Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jayne and the Cardinal are in the house

Stanford's big girl brings her big game to the Constant Center on Friday, and no matter who you are rooting for, it's a treat to watch one of the game's elite up close. As well as the 6-4 Jayne Appel runs the floor, her hands set her apart. Her hook is almost automatic; her shot-blocking skills are unmatched; and she's got the kind of touch around the basket that makes her inside play look effortless. She shot 60 percent from the floor last season and became the school's all-time leading shot blocker. Remember that 46 she dropped on Iowa State in the NCAA tournament? And by the way, Stanford has been to the last two Final Fours.
A California girl (she's from Berkeley), Appel was recently honored as one of Glamour magazine's top 10 college women. She was the only athlete on the list.

After a harried travel day on Wednesday, Stanford practices at ODU on Thursday before opening the season against the Lady Monarchs on Friday. It's 7 p.m. at the Ted. Tickets are $5. Pack the house.

Until then, here's a few words from Jayne.

Rough trip, eh? "We boarded the bus at 6:30 this morning and our flight out of San Francisco left 10 minutes early. Halfway through we landed in Denver (mechanical problems) and something like 15 minutes later we caught another flight to Chicago. Imagine seeing all these women running through the airport in black sweatsuits."

Landing amid Norfolk's nor'easter was unpleasant, but the Cardinal was on the ground by 9 p.m.

Most folks don't know you're a Pi Phi. What's sorority life like? "I live in a house with 56 girls. We have a chef and a well-stocked kitchen. It's fun having 56 closets to choose from. It's a fun atmosphere coming back to the house and hanging out ."

A psychology major, Appel is due for an illustrious career in the WNBA. After basketball law school is a possibility. Her passion is mental health, stemming from a family member's struggle with it.: "I want to go into mental health advocacy. There's a need for it and there's such a lack of resources. If people see someone on the sidewalk having a heart attack, they'd call 911. If someone is having a mental breakdown on the sidewalk, they'd probably call 911, too, to get the police to put them in jail."
Changing mental health laws appeals to Appel, but so does working as a psychiatric nurse. "Most people don't want to throw themselves into a psych ward. That's something I know I can be comfortable with."

Whose autograph do you have?: "Lisa Leslie's. It's on my wall."

It seems cemented in stone on the eve of the season that UConn is No. 1 and Stanford is No. 2.: "A lot of people keep asking about the Dec. 23 game (UConn), but our schedule is just ridiculous. We're starting off at ODU and at Rutgers; we bring in Duke and DePaul and Tennessee; and then we've got Connecticut. We just have to stay focused on the every day.

Appel doesn't have a memory of the 1996 game when ODU defeated Stanford in Norfolk (which by the way, was one of two losses for the Cardinal that year. The other was to ODU in the national semifinals.): "We were challenged in the Virgin Islands (two years ago when Stanford won 69-61. There's a lot of tradition and history with both schools."

Virginia is old home to her, though this is her first trip to Norfolk: "My family is from Virginia; my mom has been out here all week. My grandparents live out here." (Mom, by the way, hails from Lynchburg.) When I was a kid, I always got to come out here for weddings."

Tara is always saying what?: "If there's a fire in the house, get off the porch and help."

Jayne was a three-year letterwinner in water polo in high school and she recently returned for tryouts. She says it's as physical as basketball. "You have to stay afloat. I went through three suits my senior year."

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