March 13, 2008

Wolverines in control

INDIANAPOLIS - We're at our last media timeout before halftime and Michigan is still in control.
Freshman Manny Harris now has 12 points for the Wolverines, who built a 25-11 lead. The Hawkeyes have come back to pull within 27-15 and are shootintg two free throws when action resumes.

Fast start by Michigan

INDIANAPOLIS - The Wolverines built a 10-4 lead during the first six minutes. It's now 10-7 at our first media timeout.
Iowa's Jake Kelly scored the game's first basket nearly two minutes after the opening tipoff. Since then, Michigan is on a 10-5 run. Stay tuned.

Big Ten ready to go

INDIANAPOLIS - It's the first day of the Big Ten tournament in Conseco Fieldhouse.
Iowa and Michigan are warming up and we're about 20 minutes away from tipoff. It's the always interesting 8/9 matchup with the winner facing top-seeded Wisconsin on Friday.
It's a homecoming for Iowa coach Todd Lickliter, who spent six years at Butler, which is based here in Indianapolis. Interesting to note that the Hawkeyes have the second-most tournament wins behind Illinois. They've won the championship twice.
Michigan hasn't experienced the best of seasons under first-year coach John Beilein. The Wolverines are 9-21 and finished 5-13 during the conference regular season.

March 11, 2008

Pac-10 All-Touranment Team

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Here are the members of the 2008 State Farm Pac-10 Tournament Team:

All-Tournament Team

Most Outstanding Player -- Candice Wiggins, Stanford (her second consecutive honor)

Dymond Simon, Arizona State
Jayne Appel, Stanford
Kayla Pedersen, Stanford
Taylor Lilley, Oregon
Devanei Hampton, California

That's it for me from San Jose!

Cardinal Rule

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- What was supposed to be a battle for the Bay Area in tonight's Pac-10 Championship Game ended up being no contest as Stanford handily beat Cal, 56-35.

Stanford is now not only the Pac-10 regular season champion, but als the conference tournament champion for the fifth time in the seven years the conference tournament has been played.

"I"m really proud of our team as our whole team has worked hard for this tournament and knew that Cal would give us a great game," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. "We were a little bit more rested and more of the aggressor today."

Tonight's game was close for a little bit more than three minutes as Stanford only led by eight points. Yet with Stanford having the hot hands from all over the court, Cal never had a chance.

"Just disappointed in the outcome of the game and how we performed," said Cal coach Joanne Boyle. "I give total credit to Stanford. They are playing some great basketball right now and we just didn't compete tonight. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons and we can analyze the film, but I'm disappointed in the outcome."

Wiggins led all Stanford players with her 30 points and was followed by Kayla Pedersen's 13 points. Appel -- who set a new Pac-10 Tournament record with 12 blocks -- led the Cardinal on the boards with 14 rebounds.

Unfortunately for Cal, it just wasn't a good night to be a Golden Bear. The Bears shot 26.8% for the game from the field, 17.6% from three-point land and 33.3% from the free throw line. Leading scorers for the game were Alexis Gray-Lawson, Kelsey Adrian and Rama D'diaye wil six points each.

"You always think the shots are going to fall and then sometimes you just have a bad half," said Boyle. "In the first half they just got everything, including the tough shots. I racked my brain trying to figure out what to do to put ourselves in a position to score and it just did not happen."

There is a week to wait before Selection Monday, but Stanford being a No. 1 seed and in the Spokane Regional is a strong possibility. In addition, look for Cal and possibly Arizona State to also represent the Pac-10 as March Madness continues.

"I do," said VanDeveer when asked if she thought her team was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Stay tuned, All-Tournament Team to come.

Cardinal Sins

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Vatican announced today the addition of new sinful behaviors. These new behaviors include drugs, pollution, genetic manipulation and social and economic injustices.

After this weekend I think that the Stanford women's basketball team is going to add at least one new sin of their own -- you must show up to play. After yesterday's and today's Stanford games, if an opposing team does not show up to play then they will face the wrath of Wiggins and company. Personally, running lines never looked so easy compared to having to play against Stanford when they are in a zone.

