and was still battling at the end, cutting Stanford's largest lead of 19 points with 3 minutes left to 14 at the final buzzer.

There was one outrageous call of a charge on Toni with about five minutes left in the game. Tara leaped off the bench and kept after the refs about the injustice of it and was called for a technical. After the technical free throws were taken, Tara kept protesting, following a ref down the floor until being guided back to the bench. Tara was well aware she would get the technical but felt she could not accept the call. It looked as if she was prepared to get a second technical.

As is usual for the LA schools, attendance was poor. Stanford had about 50 fans present, a fairly high percentage. A dozen Cardinal fans ate together at an adjacent restaurant before the game.

The good news is that the history of 2008 did not repeat itself at Galen Center. Stanford was clearly the better team this time out, especially in the second half, even without Nneka. But USC is dangerous and can be explosive. It has excellent shooters and played strong defense. Stanford came out in the second half with some good corrections and for the most part executed well. The bad news is Nneka's injury. It appeared to be simply how she fell and not due to an encounter with another player. I hope she will recover soon and well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Social before the USC game

Are you traveling to LA this weekend for the USC and UCLA games?

The Stanford Athletics Buck/Cardinal Fast Break Club has organized a social before the USC game on Friday, February 18 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at:

The Lab Gastropub
3500 Figueroa St., Los Angeles

Join your fellow Stanford fans in cheering on the Cardinal versus the Trojans.

Special appearance and address by former Stanford standout, Vanessa Nygaard.

Drinks and appetizers available for purchase.

Questions? Contact Heather M. Owen at or (650) 723-3075.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Planning for the PAC-10 Tournament

The tournament will be upon us in less than a month! The PAC-10 tournament, always a feast of basketball, offers even more this year with the merger of the men's and women's tournaments. This post covers some of the things you might want to consider in planning to attend.


If you have not already done so, you can purchase tickets at the Stanford sales page.

The Schedule

Click here to review the complete tournament schedule, covering a total of eighteen games in four days.

Now, it is a pretty sure bet that the Cardinal Women will be the #1 seed, and hence will not play until the first semifinal game, 12pm on Friday. (Should they not beat UCLA next week, depending on how the tie-breakers work, they might be the #2 seed and play in the second Friday game.) However there are plenty of other story-lines worth watching: how high can the WSU Cougars get? Can the scrappy new OSU Beavers get a tournament win? Can Cal get into a semifinal? Will Nikki Caldwell's heels punch through the Galen Center's floor?

Also, our tickets include the men's games as well, and the Stanford men might play on Wednesday evening (7th-10th seeds) or if not, certainly on Thursday. We won't know the seeding until the weekend before the tournament.

So there are plenty of reasons to attend preliminary games on Wednesday and Thursday, if your real-life concerns permit.

Getting There

The trip starts with getting from the Bay Area to L.A. in time for the first games on Wednesday afternoon. You may plan to return on Saturday the 12th, either following the Women's final about 2pm, or following the Men's Final around 6pm. Probably the latter: since you have the ticket to men's games, and there is always the chance that Stanford might be in the final, how can you plan not to see it? If you are going to stay until 6pm-ish on Saturday, you might elect to stay over and return Sunday the 13th.

Drive, or fly? The drive time, Palo Alto to USC, is 6 hours via I-5, or 7 hours via 101. That would be with two drivers trading off, and minimal stops. Cost, $125 for gas (round-trip), plus one or two additional motel nights, as you would probably want to travel on the Tuesday and return on the Sunday.

Or you can spend about 5 hours door-to-door by flying SFO-LAX, at a cost of $175 per person (again, round-trip), plus either 4 days' parking or $75 for door-to-door van rides, plus a rental car or taxi rides.

In other words, the costs, times, and inconveniences are pretty even; which you do depends on how you feel about airport security hassles versus driving hassles. If you plan to fly and return on Saturday, however, you had better book that flight ASAP. A lot of people will be trying to leave LAX around 8pm Saturday.

L.A. Without a Car?!?

Since the schedule of basketball games is so full—up to fourteen games in four days, if you really try—you won't have a lot of spare time for driving around to see the sights of the Los Angeles Basin. Suppose you fly; if all you do then is eat, sleep, and watch games, do you really need to rent a car?

Well, actually, no! First, select a hotel within walking distance of the Staples Center. There are numerous hotels in this area; here is a map of them.

Click "View Larger Map." Letter (J) is the Wilshire Grand, where in the past the PAC-10 has housed all the teams.

