espnW: 2012 NCAA Tournament
Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins gets some rest and stays hydrated in Denver the night before the national championship game. She also gives a shout out to the fans as the Fighting Irish prepare to make history.
What a whirlwind of a week! On Sunday, we beat our fellow nerds of Duke to secure our fifth consecutive trip to the Final Four. It was such a fun, competitive game. I think the most exciting part was when time ran out on the clock. The game was ours. There is no better feeling than looking at your teammates and seeing that spark or twinkle in their eyes -- unbridled happiness. The nets were ours forever. Even though it was the regional game, every moment counts. Shout out to all our roadies that packed the Save Mart Center! I think ya'll inspired me.There is something different about this Stanford team.
I think we caught a groove.
There is an undeniable rhythm flowing within Nerd Nation, just in time for the Big Dance, so let's move!
... This is for you ;)
If none of y'all know, my name is Chiney.
It's "Chin" plus "A" and I love to say "Heyyyy!"
Now that we've got my name in the clear, I want to tell you about my favorite nerds of the year.
We are the Stanford girls from the California Farm, playing tough and together, we mean no harm.
Beat Hampton, West Virginia, and Staley's SC, survived and advanced in the NCAA tourney.
Versus Duke the clock ticked. Three. Two. One.
81-69 the Cardinal had won!
Can't believe it's our fifth straight Final Four, with opportunity so close knocking at the door.
Here we go, off to Denver, we don't need snow because the hardwood heat is all we know.
No more celebrations or yesterday's cheers, "Because we've still got work to do!" said Coach VanDerveer.
This challenge is one we love to embrace, as Mile High dreams take over our face.
Even though we have a "tall" task ahead, it’s the journey we all share.
Women's hoops that we spread.
The world will see three amazing games,
And, honestly, my life will never be the same.
Stanford, a nerdalicious team in the Final Four...
Guess what, though? We want so much more!
And then we hit our Dougie ...
The Elite Eight is where our journey has ended in 2011-12. We were so close, yet so far away. It is the second straight year Duke lost in the Elite Eight. As far as the game goes, we allowed too many points and missed too many paint shots. Credit Stanford for altering a lot of our shots and being aggressive offensively; however, the problem starts within.
Duke women's basketball has faced so many adversities this year; nonetheless, it made our team stronger than ever. Here's a big shout out to our seniors, Shay Selby and Kathleen Scheer. They have gone through so much during their four years at Duke, and I am happy that I was able to be with them for two great years. They brought so much leadership and joy to this team, too much to even explain. Shay and Leener (Kathleen) will definitely be missed.
We are obviously disappointed we will not be participating in the NCAA Final Four. However, we are happy with each other. This team was attached at the hip and will always have that camaraderie.
Individually, it is now time for a little break, mentally and physically. I will finish out the school year making sure my academics are in order, while enjoying some time with my teammates.
Good luck to the teams in the Final Four in Denver.
Chiney Ogwumike checks in before Stanford's Elite Eight clash against Duke, talking about her sister's leadership and her game-action bumps and bruises ... or what she calls "the warrior factor."
On Saturday night, we came to play. We started off really rocky against St. John's and cannot do that again. However, we punched back and kept punching. We refused to lose. We got solid play from the whole team and everyone brought energy.
It was great to be back playing in my home state of California. As we were going through warm-ups, it was nice to see so many friends and family arriving at the game. But once the game started, I was focused on beating St. John's. It was also good to talk with many family and friends at the hotel following the game.
The Sweet 16 is done and now it is time for the Elite Eight! We are so excited and feel blessed for this opportunity. However, Duke has not been to the Final Four since 2006 and it is now time to take that next step. It would be a great way for our two seniors, Shay Selby and Kathleen Scheer, to close out their careers.
Practice today was good. We went over things we need to do to get better and be productive in the next game. Time to leave it all on the court!
Let's Go Duke!
Although this season ended far sooner than I ever wanted, the NCAA tournament was a journey that I am extremely glad our team was able to take part in. The state of Arkansas showed us nothing but hospitality and treated our team so well. Little Rock is rich in history, which was fun to explore with such a close-knit team.
The tournament was unlike anything this team has ever been a part of, and the national exposure is something we have been working toward all season. Our team has made history all season long, and we know we've only just begun. This loss has been extremely motivating, and I am already looking forward to next year. You haven't seen the last of us yet!
