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R: C, why did we put Geno's book here?

C: Cuz he's the guy we love to hate!


C: A really good overview of Women's College Basketball

C and R's Stanford Wome'ns Basketball Archives. C and R will never forget that most incredible Cinderella season of Candice Wiggins' last year with Stanford in 2007-2008. She took an above average team and with her charisma and will and drives to the hoops, she got them to the Championship game. This is works best if you scroll to the bottom of this page and read up.

April 9th-Final

If you are not doing anything this Wednesday, you can come to Maples to join a rally to welcome the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team back to California from its amazing journey.

Well, you can welcome everyone except the heart and soul of the team. Candice has to stay in Florida to see what her future holds in the draft. If I were her, I would have said, “no thanks, I want to be with my teammates”. Then it is the awards dinner on Friday, I believe, and by the weekend, Candice will leave for Chicago and China to practice with the USA National Team and try to secure a spot on the US Olympic Team. By the way, Candice will be a couple of credits shy of her communications major and will have to make that up, when? Over the summer if she is not in the Olympics, I guess. 

Okay, I know you are waiting to read why we think Stanford lost. Well, R and I think that the Tennessee team as a whole was quicker, faster, and had longer arms. They forced 25 turnovers, some of them on Candice, and 13 steals. At one point their center, Nicky Anosike, poked the ball away from Candice and went down for a lay-up. It’s bad when the other team’s center can steal from your best player. JJ Hones was quoted after the game as saying that they didn’t even have the personnel to practice against speed like that. 

So, Coach Summit had superior athletes. Why have the looked ragged all year? We all saw they barely scrapped by the final four game against LSU, and Stanford beat them the first time around at Maples. So what was the difference?  One, Summit gave them a game plan that utilized their strengths and took away Stanford strength. And, two, Tennessee played passionately as a team, something the team had not done all year because they can rely so heavily on Candace Parker that the others were not used to picking up the slack. Anoske had a big night scoring and so did their guard Shannon Bobbitt. They are not used to stepping up, but for the title game, they did. 

All tournament long ESPN has been showing tape of the Stanford team patiently going through their reads, passing, passing with patience, until the other team made a mistake and left someone open. Then they fired and they hit a high percentage of shots. Well, Tennessee put on a full court press and made some steals in the back court. When Stanford did keep the ball and advance it past half court, the shot clock would be somewhere around 18 or 15 seconds, having wasted 12 to 15 seconds advancing the ball, now Stanford did not have the time to patiently pass. Also, Tennessee did not give up on their relentless defense once Stanford got it to half court, so it was rare to get a good open look. And when we did shoot, there was always a hand in their faces. That, and we missed some easy lay-ups and put backs. You can’t win championships when you miss lay-ups. 

When they met at Stanford earlier this year, Tennessee cam out pressing, but not with the intensity of last night. Stanford easily, and quickly, broke it and got the ball across the line and quickly passed to find the open player. So Tennessee quickly abandoned it. Not so last night. Tennessee was a different team, playing all out, stepping in passing lanes, and the press worked for them. 

Another key difference was the free throws. Candice did not make it to the line last night. I had to check the box scores to see if it was true. Jayne was 4-10, and we were 7-14 (Kayla was 3-4) so that is 7 points we left behind. In the first game, at home, where the refs loooove Candice, we were 23-32. Yes, 23 points from free throws in that first game. Tennessee was 6-10 in that game. Think there wasn’t a little home court advantage there? 

That said, Tennessee didn’t or couldn’t put this game away, they missed some easy shots, too. They still rely on Candace, who was clearly hurting with that separated shoulder. Tennessee’s defense won it for them, a night when they stopped the tournaments best offense. 

All in all, they will be replaying this tournament, and the final game, for a long time. Talk about a Cinderella story. Stanford’s improbable run lead by the most infectious smile. The best player in the country playing with a separated shoulder. Two legendary coaches who actually like each other. I could go on and on….While I am sad Candice didn’t win the championship for her team, I am so proud and amazed at what Stanford has done. 

Notes.
They showed that segment again where the superstars on opposite ends of the screen come out fold their arms, followed by their coaches. This time it was Candace Parker and Pat Summit and Candice Wiggins and Tara Van DerVeer. It was good to see Pat Summit was equally as clueless about how to come out and fold your arms with attitude as Tara was (although sh edid try to give “the stare’). Then, with a few minutes left, they just showed Candace Parker and Summit alone. Ouch, that hurt. 

Good to see Stanford still can’t sing. ESPN used some more highlights from the Tennessee and Stanford players singing to “Ladies Night”.  They also showed the Stanford girls pretending to read books, to emphasize their smarts. They didn’t give the Tennessee team any books as props, so take that, Tennessee. They did quote Ros Gold-Onwude as saying, “maybe we could have a math competition with Tennessee, maybe a differentials contest”. Then she proclaimed herself a nerd and said she couldn’t believe she just said that on TV. It was cute. 

The Cardinal quickly ran off the floor after the lose, and they seemed dry-eyed. Candice did not cry, at least on camera. She only cries with joy, and held her head up high as she left the court. Oh, hey, I found that great Candice interview where she does cry (tears of joy) and apologizes to America.

Another cool thing about following Stanford all year and then writing about it is that our blog is read by more than one person. And sometimes people even write to us! Executive Producer of NBC11, Jan Boyd, sent us this link to an all Candice Slide show. Thanks Jan! 

And thank you Stanford, for a great year.
April 8th-That darn tat

I guess Tara didn't want that tattoo after all....


April 7th-Final Final Four

Okay, now C and R are really, really, rooting for Stanford to win the final game. VanDerVeer made a promise months ago that if they won the National Championship, she would get a tattoo! Okay, usually, when a coach or a player makes a bet like that, it is something short-termed, something they can live with. My daughter's wrestling coach (yes, she wrestles on the boys team, you got a problem with that? And if you do, I'll send my daughter...) Anyway, he said if they won league he would cut his hair, which was way past his shoulders. He thought they would never do it, as he really, really did not want to cut it. But they won league, and knocked off a huge rival to do it (sound familiar?) and he let the wrestlers buzz cut him (it since has grown back to a respectable "guy" length, but everyone does a double take when he walks by.)

Or what about the time the US goalie, Brianna Scurry said if they won the gold medal in soccer on the home turf at The Atlanta Olympics in 1996, she would walk naked down the main blvd. They won. She had her friend drive the car to the main street at 3 AM, took her clothes off for all of ten seconds, took a few steps and jumped back in the car. She even brought along her gold medal in case a cop stopped her, so she could explain.

But a tattoo? That's permanent, baby! R said deep down she must have really wanted one, anyway. I am not so sure. Tar just does not strike me as the tattoo type. Maybe she will get one of those henna ones that washes off in a few weeks.

Okay, funniest moment so far in the tournament, and ESPN kept showing it, so we could laugh every time, was this promo with Geno Auriemma and Maya Moore and Candice Wiggins and Tara VanDerVeer. The idea was to have the star player walk into the shot, followed by the coach, Both star player and coach cross arms and lean back, I don't know, "gansta style". As in, I am too cool, I am cocky, I am the best, y'all hear? So Candice and Maya can pull this off, and Geno does an okay job, but Tara just walks out and crosses her arms like a grandma. Doesn't lean back, doesn't give that cocky, I'll take y'all on lean. She was probably following directions to the letter. Walk out, fold arms. They kept showing it and R and I kept laughing. Oh Tara, we love ya, really! You are a great coach, and ESPN's break downs keep showing how your time plays great team ball, but you are wonderfully not hip!

Second funniest moment was finding out the Stanford team cannot sing. For the start of the half hour spot before tip off of the Uconn v. Stanford game, they had all four teams singing parts to "Ladies Night". Poor Stanford, no one has shown them how to sing. They even had Tara standing in the middle at one point and all the players racking up because she must have been worse then them.

Anyway, we love how loose the team is. They even had an ice cream social with former players , including 1990 National Title winner Jennifer Azzi and are being cheered on by Kate Starbird, Vanessa Nygaard, Charmin Smith, Jamila Wideman, Milena Flores, and Heather Owen. All the former players have said how much Tar has loosened up.

Let's hope they stay loose for one last game!

Record Crowd
Sunday's first semifinal game between Stanford and Connecticut set a state
attendance record for a women's basketball game. A sellout crowd of 21,655
was announced. The old record was set on Feb. 11, 2001, at Florida's O'Connell Center when
12,222 watched the Gators host Tennessee. This was the 16th consecutive sellout for the women's NCAA Tournament.

Major dilemma. Our Tuesday team starts its first playoff game Tuesday at 7 PM. Pacific Time. Stanford starts at 5:30 PM. It won't be over at our tip off........what to do???? I hope someone brings a radio.

Go Stanford!


April 6th-Final Four

Candice Wiggins scored the first basket of the game for either team.

Candice Wiggins also scored the last points of the game for either team.

It only seemed like she scored all the points in-between, too.

That's really all you need to know to see that Stanford did the impossible and beat Uconn 82-73 in the final four to advance to the National Title Game.

No, Candice didn't score all of Stanford points, ONLY 25, plus 13 key rebounds, all defensive. Who was the other Stanford player to have a break out game? Let's see, it was Ros, then JJ previously. Tonight they must have all but those very smart Stanford heads together and decided it would be Kayla, with 17, and a little of Jayne with 15. These girls are not selfish, are they?

