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No. 9 Cal Season Opener Friday Afternoon at Haas
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/10/2008

Nov. 10, 2008

BERKELEY -

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The California Golden Bears, coming off a pair of decisive victories in their exhibition games over Chico State (95-51) and Vanguard (87-37), open the season at Haas Pavilion on Friday Nov. 14, with a special 1 p.m. tip-off against Albany. The Bears are looking for their sixth-straight season-opening victory and also bring a 29-game home non-conference win streak to the Newell court. The Bears close out the weekend with a game Sunday afternoon, Nov. 16, against Nevada at 2pm at Haas Pavilion.

Cal enters the season as the No. 9 ranked team in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ ESPN Coaches' polls. The Bears have also been ranked No. 2 by Athlon Sports Magazine and No. 8 by Lindy's.

The Bears hope to build on the momentum of last year's record-setting season. Cal posted a 27-7 overall record to break the 1983-84 school record for victories (24-8). On the heels of a 23-9 mark in 2006-07, Cal posted at least 20 wins in a season for consecutive years for only the second time in program history (first time was 1980-81 and 1981-82). The Bears were ranked as high as No. 8 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches' polls last season, a record-high ranking for the team. Cal earned its third straight NCAA Tournament berth for the first time in program history and recorded the Bears' first NCAA win and second overall since the 1992-93 campaign.

Cal lost only one player (forward Krista Foster) to graduation from a year ago and features nine returning letterwinners. Leading the way are senior All-American posts Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton and senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson, a former Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and a second-team All-Pac-10 honoree. The San Francisco Bay Area products have averaged big minutes as starters since their freshman season. Rounding out the returning starters are junior guards Natasha Vital and Lauren Greif, who both have Pac-10 honors to their credit.

GOLDEN BEAR NOTES

CAL POSTS TWO EXHIBITION WINS Cal cruised to an easy 95-51 exhibition victory over Chico State Nov. 5 at Haas Pavilion. Six Bears, including all five starters, posted double-digits in scoring. Senior forward Shantrell Sneed, whose career high points in official games is nine, scored 15 for the Bears, hitting six of eight field goal attempts. Senior forward Ashley Walker had a double-double with 17 points and ten rebounds in 28 minutes on the court. Freshman guard Casey Morris scored nine points in her first game in front of the Cal fans. Cal defeated the reigning NAIA I National Champion Vanguard Lions, 87-37, in its final exhibition game of the year. Vanguard began the game strong, going up by two points, 8-6, in the first four minutes of the game. The Bears erased the deficit, scoring eight straight points and mounting a 26-2 run over the next eight minutes to get the game well in their control. The Bears defense also looked solid in the tune-up. The Cal defenders did not allow a single three-point basket, with the Lions shooting 0-18 from long range. Overall, the Bears' defense allowed the Lions just 13 makes on 54 field goal attempts for a 24.1 percent shooting efficiency from the field.


CAL LOOKS FOR 6TH STRAIGHT SEASON-OPENING WIN Cal saw its streak of 22 consecutive home-opening wins snapped in 2002-03 with a 56-49 loss to Rutgers in the season opener. The Bears began a new streak of home-opening and season-opening wins the following year with a 78-47 route of South Carolina State. They then defeated Navy (87-55), Eastern Washington, 64-45, and Saint Mary's, 71-56. The Bears are 20-15 in season openers. The Bears won last season's opener at Fresno State, 83-79, when Alexis Gray-Lawson broke a 79-79 tie with 34 seconds to play on a three-pointer and added a free throw for the final difference. Last year's home opener, a 52-44 victory over New Mexico, also required the Bears to come from behind, erasing a six-point second half deficit to earn the victory.


HOME NON-CONFERENCE WIN STREAK AT 29 Cal brings a school-record 29-game home non-conference win streak into this week's opener against Albany. In 2007-08, Cal posted a 5-0 home non-conference record. 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 February 23 in their 60-58 loss to Stanford.


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 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. 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.

2008-09 Pac-10 Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll Team (First Place) Points 1. Stanford (6) 78 2. California (4) 76 3. Arizona State 65 4. USC 55 5. UCLA 48 6. Oregon 40 7. Washington 27 8. Oregon State 25 9. Washington State 20 10. Arizona 16


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. 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.


