No. 7/6 Cal Hosts No. 3/2 Rutgers Friday Night
Nov. 18, 2008
GOLDEN BEARS NOTES
The California Golden Bears opened the season with victories over Albany (63-39) and Nevada (67-53), helping to move them up in the national polls to school-record high rankings, with the Associated Press ranking the Bears at No. 7 and the USA Today/ ESPN Coaches poll putting the Bears at No. 6. The Bears peaked at No. 8 last season in both polls. The Bears finished the 2007-08 season ranked in the top ten of the AP poll for 13 straight weeks and in the top 10 in the USA Today/ ESPN Coaches' poll in 12 of the final 13 weeks.
Friday's opponent, No. 3/2 Rutgers, moved up in both polls as well. The Scarlet Knights benefitted from Stanford's fall from No. 2 to No. 8 in both polls. Rutgers is 1-0 following an 86-59 victory over St. Joseph's over the weekend. They host Princeton Tues., Nov. 18, before flying out to California.
Friday's show showdown is one of only two matchups this weekend between teams in the top ten. Rutgers closes out their weekend with a Sunday game at No. 8/8 Stanford. The Bears have one victory over a top-ten team since Joanne Boyle took over the program, a 72-57 win over No. 8/9 Stanford (2/4/07).
The Bears may have to take on the daunting task of playing No. 3/2 Rutgers without the assistance of two of their posts, senior forward Devanei Hampton and junior forward Rama N'diaye. Both players have returned to practice, but a final determination about their status in Friday's game may not be made until late Thursday or even Friday.
The Bears have been finding ways to win without Hampton and N'diaye, averaging 19-point margins of victories in their two regular-season games and 47-point margins in exhibition play. Senior forward Ashley Walker did her part to propel her team to a 2-0 record. Walker scored 23 points in the opener and added 27 more on Sunday. It was the fourth time in her career that she has posted back-to-back 20-plus point performances. She opened last season with a pair of 20-plus point games, scoring 31 against Fresno State and 25 against UC Riverside. Walker has also twice scored 20 or more in three straight games, including last season when she put up 20 against Baylor, 25 versus Loyola Marymount, and 20 against St. Mary's. Walker has also been pulling in the boards, logging the 35th double-double of her career when she added 17 rebounds in the Nevada game. Walker's 25.0 scoring average is second in the Pac-10.
Freshman guard Casey Morris has jumped right into her Bear career, seeing 23 minutes of playing time in each of the first two contests. Morris is averaging 9.0 points per game and is showing a hot hand with a .667 field goal percentage (8-12) in her first two games. The guard has three assists and four steals. The 5-7 guard also had two blocks in her debut game against Albany.
PROTECTING THE BALL After turning the ball over 20 times against Albany, the Bears committed just seven turnovers against Nevada, the fewest Cal turnovers in a game since at least the 1996-97 season. Only two other times in the last decade has Cal posted single-digit turnovers, both of those games coming last season with an eight turnover showing against Arizona State and a nine turnover performance against UCLA. Cal forced 20 Nevada turnovers, with their +13 turnover margin the best in a single game since 2001 when the Bears forced 15 more turnovers than they committed against Cal State Northridge (29-14). The Bears averaged 16.3 turnovers per game last season.
THREE-POINT PROBLEM Cal is shooting just 16.0 percent from three-point range this season. The ice-cold shooters have two halves (the first half against Albany and the second half against Nevada) when they failed to make a three-pointer. The Bears enter the game having missed their last 10 three-point attempts and have hit just one of their last 17.
DEFENSE The Bears doubled their offensive rebounds in their second game of the season. After pulling in just nine offensive rebounds in the opener against Albany, the Bears had 18 offensive rebounds against Nevada, including six by Ashley Walker. Overall, the Bears are outrebounding their opponents 77-65 (+8.0 per game).
PLAYING TIME Senior forward Shantrell Sneed is seeing more playing time on the court. Sneed, who has averaged 6.9 minutes per game in her three previous seasons, has played 23 minutes in each of the first two games. Sneed is averaging 6.0 rebounds per game after averaging 1.9 last season. Sophomore forward Kelsey Adrian played in all 34 of the Bears games last season, averaging 19.4 minutes per game, but did not start a game all last season. She has started both games for the Bears this year, averaging 32.0 minutes of court time.
