February 28, 2009

Jill the Thrill

Congratulations on joining the 1000-point club, Jillian!!

You say, "... individual stuff doesn't matter much right now." But let us take just one moment in this season to celebrate your accomplishments.

I never tire of seeing Jillian sink a layup. Her grace and apparent ease as she lifts the ball up to the basket are unmistakably Jillian.

Many of Jill's contributions to the team do not show up on the scoreboard. She plays hard and she plays smart. She disrupts the opponents as she motors up court, gets in their faces, steals the ball, drives for the rebound — does what needs to be done.

These are some of the things that coach Tara has said of Jill:
Jill has been our most consistent player.
She's scrappy, she hustles
She's really steady — plays hard the whole game
She's got a different level of intensity, a different level of confidence, she's on a mission.
She willed us to win. She didn't come out for one minute, didn't get in foul trouble, hit big shots for us, got rebounds.
UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell:
She is the glue to their team. She's quick to anticipate, acts like a magnet to every loose ball and has a keen sense of when to attack the basketball.
Her teammates:
She's just such a scrappy player. She makes plays and gets on the floor and is willing to do anything for us.

I looked up and Jill was right there so I was like, "Oh great!'" Jill was like a little angel right there and I just passed it over.

Jill the Thrill — put that in there! That's what we call her. We call her "Jill the Thrill".

Beautiful Layups
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Scrappy Defense

The Harmon Express

The 1000-Point Club

Jill is the 29th member of the Stanford 1000-point club. These are the others.

February 27, 2009

Pedersen and Pohlen from the perimeter

The UCLA Bruins played a tough aggressive game, as they always do.

Kayla stepped up to the challenge. Better yet, she stepped out — beyond the three-point line, from where she hit three of five shots, adding to her game-high 20 points. Overall she shot 64% and also had seven rebounds, three blocks and a steal.

Jeanette was apparently moving too fast for the AP photographer as she shot 86% for her season-high 19 points — most of them on four of five three-pointers. She also had three assists, five rebounds and a steal.

Jillian added 12 points to her career total, which is now 1004. And she had three assists, two rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

The Bruins tried to shut down Jayne, but they only slowed her down. She was the fourth Cardinal in double digits with ten points. She was, as usual, also productive in other ways: five assists, seven rebounds and three blocks.

The final score: Stanford 69, UCLA 58
Across town, Cal squeaked past USC 66-64.

Here are:

The Dive-Slide Play

By Warren Grimes, a devoted Cardinal fan

In basketball – as in life – not all is what it seems. To many of us fans, a fast break appears spontaneous and improvised. But the coaches and players know that hours of practice went into learning how to fill the lanes, wait for the defense to commit, and make the right pass.

Never was the illusion of spontaneity stronger than that Valentine’s Day evening when Lindy La Rocque made an exuberant dive for the ball and, while flat on her face under her own basket, fed a trailing Jillian Harmon for an easy layup. The crowd went mad; the bench went bananas; and Jim Watson yelled, “Stop it!” to a national television audience. The play did wonders to pump up the momentum for a Stanford team that was struggling to overcome a ten point deficit.

It is time to reveal the truth behind the Dive-Slide play. It was a carefully planned play – # 347 in the Stanford play book. It was conceived by the coaches while severely hung over after the ASU game in January. When initially charted for the players, there was a great deal of skepticism. “Diving on the boards . . . that goes against the grain,” said Harmon. “I was floored,” said La Rocque.

Despite their doubts, the players worked hard to perfect the play. After weeks of frustration and many failed attempts in practice, it all worked on that magical evening at Maples. The doubters were nowhere to be found. Part of the magic was that the players made it look so improvised, with La Rocque suggesting the intervention of an angel. And ... truth be known ... there were some unexpected wrinkles. As envisioned by the coaches, the play called for La Rocque to dribble the ball while sliding face down on the floor – to avoid a traveling call. “There was a failure to execute,” said Coach VanDerveer. But if there was a failure, it must have slid by the refs. Lindy was safe at home.

The stunning success and wonderful response to play # 347 is sure to spark a demand by other coaches to know how it is done. So I am pleased to offer this narrative description so that other teams may make this a fundamental part of the playbook.

First some overall tips for coaches:
  • Use this play when your team is behind and needs a momentum spark.

  • Do NOT use this play if your team is wearing velcro uniforms. I recommend uniforms with a friction coefficient of .0000539 or less. They cost a lot more but, believe me, they are worth it.

  • Do NOT use petroleum jelly on the front of the uniforms. That’s really bad taste, and the refs are sure to slip your team with a technical.

  • Do NOT use this play if your team is already ahead – high risk of splinters you know.
So here’s how it’s done. Three members of the team are involved. We shall call them “J Pohl”, “L Rock,” and “J Harm”.

The play begins with an assistant coach standing and holding up a coded sign with the name of the play (for example, “Las Vegas 15"). At this point, if the team doesn’t respond, the head coach should stand up and yell, “You blithering idiots, do the Dive-Slide play!!!”