Cal continues to look beat. Stanford on the other hand is barely breaking a sweat.

Stay tuned...

Cal 31
Stanford 56

Time: 3:40

March 10, 2008

Sensory Overload

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- This is the only way to describe so many aspects of this game.

First, I got a behind-the-scenes look at the Fox Sports Network production truck during Stanford's blistering 21-7 run since half time. The bank of TVs used to produce this game is a dream if you have attention deficit disorder. I just wondered if they had TiVo in the truck.

Second, I got up close and personal with one of the many San Jose Shark mobiles they have stored in the back area of the HP Pavilion and had a flashback to the first time I saw Jaws. I actually still have nightmares of that movie to this day.

Next, if you are a Stanford fan (Choops, are you watching AND reading my blog!!!) then it's hard not to feel like a kid in a candy store as Stanford is crushing Cal from just about every aspect of the game.

Stay tuned...

Cal 22
Stanford 50

Time: 8:58

The Better Half

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Was had by Stanford during the first half of this game.

The Cardinal did just about everything right as they poured it on against Cal.

Stanford shot 43.8% from the field and 50% from three-point land. Wiggins accounted for more than half of Stanford's 36 points with her 19 points.

Cal on the other hand, well, they are probably wishing they were home watching How I Met Your Mother right about now. The Bears are only shooting 19.4% from the field and their two leading scorers - Gray-Lawson and Rama N'diaye -- have four points each.

Stay tuned...

Cal 15
Stanford 36

Bear-ly Making It

There's less than four minutes left in the first half and Cal may be crawling to the finish line at the end of the game tonight.

The Bears are being humiliated in their backyard as Stanford is piling on the points in this first half. Granted that Cal is struggling with their shots and not getting second chance shots as they are being out-rebounded, but it's no longer interesting.

Stay tuned...

Cal 8
Stanford 31

Time: 3:53

Tournament Record Falls

We have our first tournament record fall for the night as Appel just recorded her ninth block of the tournament.

The last player to set the block record was Stanford Alum Kristen Newlin who had eight.

There's still time to see if Wiggins will set any new records tonight.

Stay tuned...

Cal 6
Stanford 21

Game Time!

We are moments away from the starting tip of the championship final and with the number of Stanford fans out-numbering the Cal fans about 30-1, I feel like I am at a Stanford home game instead of being at a neutral site.

Here are your starting line ups for tonight's game:

Cal Bears
Ashley Walker - F/C
Devanei Hampton - F/C
Natash Vital - G
Lauren Greif - G
Alexis Gray-Lawson - G

Stanford Cardinal
Candice Wiggins - G
Kayla Pedersen - F
Jayne Appel - F/C
JJ Hones - G
Roslyn Gold-Onwude - G

Stanford vs. Cal -- Round III

SAN JOSE, Calif -- Good evening and welcome to the Championship Game of the Pac-10 Women’s Basketball Tournament also known as the Battle of the Bay III!

Considering that as of now, this is the last year that the Pac-10 women's tournament will be held here in the HP Pavilion, it's a fitting tribute that the two local Pac-10 schools and the No. 1 and No. 2 tournament seeds will be playing for the title tonight.

Top seed and No. 4 ranked Stanford (29-3, 16-2 Pac-10) comes in as the Pac-10 regular season champions, four-time conference tournament champions and are favored to win tonight. In addition to win giving the Cardinal the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament from the Pac-10, it will also give Stanford a perfect 3-0 record against Cal this season.

Why is Stanford so hot? Here's why:

Candice Wiggins
She's one of the elite in women's college basketball and has the numbers to prove it. First, she leads the Pac-10 in career points Cardinal in points (18.9 ppg), assists (97) and steals (68), so she knows how to share the ball nicely with the other kids. Probably every coach in the Pac-10 except one is happy that this is her last Pac-10 game.

Jayne Appel
Only a sophomore and one of the go-to players for the Cardinal. Appel was the 2007 Freshman of the Year and is not anywhere close to have a slump during her second season. With team-bests in blocks (75), rebounds (8.6 rpg) and other notable stats of 83 assists and 14.5 ppg (second behind Wiggins), Appel is not as sweet as she looks during game time.

