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.
While we were finishing up questions with the ESP people, a women's basketball Chalk Talk started. Apparently before every game, an assistant coach (here Charmin Smith) discusses the game. I did not really hear what she was saying. NorCalNick was able to hear some of it, because they were broadcasting the speech into the Pavilion apparently.
NCN: I actually was listening from the balcony above the seating area, which was nice because members of the Cal men's team were wandering around and preparing to kick Stanford butt. I totally wanted to tell Jorge how awesome he was but I'm shy and he looked like he had already put his game face on. As for Cal's strategy, as described by Coach Smith? Everything the Bears wanted to do on defense was to keep the ball out of the hands of Ogwumike and Appel, and if the do get the ball, make sure it's as far away from the basket as possible. Lots of responsibility was going to be in the hands of DeNesha Stallworth, Talia Caldwell and Gennifer Brandon
They had the T-Shirt auction going on:
Not a whole lot of action at that point. We went back in to the ESP presentation to grab more FREE FOOD (!!!!!!!!!!!) and look at some more stuff on the wall. When we came back out, the assistant coach has left and there was a different woman asking questions:
I never quite caught this woman's name. However, she did make vague mention that she had previously worked at the Chronicle, writing a weekly recap. Apparently, she no longer does.
NCN: Based on Twist's description and the photos he took, it appears to be Michelle C. Smith (official website) who covered women's basketball (mostly Stanford) for quite a long time. Here is her farewell column from the Chronicle.
They were having the most angry Q+A I've ever heard in my life! Somebody was asking about Brittney Griner and the negative publicity. Asking about how it seems people only care about women's basketball when something negative like that has occurred. The former Chronicle employee seemed very angry about this. She was basically saying that she never felt that the "mainstream" fan was ever going to come to women's basketball. That she felt that the WNBA's slogan of "Basketball Is Basketball" was off.
She recounted several sports radio horror stories involving KNBR. The first was about Gary Radonich asking his listeners what women's sports they'd be willing to watch. The former Chronicle employee was frustrated by the members of "neanderthal nation" and "jocks" who called in to disparage women's sports. The other was a line Ralph Barbieri had said about one of her columns being on the front page of the Chron's sports section. He said "With content like this, no wonder the Chronicle is going under." People audibly gasped at that line.
The former Chronicle employee mentioned that the Chronicle no longer travels to the away games with the men's team, so that actually helps the women's coverage somewhat. Somewhat. There was an extensive discussion of women's basketball in a sort of existential sense. Should it try to get that mainstream fan? Should it just keep on doing what it is doing and attract the diehards?
After this was over, Yes We Cannon and myself headed out to meet up with NorCalNick and AEE07. When we got up to the Court, the Cal team was warming up in the T-Shirts they had made for the T-Shirt auction.
NCN: You can see me and aee07 somewhere in the background of the picture above! It's like the most boring version of Where's Waldo ever! We only had to show up about 90 minutes before tip off to grab them, but since it indirectly led to us getting court side seats, it was 100% worth it!
NorCalNick and AEE07 had gotten seats on the far side of the Court, so we walked on over. Right behind the Cal bench. Great seats! The women's team was doing some stretching:
The Cal team left the floor and the Stanford team came on. Of course, I initially didn't realize it was the Stanford team by the voluminous cheers! The crowd, especially early on, was PACKED with Stanford folks. More on that later.
The Cal team came back out to warm up more:
Then. It happened. The most amazing woman who had been the athletics person providing the presentation in the morning's ESP pitch came over to us. She asked if we wanted to move to the Courtside area. Although there were 4 of us, she sad she only had 3 tickets. However, she felt that the 4th seat was open, so it wouldn't be a worry. And if anybody asked, just to say she had moved us. OK! So, we moved on over!
Initially, the security guard didn't want to let Yes We Cannon (the ostensible 4th person) to sit down. We dropped the name of the Athletics employee and that seemed to mollify the guard even though he had never heard of her. That amused me. In the future, I'll just use random names. "Oh ya, Jill Smith from Athletics said it was OK." "Reginald Sasparilla from Athletics said it was OK." And, of course, "Penis Vaginersson from Athletics said it was OK." See if that one works. The security guard said that if the correct owner of the seat came then we'd have to move. Eventually, the real owner (who also attended the ESP presentation, IIRC) showed up and Yes We Cannon left to sit with other friends. She left at halftime, so he came back.
But man, there we were. Mere feet away from the Cal team doing further warm ups. We were so close that at one point an errant basketball nearly hit us. Vital found that amusing. Anything to help out the team!
We also happened to be sitting right in front of the Jayne Appel Fan Club! No joke. She is from Pleasant Hill, which is about 20-25 minutes away from Berkeley. They had shirts that said "Jayne's Addiction" on the front and "unstoAppelable" on the back. They also all had photos of Jayne's face. CREEPY!
It would have been a lot better for them if Jayne was actually, yknow, playing. But she was injured. In street clothes. With a boot on her foot.
That last photo is from the introduction of Stanford seniors. I felt that it was very classy. A Cal player would provide roses to the Seniors. Then, they introduced the Cal Seniors.
The fans were excited:
Then, they announced the Stanford team, including this player who made my elementary school self (i.e. my entire self) explode.
Then, THE CAL TEAM!
And then, TIP-OFF!
Up next, some game action photos in this intense, but, unfortunately, one-sided match up. Keep your eyes locked here for more women's basketball photo essay. GO BEARS!