Sunday, November 30, 2014

Another Perfect Day in Paradise

It is Sunday in Honolulu. This morning I looked down from my hotel at breakers moving in on tranquil Waikiki Beach and then raised my sight to the Pacific horizon beyond. Yesterday I toured an army museum at Waikiki that presented the familiar story of the Pearl Harbor attack that took place on another quiet Sunday morning 73 years and one week ago.

In that era nearly all visitors to Hawaii arrived by ship, many on the premier services provided by Matson liners from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, a trip that took about three days. Tomorrow I will fly back to SFO in about five hours.

The reliably consistent weather in Hawaii makes it easy for your thoughts to drift back and clearly imagine how that December day in 1941 began as just another perfect day in paradise.

Fortunately, my Sunday in paradise ended better than that one. For the third day I made the now familiar short trip to the Manoa campus of the University of Hawaii for the final two games in the Rainbow Wahine tournament. The results of today’s games could be considered to approach perfection.

Stanford had the first game of the day against Prairie View. Again Alex was not suited up, but all other players were healthy and all played, some for extended minutes. Karlie again started at the 3 position. The game was watched by only a select few. At tip-off attendance was about 70.

A few more watchers arrived during the game, but not many. Local Stanford alum Sanjay Arora (85) brought a miniature tree to fill one empty seat.

Stanford led in the game from the start and built its lead steadily throughout the game. The halftime score was 52-18. The final score was 88-45. This win by 43 points exceeded North Carolina’s victory over the Panthers yesterday by 36 points.

Tara started sending in bench players early. Brittany was in with 6 minutes left in the first half and all other able players except Taylor Rooks played in the first half. All 14 healthy players were in the second half of the game.

There was much to praise and little to grumble about with regard to any Stanford player. Ten players had 13 minutes or more in the game. Brittany was third in minutes played with 19, during which she scored 8 points, had 5 rebounds, shot 3 of 6 from the floor, made 2 of 2 free throws and had 1 steal.

Briana had 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 of 3 3-pointers and 4 of 5 free throws in 18 minutes.

Lili, with 22 minutes made 2 of 2 3s and 4 of 4 free throws. Lili also had 4 assists to 2 turnovers. Erica McCall played the most minutes with 25 and racked up a team-leading 13 points and 9 rebounds. Bird made 3 of 4 free throws and had a steal. It was satisfying to see her scoring so well.

Karlie made 3 of 6 3s for her 9 points in 17 minutes. Amber played 16 minutes and achieved 11 points, 3 rebounds, one 3-pointer, 2 of 2 free throws and a steal.

Amber also had 3 assists and no turnovers. Kailee, also in the game for 16 minutes, had 2 points, 6 rebounds and a steal. Taylor Greenfield had 4 points, 2 rebounds and 4 assists to no turnovers in 15 minutes.

Kaylee made 4 points while grabbing 8 rebounds, made 2 of 2 free throws, 3 blocks, 2 steals and one assist in 15 minutes. Erica Payne was in for 13 minutes and accounted for 3 points, 4 rebounds, one 3-pointer and a steal.

Taylor Rooks was the last player off the bench and made a 3-pointer in her 5 minutes. It was not her first college score (she had a 2-point goal against Boston College) but her first 3-point goal.

Tess was in for 9 minutes, scored 2 points and had 5 rebounds.

As a team, Stanford shot 54.5% from the floor, made 11 of 18 3-point shots for 61.1% and 17 of 21 free throws for 81%. The Cardinal outrebounded 47 to 28, had 7 steals to the Panthers 4 and 4 blocks to Prairie View’s one. All in all, this was a splendid box score for the team and its individuals.

This was an easy win over an out-classed team, but it gave a chance for everyone but Alex to perform and the overall performance was very satisfactory.

In the second game, well-coached and determined Hawaii played even better against the Tar Heels than it did against the Cardinal. The Rainbows lost to Stanford by 13 points and to North Carolina by 9. Attendance for the second game was about 800.

Although Stanford lost to North Carolina on the first day, it did better against both of the other two teams than did the Heels.

