Oregon’s Paul Westhead is a good coach. Of course, Stanford’s head coach is no slouch either, but Oregon doesn’t have quite the talent, or, say, a Nneka like Stanford does. He does play a certain style and sticks to it, and that style is fast. He dictated the flow of the Oregon-Stanford game, pushing the ball and constantly subbing in fresh legs. ‘Course again, Stanford has some speedsters, too, and could match them stride for stride.
In Stanford’s practices, when they run sprints, guess who wins then all? Sophomore speedster Toni Kokenis, you might guess. Anyone of the freshmen guards who are lightening quick? Nope, you’re wrong on both accounts. The answer is senior Nneka Ogwumike. She is the fastest Stanford player, so running on Stanford is hard to do. And Nneka loooooves a challenge, She rose to the tune of 32 points and 15 rebounds tonight. She has a double-double after the first 11 minutes. She was amazing. At one point she went so high for a rebound, the crowd gasped. Jos Tinkle threw her an alley-oop pass and the olny reason she didn’t make it was because she was fouled in the air. C and R love the fact Stanford even has that in their playbook. Most women’s basketball teams can’t even attempt that. Oh, Nneka scored 17 points and had 11 rebounds by half. A good number for anyone playing 40 minutes, let alone 20.
More good news in that Stanford had other people step up tonight besides someone named Ogwumike. (Sister Chiney had a respectable 12 rebounds and 9 points). Freshmen Bonnie Samuelson, who probably won’t win most sprints, popped 6 threes, 5 in the first half for 18 total points. Another freshmen Taylor Greenfield also had a great night, scoring 17. So it was good to see others contributing.
And how, Stanford set a team record for attempting 42 three-point shots. Forty-Two! They made 14, but still. Again, this was because of Paul Westhead. Oregon came into the game as one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation, having attempted 158 more three-point shots than Stanford. They attempted just 17 tonight. Heck, Bonnie shot 13 for Stanford. Weird that Stanford only went to the line 5 times, missing 2, and why are they still missing free throws? I guess Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer wanted to concentrate on the outside game tonight. Also weird in that Toni Kokenis was not all there tonight, in that she only made 1 out of 10 shots, a three-pointer. She has been consistently driving to the basket and scoring over 10 points a game.
And what is up with the Erica Payne experiment? Tara has her playing some point again in the second half when Stanford was up by 20 or more points. Of course, with all the subs, Stanford had five players on the court that were all over 6 feet and someone had to bring the ball up.
So as we said, Oregon dictated this game. Even though Stanford enjoyed a double-digit lead for starting 2 and a half minutes into the game, it never felt like Stanford was in control or was just going to cruise. Oregon didn’t back down. The half time score was 43-31, and Oregon went on a mini spurt to end the half, chipping away at Stanford lead that was 21 and got it to a respectable 12 points.
Not to make excuses, but Oregon was playing hurt. Their best player, 6-2 senior Amanda Johnson was out with a broken left thumb. In addition, senior point guard Nia Jackson had sore knees, and sophomore Deanna Weaver missed practice time with a hurt ankle.
Hold the phone. Did we just say Deanna Weaver? Deanna Weaver, the pride of Wilcox High School right here in Santa Clara? (Okay, my son goes to Wilcox, and although they have a rich sports program, we are a small public school and everyone plays multiple sports instead of concentrating on one sport year around and rarely does anyone from here go DI in anything, so hats off to her). In fact, my son had to play capture the flag against the women’s basketball team one gym period three years ago and he said those women were big and fast and destroyed the guys. Hee hee! You go, Deanna! She scored 8 in the first half in front of hometown fans and finished with 16 for the game. Santa Clara in da house!
Nneka needs 3 rebounds to get to 1,000 career boards. Bring your cameras on Saturday for the game against Oregon State.