After Candice scored that first basket, Uconn got a three to take their only lead of the game. That is not a misprint. Don't worry, Candice got it right back by hitting a jumper to go up 4-3. Oh, wait, Uconn did tie it at 10 all, but Stanford never looked back. They were in control of this game, confident and sure, even when Uconn would come clawing back. The score was 40-33 at halftime, and Maya Moore, Uconn's all everything (and I do mean that respectfully, she looked great) was held to only 6 points in the first. Then she heated up. It felt like she was hitting threes like crazy, but the box score says she was 3-of-11 from behind the arc. She did finished with 20, but didn't seem to get much help from her teammates.

The ESPN announcers did a good job pointing out how Stanford is playing. They said that Stanford is a very patient team. They went on to say that being patient doesn't mean you take the shot clock down and then shoot. No, they go through all their "reads" or options until someone is open. They showed one play in the second half where all five Cardinal players touched the ball, all five made passes, no one dribbled, and they passed so quickly that Uconn could not keep up and Kayla found herself open at the three point line. Uconn's got to be thinking, okay, not a high percentage shot for her. She nails it. Now that's coaching.

Stanford is playing the best team ball right now. ESPN also got it right when they said Candice Wiggins is the best leader in college basketball right now. Maybe Candace Parker is a better all around player at 6'5", but no one wills her team to win like our Candice.

And with Tennessee's last second basket to advance (poor LSU), Stanford has a shot at this game, too. Unbelievable.

Oh, forgot to mention that they also announced the winner of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for NCAA women’s basketball. It stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award has grown into the nation’s premier tribute to college seniors. No suspense, it was Candice. Wiggins is the first Pacific-10 Conference player to win this national honor in the Senior CLASS Award’s seven-year history.


April 5th-Wading

R and I are loving all the attention the West Coast newspapers are paying to the Women’s Final Four. Most years we just get a report on the scores. The big reason for the extra coverage, of course, is that Stanford is in it this year. My paper had a great article on R’s favorite, Jayne Appel, realizing she has to be the leader nest year, and how lucky she is to have had Candice Wiggins to emulate. R’s paper had a big article on my favorite, Candice Wiggins, and how she is just on a roll of a lifetime.

To kick off the final four hoopla in Tampa, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) always presents The State Farm Wade Trophy Player of the Year award. Candice has been a finalist for the last year or two, as well as this year, and in the past she always had to fly out by herself and attend the ceremony by herself, watch someone else win, and then go to the final four games and watch as an outsider looking in.

Well, this year, it is different and oh, so, much sweeter. First of all, she told the SF Chronicle that every where she looks she sees the four logos in the final four, and she is surprised and delighted to see the Stanford “S”. Secondly, when the ceremony for the Wade Trophy happened, her Stanford teammates were in the audience. When she looked out at the audience from the podium, the first thing she saw was Ros Gold-Onwude crossing her fingers! How fitting for someone like Candice, the ultimate team player, who is maybe not the best player in college basketball, but the best at wiling her teammates to raise to the occasion, as well as raising to the occasion as to not let her teammates down, be surrounded by them for this one last time.

Her teammates asked her what she would say if she won. She said she had nothing planned because she knew she wasn’t going to win. Candice Parker also was one of the finalists, and our Candice is wise enough to know that that Candace is the number one player in the country, separated shoulder or not. But the Wade Trophy is not about being the best player, but about being, dare we say it, a role model.

First, some history. The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 31st year is named after the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade. This most prestigious award, regarded as "The Heisman of Women's Basketball", debuted in 1978 as the first-ever women's national player of the year award in college basketball.

Last year's State Farm Wade Trophy winner was Tennessee's Candace Parker. The first recipient of the Wade Trophy was Carol Blazejowski of Montclair State in 1978. Other Wade Trophy/NCAA Division I Player of the Year recipients include many WNBA standouts such as Teresa Weatherspoon (1988), DeLisha Milton-Jones (1997), Ticha Penicheiro (1998), Sue Bird (2002) and Diana Taurasi (2003). Seimone Augustus (2005 and 2006) and Nancy Lieberman (1979 and 1980) are the award's only two-time recipients.

Candice Wiggins became the first West Coast player to be named the State Farm Wade Trophy Player of the Year since 1990. Her teammates leapt to their feet. Wanna know who was the first Stanford player to win it? None other than Jennifer Azzi.

Oh, she was also selected to the State Farm Coaches' All-America Team for a school record-breaking fourth time, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association announced. With her selection to the All-America team, Wiggins is now only the seventh player in Division I history to earn All-America honors each of her four seasons.

"Candice Wiggins demonstrates what this award is all about," said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. "She is not only a force on the court, but is also a great role model to the community. I am certain Lily Margaret Wade would be pleased to know Candice is receiving this award in her honor."

The WBCA tipped off Tara that Candice had won, right before the ceremony. Tara said she watched Candice right before they announced the winner. “She was just sitting there chatting with Maryland’s Kristy Toliver,” Said VanDerVeer, and why are we not surprised Candice was just talkin’ away, “and when they said ‘Stanford,’ she looked so surprised. It was hysterical.”

“I’m just so excited for her,” continued Vand DerVeer, “she’s such a humble kid. The fact that she was so surprised is what’s so great about her.”

Wiggins told the crowd she was shocked, especially with the company she was in, and that any one of them deserved it just as much as her. To even be considered with them was incredible.

Her old pal Courtney Paris said she was so excited for Candice that she herself felt like she had won.

And that is what makes her so special. Even her opponents root for her.


April 3rd-Awaiting

Candice Wiggins got another All-America nod Wednesday, being named to the John R. Wooden Award All-America Team. (see the April 2 blog to review her awards and accomplishments so far this year. There will be a quiz. First question, with this honor, how many All-American teams has Candice been named to this year? Answer, 5 including this one. She has been named to the All-America teams of the Wooden, Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, ESPN.com, and CBSSportsline.com.)

At the gym during our Tuesday basketball, everyone was all abuzz about Stanford’s win to propel them to the final four. The talk usually went like this:

“Oh man, did you see that game? Stanford beat Maryland and now they are in the final four…..too bad they are going to get beat by Uconn.”

Yes, everyone thinks Connecticut Huskies are going to kill them. It is as if making it to the final four, the first time in 11 years, is the victory, the reward. What happens after that doesn’t much matter, because everyone thinks Stanford is going to lose. (Even Arizona is rooting for them, but Charli Turner Thorne always was a class act.)

Last blog I told our faithful reader(s?) about C and R’s little pre-game ritual of me doubting Stanford can win and R, hopelessly faithful to the core, saying they will absolutely win. I said my usual, “we’re going to lose”, and I asked R what she thought. She surprised me by not saying we are definitely going to win. What, old faithful is going soft on me?

Instead, she said, “this game is going to be tough….but then we are going to win.” Okay, don’t scare me like that. She needs to have enough optimism for the both of us.

I complained to R that, darn it, we make it to the final four and we match up with Uconn. If only we would have drawn Tennessee. One, we beat them before, and two, Candace Parker has a separated shoulder. They struggled to win their last game with her hurt. They are not very deep, and it showed. Her teammates are not used to having to step up with Candace Parker around.

Speaking of which, the reason for those last 2 Stanford tournament wins was because we were deep at the guard spot. Each guard not named Candice (Ros Gold-Onwude and JJ Hones) had their respective games of their lives on different days, and that has made all the difference. They each are getting over a year’s worth of ACL rehab, and I am not the only one who noticed, check out the AP article espousing the same thing.

Yes, there is crying in basketball.
Usually it is the losing team who are so overcome with emotion, not the victors. Remember my rant March 31st about the Injury Woman trying to interview Candice when she was so overcome with emotion, instead of letting her celebrate with her teammates? Candice was crying and trying valiantly to regain her composure, and the Injury Women would set her off every time she said the words “final four”.

“So Candice,” she said, as Candice was trying to not cry, “what does it mean to be in the final four?” Candice starts to cry. Candice tries to honestly answer question. Injury Woman says, “How did you win this game to get into the final four?” Candice, overcome again that she is in the final four, starts crying. Candice at one point apologized to America for being so overcome with emotion.

Well, anyway, here’s what the wonderful Michelle Smith, the Chronicle Reporter who follows women’s basketball and Stanford, had to say about that moment:

Briefly: Sitting courtside at the media table, sometimes it's a little hard to see what's going on in the middle of a post game celebration at center court. But Candice Wiggins' emotional interview on ESPN after the Cardinal victory was one of the most genuine, most moving displays a basketball fan could possibly witness. And it shoots to the top of my list of my favorite all-time women's basketball moments. ...

Go look for it on YouTube. I’ll wait. It’s worth it. Just ask me and Michelle Smith.


April 2nd-Awarding

Candice was named to the Associated Press All-America First Team. That is her fourth time as an All-American, a school record, and, believe it or not, her first to the top squad after being named to the second team in each of her first three seasons.