Kayla Pedersen
Pederson is just the latest member of the Stanford program to earn 2008 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors and as the team's third best scorer (12.8 ppg), the torch is being passed to her to uphold Cardinal Law in the Pac-10 for the next three years.

After these three, you have your pick of talented players from the Stanford roster. Whether it's sophomore Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, senior Cissy Pierce, Sophomore JJ Hones or junior Jillian Harmon, Stanford has a deep bench that can be deadly for opponents.

The No. 8 ranked Golden Bears (26-5, 15-3 Pac-10) are not too shabby either. After all, they have their own roster full of talent that has nothing to lose tonight. Instead, Cal has an opportunity to claim a conference tournament title to help ease the pain of losing their share of the conference title when they dropped their final regular season game at Washington, 66-74.

Here's a look at what has made Cal so hot this season:

Devanei Hampton
At 6-foot-3, she is the anchor of the action in the paint for Cal and quite a force to be wreckon with. Hampton averages 14 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game. She is the 2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year and is finding her way to award watch lists left and right.

Ashley Walker
As the team's leader in points (15.4 per game), rebounds (9.3) and blocks (45), she will be counted on to perform tonight. She's not the tallest of Cal's trees in the middle at 6-foot-1 but she has a big time game that frustrates opponents.

Alexis Gray-Lawson
She's only 5-foot-8, but as the team's third-best scorer (11.8 ppg) she is a main contributor to this team's success.

Rounding out the starting five are sophomores Natasha Vital (8 ppg) and Lauren Greif (6.1 ppg) who don't get banged around down low, but do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to bringing the ball down the court and feeding the posts down low.

With tonight's game involving both local Pac-10 schools that are ranked in the Top 10, we should see some good hoops and have a good crowd in attendance.

Stay tuned, we start at 7:30 pm PT.

March 09, 2008

Stanford Rolls Into Championship Final

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- With this being the last year that the HP Pavilion and the Bay Area will host the Pac-10 women's tournament, Stanford made sure that tomorrow's championship final would have a fitting match up. After convincingly beating UCLA, 78-45, it's the Battle of the Bay that will be the story as No. 1 seed Stanford and No. 2 seed Cal face off for the third time this season.

"I thought we came out with a great defensive mentality that started with Roz doing a great job for us in guarding either Campbell or Morris," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. "Kayla guarding Pluimer did an excellent job while other people did an excellent job. Our defense really set the tone for the game."

The defense that VanDerveer is speaking of is the effort that prevented UCLA from scoring for the first four minutes of the game, only allowed UCLA's offense to score a total of 16 points in the first half and forced UCLA to turn the ball over 13 times in the first half.

"Stanford is a very good basketball team and they showed that today as defensively they were very aggressive," said UCLA coach Kathy Olivier. "The first time we beat them we were the aggressors and today they attacked us. That was the difference in the game. They rebound very well when they are aggressive and have a lot of people step up so they have a lot of options. There's a reason why they are a top five team in the country."

With the game clearly out of reach for UCLA from the opening minutes, it was all the Bruins could do to not make the bleeding too bad. However Stanford had other plans in the way they focused on UCLA's individual strengths instead of weaknesses.

"We really focused a lot on taking away our opponents favorite moves," sadi VanDerveer. "Kayla worked really hard and I was really proud of the fact that when she was on Pluimer, she only got four points. Ros I thought did a great job on Morries, who had a great game last night against USC. Whether it was Candice guarding Campbell or Jayne guarding a variety of different post players. The best thing is that people did not get in foul trouble. They played smart, position defense and team defense. I think defense is a matter of will and they willed it that way."

If there is a will, there is a way, which is the best way to describe Wiggins' continuing to fire away despite not hitting her first basket of the game until 48 seconds left in the first half.

With Stanford dominating today's second game, it was no surprise to see four players scoring double figures (Appel led with 14, followed by Wiggins with 13, Hones with 12 and Pohlen came off the bench to score 10), everyone getting at least one rebound and everyone scoring at least one basket to make it a total team win.