The Galen Center is a mile or so southwest along Figueroa street. The #81 bus runs every few minutes, as shown on this map.

Again, click on "View Larger Map." Then you can see the Galen Center at letter (A) and Staples Center at letter (B), and the #81 running between them.

Google apparently doesn't know about the new Metro Silver Line, an express bus that also runs between these two places. The Silver Line station for USC is inconveniently placed three blocks away from the door of the Galen Center, underneath the Harbor Freeway on 37th street. But it is an alternative to the #81.

Leave a Comment!

Now you've thought it all through, which days will you go? How will you travel? What games will you attend? Where will you stay? Leave a comment below to say what makes sense to you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The return of the threes

By Wally Mersereau

There were lots of positive vibes in Tucson on February 5. The multi-year reconstruction of the I-10 freeway through Tucson has ended. Arizona has unusually attractive freeway structures, in both Tucson and Phoenix, with artistic ornamentation and an absence of graffiti. The temperature increased today by about 15 degrees to the mid-60s and it was a beautiful Saturday. A winter visit to the Arizona desert is a pleasant experience in general and can be enhanced by attendance at a Stanford women's basketball game.

The good vibes carried into McKale Center where President Obama made his Tucson speech a couple of weeks ago. Both teams came out in pink tee-shirts, looking quite a bit alike. The similarity in appearances ended when the tee-shirts were removed and play began.

The first good omens were Nneka getting the opening tip-off for the first time in 4 games, followed by Stanford scoring first. Two minutes into the game the score was 9-0 and Lindy had shown the way with the first 3-pointer of the day. By game's end Stanford had bagged twelve--count 'em--twelve 3-point shots which I'm sure is a season high, topping even the rain of threes in Oregon. Players contributing to that happy total were Jeanette with 5, Lindy with 4, and Toni, Sara and Grace with one each for a very nice 40%. Free throws also went well, with the Cardinal making 19 of 24 or 79%. The team assist-turnover count was a healthy 20 to 11. And Stanford out-rebounded the Wildcats 46 to 34. Nneka was especially impressive in her stretching scoops of many rebounds that would have been out of reach for other mortals.

All five starters had double-digit scoring, with Nneka providing a dandy double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds. Tara did not substitute as early or as freely as in the Arizona State game, but still nine players had 10 minutes or more of playing time. Toni played much more and much better today. Sarah had good hands today and was more active than usual in grabbing rebounds. A mystery was that Mel did not play at all. She was on the verge of going in with only two or three minutes remaining, but Tara called her back and sent Grace in instead.

The half-time score was 45-24 and the final was 91-61, returning Stanford to the 30-points-or-more margin for Pac-10 games.

Wilma and Wilbur Wildcat were present. Wilma has a red ribbon on her head and dances demurely. Wilbur is a full head taller than Wilma, wears a black hat and walks with a swagger. The Arizona band had three tubas, significantly fewer than ASU, but played well, with its leader dressed in a tie and blue blazer. The red tee-shirt-wearing band liked to chant "U of A", which I have always found a bit unusual because of the strong emphasis on the word "of". I don't think I have encountered another school that gives such prominence to "of". There were four floor-bound baton twirlers and four female cheerleaders who were lifted aloft by their male counterparts. Attendance was announced as 2,300, but my eyeball survey led me to conclude that closer to 1,200 actual bodies were occupying seats. That included about 40 Stanford fans who had much more to cheer about than did the quieter 1,160.

This was a good road trip. Stanford passed its most challenging Pac-10 test so far at Arizona State and showed it was back in the groove at Arizona. The Pac-10 win-loss record now stands at 11-0, which is consistent with the other good vibes felt in Tucson today.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dogged Devils Defeated in Desert

By Wally Mersereau

In a hard-fought game, its closest of the Pac-10 season, Stanford finally wore down a determined Arizona State team before 4,000 fans in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. The Cardinal was up by only 5 at half time, 32-27 and ASU never let up in the second half, even though it was out-played by Stanford which built a peak lead of 20 points and then held on to win by 18, 72-54. ASU scored the first basket, but just over a minute into the game Stanford took the lead and never gave it back. The first half was worrisome, the second half more reassuring.

ASU played without Simon and Burke and I doubt they would have made a decisive difference. ASU had excellent play from its entire remaining roster who streamed on and off in Charli Turner Thorne's patented style.