Should we list Candice's records for this year? Oh, let's. For her career, she is both Stanford's and the Pac-10 Conference's all-time leading scorer (2,590 career points through March 31) and three-point shooter (290 three-pointers made through March 31). Through the Maryland game, she is the top for Stanford career scoring average (19.2), three-pointers attempted (743), free throws made (555) and attempted (675), and her 277 career steals are only three away from tying Sonja Henning's all-time school record of 280. (I remember Sonja Henning!)

Now let's look at her single season records. She set records in free throws made (176) and attempted (215), three-pointers attempted (242), and field goals attempted (567). Wiggins' season point total of 748 points through March 31 is also only five away from tying Kate Starbird's 11-year-old school single-season mark of 753. (I remember Kate Starbird!)

She set a record in the NCAA tournament this year by being the first player to score 40 or more points twice in one tournament. Her 44 points put her at the third best in tournament history (a school record-tying 44 points matching Starbird's single-game mark), and her 41 at fifth best.

Candice was named Pac-10 Player of the Week four times this season, as well as December's WBCA's National Player of the Month. Currently, Wiggins is a finalist for the Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy, and John R. Wooden Award, and was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year for a record-breaking third time in her career. She also has been selected to the All-America teams of ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated, and CBSSportsline.com. Whew!

Oh my gosh, you have to read this post by Candice made March 13th from the Fast Break Club website. It is titled the "Greatest Year Ever". She recounts some highlights from the regular season. And, she admits, she feels old! When she was 20, she was the second oldest player on the team!!


March 31st-Fourth Round-Elite Eight

We won! We won! Yes! YES! Candice cried, Cissy sat the bench, we ate salty snacks, and Stanford beat Maryland to go to the final four.

Oh my gosh, there is so much more to this game but I am too elated to write it all now. I mean, JJ Hones had a career night with 23 points, Candice was in top form and finished with 41, Kayla hit 3 three’s (Yes, way) and Stanford had the best balanced scoring performance I have seen all year, if not in a few years. Okay, let me tell you.

Yes, R came over to my house so we could TIVO the game and go back and forth at will (it’s fun to make your own replays, as the coverage will often cut away to something we don’t want to see). And, yes, I got a little teary-eyed (so did R!) when they did that whole segment about Maryland’s coach Brenda Frese and being pregnant for the first time during the season, giving birth to 2 healthy twin boys! I loved her talking about how she has often thought of her players as her “girls”, but know she knows she is coaching someone’s daughter, and that makes her more responsible to be a positive force in their lives and how special that is. Excuse me, I need a tissue…..

Oh, and yes, we have a little pre-game ritual we like to do. Would you like to hear it? Here’s how it goes:

C: I think Stanford is going to lose.

R: Are you crazy, Stanford is totally going to win.

The funny thing is I am the optimist of this duo….I guess R is just a fanatic. I said that Stanford was going to lose during the second Cal game, when Stanford won by 400, and when we met them again in the PAC-10 finals, and before the Tennessee game, the UTEP game, UCLA in the PAC-10 tournament, every NCAA play-off game…. oh heck, just about any important game I say it. And any not-so-important game, R points out. Cal? UCLA? We didn’t let them score 30 points until 4-5 minutes left in the game during the tournament.

Anyway, in this game I said Stanford was going to lose, once again got key help from minor players in this game, and they were not one-dimensional in scoring, although they did hit 8 of 12 threes in the first half. They scored so many ways! Candice hit threes (from 4 feet behind the arc!) and also would drive in, and would occasionally pull up for the jumper. Kayla was blocked inside so she came out and hit open threes. As I said, Candice scored 41 points. That 41 points was the fifth best performance in tournament history (she also owns the third) and she is the first player with two 40-point games in tourney history. (Not even Candace Parker? I am surprised)

Yes, Hones averages 6 points game. She finished with 23. R said JJ didn’t want to be outdone by Gold-Onwude’s sweet sixteen game. Kayla, who is a good scorer, (when ever Stanford passes her the ball!!!!!) had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Jayne, Stanford second leading scorer had a quiet night and only scored 11, but when Kayla is hitting threes, who needs Jayne to have the hot hand?

Yes, this was a high scoring game, 98-87. And the tempo was quick the whole 40 minutes. Hats off to Maryland’s Kristy Toliver who just could not miss. Toliver scored nine straight points to pull Maryland within single digits at 79-72. Toliver threw up a rainbow with all of Candice Wiggins’ 5’11 and a half inches stretched out in her face and it went in to come within eight. She finished with 35. However, Maryland went 1 of 5 at the free-throw line over the next two minutes, missing its best chance to rally.

At the buzzer, Candice jumped into the arms of her teammates and started crying. She fell to the floor and kept crying. ESPN injury woman (you know, the woman who does sideline duty finding out how they are treating injuries. "Dan, they are putting a band-aid on it and he/she will be back on the court/field in no time"). Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, the ESPN sideline reporter (now known as Injury Woman) grabbed Candice out of the pile and wanted to interview her. Candice kept crying and also trying to regain her composure (she does go to Stanford, ya know). Every time Injury Woman said the words “final four” Candice started crying again. She would listen to the question, but could not make her brain comply. At one point Candice said, “I can’t think right now, I am just over come with emotions”. You could see her teammates in the background carryin’ on, and then they started passing out the shirts.

I told R they should put her out of her misery and let her be with her teammates. This moment has been 4 long years in the making, and she should be celebrating. But Injury Woman plugged away, asking another serious question. Finally Candice said, “um, I don’t know, I am so sorry America....” After another attempt, IW finally let her go and she jumped up and down towards her teammates and right into the arms of none-other-than Coach Tara VanDerVeer. Tara also doesn’t have her any children of her own, and I am sure she treats them all like her daughters, but Candice is her bestest, most favoritest player in the world.

Imagine, Candice apologizing to us.

No Candice, thank you.

Here is the U-Tube Video:

Go here to see Candice cutting down the net.


March 30th-Third Round-Sweet Sixteen

I did not like this game. I did not like this game at all. The game, to which I am referring to, is Stanford’s sweet sixteen game against Pittsburg. I won’t keep you in suspense, Stanford won, and the score of 72-53 made it not look close, but close it was. So close, that at the half, Stanford was only up by one point. So close, that Candice didn't take a shot for the first 8 1/2 minutes and her first basket didn't come until eleven minutes into the game. In fact, she missed five of her first eight shots and only finished with 14 points. So close that Stanford let Pitt’s Shavnte Zellous get, well over zealous, and torch them for 22 points.

To be fair, ESPN jinxed Stanford before the game even started. They really played up the Stanford scoring, and Wiggins in particular. They said in the last 2 tournament games, Candice had combined for 57 points, the most in the country. They also emphasized her 44 points last game. Wanna know who was second in the nation in scoring the last 2 tournament games? Jayne Appel with 53. Granted, they were playing lesser teams, but so were all the other number 1 seeds. (Oh, that’s right, Stanford was a number 2 seed and played even tougher opponents then the number one seeds. Why didn’t Candice Parker score 44 in her last game? But I digress). ESPN kept asking, “Will Candice get 44 points tonight? Stay tuned”. Talk about a double whammy jinx, all right.

So what does Candice come out and do? She misses badly on her opening shots and didn’t make her first points until over 11 minutes into the game. Stanford even tried that little back door play from the center at the three point line to Candice breaking for the basket, and the Pitt defender intercepted the pass as if SHE KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN! Finally, someone studies film.

To be sure, ESPN had the cameras following Candice around, Candice being Candice, and that smile! And ESPN also played up the fact that Candice played basketball against Mallory Winn of Pitt when they were both girls in San Diego. But Candice didn’t do that much, and the announcers loved to point out whenever Mallory made a basket before Candice. Jayne also had some trouble getting going. So who stepped up for the Cardinal to propel them to their victory? None other then 5-points-per-game-avereger-and-savior-of-the-Tennessee-game, the unlikely Rosalyn Gold-Onwude.

She hit clutch shots and some killer threes to end with 15 for the game, 2 short of her career high. Which was good, because she was getting burned on defense. She get getting screened at the fouled line and no one adjusted and her player would pull up for an easy jump shot. Ros even fouled out of the game with a few minutes left and we needed her still.

This was a very physical game, and I am worried Maryland, who is being, stronger, faster, will also play them physically. Two of the Cardinal went down with grimaces on their faces and put a scare in every Cardinal fan’s hearts. The first Cardinal to go down was JJ Hones, she was scrambling for a loose ball and got hit in the hip and was spun around. The cameras flashed to the bench and Van DerVeer was sitting calmly and looked at her trainers, who then rushed on the court to JJ . She ended up shaken up and staying in the game. (okay, remember that)

With about 2 minutes left, Stanford made a steal and Candice broke for her basket. None of the Pitt players thought to get back on defense. Stanford threw it down court and Candice was all alone, running to the basket. A Pitt defender raced after her. As Candice slowed at the basket and jumped for the lay-up, he Pitt defender caught up to her and grabbed her non-shooting hand, which should be an intentional foul. Candice was thrown so off balance that she missed the shot and fell hard into the stanchion that holds up the basket. Unbelievably, the ref calls only a regular foul, and the network showed replays of how the Pitt defender did not even come close to the ball. (more on the ref later) Jayne extended a big paw to her to help her up and Candice turned to her with a look of pain on her face and waved her off. Van DerVeer was up like a shot and ran out onto the court, a big coaching no-no (coaches are not allowed on the court, usually technical foul). She was at Candice’s side in an instant (remember, with JJ, she just sent the trainers when the refs gave their permission.) Candice got up and walked around gingerly.