THE CAPTAINS Ashley Walker and Lauren Greif will serve as Cal's captains this season.


COUNTDOWN TO 1500 Ashley Walker comes into the season with 1,470 career points, 30 points shy of becoming just the seventh player in Cal history to score 1,500 points. Devanei Hampton sits at 1,301 career points, 199 points shy of reaching that same plateau.


COUNTDOWN TO 1000 Alexis Gray-Lawson enters the season with 925 career points. She is 75 points shy of becoming the 20th member of the Cal 1,000-point club. Ashley Walker enters the season with 824 career rebounds. Walker needs 176 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 317 in 2007-08. Walker presently ranks fifth on the school's all-time rebounding list, needing 32 rebounds to pass Cynthia Cooke (1982-85) and move into fourth place on the list.


COUNTDOWN TO 500 Natasha Vital enters the season with 497 career points, just three shy of the 500 mark. Lauren Greif comes in with 460 points, needing 40 to reach 500.


CAL WELCOMES MORRIS, AGUIRRE Cal returns nine players from last year's squad and adds two freshmen: #15 Casey Morris and #23 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.


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.

THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS

SCOUTING ALBANY (13-18, 10-6 America East Conference 2007-08) The Albany Great Danes are picked to finish fourth in the America East Conference, duplicating last season's finish. After a 2007-08 grueling non-conference schedule sent them into conference play with a 2-12 overall mark, the Danes won 10 games in the American East to end the season with 13 victories. They return two starters from last year's squad, junior guards Britney McGee (9.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and Charity Iromuanya (6.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg). This is the first meeting between the two teams.

Probable Starters (2007-08 stats)
No	Pos	Name			Ht	Yr	PPG	RPG
30	F	Tiffanie Johnson		5-11	Sr.	4.5	1.8
33	F	Tabitha Makopondo		6-1	Fr.	hs
 2	G	Britney McGee		5-8	Jr.	9.1	3.3
10	G	Janea Aiken		5-9	So.	8.3	1.8
23	G	Charity Iromuanya		5-11	Sr.	6.7	2.9

More information: http://www.ualbanysports.com


SCOUTING NEVADA (18-12, 9-7 Western Athletic Conference 2007-08) The Nevada Wolfpack is picked to finish fourth in the WAC in the preseason coaches' poll. Senior point guard Dellena Criner (16.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg) was selected as the Preseason WAC Player of the Year in the Coaches Poll and was also named to the first team. Senior guard Brandi Jones (8.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg) was named to the second team in the Coaches Poll. Criner was also named to the first team in the Media Poll. The Wolfpack return four starters from the 2007-08 squad. In addition to Criner and Fitzgerald, they also return senior forward Cherlanda Franklin (7.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and junior guard Marianne Lombardi (3.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg).


2008-09 Exhibition The Wolfpack played one exhibition game, defeating Sonoma State 69-51. Criner led Nevada with 11 points while Brandi Jones and Shavon Moore each recorded 10. Jones and Moore each added a team-high seven rebounds.


NEVADA HEAD COACH JANE ALBRIGHT The Pack will be under the direction of first-year head coach Jane Albright who brings over 24 years of Division I coaching experience to Nevada. She has made nine NCAA Tournament appearances with her teams at Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. In addition, Albright is ranked 39th in career wins (397) on the NCAA active coaches career wins list. This is her first time coaching against Cal.


THE SERIES Cal has won the last four meetings between the two teams and holds a 7-3 record all time against Nevada. The two teams last played each other Dec. 19, 2003, in Berkeley when Cal defeated Nevada, 62-51. Cal twice built a 20-point lead in the first half and led 33-21 at halftime. The Wolfpack cut the lead down to eight in the second half, but ran out of time to finalize their comeback.

Probable Starters (2007-08 stats)
No	Pos	Name			Ht	Yr	PPG	RPG
25	F	Cherlanda Franklin		5-10	Sr.	7.0	5.2
33	F	Shavon Moore		6-1	So.	7.9	4.1
1	G	Brandi Jones		5-10	Sr.	8.9	5.0
10	G	Johnna Ward		5-10	So.	6.7	0.9
22	G	Delanna Criner		5-7	Sr.	16.1	3.5


More Information: http://www.nevadawolfpack.com

 


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