Once the team has received the message, it is time for J Pohl to play tight perimeter defense on the opponent. She knocks the ball loose from the offensive perimeter player, preferably so that it bounces off the foot of the opponent and rolls down toward your team’s basket at the other end of the floor. It is important that J Pohl do this as artlessly as possible, furthering the illusion of spontaneity by perhaps falling backward and having no further impact on the play. Equally important, the ball must roll down toward your team’s basket at precisely 17.35 mph. Too fast and the ball rolls out of bounds (how boring). Too slow and there will be a mid-court rugby scrum for the ball (how tasteless).

Next, L Rock should chase the ball down the court, but remain a full step behind the opponent’s player who is leading the chase. At the three-point line, L Rock dives horizontally around and underneath the opponent to slide up to the ball – but remember, properly executed, this play requires L Rock to dribble the ball while sliding. When the slide ends, L Rock should lie there for an instant, with her head up and a quizzical what-am-I-supposed-to-do-now look on her face.

At the very last instant, J Harm trails in from the right to take a pop-up pass for the layup. That’s the easy part.

But really, with practice, it’s all easy.

February 25, 2009

Ros finds her range

Michelle Smith (San Francisco Chronicle) discusses Ros' role on the team this season.

Tara says, "Ros sets the tone for us defensively. She is taking on the role we need her to take, and it's different than it's been in previous years."

Ros says, "I'm buying in [to what the coaches want] because I want to win."


A weekend in Los Angeles

A tale to be told, but not re-enacted:
"Once upon a time, on a stormy weekend, the Cardinal travelled to Los Angeles and gave away basketball games to the Bruins and the Trojans ..."
What's waiting for the Cardinal next weekend?

The Bruins have had their ups and downs since the Cardinal defeated them 68-51 three weeks ago at Maples. They've defeated UA and WSU and lost to USC, ASU and UW. (Their leading scorer Doreena Campbell was out of action for the UW game.) They are ranked fifth in the Pac-10, based on both their win-loss record and their RPI — down two steps from three weeks ago.

The defensive effort of their big post players (Chinyere Ibekwe, Moniquee Alexander and Christina Nzekwe) continues to be their strength. They are second (to Stanford) in the Pac-10 in rebounding and first in O-boards.

The Trojans have been doing somewhat better than the Bruins. They've moved two steps up the Pac-10 ranking ladder in the past three weeks — to fourth, based on both their win-loss record and their RPI. Since the Cardinal defeated them 81-53 at Maples, they've lost to Cal, ASU and UA and defeated UCLA, WSU and UW.

The Trojans are second (to Stanford) in the Pac-10 in scoring and first in 3-pointers. Camille LeNoir, Briana Gilbreath, Nadia Parker and Heather Oliver have averaged double-digit scores in the past five games.

Good news for the Trojans: The injury demons have not visited them since Jan 11th.

February 22, 2009

Best wishes Hannah!

Your Fast Break Club fans are so sorry that you've joined the dreaded ACL club. We all love the energy and enthusiasm you bring to the court. As you go through the tedium of rehab, keep telling yourself that there are a whole bunch of people who are waiting to cheer when you take the floor next season.

February 21, 2009

Freshmen spark Duck defeat

That was one weird game!

Oregon coach Bev Smith shook up her starting lineup, and the Ducks came onto the floor at Maples with fire and energy — more than the Cardinal. Seven minutes into the first half, the Cardinal had turned the ball over three times, and the Ducks were ahead 10-6.

At that point, Tara benched all five starters and sent in Nneka, Sarah, Lindy, Mel and Michelle. The reserves took control of the game and went on an 8-2 run in the next six minutes. The run continued to 25-2, with the Ducks not scoring again (except for a couple of free throws) until late in the first half.
Nneka led all scorers with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and had two assists and six rebounds. Bev Smith said, "Man, Ogwumike could be starting for anyone. To call her a bench player would be a stretch."
Sarah was not far behind with 11 points, four rebounds, a block and two steals. She looked strong and ready to do more, but ran into a bit of foul trouble.
Lindy, although not as spectacular as last weekend, contributed 23 minutes of scrappy defense, nine points, an assist, four rebounds and a steal.
When Jeanette subbed back in, she looked even more determined than she usually does. She scored 11 points and maintained her 2.28 assist-to-turnover ratio with seven assists and three turnovers. She also had three rebounds and three steals.
Kayla played solid defense as she always does. She had the game-high 10 rebounds and nine points for a near double-double.
The Cardinal, if not pleased with the game, were pleased with the final result — a 68-49 victory.

Cardinal awaits Ducks

Rob Moseley (Eugene Register-Guard) writes that the Oregon Ducks hope to redeem themselves this afternoon at Maples after the drubbing they suffered at Haas on Thursday.

Guard Taylor Lilley said, “We just have to go in there and do what we can, and really play our hearts out. We’ve just got to play hard. At the end of the day, that’s what we should be able to leave the stadium with — at least when we play Stanford — that we gave it our best shot and we tried." Read more...