Now, one of the refs starts talking to Tara. Probably to say, coach, you just violated the rules and we should give you a technical but you are a hall of fame coach so we are going to give you the benefit of the doubt. The announcers are all over it and practically leaning in to hear the conversation and report it to us. Tara is very animated, well, as animated as Tara can get and explaining to the ref. She said she thought Candice was really hurt and needed medical attention. Okay, says the ref, since you came out under that pretext, Candice must come out of the game and have someone else shoot her shots. Tara argues some more and says now Candice has shaken it off and wants to return. Fine, says the ref but she must stay out until one second comes off the clock in order for you to avoid the technical. So coach puts in their best shooter, who is 6-4 Morgan Clyborn! Morgan Clyborn? Yes, Gold-Onwude has just fouled out, but they should have put in Cissy Pierce to continue as guard.

Morgan tanks the first one, and hits the second one. Candice is waiting at the scorer's table to check back into the game. They blow the horn and Candice walks onto the court. The ref sticks her arm out and grabs Candice around the waist. No time had gone off the clock and the announcers hear the ref say at least one second must go off the clock, so Candice has to wait until a dead ball to check in. Now Stanford has Morgan Clyborn in at the guard spot. Play resumes and Pitt misses at the other end and Stanford grabs the rebound and starts to outlet and fast break and Tara doesn’t care if the whole Pitt team fell down, she has already called a timeout to get Candice back in. The game was still in doubt at this point.

So the ref who didn’t call the intentional foul on Candice was Mary Day. Day called the infamous charging foul on Candice in the Elite Eight game against LSU in 2006. That questionable call cost Stanford a trip to the final foul.

Jayne picked up the slack in the second half and scored 22 and Kayla added 10. They looked more balanced in scoring in the second half. Next up is Maryland, the number one seed of their region. Winner gets to the final four.

Oh, just read that Tara was roommates with Pat Gold, who is Gold-Onwude’s mother. Ros was recruited heavily by Maryland, our next opponent, but Tara sold her Dad on the education part of Stanford and now we need her and Candice and Jayne and Kalya and JJ, and, maybe Jill, to have a big game against Maryland.


March 24th-Second Round

What is up with the Stanford women these days? Not only has Stanford been on a win streak throughout the PAC 10 tournament and the early rounds of the NCAA play-offs, but they have been taking turns trying to outscore the other teams individually!

Case in point, Candice had 30 points in the PAC-10 tournament finals game against Cal, and Cal could only muster 35 total points. I think Candice had outscored them the whole game until Tara made her sit down for scrubs with about 4 minutes left. Then Jayne wanted in on the act. During the first round of the NCAA play-offs, Jayne had 29 first half points and Cleveland State had just 22. To be fair, Cleveland State didn’t have anyone over 6 feet tall so Jayne could score at will. Tara made Jayne sit down most of the second half so she stopped at 33, or else she might have broken the single game record of 50. Cleveland St. did rally to score 47 total points.

Then came Candice’s final game on her home floor of Maples against UTEP (University of Texas, El Paso). Let’s just say she was inspired. She came out hard charging, pressing a little too hard and missing some threes. Then she decided she was going to score come heck or high water, so she was driving in on them like crazy, and most everything she threw up went in. Sometimes it would go in and the other team was called for a foul anyway. She was not to be denied. It was an inspiring performance.

UTEP played Stanford tight for the first half but got tired in the second half. In fact, the score was 38 to 29 Stanford with a few seconds left in the first half. But Stanford had the ball, or more correctly, Candice had the ball, and everyone “cleared out to way”. UTEP knew she was going to keep the ball and drive to the basket, the coaches knew she was going to keep the ball and drive to the basket, and all 5,500 of us in Maples Pavilion knew Candice was going to keep the ball and drive to the basket. So she kept the ball and drove to the basket and it went in. A jubilant Candice and team ran off the court at half time with the score 40-29.

To give UTEP some credit, they were playing over their heads and playing well that first half. It’s just that they were not used to having to keep up that intensity for 2 halves. And that made all the difference. Stanford knows they need to stay intense the whole game. I believe that’s what separates good teams from great ones.

So, let’s pick up the action in the second half with about 7 minutes left in the game. Candice has 38 points, UTEP has 42. Now, the UTEP coach was standing on the floor all night, and I was just waiting for her to get a technical (even yelling, “get off the floor!” a few times to help the refs). Then Candice missed a lay up (a rarity, as she came out on fire this game) and their 6’4 center, Izabela Piekarska grabbed the rebound. Okay, Candice hates to miss, and she really hates to miss lay ups, so when she missed and saw the other team had gotten the rebound, she hustled after the ball and knocked into their big center and the guard the center was trying to throw the ball to. The refs blew their whistles and both R and I thought it was Candice’s foul. Then we see Candice on the free throw line, they CALLED IT ON THE CENTER! Well, the UTEP coach went nuts and got “T-ed” up. Nothing like home court advantage.

So Candice , recognizing a gift or the luckiest call in the world when she sees it, calmly sinks the 2 shots for the technical. Candice 40, UTEP 42. Then she gets the 1 and 1. Makes both, Candice 42, UTEP 42. She has single-handedly tied the other team.

Then the team goes back to pitch and catch to Jayne, who scores at will. Jayne ended up with 20 points. With about 4 minutes left. Candice makes a steal and goes coast to coast and sees that UTEP has three defenders back already. No problem, she slows up and sinks that jumper, too. Candice had 44. UTEP had just made some foul shots and a basket so they had 46 at that point. Candice came out for good with 3 minutes left and UTEP went on to score 54 against the scrubs. Maybe if Tara had left Candice in, she would have tied or beaten the record of 50.

As it was, Candice topped her previous NCAA-best performance of 34 points from 2006, against Florida State. It was the third most points scored in women's tournament history and the most since Sheryl Swoopes had 47 in the 1993 championship game for Texas Tech. Her performance tied Kate Starbird's school record and was the highest scoring tournament game ever by a Stanford player. Lorri Bauman of Drake has the all-time record of 50, set in 1982 against Maryland. Dang, Tara, couldn’t you have let her play those last 3 minutes? Cissy Pierce got in the last 6 minutes, her last time on Maples court, too.

They play Saturday TBD.

And, oh, Cal lost a heart breaker just moments before. Their player tried to signal for a time out, and the Cal assistant coach called it as well (a no-no, as only a player on the court or the head coach can call it) and the refs called Cal for traveling instead. That gave the ball to George Washington in the final seconds and they shot an airball. But Cal did not take care of business. The timeout/traveling call was a bad on, to be sure, but Cal let them shoot and they did not grab the rebound, either. GW put it back for the win at the buzzer. Remember what I said about great teams playing intensely for the whole 40 minutes. Stanford, you listening?


March 22nd-First Round

5:49 PM *Ring, ring*

R: Are you watching this game?

C: No, don’t tell me, don’t tell me! I set my Tivo to watch it later.

R: Jayne is …..

C: DON’T TELL ME!

R: She is killing it.

C: I don’t want to hear. I want to watch it later.

R: Well, you ain’t got nothing to worry about, we have doubled their score.

C: Ahh, stop it……What about Candice?

R: She is okay.

C: Just okay?

R: Just okay.

C: How is the crowd? Is it very crowded?

R: Not very crowded.

C: Darn, I wanted the place to be packed.

R: I know, it is too bad there are not more people. That will just bring the critics out that no one cares about women’s basketball.

C: Okay, I have to get dinner on the table. Thanks for the update.

9:53 PM 8Ring, Ring*

R: Hello?

C: Oh my gosh, you were so right about Jayne. She was unstoppable.

R: She could score at will, couldn’t she.

C: Yes, and she won the tip off! It was funny, the first play, the person guarding Jayne was fronting her with no help behind, and Jayne put her hand up and they threw it to her and she had an easy path to the basket for 2. The announcers said they can do that all day. Then, Stanford was trying to hit three’s and were missing and were down 6 to 5. The announcers said why weren’t they feeding it inside? Cleveland State didn’t have anyone over 6 feet tall. After a time out, Tara must have pointed that out and then they kept hitting her and she could score at will. Even did a reverse lay up. She made it look easy.

R: I know, why didn’t the Cleveland State adjust sooner? They went to a zone after the half and limited her, but by then it was too late.

C: I know, I love the stat at half time, Cleveland State 22, Jayne 29. She outscored the whole team by herself in the first half.

R: I think she broke her own personal record of 30 for a game.

C: Yeah, she finished with 33 after sitting out most of the second half. Think if she would have played the whole game.

R; Isn’t Cleveland State from your neck of the woods, Ohio?

C: It’s funny, I never heard of them. But I love their back story. They won only 8 games last year and were picked to finish last in their conference. They ended up winning 19 games, WINNING their conference, and got to the NCAA’s for the first time ever.

R: It makes me kinda sorry they had to meet Stanford in the first round.

C: I know, I love that this coach was able to turn them around. It is rare to see such a drastic change in women’s basketball.

R: Did you see Candice’s technical?

C: At first I missed it, as I was peeling potatoes for tomorrow.

R: You were peeling potatoes?

