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Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Fired up for Fresno, bring on Round 3!

By Chiney Ogwumike

Stanford

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,
Chineyney