UCLA on the other hand struggled for the entire game.

"Stanford is a very good basketball team and they showed that today," said UCLA coach Kathy Olivier. "They are very aggreesive and came out as more of the aggressors."

UCLA couldn't get much of anything going as they shot 26.7% from the field in the first half, 36.7% from the field in the second half and only hit 1-of-9 from three-point land and 6-17 from the free throw line.

The Bruins did not have any single player finish with double digits in scoring or rebounding.

That's it from the semifinal action today. Check back tomorrow for the championship final at 7:30 pm PT.

I'm Wrong

SAN JOSE, Calif -- This game can get worse.

First off, UCLA's Regina 'Gigi' Rogers has fouled out of the game. This is a huge loss for the Bruins as she does give the Cardinal a nice presence in the paint and she has the court vision of a guard even though she plays center.

Next, the refs seem to be helping this game move as fast as possible as they are not calling some obvious fouls. This always concerns me as at this point in the season, you don't want to see players getting hurt.

Lastly, Stanford just keeps pouring it on with points. The Cardinal have more than doubled UCLA's score, so the Stanford fans in attendance -- which out-number UCLA fans about 20-1 (which is understandable considering how close the HP Pavilion is to Palo Alto) -- are probably enjoying their school's exhibition-like game.

Meanwhile EVERYONE has now come off of Stanford's bench and I would bet that at least everyone on the roster will finish with at least one bucket in today's game.

Even though this game is pretty bad, I will give the Stanford band a little bit of credit as they are not being as obnoxious as they usually are.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 71

Time: 6:32

Can it get any worse for UCLA?

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Yes, I am a USC alum and we never like to see UCLA excel in any sporting event, but I really don't think that things can get much worse for the Bruins today.

After the half was over, UCLA came back and tried to apply a full court press to stop the bleeding. It didn't even slow down Stanford as the one player they left open was found and easily in-bounded the ball to.
Since then it's been almost all Stanford as the Cardinal are on a 19-4 run in the first five minutes of the second half.

Making this run even worse for UCLA is that it is not just one player that is unstoppable, but all five players on the court for Stanford that are causing UCLA nightmares.

It's ugly, but stay tuned...

Stanford 53

Time: 14:35

Half Time!

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Here we are at the half of the second semifinal game and there really aren't any surprises as Stanford is dominating.

Stanford's Hones and Appel are both already in double figures with 10 points a piece and all but one Stanford player -- Hones -- has at least one rebound in the half. The Cardinal are shooting 37.1% from the field, have 25 boards and 10 steals.

UCLA seems to have put themselves in a hole that I am not sure they can get out of. The Bruins' leading scorer -- Lindsey Pluimer -- has only two points in the half and their leading scorer for the game is freshman guard Doreena Campbell with four points. UCLA is only shooting 26.7% from the field and have yet to make a three-point shot (0-of-3) and free throw (0-of 4). With numbers like these from UCLA, the win over Stanford two months ago is looking more and more like a distant memory.

Stay tuned, we are about to start the second half.

Stanford 34

Panic at the basketball game

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Yes, this is a take off from the band Panic at the Disco, but considering that it is a team's ability not to panic, I am going to borrow.

UCLA (16-14, 10-8 Pac-10) was able to not panic yesterday against USC to help them make it to today. Now if UCLA can keep that up while also getting Stanford's biggies in trouble, the Bruins may have a chance. After all, it was just two months ago when UCLA pulled off one of the biggest upsets in women's college basketball and Pac-10 play with their 69-56 win over Stanford at home.

Staying cool and collected may help UCLA today, they are also going to need some devine intervention to make it a game.

Stanford is just too strong of a team (yes, Choops, I wrote it) with so many great players that their off weekend in LA in January may be the last time we see them have at least one off game.

First, Stanford has the shooting touch and leadership of Candice Wiggins (team best 19.1 ppg) -- the All-Time Leading Scorer in the Pac-10, a Naismith Award finalist, etc, etc, etc. Add to that the presense of Jayne Appel (14.5 ppg) and Kayla Pedersen (third best 12.9 ppg) -- the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year (the second consecutive award for the Stanford program). If this wasn't enough, Stanford is deep. From Jillian Harmon (7.2 ppg), Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (4.9 ppg) and JJ Hones 6.2 ppg), just about any combination the Cardinal puts on the floor is deadly for opposing teams.