Photo: Clara Brock

After the Stanford game today, Lili held a meet-and-greet event that attracted 60 people, mostly high school and intermediate school girls. As you would expect, Lili confidently filled the role of expert host, drawing on her experience at Punahou School and at Stanford. Lili was asked how it felt to beat UConn. She said it was fantastic. I was stopped by a fan who noted my Stanford garb to express his appreciation for Stanford’s win over UConn.

This trip to Hawaii was a worthwhile one and this final day of games was close to perfect.

Photo: Clara Brock

Improved on Day Two

Stanford looked much better on the second day of the Hawaii tournament than in its demoralizing loss on the first day, while North Carolina continued to look strong and diversified. The weather continued to be what you expect in Honolulu, namely close to perfect.

The Tar Heels thrashed Prairie View A&M in the first game today 81-45, dominating the Lady Panthers from the opening tip. North Carolina started with a 10-0 lead. Prairie View shot only 19.6% from the field and had 4 assists to 23 turnovers. The Panthers came closest to holding their own in rebounding where they were down only 42-40.

North Carolina only made half as many 3-point shots as against Stanford--6 of 22.

In the second game, Hawaii made a real game of it, leading for much of the first half and outscoring Stanford by a point in the second half. Karlie started in place of Taylor Greenfield, but Taylor was first off the bench to replace Karlie when she incurred the first Stanford foul.

Brittany had an early opportunity to play, but only lasted one minute after a quick foul and turnover and did not return.

Several Cardinal players did better than they have been doing, including Taylor, Erica McCall, Bonnie and Kaylee. Amber looked inspired and was back to doing everything well. Lili had started slowly against the Heels, but was playing at high effectiveness for this entire game. Erica M and Kaylee rebounded as expected, but this time added scoring, although Kaylee was limited by fouls.

Early in the game Hawaii was up 4-12 and 6-14. Stanford did not take the lead until the 8-minute mark. At the half it was Stanford 48, Hawaii 34. The Rainbows did not get closer than 9 points in the second half. The final score was 86-73.

Lili racked up the best statistics. In addition to 26 points she grabbed 4 rebounds, made 6 of 7 3s, 4 of 4 free throws, had 5 assists to 3 turnovers and had a steal and a block in 36 minutes. As usual, she was always on the move.

Amber also had stellar stats with her 19 points, 2 rebounds, 2 of 4 3s, 3 of 5 free throws, 8 assists to 2 turnovers and 2 steals, also in 36 minutes.

Erica McCall had 11 points, 9 rebounds, 5 of 8 shooting and 1 of 2 free throws in 33 minutes.

Kaylee scored 10 points, had 8 rebounds, 5 of 5 shooting and 2 blocks in 21 minutes.

Bonnie made 8 points on 2 of 3 3s and 2 of 2 free throws and had one rebound in 14 minutes.

Karlie had 6 points on 2 of 2 3s and got 4 rebounds in 21 minutes.

Taylor only scored 2 points and had 3 rebounds and a steal, but she looked more effective than this suggests.

The team made 12 of 18 3-pointers for an outstanding rate of 66.7%, its best showing of the season in this category. Free throw shooting was also fine with 12 made in 15 attempts for 80%.

Stanford outrebounded Hawaii only 34 to 32. The Cardinal had 16 assists to 15 turnovers. Hawaii’s assists to turnovers were 10/7. The Rainbow shot 3-pointers at a rate of 27.8% and free throws at 83.9%.

Official attendance was 2,589, but there were never that many people in the arena at one time, or cumulatively. For the first game there were not more than 100 seats filled, while the Stanford-Hawaii game had about a thousand on-lookers. Because almost all attendees were Hawaii fans they generated lots of noise in support of the Rainbow Wahine and against the Cardinal, but nowhere near as loud as in The Pit earlier this week.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Disappointment in Hawaii

The weather in Honolulu did not disappoint. The Stanford women did, falling to North Carolina 54-70 in the first game of the Hawaii tournament.

The sun shone, the trade winds blew, the temperature was 81 degrees. But in the University of Hawaii arena North Carolina made twelve 3-point shots, yielding 36 points. Stanford made five 3-point shots, yielding 15 points. This 21-point difference was the primary reason for the variance in the final score.