HOME NON-CONFERENCE WIN STREAK AT 31 The victory over Albany also extended Cal's school-record home non-conference win streak to a school-record 31 games. The Bears play seven of 12 non-conference games at home this season and only once leave the Bay Area prior to beginning the Pac-10 schedule. All told, Cal will play 16 of 30 regular-season games at Haas Pavilion. The Bears were 13-1 overall at home last season, with their only loss coming on Feb. 23 in their 60-58 loss to Stanford.
BEARS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS Friday's game will be the first time this season that the Bears have faced a ranked opponent. Last season, Cal went 2-4 in the regular season against ranked opponents, coming up with victories over No. 18/23 Vanderbilt, 67-59 (12/2/07), and at No. 25/NR Arizona State 64-51 (1/17/08). They added two postseason losses to ranked teams, falling in the Pac-10 tournament to No. 4/7 Stanford (56-35) and in the second round of the NCAA tournament to No. 20/16 George Washington (55-53). Cal has three other victories over ranked teams since coach Joanne Boyle has taken over the program. Her team's 72-57 victory over No. 8/9 Stanford was the highest-ranking opponent that her Bear teams have defeated.
WALKER SCORES POINT NO. 1500 Ashley Walker entered the season with 1,470 career points, 30 points shy of becoming just the seventh player in Cal history to score 1,500 points. She scored her 1500th career point Sunday in the first half against Nevada. Walker is just the seventh player in Cal history to score at lest 1,500 points. She comes into the game 11 points shy of passing Trisha Stafford (1989-92, 1530 points) into sixth place on the all-time list and 30 points from passing Karen Smith (1981-84, 1559 points) to move into fifth place.
COUNTDOWN TO 1,500 Devanei Hampton comes into the season at 1,301 career points, 199 points shy of reaching joining Walker at 1500 career points.
COUNTDOWN TO 1000 Junior Guard Alexis Gray-Lawson comes into the game with 944 career points. She is 56 points shy of becoming the 20th member of the Cal 1,000-point club. Ashley Walker enters the game with 849 career rebounds. Walker needs 151 rebounds to become just the second player in Cal history to grab 1,000 boards. She has averaged 274 rebounds per season in her first three years and pulled in a single-season school record 317 in 2007-08. Walker presently ranks fifth on the school's all-time rebounding list, needing 7 rebounds to pass Cynthia Cooke (1982-85) and move into fourth place on the list.
COUNTDOWN TO 500 Junior point guard Natasha Vital scored the 500th point of her career in the opener against Albany. She needed three points to reach 500, and scored nine. Junior guard Lauren Greif comes in the game with 477 points, needing 23 to reach 500.
CAL WELCOMES MORRIS, AGUIRRE Cal returns nine players from last year's squad and adds two freshmen: Casey Morris and Angelei Aguirre. Aguirre, a 5-11 guard, averaged 20.9 ppg and 10.2 rebounds per game during her senior season at White Plains High School in White Plains, N.Y. Morris is a 5-9 point and shooting guard hailing from Piedmont High School, and was nationally ranked No. 35 ranked by Blue Star Report and No. 51 by HoopGurlz.com. Morris, in her first official game as a Golden Bear, scored six points (3-5 shooting) with two assists, four steals, and two blocks in 23 minutes of playing time. Aguirre got a brief four minute stint in the game when she had one steal.
CAL PRESEASON UNANIMOUS TOP-10 California is ranked No. 9 or higher in four preseason women's basketball polls. Both the AP poll and the USA Today/ ESPN Coaches' poll have the Bears ranked ninth. Lindy's Magazine has the Bears ranked eighth. Athlon Sports Magazine rates the Bears as the No. 2 team in the country. The Bears were included in all 18 regular season AP polls last season as well as being chosen as the preseason No. 13 team. They spent three weeks ranked No. 8, their highest-ever ranking. They closed out the season ranked No. 10. In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll, the Bears also were included in all 19 regular-season polls and were the preseason No. 14 team. They spent two weeks ranked No. 8 on the USA Today/ESPN poll and finished the season ranked No. 18 after falling to George Washington in the second round game of the NCAA Tournament.