C: Well tomorrow is Easter. I need potatoes for potato salad and mashed potatoes. I looked up and thought the ref called a time out.

R: Yeah, I wasn’t sure what had happened.

C: But good thing I had Tivo, I rewound it and watched it again. I was surprised they called it. Candice was fouled going to the basket and she threw her elbow backwards as if to say, get off of me. She didn’t make contact. But a ref whistled her right away. The network cut to commercial not knowing what happened. When they came back they showed the replay and had obviously done their homework during the break. They said that the rule says if a play takes a swing at another player, irregardless if it touches anyone, they get an automatic technical. And she did swing her elbow.

R: I bet Candice wasn’t used to that. Usually she smiles and all the calls go her way. I think that was her first ever technical. 

C: I agree, I don’t ever remember her getting one. And then she looked humbled. And then she started hitting her three’s.

R: They play the second round Monday night at Maples. Wanna go?

C: Heck yes! It will be our last chance to see Candice live. I hope we get a ball from that game!


March 17th-Seedings

The announcements of the brackets take place today, live, at 4 PM on ESPN. Stanford will be filmed live. I set my Tivo. Around 6 PM, R calls me asks what happened. I forgot to watch, so I turn on the tape. 

The first image they show is of smilin’ Candice Wiggins! I kid you not, right there on National Television. Then some other players I don’t care about, then they go right to Stanford highlights. Then they say Stanford was the only number one seed to fall to a number 16 seed  (and they show the tears). Then they say something such as, will the Cardinal be number one again tonight? Then they cut to a live picture of Stanford, right in the very lounge we got to see yesterday! 

And who is on the middle of the couch? None other than Candice Wiggins! The team is all wearing their black warm up suits, sittin’ on the black leather couches we touched, and the only other person in there is Tara, sitting right next to Candice! (her fave) Tara is wearing a red sweatshirt so she sticks out a little in that sea of black. I describe the scene to R, and notice Jayne is sitting on Tara’s other side, and she is talking and laughing and whispering to Jillian Harmon, even thought the camera is on them and she is on live TV!. Always laughing and talking. 

R asks me what seed they got. They start with everyone else. I am glad I have this on Tivo. I start fast forwarding. They go through all of the other three brackets. Then they show Stanford and Maryland. Will Stanford get the last number one seed? Back in a moment. Ahh! Then back to Maryland and Stanford. Maryland gets the number one seed, Stanford gets the seconds seed in the west. Maryland is jumping up and down, Stanford is shocked and silent. It is just as Amy Tucker predicted. Maybe having a live camera in their faces was not such a good idea. They keep cutting back and forth from happy Maryland to unhappy Stanford. I have never seen Candice frown. It is such a deep one, too. I tell R Tara looks like she could spit nails out of her mouth. Jayne still whispers to Jill (once a school girl…) but not as happy as before. 

They ask Tara if she is disappointed? She says diplomatically that she is happy to be in the tournament and playing. Then she said not a lot of the selection committee, based in the east, gets to see much of Stanford. She hopes her team will do well, and that then everyone will get to see Stanford. Little jab, said with a straight face (spitting nails). 

Stanford plays Cleveland State at 5:30 PM Saturday at Maples. 

Oh well, the couches looked nice.
March 16th-Shoot-a-thon

Okay, how powerful is the Stanford women’s basketball team? Well, they got UCLA coach Kathy Olivier fired.

Okay, here’s the real story. When C and R saw UCLA coach Kathy Olivier had resigned, we thought there must have been pressure from her AD because her team was beat by Stanford in the semi finals of the PAC-10 tournament. I mean, come on, UCLA only got to 30  points with 5 minutes to go, that in and of itself should get a coach fired. But we got the real story by going straight to the horse’s mouth, none other than Tara VanDerveer herself…. (uh, not that we are calling Tara a horse or anything…oh dear, let’s start over again.) 

So I asked R if she would like to go to the Stanford shoot-a-thon, a clever fund-raiser where the Cardinal faithful can watch the women shoot, and then pledge money per shot they make (or if you are poor, like C and R, give a flat donation). Tours of the locker room are also promised. We are here to watch the fun.

When we get to Maples, the Fast Break Club has a raffle where you can purchase tickets and guess which class will do the best in made shots and lay-ups. We bet on the seniors. There are only 2, but one of them is Candice. Then they have a cup for each player and you can put in a ticket to the player you think will make a half court shot. We get 5 chances. C puts one in Candice’s cup. R puts one in Jayne’s. I think, Hannah Donaghe can make some crazy threes, so I put one in her cup. Then we put another in Candice’s and another in Jayne’s. We are nothing if not predictable. 

Then Tara gets on the microphone welcoming us and encourages us to “visit”. Did she just say visit? Can we walk around and talk to the players? Heck, we don’t have to be asked twice. The first group we walk towards is Jillian Harmon and, well, I don’t know, it was Jillian Harmon. She sees us coming and turns to us. We talked to her in the fall at the soccer game and I was in the locker room earlier in the season, so she must recognize us (as the stalkers we are). The first thing I say is “New Zealand?” She laughs and says, “Yeah, it’s true.” 

We chat about her possibly being in the Olympics. She asks how we found out about that. The internet, baby. Wonder if she ever reads C and R? 

Then we make our way around the gym. Jayne is always talking and laughing and goofing off. I make R spend extra time with Candice. Tara VanDerVeer comes out of the locker room and I spy her out of the corner of my eye coming right behind us. She passes us and stops to say hello and thanks for coming out. Okay, we can’t pass up this moment. I ask her about Kathy Olivier (remember the start of this blog?) Was she fired because Stanford beat them so badly. 

No, said VanDerVeer, she said Kathy just got tired of UCLA not putting any effort or money into the women’s program. She just had had enough. Whoa, take that UCLA. And I am glad I didn’t put that all over the blog she was fired for the bad game against Stanford. We continue our chat and she couldn’t be more courteous. What a class act. 

Then we wander around and Amy Tucker comes up and talks to us. Thanks us for supporting the team. R asks her if she ever has aspirations to be a head coach. She sincerely says she likes where she is. We talk about where Candice will go in the WNBA draft (third or fourth behind Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowler, maybe Tasha Humphries, then her), Candice’s chances of making the Olympics (thought they were long shot, but was invited to China in April, so looks better and better each month), and where Stanford might fall in the NCAA seedings (she thinks second). She tells us ESPN is coming here to film the team live during the selection process. We tell her that is neat, and she says it can be mixed blessing because if you don’t get the ranking you want, you look disappointed on national TV (is this a prediction?) Really fun talking to her and she is so knowledgeable. 

Then the team divides itself in two and they have a three point shooting contest, complete with trash talking. Both teams have made a line of players, each with one ball, to hand it down the line to the shooter so she can get as many shots as possible. On Candice’s side, she is the one to hand it to the shooter, of course. After the first shooter, Candice chases after a ball and someone else tries to take her place next to the shooter. The shooter pushes the newbie out and says only Candice hands the balls to the shooter. Heck, if I was shooting, I would want the surest hands handing me the ball, too. Morgan Clyburn, all 6 foot 4 inches of her, is on the other team and is tearing it up in the threes. She ends up tied with Candice. So it is a second round shoot out, Morgan vs. Candice. Candice sank about 8 in a row in the first round, she's got this. Good thing we didn't bet on it. Morgan destroys Candice. Unbelievable! 

Then they line up for the half court shot. Oh yeah, we have tickets on this. Come on Candice, come on Jayne! All the players miss, although some of them are pretty cute in how they jump to heave the ball. Second round, Candice, Jayne, miss. Then Hannah. Come one, Hannah, I bet on you. Swish! The team pounds her back. (weighing less then my 17-year-old daughter, she is like their little mascot). I tell R, you know I’m winning this! The lady in charge brings over the cup with Hannah’s picture. She looks in and says, “Ye of little Faith, there’s only  2 tickets in here!” You know it’s me, I say again. Number 89, yep, it’s my number. I win a chance to have my picture taken with either Hannah or the team. 

I walk over and tell Hannah, “I just want you to know that there were only 2 people who bet on you and I was one of them.!” We high five! The photographer asks if I want just a picture with Hannah or the team? Hannah, I love ya, but this is one of the best teams in the last few years and are going to go far, and it has Candice and Jill, possible Olympians and a future WNBA star. I go for the team. The photographer writes down my email and I hope I hear from her because I really want this picture! (I did hear from her!)

C and Stanford Women's Basketball Team

Then we get the tour of the locker room and I brag to R that this is where I sat when I got to go in at half time during that one game. She says to shut up so she can here the public relations director talk. They have added a new mural, with pictures of many former players prominently surrounding the word “Stanford”. Guess who is front and center? Candice! They also say they can change out the panels in case some more action happens in the future. Thinking big, I like that!

I hope they do well this year.


March 15th-Olympics

Okay, we are excited for Candice, as she has a chance to lead her team deep into the NCAA play-offs, end her career at Stanford, get drafted by the WNBA and maybe represent her country at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Not a bad summer for a 21 year old. The we saw this little item. Ex-Stanford player Claire Bodensteiner and Jillian Harmon have a shot at going to the summer Olympics this year too, only it’s with New Zealand!

