Stanford, Day 1

Posted by David Cloninger on March 27, 2014 

North Carolina Tar Heels guard Diamond DeShields

LIZ CONDO — USA TODAY Sports

“California sun has sunk.”
------------------------------ RANCID

FREMONT, Ca. – Which if you didn’t know, is in that San Jose-Stanford-Palo Alto-San Francisco quadrangle. I arrived this evening while South Carolina arrived this morning – the Gamecocks did some sight-seeing in San Fran while my knees were rammed into my ears in an airplane seat.

Going to head out tomorrow to get familiar with the locations, like the arena at Stanford and the best ways to avoid rush-hour traffic. Might even sneak in a few interviews as well, although the team’s over in Santa Clara and if I go there I’m just going to park at the new 49ers stadium and re-enact all of my favorite Candlestick Park moments on the new turf.

Anyway, another week, another town, another game on the horizon. Gamecocks have a while to think about it. They’ll have done the least traveling of any team in this regional, but I’m sure that advantage gets outweighed by Stanford playing on its home court. Who knows – perhaps the Cardinal faithful will see similarities between their color and USC’s garnet and stick around to cheer for them against the Tar Heels on Sunday.

I got acclimated with nasty traffic on the 880, supper at the Big Bear Diner (any place serving breakfast 24-7 will always win this boy’s heart), unpacking into another cookie-cutter hotel room and buying more toothpaste. Those stalwart TSA members at SEATAC confiscated my other tube, apparently because it rang up as a weapon of mass destruction on their suitcase radar. One of these days I’m going to inject super glue into a tube and have it purposely be confiscated in the vain hope that an agent will take it and have to get their jaws pried open the next day.

Spent a lot of time today going back over the USC-UNC game on Dec. 18. So much has changed since. The Tar Heels weathered a bad stretch and are playing their best ball, while the Gamecocks have improved so much since then. That game was their first (and only) test of the non-conference season, and they weren’t sharp. Khadijah Sessions, playing in her hometown, was trying to do everything and then got hurt (I’ll talk about that much more this week). Alaina Coates didn’t score. Bigs Elem Ibiam and Aleighsa Welch kept the Gamecocks in the game but USC’s guards found it hard to operate. I’ll be anxious to see what kind of defense Dawn Staley cooks up for Diamond DeShields – I said it in Myrtle, and I’ll say it again, she is Downey-esque in how she scores the ball. Delino’s little girl is some kind of athlete.

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