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.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cardinal Handily Humbles Huskies

By Wally Mersereau

Stanford, wearing its black uniforms, started this road trip confidently, topping the University of Washington by 29 points in Seattle.

I thought the Huskies played better than their record would suggest and they kept up their efforts into the final minute, although the outcome was never in doubt. Stanford was off to a quick start, jumping out to an 11-0 lead in the first 4 minutes. From there Stanford slowly and steadily built its lead over the course of the game. At the half it was 36-21 and the final was 80-51. Tara did not feel comfortable enough to empty the bench. Mikaela and Sara had only a few minutes on the court. Ashley and Grace did not play, nor did Mel.

Nneka led the offense with 16 points, combined with 11 rebounds. Jeanette had 15 points and Kayla 14. Jeanette played 37 minutes, Kayla 35, Nneka 34 and Lindy 27. Chiney, because of fouls, played only 18 minutes.

Stanford's defense was excellent. Kristi Kingma did not score until the second half and ended with 6 points. Regina Rogers had been reported to be in better shape this season, but I did not notice any visible improvement. She scored 6 points and fouled out with 6 minutes to play. Other Washington players stepped up with a variety of nice shots, but not enough to ever threaten.

Stanford continued to have too many turnovers, mostly due to scrappy play by the Huskies and continued to miss easy layups, most noticeably on fast breaks. Cardinal 3-point shooting was mediocre in this game, with only 5 of 20 going in--25%, but those five all were timely. Stanford got a lot of trips to the free throw line and made 21 of 27 for 78%.

The weather in Seattle was overcast and drizzly in the morning with a high temperature in the mid-50s which is above average for this date. The relatively good and dry weather at game time didn't boost attendance at Bank of America Arena on the UW campus. The official figure was more than 2700, but I thought only about 2000 seats were actually occupied. There were about 50 Stanford fans present, including five Fast Break Club members. A sign behind the student section read "Dawg Pack" and maybe 80 students were there. The Washington band had about 40 members playing loudly and well from above the Stanford bench.

Sadly, Harry the Husky was not there. Instead, a new Husky mascot, with a much more realistic head, lurked timidly around one of the entrances, but did not venture onto the floor. I am a Harry fan and I hope his happy face and friendly, outgoing manner have not been permanently retired.

This dominant win on the road was reassuring as the team now heads over the Cascades for its Sunday visit to the Palouse.