Posts Tagged ‘women’s basketball’

How Stanford is Redefining Cool

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The $2.8 billion tank top? High-grossing Avatar brought Stanford's "cool cachet" to the silver screen.

Stanford has pretty impressive street cred.

I started to catch on to this when I watched Avatar for the first time.  James Cameron’s carefully-crafted CGI masterpiece may be one of the most meticulously constructed cinematic works of our generation.  Which is why I was so surprised to encounter a truly glaring instance of product placement: Sigourney Weaver‘s avatar wears a bright red Stanford tank top.

It’s easy to write this off as clever marketing (though the University was in no way involved) or simply an homage to Weaver’s alma mater.  But it’s not actually that simple.  Stanford has unquestionable purchasing power: not just as a highly-valued institution, but as a cultural symbol of an almost paradoxical confluence of brainpower and, well, coolness.

In this instance, Stanford is identified with the environmentally-conscious “good scientist,” with a confident and powerful female protagonist who is literally trying to save her world.  To those familiar with the Farm today, these are certainly resonant themes on campus which validate our claim to  “coolness.”

But Avatar is only the tip of the iceberg….  (Get it?  James Cameron directed Titanic….)

The Ubiquitous Stanford T-Shirt:

Just like Weezer, we're doin' things our own way and never giving up.

Primed by the Avatar incident, suddenly I was seeing Stanford T-shirts everywhere.  This is almost no surprise, as few universities have a T-shirt design as consistent and uniquely identifiable as ours.  But the numbers are staggering: there are 828,000 Google hits for “Stanford T-shirt” and only 269,000 for Harvard and 694,000 for Princeton.  Google doesn’t lie.

The cultural icon: The Blues Brothers shows how the Stanford T-shirt's cool power spans generations.

The unifying theme I noticed was the context in which the shirts appeared: Stanford T-shirt wearers are cool.  In the case of Sigourney Weaver, it’s a badass scientist working with state-of-the-art technology to revolutionize the way we interact with the world.  In The Blues Brothers, Mr. Stanford Shirt and his fellow concert attendees are, by and large, a bunch of young, fun-loving twenty-somethings rocking out for charity.  (Dance Marathon, anyone?)  The presence of the Stanford T-shirt in Weezer’s “Troublemaker” music video is yet another perfect distillation of Stanford’s pop culture power.  In the video, Weezer and their fans seek to break numerous world records, pushing the boundaries of the possible and having a blast while doing it – a parallel to Stanford’s prominence as a research institution.  On a more obvious level, the lyrics of “Troublemaker” can be seen as an analogy to the Stanford entrepreneurial attitude.  As the bold West Coast foil to the traditionally-grounded Ivies, we are indeed “doin’ things [our] own way and never giving up.”  You’re right, Rivers Cuomo.  “There isn’t anybody else exactly quite like [Stanford].”

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Oh no, UConn’t!

Friday, December 31st, 2010

...and the crowd goes wild!!

Yesterday, December 30, 2010, #8 Stanford women’s basketball beat #1 UConn 71 to 59 without ever losing the lead.  In so doing, Stanford decisively ended the longest winning streak in major college basketball history.  You go, girls.

Stanford Cardinal 71, University of Connecticut Huskies 59, and what occurred here Thursday night just might be the best thing to happen to women’s basketball since it was decided girls no longer had to play in skirts.”
Let me break it down for you by the numbers.
  • 90 games.  The last time UConn lost was in 2008, when the Cardinal defeated them in the Final Four.
  • UConn star and two-time national player of the year Maya Moore was held to 14 points.  She averages 25 points a game.
  • Stanford has won 52 straight home games.
  • 998 days is longer than the United States spent as a combatant in World War I.  998 days is longer than the lifespan of a newt.  998 days ago, George W. Bush was still our president, and nobody had heard of avian or swine flu.  998 days is a long time ago.

Senior Pohlen goes in for the kill.

Stars of the game:

  • Jeanette Pohlen: our 6-foot, do-everything point guard “crack[ed] the game wide open with sheer grit and physical toughness” with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.  “I just had that mentality. I’m not giving up until that buzzer goes off,” said Pohlen, after hitting five 3-pointers. “I think our team was really looking for me to get my shot. We got the win, and our team played awesome.”
  • Kayla Pedersen: her 11 rebounds gave Stanford a 43-36 advantage on the boards.
  • Stanford freshman Chiney Ogwumike played only 19 minutes, but her tough defense was enough to throw UConn’s star Moore off her game.
We just didn’t play like ourselves. Give credit to Stanford. I think they played an unbelievably good game.”
–  Huskies Coach Geno Auriemma
Start your engines:
  • With impressive momentum like this, it’s up to the fans to keep up the vibe.  Breathless, senior Pohlen gushed, “I’ve never seen [Maples] this loud or crazy. Even our freshman year, the Tennessee game here, it was packed but nothing like this. It was amazing. Such a great atmosphere to play in.”
  • Perhaps more exciting is the potential of our program.  With Coach VanDerveer collecting her 800th win and younger players like Chiney Ogwumike already taking on difficult roles, Stanford women’s basketball is looking great.
  • So keep up the energy, sports fans.  With a season as promising as this, it would be hard not to get excited.