Note from NorCalNick: This post is up under my name but Twist did most of the writing and took all of the excellent pictures you'll see below. I added a few thoughts here and there.
Last we left off, there was TIP-OFF!
Now, let's look at some game action photos. Cal got off to a hot start with some key turn overs and fast break points. With Jayne Appel out, I had, unfortunately, hope. Damnable hope! It just leads to emotional devastation! And even when Cal started to cool off a little, they were pretty much tied with Stanford. The problem was Stanford was just getting the boards, the rebounds, the reboards. Cal could get some open looks, but if they missed and they had really bad luck in that regard, they would not get a second chance.
Stanford clamped down on Lexi. Last year, Lexi went off and led Cal to victory. But last year she was surrounded by much more talent. Ashley Walker. Devanei Hampton. Now, she is surrounded by freshmen. Talented freshmen, but not at the level of Ashley and Co. So, they basically took Lexi out of the game and said "Try to beat us, freshmen." In most situations, they didn't even really guard Eliza Pierre, known more for her defense than her offense.
Here are some photos from the first half:
Bee Tee Dublin, part of the way through the first half, the Stanford band all of a sudden arrived. They played a song and then while gameplay was occuring, the drum major was blowing on his whistle. The public address announcer had to make an announcement for the drum major to please stop blowing his whistle during game play. What shmucks!
Edit @ 7:09 PM - CGB has been informed that there is a strong possibility that the whistle was produced by a Cal fan near the Stanford band. The whistle was blown during Stanford's offensive possessions. If it was a Cal fan attempting to distract a Stanford shooter they were pretty dumb - they run the risk of Cal defenders quitting on a play because they think play was stopped by a whistle.
Here is Coach Boyle in her Quads Of Steel stance. She should do a work out video. "And squat! And squat! And yell at the refs! And yell at the refs!"
Here are two videos of first half action:
Bee Tee Dubz, the Cal player there is DeNesha Stallworth. A talented young freshmen with an emphasis on the word young. SHE IS 17! 17! She was born in 1992! I remember 1992. I was managing the Clinton campaign during the day and partying with Kurt Cobain at night. Near November, I invented the goatee.
Also, she doesn't even LOOK 17! She looks like she is missing out on a slumber party to attend the game! I feel like she needs her parents to sign a permission slip to play!
But she is good and I think will help Cal out for years to come.
Sometimes trying to get great shots at that close range led to disastrously sudden motion. Most of the time it came out really blurry, but sometimes it was cool.
NCN: This was about as much space as Lexi would ever get all game long. Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (#21) is probably Stanford's best on-the-ball defender and she did her job well. Lexi would finish with 15 points, but she needed 13 shots to get there and she never had the space on offense to operate comfortably.
NCN: Here's Natasha attempting to execute Cal's defensive pressure strategy. Cal's defense actually did an excellent job in the first half. Stanford shot 40% from the field, didn't make a 3 and turned the ball over 7 times. When Stanford did score they had to work hard for it. Unfortunately, Stanford's defense was even better and Cal missed a few makeable shots. When Stanford stretched their lead to start the 2nd half Cal was forced to play an aggressive full court press to try to force turnovers. Stanford broke the press a number of times for easy baskets and only turned the ball over 3 times. Stanford's ball handling prevented any chance for a Cal comeback.
NCN: This picture captured the problem Cal faced against Stanford. Lexi had position. Talia Caldwell was right there. But a tall, athletic All-American out-jumped both of them for the rebound. It was frustrating to watch because I'm so used to seeing Cal dominate the rebounding battle, but even without Appel Stanford wasn't going to be denied on the glass.
Going into halftime, we were only down 7.
During halftime, I went over to see CalNet, PaleoDan, and BearBallCarrier. They didn't even realize that Jayne Appel was not playing (perhaps because unlike us they were not sitting directly across from her). When I mentioned that, PaleoDan suggested that that was perhaps that reason Cal was only down by 7. Cynical pessimists us Cal fans are!
Before that, however, Jahvid Best was honored in a brief halftime ceremony with Running Backs Coach Ron Gould and Sandy "AWESOME" Barbour.
NCN: This shirt doesn't do his physique justice! My wife was disappointed that Jahvid was wearing a loose fitting long sleeved shirt. You gotta show off the guns, Jahvid!