CAL PICKED SECOND IN PAC-10 The California women's basketball team was predicted to finish second in the Pac-10 Conference, according to the preseason coaches' poll and the media poll. The ears had four first-place votes and 76 total points to place second. This is the highest that Cal has ever been slated to finish since the poll's inception in 1998-99. Stanford, the national runner-up, earned six first-place votes to take first place in the poll. Arizona State was picked to finish third after advancing to the postseason in 2007-08 for the fourth straight season. Last season, the Bears finished a program all-time best of second with a school-record 15-3 record. Cal led or held a share of first place in the conference until the Bears lost the regular-season final at Washington, 74-66, on March 2. The Pac-10 had three teams earn NCAA Tournament bids last year, the sixth consecutive year at least three league teams earned invites.
Preseason Coaches' PollTeam (First Place) Points1. Stanford (6) 782. California (4) 763. Arizona State 654. USC 555. UCLA 486. Oregon 407. Washington 278. Oregon State 259. Washington State 2010. Arizona 16
Preseason Media PollTeam (First Place) Points 1. Stanford (13) 139 2. California (1) 126 3. Arizona State 112 4. USC 94 5. UCLA 85 6. Oregon 64 7. Washington 56 8. Oregon State 51 9. Arizona 2610. Washington St. 21
HAMPTON, WALKER PRESEASON All-PAC-10 Ashley Walker, a two-time first team All-Pac-10 honoree, was the lone unanimous selection to the preseason All-Pac-10 team. Cal had two of the five players on the preseason All-Pac-10 team with Devanei Hampton, a three-time All-Pac-10 honoree, also earning the recognition.
HAMPTON, WALKER EARN PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS Devanei Hampton, a two-time All-American and three-time All-Pac-10 honoree added more honors to her resume. Hampton was named preseason third-team All-American by The Sporting News. She is also on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list and the State Farm/Wade Trophy Watch List. Ashley Walker, a two-time All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 player, was named a first-team preseason All-American by the Sporting News and an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press. She, like Hampton, is also on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list and the State Farm/Wade Trophy Watch List.
HAMPTON NAMED BEST POWER FORWARD BY ESPN.COM ESPN.com, in a list of the top five players at each position, declared Ashley Walker to be the best power forward in the nation. 'She plays with the aggressive mentality of thinking she has something to prove. She has been the steady presence as Cal has risen in the national rankings' said ESPN contributor Mechelle Voepel about Walker. Alexis Gray-Lawson was among the top five 2-guards. Devanei Hampton was among other forwards receiving votes.
CAL LANDS NO. 1 RATED RECRUITING CLASS Seven highly-ranked student-athletes, all of whom are ranked in the top 50 by at least one scouting service, have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball at California beginning with the 2009-10 season. The combination of the seven incoming players has given Cal the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to Blue Star Basketball Report. Cal's recruiting class is ranked No. 2 by All-Star Girls Report and the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, with ESPN HoopGurlz ranking the class at No. 3. Included in the Bears freshman class of 2009-10 are two Bay Area standouts, Sacred Heart Cathedral High's Tierra Rogers and Pinole Valley High's DeNesha Stallworth, who will be joining four Southern California prep stars, Talia Caldwell of Marlborough High in Los Angeles, Layshia Clarendon of Cajon High in San Bernadino, Eliza Pierre of John Muir High in Pasadena, and Gennifer Brandon of Chatsworth High in Sylmar, and one Oregon product, Brenna Heater of Ashland High in Ashland. Of the seven Bear recruits, five are rated in the top ten at their position (as ranked by ESPN HoopGurlz) and all are in the top 15.