The game plan may have been to control the inside scoring of the Tar Heels’ big three of Mayunga, McDaniel and Gray. That plan was reasonably successful, but in the process North Carolina was left open for long-distance shooting and reaped a rich harvest. McDaniel made 3 threes, Coleman made 4, Cherry made 2, Washington made 2 and Rountree made 1. Meanwhile, on the Stanford side Karlie made 3, Lili made 1 and Briana made 1.

In addition to the discrepancy in 3-pointers, Stanford made 30.9% of its field goal attempts, including only 20% in the first half. Stanford made 15 free throws to North Carolina’s 6, but free throws only count for one point and this could not offset the dozen 3-pointers by the Tar Heels.

Neither team shot well in the first half and the halftime score was 18-24. North Carolina found the basket in the second half and outscored the Cardinal 46-36 in that period.

Lili was back from her illness in New Mexico and started, but lacked her usual oomph in the first half. She seemed more of her old self in the second half and ended with 15 points. Karlie was the second high scorer with 9 points. Kaylee and Amber had 6 points apiece and Briana, off the bench, scored 7 points. Brittany made 3 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and a steal in 8 minutes. All of her points were from free throws.

Sylvia Hatchell kept her starters in the game until there was less than a minute to play even though Tara had cleared the bench earlier. The end of the Stanford bench did better against the Tar Heel starters than Stanford’s regulars did. Erica Payne made 4 points in 4 minutes and got a steal.

Taylor Greenfield played 13 minutes and ended with no points and 3 rebounds. Erica McCall made 2 points and had 5 rebounds. Kailee played 16 minutes and had no points and 1 rebound. Kaylee again led in rebounds with 9 and had 6 points and 5 turnovers.

Briana, Brittany and Erica did well in their few minutes on the floor, combining for 14 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.

The assist to turnover ratio was another Stanford weakness. The Cardinal had 6 assists to 13 turnovers, while the Tar Heels had 16 assists and 17 turnovers. The third major Stanford shortcoming was to be outrebounded 32 to 47.

Not many people saw this game first hand. Attendance was in the 200-250 range.

The second game between Hawaii and Prairie View A & M was a better game. Both of these teams have scrappy players and all involved played hard from start to finish. Hawaii won 72-58, but the Lady Panthers only trailed by 4 points with 6 minutes remaining. Attendance for the second game was about 350, made up primarily of fans of the Rainbow Wahine.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Day in Honolulu

The Cardinal came to Honolulu to play in a tournament including North Carolina and Prairie View A&M. The team practiced Thanksgiving day and then sat down for a dinner with the host team, the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine. In this view, the UNC tables are closest. Two tables of Stanford players are in the middle left.

After the meal, the four coaches each said a few nice words. Applause for Sylvia Hatchell was particularly strong as she is just back to work after a year off for treatment for leukemia.

Then they posed for a group shot.

Left to right, Dawn Brown of Prairie View, Tara, Sylvia Hatchell of UNC, Laura Beeman of UH.

Later, two 900-win, hall of fame coaches compared the contents of the goody bags they were given.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Report from The Pit

It is scarf and gloves weather in Albuquerque. The high temperature today is 46, the projected low is 28 and there’s a wind chill factor as a bonus. Fortunately, it is not umbrella weather. The arena is a 20-minute brisk walk from my hotel, providing me with some pre-game stimulation, which it would turn out was not needed. This game had more than enough stimulation.

The University of New Mexico had a promotion for the Stanford game called “Pack the Pit” with all seats priced at just $2. The Pit wasn’t packed--it looked about half full and I calculated that to mean about 7,500 seats filled. Official attendance was 6,594. It was a good thing the arena wasn’t full because the fans that were present were deafening enough when the they came alive as they did midway in each half when New Mexico started cutting into Stanford’s lead. Once the crowd got going it didn’t stop. The Pit is a very intimidating place to play under these circumstances. The crowd worked itself into a frenzy when New Mexico was threatening or when Stanford was at the free throw line. This was nerve-rattling. The Pit acoustics must amplify the noise.