What is interesting is that Best, for all of his amazing accolades and for his whole "Holding The Single Game Rushing Record in 2+ quarters action against UW in 2008" only has like 2,200 yards in his Cal career. So many injuries. JJ Arrington had just a few hundred yards fewer in 2004 alone! Interesting career Best had.
Then, we had a CDT performance with those maddeningly happy Cheer SF people:
Are the CheerSF people former Cal students or just cheerleaders who want to keep living the dream? They really get into all the "Go Bears!" chants and show more energy than a lot of the fans. Most of the fans get most hyped when a free t-shirt might be coming their way.
Bee Tee Dubble Bubble Toil and Trouble, the halftime entertainment was not, in fact, elementary school basketball. It was elementary school martial arts. Heyo!
NCN: You'll all be happy to note that the kids all (rather angrily) removed and tossed aside their red unis in favor of Cal shirts. Sadly, the martial arts mojo would not help the women on the court.
Here is some second half action.
NCN: With Stanford running their offense right in front of us in the second half I got a painfully good view of Ogwumike going to work. Without Appel, Stanford ran most of their offense through her and she responded with 22 points on 10-15 shooting and 14 rebounds. She scored with a variety of post moves, hit a few easy looking mid-range jumpers, and even made a few sweet backdoor passes to Kayla Pedersen. She's as close to unguardable as you can get.
Cal had been holding Stanford fairly close. We got within 5 at one point. Then, Tara took the jacket off and SHIT GOT SERIOUS.
Then, Stanford took off and Cal never really got back into the thing. I tried to do my part. We started heckling the refs. At one point, one of the refs made a call we disagreed with, so we started screaming about it. Another ref sorta did the half turn at us, so I yelled "I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME!" That ref turned around and yelled "Well, *I* can hear you." I wanted to yell "VETO! VETO! VETO!" but I didn't want to antagonize the refs further, hoping to not alienate them.
Then, Stanford had a D set up that put the Stanford player with the last name "Tinkle" right in front of us. So, I started yelling "YOU MUST HAVE HAD AN EMOTIONALLY DISASTROUS JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL EXPERIENCE" and "YOUR LAST NAME AMUSES ME." Her hair was really beaten up from all the athletic action, so I was going "YOU NEED BETTER HAIR CARE PRODUCTS! GARNIER FRUCTIS! GARNIER FRUCTIS! STRENGTH AND LENGTHEN! STRENGTH AND LENGTHEN!" I'm not sure she heard me, but I tried to do my part.
NCN: All of the players actually seemed completely unaware of crowd noise. Lexi at one point didn't hear the band and rally comm counting down the shot clock and didn't get a shot off. Tinkle never acknowledged Twist's comments verbally or with her body language. Maybe it would have worked eventually, but mild-mannered aee07 wisely couldn't handle being embarrassed by Twist and/or had sympathy and quickly nixed the Tinkle jokes.
Not even a Tree-Oski Dance Off could help Cal:
Some more second half action:
Then, guess who came to sit with us!
Unfortunately, the Oski power was not enough to propel Cal back into this one.
In the end, Cal was not match for the Appel-less Stanford. I fear to know what it would have been if Appel had played. We certainly would have gotten even *fewer* boards, which is difficult to fathom. Although Stanford might not have scored more points, Cal probably would have scored less.
NCN: The saddest and/or nicest moment of the game was when Coach Boyle took Lexi and Natasha out of the game with about 15 seconds left. The crowd stood for a stirring standing ovation as Lexi and Natasha hugged coaches and teammates. After all of the good times it seemed wrong that the final moment in Berkeley for the seniors was a loss that essentially ended their at-large chances for an NCAA berth. Savor the home finale the Men's team enjoyed, Cal fans. Fairy tale endings like that rarely actually happen.
It was sad that that was their last moments at home. The men's seniors celebrate their last moments at Haas with a thrilling once in a lifetime victory! The women's seniors celebrate with a shellacking by a Stanford team missing their best player. Is there no justice?
If you needed another reason to hate Stanford, you needn't look much further than the tail end of this game. With 10 seconds left and Stanford easily up, they could have just held the ball. Instead, Stanford drove against a Cal team expecting conservative play for an easy bucket. That was a dick move. Just trying to upstage Cal.
Bee Tee Dubloons, the two bands were playing at the same time right after the game ended. The Cal band was playing "Hail To California." The Stanford band was playing "All Right Now." I was several feet away from the Cal band. I was many, many feet away from the Stanford band. Try to figure out which one I could hear: