by Paradise Freejahlove Supreme
It just so happened that I had it posted on my “Vision Board” that I intended to go see the Lady Bears, UC Berkeley’s women’s basketball team, play a game or two this season at Cal. And then, suddenly, presto! A new friend of mine offered me her ticket to go see the Bears play Stanford, because she wasn’t going to be able to attend. Gratefully, I accepted. That’s how “Vision Boards” work. They help you manifest your dreams with or without money.
I have a fondness in college and pro sports for the women’s brand of basketball, because they play the game like it used to be played, when the game was treated like a science. The women’s games tend to be more fundamentally sound because, unlike the men’s basketball games, the women rely less on their individual talents and more on passing and dribbling and taking good shots, team play and Xs and Os (strategy).
I know a little bit about the game of basketball myself because, if it’s true what they say that every person has three careers per lifetime, my first career was basketball! I ate, drank and slept it at Berkeley High School (Go Yellow Jackets!), Xavier University in New Orleans and for Club Almarante Brown – a professional basketball team that I played for in Argentina.
So I was looking forward to the Battle of the Bay – the “Big Game” – at 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 31, at Cal, between local arch rivals, Stanford, the uppity (from a hood point of view) White Collar private school from Palo Alto, versus Cal, the progressive Blue Collar public school in Berkeley. Two of the most prestigious universities on the planet.
At the time, Stanford was ranked No. 7 in the country! Number 7 out of a total of 350 women’s college basketball teams in the U.S.! Stanford’s record was 17-2 (they had won 17 games and lost only 2) and Cal’s was 13-6.
So it was going to be an uphill struggle for the underdog Lady Bears – like a little David going up against a giant Goliath. The Bears’ greatest hope was to ride the tide of their home court advantage, a raucus near capacity crowd of screaming fans delirious of an upset victory, at Hass Pavilion, which seats nearly 12,000!
The two teams started off evenly matched, trading baskets, both teams playing well. The first thing I noticed was the outstanding play of Kristine Anigwe (Ah-neeg-way), Cal’s center and, at 6’4” (my height), the tallest player on the court.
A lot of tall people are uncoordinated. But Kristine was graceful, skilled, disciplined and ran like a gazelle! She kept gobbling up rebounds, swiping the glass clean (like “windex”), of every missed shot, retrieving the ball for her team.
Plus she had a great shooting touch, reminding me of another tall, graceful, highly skilled player from Nigeria, the NBA Hall of Famer, Olympian and World Champion, the 6’11” Akeem “The Dream” Olajuwon (Oh-ly-ju-won).
The score was tied at halftime, 38-38. And Cal would eventually win the game at the buzzer, after being down 79-80 with only a few seconds left, when the smallest player on the floor, 5’4” Asha Thomas, made the biggest basket of the game – a running, jumping, fall away, lay up in heavy traffic, as time ran out! Giving the Cal Bears a thrilling, fairy-tale like ending for their happily homeward bound fans.
Kristine “The Dream” Anigwe would score 24 points and grab 25 rebounds! And when Cal went to play at Stanford that following Sunday, she would again score over 20 points and, like the eight-armed goddess, Kali, grab over 20 rebounds! For her herculean (She-Ra like) efforts she would be named Pac 12 (Pacific Coast) Player of the Week!
During that weekend and shortly thereafter, Kristine Anigwe would publicly thank her family, teammates and coaches for becoming the California Bears Women’s Team all-time leading scorer, all-time leading rebounder and all-time leading shot blocker. Winning honors as All American – one of the top players in the country – as well as Academic All American! Making her by far and away the greatest women’s basketball player of all time at UC Berkeley!
For the season, Kristine Anigwe is averaging 24 points a game and 16 rebounds, and is ranked seventh in the nation in scoring and No. 1 in rebounding in all of college basketball! To give you an idea of how super and talented an athlete she is, and incredible rebounder, NBA All Star, Draymond Green of the World Champion Golden State Warriors, averages only eight rebounds a game, and the women only play four 10-minute quarters, for a total of 40 minutes, while professional basketball games last for four 12-minute quarters, a total of 48 minutes a game! So, in less time, Kristine is averaging twice as many rebounds as Draymond Green! Ohhhh snap! Plus, she can dunk!
This is Kristine’s senior year. And she is a sure bet to be one of the top players drafted by the WBA (Woman’s Basketball Association) and have a sterling professional basketball career. But first she wants her team to do well during March Madness season, the catch-phrase name for the National College Playoffs, to see who will win the title as the best team in the country.
She’s off to a great start. On Sunday, March 3, Senior Kristine Anigwe scored 32 points with 30 rebounds for her 30th straight double-double, and California beat Washington State 80-58. Anigwe’s the first player in college women’s basketball with a 30-point, 30-rebound performance in more than 15 years.
The way I see it the Lady Bears have a fighting chance to wind up as one of the top teams in the country. To be able to rebound well, you have to be willing to sacrifice your comfort for the team. Rebounding is often called doing the dirty work, while scoring points is more glamorous!
And Kristine is a very unselfish, team orientated player. But for Cal to do well during March Madness, although she has a great supporting cast, Kristine has to be more selfish and shoot more – carrying the team on her back, so to speak. With her great shooting touch – especially at the free throw line – and rebounding ability, her taking more shots will give her team the best chance at winning!
Either way, I recommend that you attend and tune into Cal’s games during March Madness and witness a local living legend. For everything Kristine Anigwe will do on the basketball court this Women’s History Month will be making history … HER STORY.
Paradise is president of the International Black Writers & Artists. More of his work may be found at these websites: trueviberecords.com and greatblackpoets.wordpress.com.