The crowd shouted at the refs at every call against New Mexico. One man near me kept shouting varied insults at the officials in a booming voice throughout the game. His favorite line which he angrily roared over and over in the final minutes was: “They’re #1, they don’t need your help!”

Lili was present, but not suited up. I asked Eileen before the game the reason and she told me she didn’t know. I was unable to ask Ashley, the KZSU announcer, so I never did learn why Lili did not play. She walked normally and looked ok, but did not participate in warm-ups. Just now, from the Stanford website I see Lili was ill. That’s better than an injury. Hopefully, she will recover before the Hawaii tournament. She was missed. Without Lili Stanford was on the ropes at the end of each half. This team needs Lili.

Stanford started in splendid fashion, led by Karlie with three 3s in the first 6 minutes. Stanford led 22-6 at the 14-minute mark. That 16-point lead was the peak of the first half. I felt sorry for New Mexico at that point for being so out-classed. Was I ever wrong--they were not out-classed. The Lady Lobos suddenly found their footing midway in the half and began cutting into the Cardinal lead. The crowd went especially wild when the Lobos got within one point at the 5:39 mark. At the same time New Mexico became effective, Stanford seemed unnerved, lost its poise and couldn’t get anything to go in.

Kaylee was getting offensive rebounds, but couldn’t make put-backs. She got to the free throw line, but couldn’t hit the basket. Tara tried many player combinations in the first half, but none worked once the Lobos went off. Stanford was down 32-35 as the half ran down when Amber delivered one of her clutch shots with a buzzer-beater three to tie the game 35-35.

Stanford started the second half almost as well as the first, going on a 12-2 run to achieve a peak 12-point lead at 15:34. Then when the Lobo defense caused a Stanford shot clock violation, the crowd went wild to begin its second half frenzy. And again, about half way through the second half, New Mexico began to shave the Stanford lead and the crowd never quieted down. During its lead-cutting runs in both halves, New Mexico played as if inspired and with luck on its side while Stanford looked plodding and pedestrian. There is one Lobo guard who shoots high, arching threes as Lindy LaRoque once did. It seemed to me she could launch these in profusion endlessly, although the box score does not support this impression.

Then came the ending. With two minutes to go the Stanford lead was 64-62. The Lobos tied the game at 1:30 64-64. Both teams were in the bonus. A Lobo got to the line, but made only 1 of 2 free throws, bringing the score to 64-65. And then the miracle of the Stanford free throws began. Amazingly, Kaylee, the poor free throw shooter, made two under the pressure of saving the game and with the crowd on its feet in a bedlam of noise. Tara, anticipating New Mexico desperation fouls, put Bonnie and Karlie in. Bonnie was almost immediately fouled and calmly plunked in two. Then Amber was fouled and calmly plunked in two. And then it was over, with the six Stanford free throws being the final points scored, resulting in a final score of 70-65.

Wow, what a game! What difference might Lili have made?

Three Cardinal players scored in double digits and Kaylee had a double-double.

Karlie had 23 points, 2 rebounds, 6 of 12 threes, 1 of 2 free throws in 34 minutes. Amber, the dependable clutch player, had 18 points, 5 rebounds, 1 of 3 threes—her buzzer-beater—and 3 of 4 free throws in 35 minutes. Kaylee, the remarkable freshman, had 10 points, 22 rebounds, 6 of 10 free throws and 2 blocks in 34 minutes. Twenty-two rebounds! Taylor Greenfield had one of her best games, ending with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, no threes, no free throws in 30 minutes. Bonnie’s great contribution was those two free throws at the end.

Eight Stanford players were in the game for 10 minutes or more and carried the load, and the strain of playing in a hostile environment: Amber, Karlie, Kaylee, Kailee, Taylor G, Bonnie, Erica M and Alex.

Holy Moly, that was really something. I saw only a handful of Stanford fans scattered here and there in the arena. My guess is that less than 50 Cardinal fans were present, swallowed up in the semi-packed Pit. Those who were there saw a doozy of a game.

So, all’s well that ends well. Right?

