Shantrell Sneed's NCAA Tournament Blog
March 23, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. - I definitely wanted to stay ready on the bench because I felt like I could be going in at any time. In the second half as soon as they called my name and then when I was at the table, I was so excited. I was feeling a lot of mixed emotions. I was nervous but ready to go in. Then a bunch of fans started cheering for me and calling my name. It was a great feeling to get in there and play, especially when I scored my first two points in an NCAA Tournament game. Thank goodness I didn't miss my shot on the fast break! Coach Boyle had already told us that she wanted us to use time off the clock. I was glad L.G. (Lauren Greif) threw it to me because she could have easily just pulled it out and walked it up the court. She gave it to me, and I think I picked up on my dribble kind of early. Then I took the two longest strides of my life to get to the basket, and I was just hoping I didn't miss.
While I was taking the ball down the court, I was thinking, this could be my first points in the NCAA Tournament. I definitely wanted to make that after I missed my first attempt at a lay-up earlier in the game. And my Granny was there to see it! It means the world to me to have her at every single home game. For her to be able to witness my first playing time in an NCAA Tournament game, that made it even more special.
It's always a good thing when you can play these tough games and post-season games in your own backyard. Not only do we have our own Cal fans cheering for us, we also have Stanford fans cheering for us as well. It's definitely a nice thing for us to have a great group of fans here to support us and see us play. This is my first time playing in the post-season on the West Coast, and I think the best thing about playing here instead of on the East Coast is obviously the fan support we have. We have a limited amount of fans that are able to travel with us when we do travel to the East Coast. But just the fact that we got to stay home means that not only do we have our fans, but we also have other people cheering for us. I feel like that's really helped us out.
I felt like we didn't take San Diego lightly at all. In the men's tournament, there have been a lot of upsets and our assistant coach, Charmin, gave us a pre-game pep talk to remind us of that, which was similar to the one the UConn coach gave his players before a game. He gave them a quote along the lines of, 'We do not want them to get a step. We do not want them to think we are two equal teams, whether that may be true or not.' That's the type of mindset that he instilled in his team before the game and I feel like we came like that out on the attacking end. We wanted to make history yesterday, and we did. We kept our goals in mind, and here we are on our way to the second round.
Today, we're getting ready for George Washington. We want to stay consistent. Yesterday, we played great, and it was obviously a great confidence boost for us. We know that we need to take care of the ball against their 'blizzard defense.' I feel like if we just stay composed and especially if Rama [N'diaye] is out, if everyone does a little bit more, whatever their role may be, I think we'll be ok.
I definitely feel like this is the most close-knit group that we've had in the three years I've been here. That's not to say that our other years haven't been close in previous years, I just feel this is a more close-knit, intimate group. In the beginning of the year, during the preseason, we made a list of goals as a team. We said that we wanted to make it to the Sweet 16. But again, this is a 64-team tournament, and there are no weak teams in the tournament. We're not going to overlook George Washington. In the back of our heads, we do know that we're playing for the chance to advance to the Sweet 16. So the Sweet 16 is our motivation to get past George Washington tomorrow.
The greatest part about the tournament experience this year is just my teammates. Honestly, the fact that we're playing in our backyard and having our fans being able to watch us play in the postseason, it makes for an incredible atmosphere. It's just a whole different atmosphere going from the regular season to postseason. We have the potential to do great things. We want to make history. Like I said, we made it yesterday and we want to make history tomorrow.