There's 3:50 left in the half and Stanford is not even letting UCLA get close to their lead.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 27

Game on!

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- We're half way through the first half and as expected, Stanford is owning UCLA.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 19

Time: 8:51

Bears 3, Sun Devils 0

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- With a 65-61 semifinal win, 3-0 is the final score of the meetings between Cal and ASU for the 2007-08 season.

After shaking of an slight ASU lead at the half, Cal came into the second half and opened up a shooting assault on the Sun Devils to take a comanding lead. With as much as ASU tried to fight back and stay in the game with a 14-6 run in the final four minutes of the game, Cal was able to hold on to secure the win.

"I'm just so proud of my team as this was one of those hard fought games that you play in March," said Cal coach Joanne Boyle. "To have two of them back-to-back, we are fortunate to have come out on top and looking forward to sitting in the stands and being able to watch as the first team to get to the championship game."

Cal got hot in the second half with their 46.2% shooting to help them be the first team in tomorrow nights championship game.

Leading all scorers for Cal was Hampton with 19 points and 16 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season. In addition, VItal shipped in with 14 points and three rebounds and Walker rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points and 10 rebound for her 13th double-double of the season (leading the Pac-10) in a highly physical game.

"There were times for Ashley and I when it was pretty hard down there, but we love the contact and the physical play," said Cal's Hampton.

ASU had the hot hands during the first half with their 48% shooting, but had too many problems connecting with the bottom of the net in the second half and shot a mere 32.3% from the field.

"We struggled to score in the second half and Cal did a great job in coming out and establishing their inside game more effectively," said ASU coach Thorne. "We got away from doing things we wanted to do defensively and the combination of those things led to our demise."

ASU was led by Simon's 22 points. January finished with 15 of her own and Noe capped off the ASU double-digit scorers with 11 points.

Stay tuned, our second semifinal game of the day between Stanford and UCLA is under way as Stanford is slowing building their lead with a15-8 run in the first half.

Welcome to Full Contact Basketball!

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Whoever does not think that women's college basketball is not a full contact sport should be watching this game.

ASU's Jill Noe was chasing down a bad pass between two Cal players when she took a tumble on the floor with Cal's Lauren Greif. As Noe tipped the ball to ASU's January, while on a fast break, who got tangled up with Cal's Alexis Gray-Lawson.

I give ASU bonus points for style and grace during each rumble while Cal gets bonus points on the technical side.

Cal is running away with this game, 59-43, while ASU continues to get cold in their shooting.

Stay tuned...

Cal 59
ASU 43
Time: 5:11

Dymond Day!

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- No, I do not have a typo in my title.

ASU's Dymond Simon, who is playing this year after sitting out last season with a torn ACL, is tearing up the net. She's now got 10 points trying her best to help her team cut into Cal's ever growing lead, a lead that is at an all time high of 12 points.

Stay tuned...
Cal 53
ASU 41

Time: 9:20

Feeling warm?

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- If you are on the Cal team than yes, you should be feeling warm in the home of the San Jose Sharks.

First off, it is cold in here. I realize that there is ice below us for the hockey rink that helps this facility be used through every indoor sports season, but even with a jacket on, I'm resorting to hot liquids in the form of coffee and tea to stay warm.

Second, Cal has come out playing with some fire. The Golden Bears are building on their lead with 4-of-7 shooting from the field and appearing to be too hot to handle for the Sun Devils.

Stay tuned...

Cal 43


There went the lead!

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- We are less than two minutes into the second half and Cal has come out ready to play with a 4-0 run to recaputre the lead.

Stay tuned...

Cal 37
ASU 34

Time: 18:39

Taking the lead

With 4.8 seconds left in the half, ASU's Jill Noe said 'No more lead Cal!' by sinking both of her free throws to give the Sun Devils a one-point lead heading into the half.