Tara also substituted freely in the first half, with 10 players seeing action in the first 9 minutes. For the entire game, there were 8 players with 10 or more minutes, followed by Sarah with 8 minutes. Chiney played 30 minutes, finishing with 8 points, all in the second half, and a team-high 11 rebounds. After being out of 3 games, Toni returned, played only one minute and looked rusty.

Stanford left its 3-point shooting game in Oregon, with Jeanette making the only one out of only one attempt. I think this was primarily due to Arizona State's aggressive defense which kept tight pressure on the Cardinal for the entire game. ASU also made only one three-point shot.

Considering how aggressive and and physical the game was, I thought the refs seemed restrained in their whistle blowing. There were times when it looked as if there were half a dozen players shoulder-to-shoulder fighting for rebounds under the basket and many scrambles on the floor for loose balls. Stanford did best at the free-throw line, making 25 of 33, or 68%. ASU made 19 of 28 attempts from the line. As indicators of the intensity of play by both teams: Stanford had 17 turnovers to ASU's 15, 11 steals to ASU's 13 and 9 blocks to ASU's 4.

The Big Four lived up to their leadership roles. Lindy, Mel, Joslyn, Mikaela and Sarah also all did well. Jeanette had four fouls and sat for quite a while in the second half. Mel filled in capably for her during that time and throughout the game. We are fortunate to have her back.

The ASU band had an abundance of tubas and played well, including the national anthem. Sparky the Sun Devil was present, but was as unexciting as ever. ASU should give him a make-over. He seems as dull and dated as Reddy Kilowatt.

It was a clear, cool day in the Phoenix area with a high temperature of about 45 degrees under a sunny, cloudless sky. The temperature was down to 40 degrees at game time. The air was clear and the surrounding mountains were sharply visible.

This was a challenging game and a solid test for the Cardinal. ASU lost to Stanford by 47 points at Maples and should feel good about achieving its announced goal of doing far better at home.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Anticipating Matt Arena

FBC members who are off to Eugene for this Thursday's game will soon have their first look at the brand new Matthew Knight Arena. It is a striking building to look at both outside, where glass walls provide views of surrounding hills,

and inside, where the floor has a striking forest design,

(These pictures are from a slide show by the Eugene Register-Guard; click here to view the entire set.)

The new facility is getting positive reviews from locals. Register-Guard columnist Bob Welch finds the outside "stunning" and says that inside, "Matt is artsy, open and respectful to the past; everywhere you look, images and words honor the hoop history that played out in Mac Court," although he's not a great fan of the tree design on the floor. Click here for the rest of his "Eight Thumbs Up" review.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Planning for the PAC-10 Tournament

It's time to look ahead at the PAC-10 tournament. This year, as before, it takes place in L.A., but there are big changes in the format, as explained by our own Bob Kinder.

The two key changes are:

  1. The two highest-seeded teams (the Cardinal and ?) go straight to the semifinals, no play-in games.
  2. The Men's and Women's tournaments are combined under a single ticket plan. All tournament attendees will be able to see all games, men's and women's both.

The first change is obviously preparation for next year when it'll be the PAC-12 tournament, with more preliminary games. The second change is an intentional ploy by the PAC-10 to increase exposure of the women's game. Everybody who buys a ticket for the popular Men's tournament will have some slight motivation to attend at least the Women's semi- and final games.

Here is a schedule for all the games, showing the times of the men's and women's games. The eight lower-seeded women's teams play four elimination games on Wednesday 3/9 and two further games on Thursday. These games are at the Galen Center on the USC campus. On Friday 3/11 the Women's semifinals are in the Staples Center at noon and 2:30pm, preceding two men's games beginning at 6pm. On Saturday, the Women's final is at 11:30am, preceding the men's final at 3pm.

Tournament Tickets

The only way to attend the women's games is to buy an All-Session Package that gives access to all games, men's as well as women's. Here is a FAQ file (PDF format) that explains the deal. In brief, a single all-session ticket gives you a reserved seat for all men's games, and also general admission seating for all women's games. That one ticket gets you into Galen for the 6 women's prelim games, and lets you sit where you like in the cavernous Staples Center for the women's semifinal and final games—and you also have a reserved seat for men's games.

To purchase a ticket go to the Stanford sales page. Here you will find that the most economical choice, in the tippy-top 300 level, is $105/seat. Better seats are $263.

Remember, that's your reserved seat for such men's games as you care to attend; for the women's games, both at Staples and Galen, it's general admission. Considering that you could (by running back and forth between Galen and Staples) see as many as fourteen of the eighteen total games at the one price, it isn't too bad a deal.

