Oct. 12, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. - The California women's basketball team has been chosen No. 12 in an ESPN.com Preseason Top 25 Poll selected by ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman.
In the ESPN.com poll, Cal is the second-highest ranked Pac-10 team to Stanford, which is listed third.
Last month, Athlon Sports picked Cal No. 19 in its preseason poll, while Lindy's tabbed the Bears No. 25.
Under the direction of head coach Joanne Boyle, Cal returns three starters and seven letterwinners from last year's team which posted the program's first winning record in 13 seasons at 18-12 and earned the school's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1993. In 2005-06, the Bears also finished sixth in the Pac-10 at 10-8 with its first winning conference mark since 1992-93.
Sophomores Devanei Hampton, Alexis Gray-Lawson and Ashley Walker are Cal's top returning players, as they finished first (15.4 ppg), second (14.6 ppg) and third (13.3 ppg), respectively, in scoring on the team as rookies. Hampton was selected to the USA Under-20 National team over the summer, while Gray-Lawson and Walker were finalists. Gray-Lawson garnered Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors last year, and Hampton became the 10th freshman to ever be named to the All-Pac-10 team. Walker joined Hampton and Gray-Lawson on the Pac-10 All-Freshman team, giving Cal the distinction of being the first school to ever land three players on the rookie recognition squad.
The last time Cal was ranked in a major preseason poll likely was in 1982 when the Associated Press tabbed the Bears No. 20. It's been over 13 years since Cal held a spot in the AP Top 25 Poll, dating back to a No. 23 ranking on Feb. 16, 1993.
Cal officially begins practice for the 2006-07 season Friday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m.
ESPN.com Preseason Top 25 Poll
1. Maryland 2. Oklahoma 3. Stanford 4. North Carolina 5. Ohio State 6. Duke 7. Tennessee 8. Georgia 9. Purdue 10. Connecticut 11. Kentucky 12. California 13. Texas A&M 14. Washington 15. USC 16. Arizona State 17. Michigan State 18. Vanderbilt 19. LSU 20. Rutgers 21. TCU 22. George Washington 23. Old Dominion 24. Bowling Green 25. Louisville