Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 22, 2013

A family affair for Tinkle

Stanford senior will watch her dad and maybe face her sister

by Rick Eymer

Joslyn Tinkle's NCAA experience actually started two days earlier than her teammates. She was sitting in the stands Thursday night when No. 13 seed Montana and No. 4 seed Syracuse battled in the second round of the men's NCAA tournament at San Jose's HP Pavilion.

Tinkle's own NCAA tournament journey, her final trip through March Madness as a Stanford women's basketball player, begins Sunday when the fourth-ranked and top-seeded Cardinal (31-2) meets visiting Tulsa (17-16) in the opening round of the women's tournament at Maples Pavilion at 2:20 p.m., to be televised on one of the many ESPN platforms.

"I have mixed emotions," Tinkle said. "This is it. There are only six possible games left."

Wayne Tinkle, Joslyn's father, coached the Grizzlies into the NCAA tournament for a school-record fourth straight year, with the team's fourth consecutive 20-win season.

Elle Tinkle, Josyln's younger sister, is also in the NCAA tournament as a freshman at Gonzaga. Josyln will be able to watch her sister's game as the 12th-seeded Lady Bullodgs play Saturday afternoon against No. 5 Iowa State.

There's even a chance Stanford and Gonzaga will play in the Sweet 16, in Spokane, if both teams keep winning.

"It's been a good year for the family, lots of basketball," Tinkle said. "It's exciting to share that with the family. We are each other's greatest supporters."

Entering play Thursday, the Tinkle basketball connection had racked up an impressive 83-13 record on the season, a winning percentage of .8645.

Tinkle hopes to enjoy her final run through the postseason, one that could lead to a sixth straight trip to the Final Four, which is being held in New Orleans.

Should the Cardinal make it as far as Bourbon Street, Tinkle will have added to the success. She is enjoying her best season yet in a Stanford uniform, averaging 11.8 points and 5.7 rebounds a game.

She already has surpassed last year's totals for minutes, points, 3-point goals, assists and blocked shots and is on pace for fewer turnovers. She was also named All-Pac-12 by both the coaches and media for the first time in her career, with the media voting her to the All-Pac-12 defensive team, as well.

Tinkle is averaging double figures in scoring for the first time but it is her defensive work that may be even more impressive. She's part of a unit that has made things very tough in the paint and she 61 blocked shots to show for it, more than the combined total (57) of her sophomore and junior years.

"She wears a bow, she's sweet and looks nice," Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike said. "But she is tough as nails. Her leadership is unspoken and she means so much for our team."

Tinkle suffered from strep throat during the Pac-12 Conference tournament, a combination of practicing hard and studying for finals. She took a couple days off because of the illness and now she's done with finals.

"Jos loves to play," Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said. "She's a warrior."

Ogwumike, named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year, is the heart and soul of the Cardinal and a reason, also with Mikaela Ruef, why the defense is so stingy.

Stanford ranks second in the nation, allowing opponents to shoot a mere 31.5 percent from the field, and in the top 20 with its 50.7 points allowed per game.

Ogwumike's offensive prowess is well-documented, averaging over 22 points and over 13 rebounds a game. She also has 60 blocked shots and 45 steals. She's also dramatically improved her free-throw percentage and reduced her fouls.

"This team has exceeded expectations every step of the way," VanDerveer said. "We've gotten great leadership, we've been able to stay healthy for the most part and a lot of people are contributing."

No one contributed more than sophomore point guard Amber Orrange, who took responsibility when UCLA shut down Ogwumike offensively in the tourney title game. Relying on instincts and bundles of natural ability, Orrange took the game to the Bruins, scoring the winning basket in the final seconds of a 51-49 victory.

"That game showed a lot about the character of this team," Tinkle said. "We were in a situation we weren't used to but we showed how much we wanted to win. Amber stepped up big-time and showed maturity taking over that game."

Ogwumike, in foul trouble early, and on the brink of exhaustion, never really got into a flow against UCLA, making just one of nine shots and not scoring at all after the first two minutes of the game as the Bruins put the clamps on her.

"I thought that was the most decisive game of the season," Ogwumike said. "It was a perfect game leading into the tournament. That game was won by the players who had the most desire to win. That was a huge game for us."

The winner of the Stanford-Tulsa game will meet the winner of Sunday's later game between No. 8 Michigan and No. 9 Villanova on Tuesday (6:30 p.m.), with a trip to Spokane and the Sweet 16 on the line.

Looming on the other side of the bracket is California, the No. 2 seed in the Spokane Regional. The Bears, who play Fresno State in the first round, will have to win twice in Lubbock, Texas to advance to Spokane.

If the seeding holds, there will be a Stanford-Cal showdown for a trip to New Orleans.

Since losing to Fresno State at home in the second round of the 2007 tournament, Stanford is 22-5 in the NCAA tournament, with all five losses at the hands of the eventual national champion. This time the Cardinal would like to be the last tree standing.

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