The coach of the New Zealand National Team, called the Tall Ferns, incidentally, was contacted out of the blue by Claire. She is living in London and working as a teacher after graduating from Stanford last year, but had heard about a New Zealand team and wondered if she could pick up a professional contract. 

It turned out Bodensteiner was born in Christchurch making her eligible for the Tall Ferns. They had to check her out with former US Olympic coach Tara VanDerveer, of course, and she gave Claire rave reviews. 

How nice for head coach Mike McHugh. Then Claire said there was this other girl, currently at Stanford, who she thought had New Zealand citizenship. Okay, I love this part, here is McHugh talking, "The next day this girl calls me and says she's a junior, a starter, her name is Jillian Harmon and her mum held a Kiwi passport." Harmon had a New Zealand passport as a child and got it renewed. 

Can you imagine, hello New Zealand coach, my name is Jill, and I am tall and I play for this team called Stanford. I start most games! I can shoot and rebound and play great defense. Can I please play for your team? Cracks me up. But the coach sounds smart in saying she is just what he needed. 

Bodensteiner will come to camp in April to try and make the team. McHugh will then pick 12 players for the Olympic test tournament in Beijing, but has asked for dispensation to take Harmon as the 13th player. So looks like Jill is on the team! Summer will be so cool, man!


March 10th-PAC-10 Again Again!

Congrats to Stanford for winning it's fifth Pac-10 tournament title and an automatic NCAA tournament berth. Here's all you need to know how the game went, with about 8 minutes left.....Cal 24, Candice 28. Yes, Candice had more points alone then the whole cal team for most of the game, until she was taken out for subs. Don't believe me, Cal had just 15 points at half time. Candice finished with 30 and Cal finished with 35. C and R, and their entourage, who scammed free seats in row 3 (long story, but it's who you know, baby), kept the countdown to when Cal would break 30. In Sunday's semi-final against Stanford, it took UCLA 35 minutes in to the game (they got 30 with 5 minutes left). We watched the clock tick past 5 minutes, then with 4 minutes left in the game, Cal finally, finally got 30 points. The final score was 56-35, but it was an embarrassment for Cal.

How did Stanford do it? Well, they drew up the ol' Courtney Paris double team on Cal scorer Devanei Hampton. Jayne did most of the work fronting her, but Candice would often come over to help when ever Hampton touched the ball, and their lead scorer could only muster five points. She has nothing to be ashamed of, as no one on her team scored more than 6 points. Can you believe that? Stanford left the perimeter shooters open, and they missed badly.

We have been watching Stanford all year, and they have that predictable center to guard hand off play at the top of the key. About once a game, the center keeps it and a guard, usually Candice cuts to the basket and the center bounce passes it backwards to the basket and the guard picks it up for an easy lay up. You only get that once a game. You make the other team look bad and whoever is guarding Candice will take care not to let that happen again. During the finals, Candice did it not once, not twice, but THREE times! On the third time, she beat her player so bad that she didn't even chase after her. Another Cal player, Alexis Gray-Lawson, coming from the foul line, turned and ran full tilt at her. Candice saw her coming but did not change her speed. Candice layed it up as the contact happened in the air. The ball went in and Candice went sprawling, and the ref called a foul against Lawson. Instead of being mad, Candice stayed spread out superman-style on the floor and slapped the ground with both hands and both feet, but instead of looking like a four-year old's tantrum, she slapped in joy and her smile was a mile wide. Ya gotta love Candice!

Speaking of which, Candice was chosen tournament MVP. A bunch of other Stanford players got all tournament honors, but the night belonged to Candice.

I am going to hate when this goes to LA next year.


March 9th-PAC-10 Again

So the PAC-10 tournament started this weekend. This is to crown a PAC-10 champion. Which is weird, because Stanford already won it, due to Cal choking miserably at the end, thank you very much. One bonus of winning the PAC-10 tournament is the winner automatically gets in the NCAA tournament. Wait, Stanford is already in it on the virtue of its win lose record and being ranked, I believe, 6th in the nation right now. Why do they hold this tournament again? 

Anyway, here is a day by day break down of C and R’s tournament experiences. And we remember we better enjoy this while  we can, as the tournament is moving to LA next year.  What, you didn’t know that the other teams cried boo hoo, playing in San Jose is like giving Stanford a home game each time, so let’s move it. Never mind that San Jose is geographically in the middle between Washington State and LA. And, oh, instead of rotating it to the different schools to make it more fair, they are going to play the games in LA, which is like giving TWO teams, UCLA and USC, home games.

Friday.
The slate of games do not look very exciting, Oregon vs. Washington State. However, C and R are very excited to be volunteering for Brandi Chastain’s Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, or BAWSI. The organization strives to create programs through which women’s athletes bring health, hope and wholeness to our community. BAWSI has invited 425 girls to the HP Pavilion in San Jose to practice basketball skills and drills with some of the PAC-10 women athletes. 

C is official photographer and R is an official greeter. She is to greet the girls as they come off the bus and keep them in order. C clicks away on her 2 cameras. There are so many news organizations and camera crews. Volunteers helping little third through fifth graders playing basketball makes good news. Fox Sports Network is going to put them on National TV. R greets her girls and is told she is to stay with them throughout the day to make sure no one gets lost. R reports they are very spirited. 

C and R get to see Brandi Chastain (C makes R pose with her and takes their picture together!) C and R also get to see the Stanford players who came out to help. Kayla Pederson (C congratulates her on winning PAC-10 player of the year), Jeanette Pohlen, Ashley Cimino (bad back and all), Hannah Donaghe (she looks taller in real life), and recovering knee surgery women Michelle Harrison and Melanie Murphy. Mel has a ton of enthusiasm. C makes R pose for a pix with Michele Harrison! (pics to follow soon) 

We take the 400 some girls into the Pavilion and watch Oregon play Washington State. Now, I know these teams are last in the PAC-10. But the game was so error prone, it was embarrassing to watch. I believe the score was something like 16-18 at the half. This is not good. R reports that the San Jose Merc said no one is coming to the games. I don’t blame them if the product is not good.

Saturday.
After all that hard work with the kids, BAWSI is sponsoring a Ladies Night Out. From 5:30 to 7:30, Ladies get to meet, greet, drink and eat in their own private clubhouse. C and R and half of their basketball league is there. C hands out Mardi gras beads. If you were really nice, C gave you one of the special “blinky” jester necklaces (yes, that was me on the dance floor with the blinking necklace!) C and R gamble for chances at Raffles prizes and they win about 15 tickets. 

I think Stanford played a game in there somewhere. They were playing right outside the clubhouse doors, but C and R were too busy gambling and eating their money’s worth. We would ask for reports. Heard Stanford doubled Oregon’s score. Heard the “Big Three” of Candice, Jayne and Kayla were dominate and combined for 52, scoring Stanford's opening 31 points. The afore mentioned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Kayla Pedersen added 22 points. (Another Cardinal player didn't score until J.J. Hones' three-pointer with one minute left in the first half). Jayne Appel was eight of eight, a  tournament record. Heard Stanford played their subs at the beginning of the second half. Cissy Pierce got  a lot of minutes. Heard Tara did NOT use Jillian Harmon even thought she warmed up. Smart move. 

Then the moment we had been waiting for, the awarding of the raffle prizes. Come on big money! The first prize given away is won by our friend S. She works for State Farm and C has relentlessly hounded S to get the team free tickets to the championship game on Monday. She finally is able to. The prize she wins is….2 free tickets to Mondays game! Oh man, everyone else won money to Cheesecake Factory and Nordstrom’s! And to make matters worse, later on that night when examining the tickets, they are tickets to Fridays game., The game that already happened! They are worthless. Oh well, at least she still has her other free tickets. 

Sunday
Well, C and R were able to score free tickets for this game from the head of BAWSI. Sweet. It is UCLA. They beat Stanford once this season. C is worried about this game. To make matters worse, Candice does not score a single point the first half. The game is rough and the refs are not calling much. However, Stanford pays incredible defense and UCLA, as a team, cannot buy a basket. Stanford is killing them. Midway through the first half, who comes in but Jillian Harmon. The Stanford partisan crowd cheers loudly. That is, everyone except C and R. They are worried she will re-injure her stress fracture and then be lost for the games that really matter, the NCAA playoffs. Later C and R learn that

VanDerveer had been hesitant about using Harmon, and  two of her assistants talked her into it, thinking it might be good to get Jill some court time before the NCAA tournament. Hmmm. 

At the half, I am not kidding, it is Stanford 34, UCLA 16. No UCLA player had more than four points at this point. How did Stanford ever lose to this team? 

At the start of the second half, Candice starts connecting, and even cherry picks for an easy layup. She is happy and that gives her even more confidence to score. At one point, she scores and gets the foul cal and she does her trade mark jumping up and down and fist pumping. It is hard not to catch her enthusiasm! She ends up with 13 after being pulled for the subs. 

The game seems to get rougher, and the non-calls seem to reward really rough play. Candice went down at least three times. At one point Cinnamon has the ball under the a basket, the UCLA player feel down, and grabbed and held her leg. We watch Stanford’s score climb and realize UCLA has not even broken 30 points. They finally get to 31 with 7 minutes left in the game. Now that is sad. See again why they are not filling the seats for this tournament. All Stanford starters are out, and UCLA can finally hit some shots, and their press garners a lot of turnovers, which is a little scary, our second team cannot beat their first team. The final score is 78-45. 