For tips on travel and lodging, see the notes on our Travel Page.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Home at last

FBC traveller Wally Mersereau reported on his trip back from Spokane on Monday:
11:19 am
My United flight left Spokane on schedule at 6:00 am. It is the only non-stop to SFO. The team was not on it so they must have left on another airline, because the last United flight yesterday was too early for them to have been able to make after the game.

My flight was due to arrive at SFO at 8:15. As we approached the Bay Area we were told visibility was marginal and we would circle over Marin County for up to 30 minutes to see if it improved. We did, but it didn't, and we were diverted to Fresno where we are waiting for the fog to lift at SFO. Our next update is supposed to be at noon.

This is my first visit to the Fresno Airport which is pleasant enough and has free Wi-Fi. I have enough reading material to last me for at least 24 hours so I am taking a relaxed view of the world.

Ah, the joys of travel. So broadening. So full of pleasant surprises. All in the interest of supporting the young women of Stanford, with the pleasures that provides.

5:55 pm
I arrived at SFO by bus 8 1/2 hours after my scheduled arrival time. I think United sent the buses from SFO because our driver clearly had done this before. I think buses were the only practical solution. United had to get the diverted passengers out of Fresno to a hub airport.

All things considered, I think United handled everything quite well. By a minor miracle, my checked bag was on my bus. When the driver opened the doors to the baggage area under the bus I spotted my bag immediately, pulled it out myself and was on my way.

Another exciting, although certainly unexpected, adventure in FBC travel.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Card crushes Cougs

By Wally Mersereau:

At 9:30 am on Sunday morning I looked down from my 12th floor hotel room in Spokane and saw the Stanford team bus, with lights flashing, parked at the entrance of the Davenport Hotel Tower. The flag on the hotel roof was whipping strongly in the wind against the grey sky. As I watched, the team trickled out, pulling their rolling bags. I could spot Marcella because she was the only one with two bags. The bus departed at 9:45 for Pullman and I went down for breakfast.

I left a little after 11:00 and made the 73-mile drive to Pullman in 80 minutes. Parking at Beasley Coliseum is free and close in. I bought my reserved seat ticket at the door and got the 4th row, right behind Tara. Butch the Cougar, with his long curving tail dragging on the floor, was doing his thing: fist bumps for all, posing for pictures with small kids, peering into a TV camera, etc. Attendance was about 600. I didn't notice any students at the game except for the band, cheerleaders and Butch. In the pre-game warm-up the Cougars were making 3-pointer after 3-pointer.

As on Friday in Seattle, Stanford took command early and the game was never in doubt. At the half it was 38-24 and the final was 94-50. WSU scored 77 points against Cal for a 14-point win on Friday, but lost to Stanford by 44 points to maintain WSU's perfect record of 51 straight losses to the Cardinal with nary a win. A remarkable record. Beasley is a comfortable place, except for the scoreboard. Nothing is shown about individual players, so you have no idea of who has how many points. Fouls were easy to keep track of because the announcer always gave the cumulative number when each foul occurred. The replay screen is a small reflective movie screen at one end which gives only a dim picture, but the picture was clear enough to show Lindy did not intentionally foul the WSU player who was injured on a lay-up. The player seemed to injure herself because of the way she hit the floor. The refs watched a replay on a monitor and announced no intentional foul.

The Big Three were all out of the game with 7 1/2 minutes left and a 33-point lead. With mostly bench players in the game from then on, the lead was increased to 44. Sarah made several nice baskets during the last minutes, ending with 10 points. Mikaela played only 11 minutes, but scored 8 points and had 5 rebounds. Nine players had 11 minutes or more. All played except Mel. The Big Three were in for 26 to 30 minutes and Lindy played for 29 minutes. Joslyn had 12 points. Chiney again was bothered with fouls, but still made the only double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Nneka led the scoring with 20 points. Jeanette had 14. Kayla had only 4 points, but 9 rebounds.

Stanford free-throw shooting was as good as at Seattle at 76%. Stanford 3-point shooting improved from 25% at Seattle to 40% today.

The weather improved during the game with the sky clearing enough on my return to Spokane to reveal the moon.

This was a satisfying trip with two nice wins. Both games had plenty of Stanford mistakes and shortcomings, but everyone played well enough and no one got hurt. And there was more opportunity to spread around playing time today.

I think the team will be on my early return flight to SFO tomorrow morning.