Cal's Hampton did not break the rebounding record for the Pac-10 tournament (at least not in this first half), but she'll get another chance in the second half.

Noteable stats from the first half include Hampton's 13 rebounds and Vital's 11 points. However it is their dismal 28.6% shooting from the field that is helping Hampton and her teammates (27 total) grab so many boards.

For ASU January is leading the team with 11 points. The Sun Devils have 14 total boards as a team, so if Hampton had grabbed one more board, she would have been doing the work of the 11 players on ASU.

Stay tuned...

Cal 33
ASU 34

Record Breaking Moment?

We're counting down the rebounds for Cal's Hampton as she currently has 13 boards for the half and the tournament record is 14 in a half.

She's on the bench catching her breath, but stay tuned as we could see a tournament record fall when she returns to the game.

Stay tuned...
Cal 29
ASU 25

Time: 1:39

Bring on January!

ASU has just cut deeper into Cal's lead thanks to a three-point shot just made by Briann January.

Ms. January has accounted for eight of the Sun Devils 25 points which has included some big time three-point shots.

ASU just did a mass substitution by replacing the entire lineup, so we'll see if some fresh feet on the court can help the Sun Devils take over the lead.

Stay tuned...

Cal 27
ASU 25

Time: 3:49


Cal is playing a tight man defense on ASU, so the Sun Devils are having, well, a devil of a time getting shots off, but that didn't just stop ASU's Noe from launching a three that is helping keep the game close.

Stay tuned...

Cal 17
ASU 12

Time: 11:33

First Five

We are at our first media time out with the score at 8-7 Cal with 15:27 on the clock.

In these first five minutes Cal's Hampton has grabbed five rebounds and doubled her made free throws from yesterday's game (she hit 1-of-10). Of course she has is having trouble making her shot from two feet from the basket, so Hampton may wish she was actually in the Hamptons instead of being here.

Stay tuned...

Starting up!

Clock updated, Check!

Coffee in hand, Check!

Starters announced, Checking...

Here are your starters for today's first semifinal game:

Sybil Dosty - C
Lauren Lacey - F
Reagan Pariseau - G
Briann January - G
Jill Noe - G

Devanei Hampton - F/C
Natasha Vital - G
Lauren Greif - G
Ashley Walker - F/C
Alexis Gray-Lawson - G

Stay tuned...

Springing into the semifinals

Good morning from lovely San Jose, Ca, and the Pac-10 women's tournament!

It's a picturesque day outside where it is bright, clear and crisp on this first day of daylight savings time (did you remember to spring forward???). After an early morning flight, I am inside the HP Pavilion where I will be blogging about all of the action from today's semifinals.

First up, it's No. 3 seed Arizona State (21-9, 14-4 Pac-10) taking on Bay Area favorite No. 2 seed Cal (25-5, 15-3) at high noon today.

The Sun Devils are riding high into today's game on a five-game winning streak, which is also their longest of the season. Coach Charli Turner Thorne's Devils are here after a convincing 83-64 win over Washington in one of yesterday's quarterfinal games. All five of ASU's starters scored in double figures in that win and were led by 6-foot-3 junior Sybil Dosty's 17 points.

ASU may be the underdog in this first game of the day, but if they can get everyone firing on all cylinders today and catch Cal not playing a full 40 minute game again, ASU could find themselves in their second consecutive Pac-10 tournament championship.

Cal on the other hand would love nothing more than to represent the Bay Area in tomorrow's championship final. Before Cal thinks about tomorrow, they need to use the experience of their quarterfinal game to get through a pesky Sun Devil team. The Golden Bears edged out Oregon 67-60 yesterday by fending off the Ducks who came within three (57-54) with 1:30 left in the game. Thanks to solid shooting from the free throw line (10-of-12), Cal was able to stay alive.

Leading Cal into today's game is 6-foot-3 junior Devanei Hampton, 6-foot-1 junior Ashley Walker and 5-foot-8 junior Alexis Gray-Lawson. Another player to keep an eye on is 5-foot-8 sophomore Natasha Vital who almost had a triple-double yesterday with her 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

There's 45 minutes before we start, so stay tuned!