On to the finals. Now C is worried that they are meeting Cal for the third time. Cal is going to come out gunning (and we saw them in the stands scouting the Cardinal.). Then R points out that Cal has not been playing well in this tournament. Cal had a hard time with Oregon, only beating them 60-67, then they squeaked by 65-61. C sure hopes R is right.


March 5th-Stressing

Jillian Harmon thinks she is healed enough to play in the PAC-10 Tournament. I hope Tara VanDerVeer is smarter than that. Stress fractures need time to heal. A lot of time. Running and jumping before it has healed is bad. Really bad. And if Jill plays this weekend and re-injures herself, that that will really be bad for the play-offs. We don’t want another early round exit. 

In case you missed it, Jill has been out the last 6 games with a stress facture in her foot, and has been  working hard to rehabilitate it. Get this, she has been using an underwater treadmill a zero-gravity treadmill! Geez, Stanford, got money?! LOL. 

In the games she has been gone, Stanford has gone to a three guard set and not looked so sharp on offense. Jill is the kind of player that brings so many intangibles to the game. Her hustling and her rebounding have been sorely missed.  We were already missing Michelle Harrison and Melanie Murphy, and now I hear Cinnamon is out (Ashley Cimino). She has a back injury. Doesn’t that only happen to old men who play weekend golf? I hope it is not serious, as that can have the potential to linger a long time. 

Anyway, we need her for the NCAA playoffs. Will Tara be disciplined enough not to use her this weekend? Stay tuned. 

See everyone at HP Pavilion for the tourney (and at Ladies Night in the “Special” clubhouse!)
March 4th-Rewarding

Congratulations to Candice Wiggins for becoming the first player in conference history to earn a third Player of the Year honor,  to forward Kayla Pedersen for winning the Freshman of the Year award, and to Head Coach Tara VanDerVeer for winning the Coach of the Year award. Additionally, Stanford players earned 11 nods on the various All-Pac-10 teams. 

Candice and Jayne were voted to the All-Pac-10 First Team, while Kayla was voted a third-team selection. Junior forward Jillian Harmon and sophomore guard JJ Hones earned honorable mention nods. Pedersen continued her collection of honors with a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team, as fellow frosh Jeanette Pohlen was named to the honorable mention list. Four Cardinal players, Appel, sophomore guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, Harmon, and Wiggins, were named All-Pac-10 Defensive Team honorable mention to round out the awards.
March 3rd-Candice Breaks the Record!

She needed 14 to tie, 15 to break the record and she got 24. The record, of course, is Lisa Leslie's PAC-10 conference record of 2,414 , set in 1994. And the  “she” is Stanford all around superstar Candice Wiggins. She passed the record on a base-line drive with 1:25 to play before halftime and was fouled by WSU's Sabrina Shired in the process. After making the free-throw, naturally, play was suspended to honor Wiggins and she was given the ball she set the record with. Fans and both teams applauded her. That’s pretty cool for the opposing team to do that. 

"That's a tremendous accomplishment and it could not happen to a better person, a better basketball player, a better leader," VanDerveer said. "I've never coached anyone that I've enjoyed more than working with Candice. I'm very happy for her and very proud of her."  

Oh, there was still more ball to play. Never much suspense, Stanford beat Washington State 74-52.Wiggins hit three 3-pointers and finished 5-for-7 from behind the arc for the game. She also had five rebounds and six assists. 

"I think today was just about playing relaxed," she said. "A lot of times you can try to do too much or press. I just was really relaxed and let the game come to me." 

Yes, there were 4 other teammates on the floor with her at all times, but, as if to honor Wiggins, none of them broke into double digits scoring. Three players, Appel, Pedersen,  and Pohlen each had nine points. The night, and the points, belonged to Candice.
March 2nd-Cal lost!

Cal Lost!

Cal Lost.
I can’t believe it, Cal lost. 

Cal has lead the PAC-10 hunt. Stanford got those quick, stupid losses in LA early on, and Cal was in the drivers seat. Cal stayed focused and kept winning. Then they faced Stanford on Stanford’s court and lost, not by a little, but by a lot. Coach Joanne Boyle said not to panic, wait ‘til we get ‘em on our court. Then came the game on Cal’s court. And Stanford, lacking Jillian Harmon, which has been a HUUUUGE blow for the Cardinal, looked terrible. Candice couldn’t buy a basket and yet Cal couldn’t win. They had 2 attempts in the final 8 seconds to win, and they couldn’t. Coach Joanne Boyle said not to panic, really, but could ya finish an important game?! So now they were faced with co-regular-season-champions, but at least it would be something they had never won. And they lost to Washington. Granted, maybe holding Stanford close in one half gave the Huskies some confidence. Or maybe they got to try out their new defense against Stanford and perfected it against Cal. They beat Cal 74-66. Now Stanford gets the regular season title outright, and first seed in the PAC-10 tournament.  What can Coach Boyle say now? You really, really need to finish important games? 

I just can’t believe Cal lost.
March 1st-Two to Go

With 2 games left in the regular season, Stanford faces 2 PAC-10 foes. First up is Washington. Now, Stanford has not just won, but dominated the last 4 meetings with Washington, winning by a little less than 30 points each time. So, by playing a lesser opponent, means Stanford struggled. It was only 38-36 Stanford at the half. To the Huskies defense, they used a scrappy defense and aggressive rebounding to stay even in the first half. But a game’s got 2 halves. 

JJ Hones said they got yelled at during half time to rebound better, so she just figured the best way to solve their rebounding problems was to make all their shots. She scored 16 points, Candice came alive, and Stanford went on a 12-0 run to start the second half. The  Huskies shot just 28 percent and scored only 17 second-half points, and Stanford ended up winning 73-53. Jayne Appel scored 12 and Kayla Pedersen added 11 as Stanford won their 14th straight. 

Speaking of Wiggins, she scored 22 (another favorite number of mine). That puts her at the even figure of 2,400. She needs 14 to tie and 15 to break Lisa Leslie's conference record of 2,414. Wiggins had another sluggish start (see last Cal Game) to make 9 of 18 and get 10 rebounds for Tara. 

Stanford controls there own destiny, and needs a win over Washington State to wrap up at least a share of its eighth straight Pac-10 title, no matter what No. 9 California does at Washington. A win against Washington would also give Stanford the top seed in the Pac-10 tournament. Go Stanford!
Dec 22nd-Tennessee

R is the believer. C is the doubter. R thought they had a chance being down only 5 at the half. C commented that Tennessee was just faster and stronger and better conditioned then us. R started the countdown to victory with 5 minutes left in regulation. C maintained that Candace Parker would take over in the last 2 minutes and score the last 2 baskets to put Tennessee ahead for good. R screamed in C’s ear when our Candice went to the line with 16 seconds left and the Cardinal up by 2. C watched as her girl Candice unbelievably clanked both of them, and then their Candace took over as predicted and was unstoppable to the basket and she scored a basket to tie the score and Ros Gold-Onwude dribbled out regulation. R still believed we could win in overtime, and C said Tara should pull Gold-Onwude, which is why Tara is the coach and C sits in the stands, as C and R watched Gold-Onwude have the game of her life. 

In case you just joined us, number 5 Stanford was playing number 1 Tennessee, and Stanford has not won in 11 years. To make things worse, each lose had the non-believers saying Stanford cannot compete with the elite teams and would never get out of the second round of the play-offs. 

So where were we? Oh, yes, the game of her young life. R still believing and C noticing that the Cardinal looked scared in overtime and had no offense. Candice shot one from downtown Palo Alto with no luck. Then Ros hit a three, a long three. Then she hit another and R pounded C’s back. Then Candice was fouled and missed again, which caused C to roll her eyes, but then she made one. With that one point, Candice was the only other Cardinal to score. Yes, that’s right, Ros scored 9 of the 10 overtime points. So much for C’s idea to pull her. Tennessee’s guard had the ball in her hands in the final seconds but, I think it was Gold-Onwude who took it away, too. 

When the horn sounded, R was ecstatic, and Gold Onwude tossed the ball and met Jayne and the bench near the scorer’s table. But C’s eye was on our Candice. She did not run to the group, and instead took off for…heights unknown. She gave in to her energy and ran from under the basket to over center court and then leaped high, higher than I have ever seen, her adrenaline taking over, than she leaped again and slashed her fist sideways 4 straight times as she jumped. A photographer and camera man followed her every leap and swing.  After letting lose her exuberance, she came back down to earth and turned to find her teammates. It was Jayne Appel who first realized Candice was not in the group hug and broke away to find her. As she ran towards Candice, Candice leaped high again into Jayne’s waiting arms. She jumped so high that as Jayne caught her, more of Candice was higher than Jayne’s head and that weight was starting to pull CandicCandice and Jaynee backward. Okay, now C watched as she though Candice and her big, smart head, was going to swing over and smash into the ground. But Jayne is strong, and she set her legs and kept Candice from falling over. Jayne literally had Candice’s back. And she did in the game, too, as she scored 19 points, had 14 rebounds, four blocks and three steals to go with Candice’s 22 points. 

The box scores won’t record that tough Kayla Pederson was able to keep their Candace in check. That made a huge impact on the game. But the biggest scoreing line is Onwude finishing with 13 points. 