February 19, 2009

Cardinal runs to victory

The Oregon State Beavers brought their very physical aggressive game to Maples, but it was no match for the Cardinal's speed and size. The Cardinal won 72-43.

The Cardinal played hard and fast all night. Jayne said, "Rebound and run. We are going to do that every time we play." Jeanette said, "I love running. I love pushing the ball."

Jayne and Nneka led the scoring with 15 points apiece. Jayne shot 7-10; two of her field goals were on fast breaks. She also had four blocks, and now needs just six more to set a new Stanford career record. Nneka shot 6-7, one on a fast break.

Jeanette, who was not slowed down a bit by Saturday's head-to-head collision, was responsible for more points than that. She scored eight points herself and had eight assists. With just two turnovers. That increases her assist-to-turnover ratio to 2.28

Everyone contributed to the victory. Tara emptied the bench tonight, and was especially pleased that the reserves increased the lead in the last few minutes of the game.

The game reports all focus on the Cardinal's speed: No game highlights or press conference videos have been posted yet — videographer Bud Anderson was the speaker at the FBC postgame meeting. Look for them tomorrow. And look for a report of the postgame meeting (in FBC Event Reports) in a day or two.

Don Anderson was at the game with his cameras. As far as I know, he had no equipment malfunction tonight. Look for his photos in a day or two.

Here's the AP game recap, the box score and play-by-play and photos from the Associated Press:

Cardinal looks to dam the Beavers

... writes Daniel Bohm in the Stanford Daily. In order to achieve its expectations for the season, the Cardinal needs to keep racking up wins, and that starts by beating the teams that it should beat — like Oregon State tonight at Maples. Read more...

The Oregon State Beavers have been playing well since the Cardinal defeated them 69-54 three weeks ago in Corvallis. They have defeated Oregon, Arizona, Washington and Washington State and lost only to Arizona State. Their win-loss record (15-8 overall, 6-7 conference) places them 6th in the Pac-10, their RPI (51) places them 4th. Both rankings are up one step from three weeks ago.

February 18, 2009

Personalizing women's basketball

The Stanford and Cal women's basketball programs have taken new approaches this season to sell their team to prospective recruits and ticket-buying fans. Their goal is to establish a connection to the athletes by personalizing them.

Cal is doing this with photographs by Mollie McClure that shows the players' competitive intensity as well as their softer side as individuals, teammates and friends.

Stanford's approach is videos by Bud Anderson that showcase the personality and passion of the Cardinal players.

Michelle Smith (San Francisco Chronicle) writes about these programs here ...

The Cal photographs appear in the "So Berkeley" feature of the Cal women's basketball page and in their media guide. Here is a sample:

The Stanford videos are on YouTube. This is an image from a recent one in which Ashley, Hannah and Jeanette promote next weekend's games against Oregon and Oregon State:

You can view the videos from:
  • The Stanford women's basketball page — click on "Videos on YouTube" below the page heading.
  • The FBC website home page — click the play arrow in the video image to the left of "Stories of the Season".
The videos are arranged so that each advances automatically to the next one in a playlist. As you look at them, you can skip to the next one or the prior one by clicking the arrow on the right or left side of the "screen". That's convenient if you want to look at the few most recent videos, but not if you want to find an old favorite (there are currently 85 videos in the playlist). The easiest way to do that is to look at the playlist itself and select the video you want to see. The link to the playlist is also just below the video image on the FBC website home page.

Here are several of my most recent favorites:

Ashley, Hannah and Jeanette promote next weekend's games against Oregon and Oregon State.   >Play
Highlights of the Stanford/Cal game, featuring Lindy's hustle play of the season.   >Play
Stanford/Cal postgame press conference in which Lindy describes her hustle play.   >Play
Michelle sings the national anthem with Hookslide at a men's basketball game.   >Play

February 16, 2009

Jayne is Pac-10 Player of the Week ... again!

Jayne is Pac-10 Player of the Week for her outstanding offense and defense in the game against Cal, which moved Stanford into a tie for first place in the Pac-10. This is the fourth time this season and the seventh time in her career that she has received the award. Read more from the Pac-10 ...

Jayne is shooting 62.8% from the field this season, which ranks her #3 in the nation.

Jayne's shot blocking is also in the record books. She already holds the Stanford record for blocks in a season (84 in 2007-08). She is on target to set the Stanford record for career blocks in the next few games — she needs just 10 more to exceed Val Whiting's record of 202. She is ranked #47 in the nation in blocks per game.

She is ranked #32 in the nation in rebounds per game (9.2). She is on target to exceed various Stanford rebounding records currently held by Nicole Powell by the end of her career.

Her assist-to-turnover ratio is also outstanding. She has 74 assists and 51 turnovers for a ratio of 1.45 — a mere #84 in the nation. What's outstanding is that she does this from the post. Except for forward Maya Moore, the top 50 ATOs in the nation are all held by guards. If Assist Turnover Ratio by Centers was an NCAA statistical category, Jayne would surely be #1.

Updated 02/17/09 9:55am