Duke is headed to the Sweet 16! It was a great game for Duke last night. We came out with the mindset that we were going to make a statement. We showed that we are able to adapt to adversity any time, any place, anywhere. The adversities included the fact that the arena in Nashville was about 90 degrees, and we were on Vanderbilt's home floor.
We got big games from Haley Peters and Tricia Liston as they were steady the entire game with their attacking mind-set. Shay Selby played her heart out and left everything on the floor while taking on the leadership role for much of that game. Elizabeth Williams did a good job of adjusting to their post presence and being a force in the paint. Everyone from the bench provided much-needed energy. The only way I was able to make certain plays was because of my teammates moving well without the ball, making my job a lot easier. We are on to the next.
I’m coming home! We are going to the great state of California. Although Fresno is not exactly down the street, however, it is close enough to where many family and friends will be in attendance. Excitement is an understatement. I have been exposed to In-N-Out Burger throughout my life because I’m a California native, however, my teammates are beyond excited to get to eat one of the most amazing burgers known to man. My order: cheeseburger with no tomatoes, a little mayo and ketchup, with fries.
Even though I am excited to be heading home, this is another “business” trip for Duke women’s basketball. The fact that my family and friends will be in the stands is just a bonus. Fresno, California, here we come!
Sweet victory! Stanford women's basketball advances to the Sweet 16! The win against West Virginia meant so much to us, not only because we want to advance in the NCAA tournament, but also because we desperately wanted to play back in Fresno.
Our team had to travel 3,000 miles, coast to coast, for the first round. Advancing to the Sweet 16 would allow our fans to make the trip to Fresno. Our fans are so unique. I think what differentiates Stanford women's basketball fans is their ability to have a personal stake in our lives. They all care for us, on and off the court, celebrating our hardwood successes, but also valuing who we are as individuals.
These are the people who understand my free-throw process. These are the people who wear tie-dye for Toni just for the heck of it. These are the people who have fallen in love with women's basketball and literally come to help us defend Maples Pavilion! We love y'all!
Nonetheless, West Virginia was a very talented team and a tough match-up. They had a great season. It was nice seeing "Ya-Ya" Dunning doing her thing. Nneka and I knew her from previous summers of AAU and basketball camps. One of the perks of traveling and playing in the NCAA tournament is it allows us to play different teams and see old friends. I can't tell you how many friendships and opportunities are built through the game. Even though we go at each others' throats during those 40 minutes, we still are all students of the game off the court.
This notion spreads even to the men's side. Check Twitter after a big game. Athletes across the country support each other, from pulling for their conference teams to win, to shouting out great plays from past friends and teammates. That's how our love for basketball becomes contagious.
We return to practice this week back in Nerd City. By the end of the week, our team should be done with its academic work. All of our efforts can be channeled to the Madness! It's time to patch up wounds and recharge.
Ding! Ding! Ding! It's Round 3 and we will be ready!
Catch ya later,
Yesterday was finally game day, which overall was a fun and exciting day. The nerves were high since this was our first time in the NCAA tournament, but Coach Martin helped lighten the mood by doing her little duck scene at the hotel.
We’re staying at the Peabody, which is known for twice-daily shows in which the Peabody ducks march from the hotel elevator to a red carpet and into the duck pond in the lobby. Coach Martin led the ducks after practice in front of a crowd of hotel guests and Blue Hens fans. It was a lot of fun.
Game time came, and I think we played really well together against Arkansas-Little Rock. We played as a team and played good defense, which is why we were so successful.
I met my great uncle who lives in Arkansas for the first time before the game. It was a crazy experience to see and meet him for the first time, especially since he looked a lot like my grandfather who passed away a few years ago. It meant a lot to have extra family in the stands, not just my parents, brother, and sister-in-law, but my Arkansas family as well.
Today, we were able to get a little bit of down time before heading off to practice. The team was really focused during practice this morning. We went light today and went through some plays in preparation for tomorrow. We focused a lot on what Kansas does and tried to figure out a game plan for tomorrow, so hopefully we can execute it to the best of our abilities. I definitely think the team is focused and ready to go for tomorrow.
After practice, we had the opportunity to visit Little Rock Central High School, which is where our country implemented integration for the first time during the civil rights movement. It was a fun thing to see. Basketball brings you to a lot of places, and it’s nice to visit places like that when you're away on these trips.
As always, "eyes forward," and we can't wait to take on our next challenge vs. Kansas tomorrow!