As the players throw out white Stanford balls to the crowd, C makes a vow to get one to remind her of this incredible game, even if it means she has to jump on old people. R moves to the floor as some players like to look the fan in the eye as they hand out the balls. C scans the skies, and out of the corner of her eye, she sees a white ball bouncing down the steps past her knees, from the behind her! The opposite direction they are throwing. It bounces away in slow motion and no one sees it but C, so she runs after it and scoops it up, getting the idea to write the date and score on this ball, as she knows she has just witnessed something special.

And now C is a believer.

This is the aricle describing when I won the right to sit on the bench!

Nov 28th- Benched

Okay, I have been keeping quiet for a purpose, and believe you me, it is hard for me to be quiet. Faithful Readers (All 2 of ya) will note that I won the right to sit on the bench during the Stanford-USF game. I got my congratulatory email with instructions on what to do on game day, and the then the last sentence, “nothing on the internet”. Uh oh. I have  a stupid blog about Stanford Women’s Basketball on the internet. How am I NOT going to put anything on the “internet”? So I have been laying low lest I lose the golden ticket. I discuss this dilemma with my son. He states it is a free country with free speech and that  I can write what I want when I want. (Isn’t he cute? He’s only 14). So anyway, after a lengthy discuss about what is free speech and do we posses it and yelling “fire” in a crowded theater with the aforementioned son’s eyes glazing over, I get ready for game day.

Game Day
Game time minus 2 hours. I plan to meet R and our basketball friend S in an hour at R’s house at 6 PM, then the three of us will take a leisurely drive to Maples and arrive about 15 minutes before game time. I reread instructions. They say get there one hour before game time. Yikes, quick call to R, she suggests I drive myself, then, after stuffing dinner, I race like bat out of…Tennessee…. to Maples through rush hour traffic without the advantage of using the car pool lane. 

Game day minus one hour. I find the loading dock on the opposite end of the front entrance and make it though the tough security (A very nice gentleman waved me in and I found the Director of Basketball, Eileen). She shakes my hand and looks me right in the eye without me saying a word and says, you are C of the C and R Stanford blog aren’t you? Gulp! Busted before I began. I blame R. She must of told, somehow. (Of course not, for the record R did not ever tell nobody nothing).

I say yes and Eileen goes over the rules again, no input is number one. (Yeah, Tara, I play on this Tuesday basketball team, and have you ever tried a 2-2-1 press?) Number 2, do not yell anything from the bench as you can get the team a technical and then Tara will kill us all….well, I can’t remember if Eileen said exactly Tara will kill us all, but it was something to the effect that, Tara will be really mad and then not let us do special things like have people on the bench ever, ever again. Now would I want to ruin it for everyone? I should say not. Plus, I am on this Tuesday basketball team, and I know what it is like to yell things from the bench and then have technical fouls given out recklessly and everybody all mad and everything, but I digress wildly.

So, then the director of Basketball Operations says, now about the internet. (Here it comes). She said, “you can write about your experience being on the bench, but not…”

I finish the sentence for her. “…Anything said in the locker room?” 

“Exactly.” 

We are both relieved. I mean, I wouldn’t want to write about the way Tara makes adjustments during half time and then have some Tennessee fan read it and pass it along to Pat Summit and she uses that information to beat Stanford. And Eileen doesn’t want Tara to kill anyone. So here is the experience without what went on in the locker room. 

I am now watching practice, and call R to see where she and S are. They are stuck in traffic. Too bad. I never get tired of watching Stanford warm up, particularly so because Candice is out there leading, telling everyone what drill they are doing next, clapping her hands. I look up at the banners hanging in a near empty Maples, silent except for shoe scuffing and dribbling, and see the men’s basketball team banner. They have one National Championship, in 1942! The women have 2 in the latter half of the century, plus a whole lot more PAC-10 Championships. Take that, guys. Then women’s volleyball banner kicks everyone’s butt with 6 national championships. Dang. I pull out my cell phone to tell R if she hurries, she can watch the warm ups too. At that very moment Tara walks by and sees me with a cell phone and scowls at me. Maybe someone is dying tonight. At least that’s what I feel like at that moment. After she walks away, I secretly call R and tell her to hurry up and that I am already in trouble! 

Then I make small talk with Amy Tucker. Really. Mostly we talked about how tired and cranky everyone was coming back from the Virgin Islands (Not as fun as you think as you are stuck in the gym or hotel the whole time). 

I am to stick to the trainer and stay out of everyone’s way. My seat is right next to the Gatorade bottles. Then it is time to go in to the locker room for the pre game chalk talk. And now I can’t tell you any more. Which is too bad because it was really, really good! I can tell you that I saw Candice and Jayne close up! 

Back out on the floor for a slight pre-game warm up, this time with more fans in the house. With more people to watch, the Cardinal put on a show. Now, I played basketball and went to basketball camps in my day but I have never seen so may drills done with 2 or 3 basketballs at once. Someone throws the ball in, you pass it off and another one comes at your head for you to catch and shoot, too. 

Then Tara and I make small talk. Really! We talked about getting ready for Tennessee. Actually, Tara made it a point to come up to me and introduce herself and chit chat. Watching her over the years, she is adamant that every player and coach be an ambassador to the game and try their best to encourage fans to come back. When R and I have stalked, uh, I mean run into her players over the years, they follow her lead well. 

R and S finally show up and come up and say hi. They ask me about the locker room chalk talk and I tell them I am sworn to secrecy. Their seats are on the opposite side of the court on a diagonal to me, so we will be able to make faces at each other during the game. 

The players come back to the bench for the National Anthem and throw their warm up jerseys to the trainer one seat away but some miss and hit me. I am trying to shrink out of the way and not get in any trouble or anything. I am on the bench as they introduce the players. I love that Candice is introduced as 5-11-and-a-half. I get to be in the huddle for last minute instructions. I make my way back to my seat, hanging out with all the players on crutches. Melanie Murphy is the latest one to injury herself (torn ACL) at the Virgin Island Tournament. Michelle Harrison, also a torn ACL, is on my left, the trainer on my right. Someone says where’s the band? (Indeed the Stanford Band is MIA this game) 

Then the action begins. Okay, this may sound clichéd, but the action looks much faster from front row. Much faster then TV or even R’s amazingly close seats. And the best part is you can hear the players talking, which is cool. They call out switches and who has who, and if there is help. Basically, you hear them telling each other I got your back. This has the dual purpose of telling your teammates what is going on, and to motivate and inspire them to play hard. Freshmen Kayla Pederson shows she is tough, fast and aggressive. She looks poised and seasoned for her first year. Very impressive. 

As each player comes out of the game, they slap hands with everyone on the bench. When they get to me, they slap it just the same! Hee hee. At one point, both Candice and Jayne come out at the same time, slap Candice, slap Jayne, and I turn my head and look right at R and S. They were watching me with their green eyes and their mouths are hanging open! They are so jealous! The trainer tells me whenever anyone makes a three, Morgan Clyborn comes down the line and gives 10 to everyone on the bench. Candice makes a few and I have both palms ready! 

Number 50 for USF is one tough cookie. She is smaller than our centers, but is banging around. At one point she gets knocked to the ground by us and she turns to the ref and say, “If I were you, I woudda called a foul. The ref looks like he is going to give her a “T” but then decided against it. He turns to the lovely Candice, who gives him that million dollar smile and he smiles back and says something about ole #50. Nothing like home court advantage. About 5 plays later, USF actually makes a basket and 50 grabs the ball and throws it backward down her back so it bounces really high. The ref calls her for delay of game and gives her a personal foul for it! I know all about angering refs, see I play on this Tuesday basketball team…but I again digress. However, you know this is not over between #50 and this ref.

Stanford is building a lead and the ref calls time out and motions to the trainer. There is blood on the court and he wants her to clean and sanitize and also find out who is bleeding. Doesn’t seem to be any of the Cardinal. Both teams make use of the official time out. The starting 5 on the court at the time of the timeout sit in the bench chairs when Tara talks, and the rest of the team gathers round. 

Tara calls another time out and as I am listening, the crowd roars. It is the loudest noise I have heard all night. It turns out, a timeout contest consisting of sinking a putt from half court is going on, and the contestant actually made the putt! It is at first funny and then a little sad that the putt got the biggest hand of the night. 

Action resumes and #50 of USF gets a technical. I told you it wasn’t over. R and S look over from cross court. We all saw it coming. 

Half time Stanford has a comfortable lead, and we run to the locker room….and then….I can’t tell ya. Which is too bad, cuz it was good!

Second half opens with a lot of the subs playing. Hanna Donaghe plays her first game. Every time she touches the ball the bench cheers. She makes a basket or 2 and the bench full of starters stand up. Then she sinks a three and the bench erupts! I get my hands out for Morgan. Hannah ends up with 11 and she said sometign really cute int eh locker room, but, dang, I can't tell you!

The game is over and Stanford wins 96-61. The Director of Basketball runs back for the little balls to have the players throw out to the crowd. They are white this year. I take one to keep. I meet up with R and S, and hold up the ball and ask, remember that time I caught a red one form Candice? We all laugh. I debrief R and S about what was said at half time and we relive the game’s highlights. I great way to see a different view of the game.


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