Sept. 9, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - Cardinal Insider is a weekly notebook covering the scope and personalities of Stanford sports. It is compiled and posted each Wednesday on gostanford.com by assistant athletic communications director David Kiefer.
Stanford Swimmers `Finish the Job'
Four years after Hurricane Katrina leveled New Orleans, the Stanford men's swimming team returned to the city to "finish the job we started," coach Skip Kenney said.
The Cardinal opened its 2009-10 season with a dual meet against the University of New Orleans, marking the first time the Lakefront Aquatic Center had opened since it was badly damaged on Aug. 29, 2005.
The Lakefront Center was the final athletic facility on the UNO campus to re-open following the hurricane, and the men's program was reinstated last year. As the Privateers stepped onto the pool deck, the Stanford swimmers greeted them with a standing ovation.
Stanford, which arrived at the invitation of UNO coach Randy Horner, was seen as the ideal opponent for the event. In 2005, Stanford was in Louisiana for a previously-scheduled season opener, but ventured into the devastation to aid in relief efforts in the immediate weeks following Katrina.
"We helped little kids, we spent time with kids that couldn't find their parents," Kenney said. "Our swimmers knew about that history coming in. We're sort of connected with this area. People knew Stanford swimming has been here to help."
Stanford won the meet, 103.5-58.5, but Kenney was impressed with the competitiveness of a UNO program in only its second year back. In turn, New Orleans was impressed with Stanford.
"Just to have a home again, and just to have a team as great as Stanford come in, is just fantastic," Horner told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
"This is a way we felt we could contribute," Kenney said. "And I think our guys feel they have."
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CROSS COUNTRY: Shaving prohibited
If the Stanford men's cross country runners feel a bit slower this week, there may be a good reason why - wind resistance.
When they left for a 17-day retreat at Mammoth Lakes, Calif., the runners may as well have left their razors behind, vowing not to shave until a final fateful facial-hair shavedown when they break camp Thursday.
"I must admit, I've jumped on the bandwagon," Stanford coach Jason Dunn said. "I've got a goatee. I've never had that before."
Bowing to tradition, or to the "mountain man" persona of running on trails at 8,000 feet, the Cardinal has taken on a collective look of "scraggly."
And the chief scraggler is redshirt sophomore J.T. Sullivan, who hasn't shaved since the end of March.
"This goes back way farther than anyone can remember," Sullivan said. "It's about tradition and team bonding."
Fortunately, the women's team is not contributing to the cause, though "they're threatening to start," redshirt sophomore Jacob Riley said.
The Mammoth retreat has become a tradition as well. Training is on par with the rest of the season, 70-90 mile weeks, but the trip acts as a way to introduce the freshmen to the program and bring the team closer together, which is crucial for a team considered a national contender.
"We're going for No. 1," Riley said. "There's no question we can be at the top of the podium."
After all, there's nothing too hairy for the Cardinal to overcome.
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FOOTBALL: Awake at Wake Forest
Jim Harbaugh is so determined that his Stanford football team be mentally ready for Saturday's 9 a.m. PDT kickoff at Wake Forest that he is banning sleep during the cross-country flight.
It's all part of preparations to ensure that the Cardinal adjusts properly to the three-hour time difference and early start. A year ago, the team didn't adjust well to a 10 a.m. PDT kickoff at TCU and struggled early in a 31-14 loss.
This time, Harbaugh has adjusted practice schedules and wakeup times so that the team's collective body clock is firmly adjusted to the Eastern time zone. That means 9 a.m. practices this week, with alarms set for as early as 4:30 a.m. by Thursday, the day the team flies to North Carolina.
And what do the players think?
"They love it!" Harbaugh insisted.
Early to rise also means early to bed, with lights out at 6:30-7 p.m. PDT once they arrive in Winston-Salem, N.C. To make that work, sleeping is not allowed on the five-hour flight.
"I told Coach Harbaugh, `You better bring a little squirt gun,'" linebacker Clinton Snyder said.
Instead, while the players watch action movies - "Braveheart" will be one selection - assistant strength and conditioning coach Kevin Tolbert will walk the aisles, commissioned to prod drowsy players.
"They're going to have to walk by me a few times," safety Delano Howell said. "That's a five-hour flight."
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FOOTBALL: Snyder's unique hairstyle
Snyder said he is not familiar with San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson, but it appears they see the same demented barber.
How does Snyder describe a style of: business in the front, party in the back and fuzzy on the sides?
"A mullhawk," he said. "That's part mullet, part Mohawk."
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MEN'S SOCCER: Making up for lost time
As described in this space last week, Evan Morgan's first soccer match in three seasons was a special occasion, simply because after he missed the past two seasons with knee injuries and successfully petitioned for a sixth year of eligibility.
But that match, a 1-0 season-opening loss to Lehigh on Tuesday, paled in comparison to Morgan's second match. On Friday, Stanford not only beat Rutgers, a program that has reached the NCAA College Cup three times in the past decade, by a 2-0 score, but the victory was punctuated by a goal from Morgan. It was his first since 2006.
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WOMEN'S SOCCER: Stanford's rare hat trick
Goals for the Stanford women's soccer team have been plentiful, but balanced. So, when Kristin Stannard came off the bench to score three second-half goals in a 5-0 victory over Virginia Tech, the hat trick was suprising because of its rarity.
Stanford scored a school-record 71 goals last year, but had only one hat trick, by Lindsay Taylor on Oct. 3 against Santa Clara. Kelley O'Hara is sixth on the Stanford all-time goal scoring list, but has never had a hat trick at Stanford, nor has Christen Press, whose 16 goals last season were tied for the second-most in school history.
Fifteen players had combined for 25 hat tricks at Stanford, but 20 of those performances occurred in the first 12 years of the program (1984-95). Over the past 12, it's only happened three times.
Stannard's total came within a 27-minute span. They were her first goals of the season and won her recognition on Top Drawer Soccer's Team of the Week.
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WOMEN'S SOCCER: Game of the Week
The biggest game among Stanford teams this week will be a women's soccer rematch between the Cardinal and No. 5 Notre Dame (3-1). They met in the NCAA College Cup semifinals last season with Notre Dame winning 1-0. But Stanford gets another shot on Sunday during the Santa Clara Classic at Buck Shaw Stadium. Kickoff is at 11 a.m.
The match will be the second of the weekend against top 10 teams. On Friday, Stanford (5-0) plays No. 7 Purdue (5-0) at 5 p.m. at Santa Clara.
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POLITICS: Diplomatic detente
A Stanford football helmet served as an icebreaker during a diplomatic meeting last week in Tokyo. Japan's prime minister-in-waiting, Yukio Hatoyama, displayed the helmet to his guest, U.S. ambassador John Roos, a fellow Stanford grad.
The meeting was meant to allay concerns about the U.S.-Japan alliance following Hatoyama's election victory. It seems to have succeeded, as the two recalled their days at Stanford and talked football.
Hatoyama earned his doctorate in engineering at Stanford in 1976 and met his wife, Miyuki, there. Roos received a bachelor's ('77) and doctorate ('80) degrees from Stanford.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics