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.