TOUGH NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE Cal faces a tough schedule in 2008-09, with six 2008 NCAA Tournament participants and three 2008 WNIT selections on the docket. Four of the NCAA teams and all of the WNIT foes will battle the Bears during non-conference play. After a pair of opening-weekend home games, Rutgers, a 2008 NCAA Elite team, comes to Haas on Nov. 21. Cal then travels to the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for Thanksgiving weekend to battle three perennial basketball powers. The Bears open the tournament against South Florida Nov. 27, then face Texas Tech Nov. 28 and conclude the event vs.. 2008 NCAA qualifier Iowa Nov. 29. South Florida and Texas Tech both competed in the 2008 WNIT. Cal then returns home to host the Contra Costa Times Classic, which the Bears have won the last four years, Dec. 6-7. This year's tournament features TCU (a 2008 WNIT quarterfinalist), Princeton and Saint Louis. The Bears will face Big 12 power Oklahoma, a 2008 NCAA Tournament participant, at the Basketball by the Bay Tournament in San Jose. The non-conference schedule concludes at home against Baylor, the 2005 national champion and a 2008 NCAA team, Dec. 22 and Saint Mary's Dec. 29.
CAL WINS SIXTH STRAIGHT HOME OPENER The California Golden Bears won their sixth-straight home opener when they defeated the Albany Great Danes, Nov. 14 63-39. The streak extends back to the 2003-04 season when the Bears defeated South Carolina State 78-47. The Bears have only lost two home openers in the last decade, falling to Rutgers 56-49 in 2002 and Alabama 76-63 in 2000.
CAL TO HOST 2009 NCAA REGIONAL, 2010 FIRST & SECOND ROUNDS Cal as been selected as a regional host for the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship and as a first- and second-round host for the 2010 event. Competition will take place at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley in 2009 and 2010, marking the first time the venue has been chosen for the NCAA women's or men's basketball tournament. Haas Pavilion opened in the fall of 1999. In 1992, Harmon Gym - the Bears' previous home before Haas Pavilion - was the site of an NCAA first-round women's match-up between Cal and Santa Clara. Cal was the host of the 1998 NCAA women's regional at the Oakland Arena.
LAST WEEK'S GAMES
ALBANY 39, NO. 9 CALIFORNIA 63 Ashley Walker had 23 points, eight rebounds and four steals and No. 9 California extended its nonconference home winning streak to 30 games by beating Albany 63-39 on Nov. 14 in the season opener for both schools. Walker scored eight of Cal's first 10 points. She already had a steal, rebound and an assist five minutes into the game for the short-handed Golden Bears, picked to finish second in the Pac-10 behind rival and second-ranked Stanford. She shot 9-for-15 before sitting down for good with 6:44 remaining. The Bears focused on their conditioning this offseason and were able to push the tempo on the way to a 22-4 lead. Lauren Greif added nine points, eight rebounds and three assists and Alexis Gray-Lawson dished out five assists for Cal. Gray-Lawson gave her team a scare when she grabbed her back in pain with 6:53 to go in the first half and left the game for a short time before returning. Casey Morris, in her Bear debut, played a solid 23 minutes, scoring six points with four steals and a pair of assists. The 5-9 Morris also had a game-high two blocks. Shantrell Sneed played a career-high 23 minutes, scoring six points with six rebounds.
NEVADA 53, NO. 9 CALIFORNIA 67 Ashley Walker scored 27 points to surpass the 1,500 mark for her career and also grabbed 17 rebounds, leading No. 9 Cal past Nevada 67-53 on Nov. 16 in its final tune up before a showdown with fifth-ranked Rutgers on Friday. Despite a cold performance on offense, the Golden Bears bounced back two days after Boyle publicly criticized her players and challenged them to do more on the heels of a subpar 24-point season-opening victory against Albany. Walker scored seven straight points for her team during one second-half stretch and hit 9 of 13 free throws, not to mention her two assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Alexis Gray-Lawson added 15 points, freshman Casey Morris came off the bench to score 12 and Lauren Greif had eight points, eight rebounds and four steals for Cal. Cal came out with more energy, established its transition game, pressured the ball to get steals and hit the boards to limit Nevada's chances on offense. But the scrappy Wolf Pack kept pushing until the end, briefly pulling back within 10 on Megan Cherry's baseline 3-pointer with 4:04 left. Cal shot 34 percent and went 1-for-14 on 3-pointers.