Let’s see, I guess it’s on to North Carolina in Hawaii.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving banquet in Honolulu open to fans

The Cardinal's Thanksgiving banquet in Honolulu has been made open to fans. If you will be in Honolulu on Thursday the 27th you may attend for a fee of $60. To reserve a spot, email Eileen Roche, eroche at stanford dot edu, before noon on Thursday the 20th.

The time and location of the banquet was not publicized yet.

Update: The banquet will be at 5:30pm Thanksgiving day at the team hotel.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Things to do in Honolulu

The Cardinal play in a tournament at the U of Hawaii on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the 28th-30th November. The game sessions each day begin at 2pm, meaning we have a good part of each day for touristification. The following are suggestions from some FBC members (specifically, Arlene Rusche and Wally Mersereau) of things to do in Honolulu.

  • The National Memorial Cemetery at Punchbowl offers quiet reflection in a spectacular setting.
  • At the Battleship Missouri you can walk the decks of the massive ship on which the Japanese surrender was signed. Explore the ship on your own with an audioguide, or sign up for a guided tour.
  • The USS Arizona Memorial commemorates the lives lost when the ship was sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Opens 8am daily; visit early as the free tour tickets are often all distributed by noon.
  • Next door to the Arizona memorial is the USS Bowfin, a restored submarine that fought in the Pacific during the war, and is now a museum of submarine warfare.
  • Inexpensive but not bad food among the hotels in Waikiki, the Wailana Coffee House on Ala Moana.
  • The Pacific Aviation Museum is located in Ford Island hangars that were targets during the attack. Today it houses restored aircraft of WWII and Korean War vintages, as well as other exhibits related to wartime aviation.
  • Diamond Head is a pleasant open space inside a volcanic crater, with walking trails.
  • Saturday and Sunday 8am-3pm, over 400 local vendors descend on the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet selling everything under the sun from fresh fruit to spare hubcaps.
  • Manoa Falls trail, an easy (but sometimes muddy) 2-mile walk to pretty falls.
  • Five minutes downhill from Manoa falls, the Wai'Oli Tea Room.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Early access to PAC-12 Tournament Tix

As you probably know, the PAC-12 Tournament is Thursday March 5th through Sunday March 8th at the Key Arena in Seattle. The Seattle Storm organization handles the ticketing for the tournament, and they are making an early outreach to prior attendees. You can take advantage to book excellent seats now.

If you are planning to attend the Tournament, go to this Storm page now. You will see a map of Key Arena with most of the seating colored yellow. Most of those seats will be general admission. An unknown amount of the yellow seats will be alloted to the individual schools.

Two areas on the map are not yellow: section 128 is purple, and the courtside seating is brown. These seats are for sale now. Scroll the page down a bit to see the prices for all-session passes with reserved seating in these areas.

Just to refresh your memory, this is what Key Arena looks like:

You can see where the purple and brown areas are situated.

In order to see what seats are available, you can load an interactive seat-choosing map by clicking the "Buy Tickets" button under the all-session pass prices. However, when I did this, the interactive map did not load in Firefox or in Chrome. I could only get it to load in Safari. So good luck on that. If you do get it to load, in order to complete a purchase you will need to supply your Seattle Storm account name and password—the one you set up last year when buying tournament tickets, perhaps.

Although we did fight through and bought some very nice seats in the second row of the purple section, probably the better way is for you to call or email Kirk Bighaus, a member of the Storm's staff who is very eager to sell tournament tickets. His phone number is 206-272-2554, and his email is kbighaus at stormbasketball dot com. He can tell you where the best seats are and can sell them to you right away.

Should you do this? Or should you wait for Tournament time and order through the Stanford ticket office? It's hard to say. The only thing we know for sure at this point, is that Stanford's allotment will not be in section 128 or the courtside seats. The first year in Seattle, the Stanford seats were terrible, many rows high and in a corner. Last year they were somewhat better. If you think it's important to sit behind the Stanford bench, or if you are not certain you will attend the tournament, you might wait. Otherwise, it would be a good idea to Call Kirk and lock down some good seats now.