Rout Week Continues
If today is Saturday, this must be Washington State. Washington was pulverized on Thursday. This was a different pulverization; it generated a different color of pulverized dust – purple on Thursday, crimson today. Therefore it was most certainly the Washington State Cougars that spent a couple of futile hours at Maples Pavilion on Saturday trying not to lose too badly to a Cardinal team that seems to have hit some sort of sweet spot in their performance level. Stanford was relatively woeful against the Cougars on Saturday compared to the Huskies on Thursday, however. This time the Card only won by 49, barely broke 100, and the reserves did not outscore the entire opposing team. On top of that, Stanford only hit 47.8% of their three-point shots. Oh, the indignity! Where were the records? Where was the look on the opposing coach's face like she just spent two sleepless nights in a rowboat on choppy seas? We want our money back. What, so we have a press pass? Then we want a deviled egg and some shoelaces. We want something. We have big expectations. Part II of Stanford's Blowout Bonanza Weekend wasn't quite the instantaneous knockout that stunned Washington two days earlier. Facing a scrappier and more aggressive opponent, Stanford did jump out to a quick 9-0 lead, but the Cougars fought back to cut the lead to 13-10 before the Card increased the intensity and stepped on the accelerator. Then it was, as they used to say back in the days of CB radio: "We gone. Bye bye." The final score was 102-53. Junior C Jayne Appel made the most of her limited minutes by getting out in transition and outrunning the defense to catch long bombs from RS junior G Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (2-3 three-pointers, 6 assists, 5 steals). Appel scored 16 points in 18 minutes on 8-9 shooting, and if Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh's big recruiting weekend doesn't turn out as planned, Appel would probably make an excellent tight end. Through the first 4 Pac-10 games she is shooting 77.4%. That's a lot of percent. Sophomore G Jeanette Pohlen (18 points, 4 assists and 2 steals) was locked in from three-point range and swished 4 out of 5 treys. Pohlen's efforts over this home stand lifted her three-point shooting percentage to over 40% for the season. That too is a lot of percent. RS sophomore F Michelle Harrison led the bench contingent, which did come close to outscoring the Cougars (Stanford bench 49, Washington State team 53), with a career-high 16 points. Freshman C Sarah Boothe took her cue from Appel, ran the floor well, and contributed 13 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. More good play from the reserves came from freshman F Nneka Ogwumike, who chipped in 8 points and a team-high 10 boards, classmate G Lindy La Rocque (5 assists), who ran the point for much of the last quarter of the game, and sophomore G Hannah Donaghe, who tallied 8 points including 2 three-pointers in 3 attempts. "In both the Washington and Washington State games, I was really pleased with how people finished out," commented Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer, who was also very pleased with the progress of Gold-Onwude at the point guard position. "I was really pleased with how Ros got the ball inside to Jayne in this game. That's the first time I've really seen that. I think she just figured out that Jayne was on our team. We had a lot of really good bench play. Our starters were being aggressive. I thought it was a great weekend." It was not a great weekend for Cougar Head Coach June Daugherty, who said, "Obviously they're as good as advertised. Stanford is playing at a very, very high level for this early into the Pac-10 season. There was a reason they were in the national championship game last year. They're getting after it. For us it was obviously a different game. We felt like we lost our poise a little bit, much due to Stanford's great execution on offense and their ability to defend the way they did." Aside from the obviously increased aggression and focus of the entire team, the talk of the weekend for Stanford was the sterling play of the bench, which thoroughly outplayed both opponents. Said VanDerveer of her reserves, "I think they're huge because I saw when we went back and played Duke and Tennessee that we need more contributions from some big bodies. Sarah came in against Duke but I didn't give her a good matchup, so I didn't have confidence to play her early. And she came in against Tennessee and got 2 quick fouls. Sarah's a freshman and Michelle hasn't played in over a year. It's just going to take time for me to have confidence, but we need them to play well. We count on our starting 6, so to speak, and Sarah can help us, Mel (Murphy) has helped us – obviously she was out this weekend. Michelle made some really nice plays, rebounded, hit some big shots. I really like the development of Sarah, Michelle, and Lindy coming in and playing point, which gives Ros a break. Our bench was huge for us and it will be fun to see them develop this way throughout the year." Murphy has sprains in the toes of both feet but it is hoped she will be able to return this week. If it is fun for a coach to see the bench thrive, it may be even more fun for a teammate. "It's a blast when you get to see everyone get in and play," said Jayne Appel. "That's what everyone works so hard for in practice." Added Jeanette Pohlen, "When we come out and they go in it's fun for us to watch them do well. It shows that we don't drop off, that we can keep playing, and what we are capable of after the starting 5 come out." Pohlen filled that role off the bench last season and knows first hand how it feels to try and make your mark in limited minutes. Offered Pohlen, "I know last year I just tried to come in and do the little things and try not to make as many mistakes so that could give the coaches confidence to play me whenever they needed me. This year, coming out (of the game) and being able to cheer on those players who I was part of last year is kind of nice, just knowing what they're going through." "You can only get better the more you play in games," added Pohlen. "It's totally different than a practice situation in a game. You can only really experience a game-like situation when you're playing in games. It's fun to watch our players, the whole team in general, come out and play well." Now attention shifts to a game that should be much more difficult in a much less friendly environment. Stanford travels to Cal next Sunday. Were these two extraordinarily easy wins good preparation for an away game against Stanford's biggest rival and chief competition for the conference crown? Appel thinks so: "I think it helps us tremendously. It makes us excited and wanting to come out and play and have fun with the ball. I don't want to say it relaxes us but it allows us just to come out and play for each other." "I think it will be a tough matchup," continued Appel. "We've always had good games with them in the past. We know both teams are on a roll right now and I think it will be a really good game. I'm not going to add any fuel to the fire for them. I'm sure they're coming out ready for us. It will be an exciting game." Stanford and Cal have faced five common opponents: Rutgers on the same weekend in November and four Pac-10 foes (Arizona, Arizona State, Washington, and Washington State). Both Stanford and Cal won all five of those games. If we look at the scores an interesting trend emerges. In all but one game, the Arizona game, which Stanford won by 9 but which Cal won by 10, the Cardinal have had a larger margin of victory than the Bears have had. Cal averaged 61.2 points scored and 46 points allowed, which computes to an average margin of victory of 15.2 points. Stanford scored an average of 85.8 points while giving up an average of 51.4 points for an average margin of victory of 34.4. So the Cardinal won games against common opponents by an average of almost 20 points more than the Bears did. Do these Stanford-friendly numbers mean anything in an individual matchup against the Golden Bears? Not necessarily, of course, because you know what they say about statistics, but they are instructive. You be the judge. For Don Anderson's photo gallery and slideshow from this game, click HERE.
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