No. 3/2 RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS
SCOUTING RUTGERS (27-7, 14-2 Big East Conference) Rutgers returns three starters and seven total letterwinners from a squad that went 27-7 in 2007-08 and advanced to its third regional final in the past four years. Senior Kia Vaughn and junior guard Epiphanny Prince were named preseason candidates for the 2008-09 John R. Wooden All-American team and Player of the Year trophy. The Rutgers women's basketball team was selected second in the 2008-09 Big East Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Scarlet Knights received one first place vote and 201 points overall as the second place pick. Connecticut, in the vote among the league's head coaches, received 14 first-place votes and 224 points. Vaughn and Prince were named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Forward April Sykes was tabbed the Big East preseason Freshman of the Year.
2008-09 OPENER Epiphanny Prince tallied 26 points and added a career-high seven steals to lead Rutgers to a 86-59 victory over Saint Joseph's last Friday night. Senior center Kia Vaughn scored 11 points and contributed six rebounds and four blocks. Freshman forward Brooklyn Pope, who had a double-digit scoring effort in each of the exhibition games, continued her feverish pace. The first-year player had 10 points, eight rebounds and four steals in just 10 minutes of play. The highly touted five-member freshmen class - ranked No. 3 in the nation by a pair of recruiting services - saw its first official collegiate action. The newcomers entered the game late in the first half. Freshman guard Nikki Speed connected on the first field goal from the talented quintet, putting the Scarlet Knights ahead, 36-17 with 3:24 to play in the first half. A pair of freshmen hooked up for the last bucket of the stanza as Pope fired a down-court pass to Jasmine Dixon for a lay-in at the halftime horn to give Rutgers a 44-24 edge.
RUTGERS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS Rutgers is 82-149 (.354) all time against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, including a 41- 68 (.376) during head coach C. Vivian Stringer's tenure at RU. Over the past three seasons, the Scarlet Knights are 23-16 versus ranked opponents facing 32 ranked opponents over that period. Over the past four years, RU is 32-21 vs. ranked foes.
RUTGERS HEAD COACH C. VIVIAN STRINGER Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer was the first coach in men's or women's basketball to take three different schools to the Final Four (Cheyney University in 1982, The University of Iowa in 1993 and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 2000 and again in 2007). Stringer has compiled an overall record of 804-267 (.751) and a 284-132 (.683) mark in 13 seasons at Rutgers. She is ranked third on the Division I women's victories list (804) and is second all-time in victories by active coaches. She became just the eighth coach - men's or women's - to reach the 800 win mark when the Scarlet Knights defeated DePaul on Feb. 27, 2008 at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. Named one of the '101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports' by Sports Illustrated in 2003, Stringer continues to be one of the most recognized coaches in the game. A recipient of the Black Coaches Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, she helped lead Team USA to a gold medal as an assistant coach for the 2004 U.S. Olympic women's basketball team in Athens, Greece. She has led her teams to 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, including 10 of the last 11 years, and has coached in nine regional finals.
THE SERIES Cal is 0-3 against Rutgers, having lost 56-51 last season (12/10/07) in New Brunswick. No. 11 Cal gave No. 3 Rutgers a fierce battle, erasing a 10-point halftime deficit to claim a 38-37 lead with 13:47 left in the game and a 40-39 edge at the 12:23 mark. Ashley Walker led Cal with 14 points, and Rama N'diaye and Alexis Gray-Lawson added 12 points each. Rutger's Brittany Ray scored 12 points and Epiphany Price posted a career-best 12 rebounds. The first meeting between the two teams was a 66-47 victory for the Scarlet Knights in the 2000-01 season. The last time the two teams met at Haas Pavilion was the 2002-03 season when the Knights pulled out a 56-49 victory.
PROBABLE STARTERS (2007-08 stats)No Pos Name Ht Yr PPG RPG21 F Heather Zurich 6-1 Sr. 4.6 2.724 F Myia McCurdy 6-1 Jr. 2.9 2.915 C Kia Vaughn 6-4 Sr. 10.0 8.310 G Epiphany Price 5-9 Jr. 13.8 5.235 G Brittany Ray 5-9 Jr. 5.0 2.3
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