Stanford Beats Fresno State, Keeps Home Winning Steak Alive

Just a short blog tonight, as C and R have ot prepare for tomorrow’s road trip at …Santa Clara…a mile from R’s house. We are going to attempt to ride our bikes to The Leavey Center, although we heard it will be cold. That’s okay, we are making a pit stop at Mondo Burrito. That salsa should warm us up.

So how did the Stanford Women’s Basketball team do in their season and home opener against scrappy Fresno State? It’s funny, after the fact, and on paper, Stanford looks good. They won 72-61 yet struggled mightily in the first half against a team that is not in the top 25. Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer said she wanted to run and shoot the three. Well, Stanford can shoot the three alright, they shot 16 of them. I guess Tara needed to specify they had to make them, too. Stanford only made 1 of 16, for a 6% three point success rate. Ouch. Fresno State was 6-25, for 25% success rate, by comparison.

Chiney Ogwumike scored 23 points and grabbed 17 boards. She was phenomenal under the basket. That really is her strength, getting the ball and worming it back up to score points. The bad news is Stanford gave up 25 offensive rebounds. In one ridiculous play, Fresno State must have grabbed five, six rebounds in one possession. Granted they kept missing, but Stanford seemed allergic to the ball.
In the first half, Stanford shot a lot of three and missed a lot of threes, and did not rebound well. When Fresno’s 5-5 guard gets 10 rebounds, you know the other team was clearly out hustling Stanford. In the second half, Stanny worked it to Chiney down low, and although there were some bad passes and forced mistakes, when they did get it to her, Chiney did her best Nneka impression and would not give up until the ball went in. Chiney saw limited time in the two exhibition games, yet turned it up a notch tonight. And played the whole game.

Good to see. Toni Kokenis saw limited action this game as well, coming off an injury, and when she was inserted in the second half about the time the game was tied at 42 all, her two quick steals for lay ups opened up some breathing room for Stanford. Guard Amber Orrrrange made some nice drives and ended up with 14 points.

Defensively, Chiney had four blocks and Tinkle had three. The team had nine total, although it seemed like more. They were fun to watch, but not so fun to see Fresno State driving to the basket, setting crisp picks and hitting them hard and scoring. It wasn’t until Stanford switched out of their man-to-man to a zone that they were able to limit Fresno State’s scoring chances.

Jos Tinkle was also relentless around the offensive basket. She had some nice boards and put backs and ended up with 20 points and 8 rebounds. An article in the paper stated Stanford needs to see more from the “twins” of Chiney and Tinkle, and C and R want to be the first to coin the phrase “TinkleTwins” (copyright pending).

However, Stanford needs to be more than the Chiney and Tinkle show. Last year it was the Nneka and Chiney show, but Stanford needs some diversity. Fresno State just sat in 3-2 zone on defense, resting and waiting to steal and score a quick lay up or on a drive to the basket. They didn’t need to guard the three-point line, obviously, and could stack up Chiney. Other teams will follow that template if there is not more creative scoring from others. And don't even get C and R started on Stanford trying to break a press (Chiney dribbling...gets it stolen for a layup the other way...)

Stanford is still a work in progress. A couple of bench players made some brief appearances, but if you don’t’ show Tara something, or worse, show her some mistakes, it’s right back to the bench for you. Why does this matter? One more game tomorrow, then it’s off to Hawaii, and a date with number 1 Baylor.

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