Nov. 2, 2009
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 6:00 p.m.: Vanguard at Cal (exhibition)
The No. 18 California Golden Bears will give their fans a preview with an exhibition game this Tuesday, Nov. 3 against Vanguard. All general admission seats for the exhibition are free.
The Bears will open up the 2009-10 women's basketball season on Sunday, Nov. 15 when they host Idaho State at Haas Pavilion. The game will be a Youth Day where all youth 18 and under will be free. As a reminder, all seats in sections 15, 16, and 17 as well as 1, 2, and 3 will be reserved tickets this season. They can be purchased on a single game basis or as season tickets. For more ticket information, CLICK HERE or call 800-GO-BEARS.
The Bears play their first three games at home, hosting Bay Area neighbor Saint Mary's on Nov. 17 before taking on their first top-10 school of the season, No. 7 Baylor.
Baylor isn't the only tough game on the Bears schedule this season. Cal travels on Thanksgiving to participate in the Buckeye Classic in Columbus, Ohio, setting up a potential match up with No. 3 Ohio State, the second time in the month of November Cal will play a preseason top-10 team.
The first weekend of December, Texas A&M will play in Cal's Colliers International Classic tournament. A&M has been to the Sweet-16 each of the last two years, playing at the Trenton Regional last season where they lost to Arizona State, 84-69, in the game that followed Cal's loss to UConn.
Cal travels to San Diego to close out the non-conference schedule, taking on Boston College and then potentially facing San Diego in their second game. If they meet, it will be the first time the two teams have faced one another since the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament where Cal advanced with a 77-60 victory over USD.
Cal opens and closes the Pac-10 season with the Battle of the Bay games against Stanford. The two teams play at Stanford Jan. 2 and at Haas on March 6. Cal was picked to finish second in the preseason Pac-10 coaches' poll.
It will be a different looking team this season in the blue and gold. Cal returns just five players, three of them members of the 2008-09 starting lineup. Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson averaged 12.2 points per game last season, earning her first team All-Pac-10 honors and an honorable mention for AP All-American honors. Senior guard Natasha Vital, one of the Pac-10's leading point guards, was an All-Pac-10 and Pac-10 All-Defensive team honorable mention each of the last two seasons. Senior guard Lauren Greif is the leading returning rebounder. She averaged 5.4 boards per game in 2008-09.
Senior center Rama N'diaye is coming back after being sidelined for all but 12 games last season while rehabbing from ACL surgery. Junior Rachelle Federico is an accurate three-point shooter who averaged 5.0 minutes per game in 24 appearances last season.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT The Vanguard Lions, the 2007-08 NAIA Champions, are ranked No. 2 in the 2009-10 preseason NAIA poll. Vanguard will be playing an extremely challenging exhibiton scheulde. It kicks off at Stanford on November 1, the first of three consecutive playing days. VU continues the sweep through the Bay area at University of San Francisco the next day and finish with the exhibition on Tuesday, Nov. 3 at Cal. The Lions leave the Bay area to head directly to Arizona for a date with Pac-10 third place team Arizona State University on November 5. Returning home briefly after the Arizona match up, the Lions then fly to Connecticut to face the National Champion Huskies.
In their exhibition against Stanford, the Cardinal posted a dominating 107-49 win over the Lions, although neither the results nor the statistics count for either team's regular season records. The Lions had three players in double figure scoring, led by 2009 All-GSAC and NAIA All-America Honorable Mention guard Bridgette Reyes with 14 points and four assists. Senior Rachel Copeland and junior Sarah Boyd added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Trailing 49-27 at the half, things got worse after intermission as the Cardinal made 11-of-18 three-pointers to add a 58-22 advantage to the second-half scoreboard. The Lions were out-rebounded 55-33 and shot only 29% from the field and 24 percent from the three-point line with 16 turnovers in the game.
Last season against Vanguard, Cal earned an 87-37 victory 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, shooting 58.1 percent in the first half. 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. Alexis Gray-Lawson led the Bears with 21 points, which included hitting seven freethrows. Ashley Walker scored 20.
PRESEASON RANKINGS The California Golden Bears women's basketball team will once again enter the season as a top-25 team, earning a No. 18 ranking in the preseason Associated Press poll. This is the fourth consecutive season Cal begins play as a top-25 team. California has been a steady presence in both major top-25 polls since the 2006-07 season. Cal returned to the polls in the 2007 preseason poll and has been listed in 54 of 57 AP polls and 57 of 58 USA Today/ESPN Coaches' polls since then. Cal has been a continuous presence in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll since Feb. 26, 2007 (week 16). The results of the 2009-10 USA Today/ESPN Preseason Coaches Poll should be announced next week. Last season, Cal spent four weeks at a program-best No. 3 ranking. They finished the season ranked No. 13 in the AP Poll.
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 third in the media poll. This is second time since the poll's inception in 1998-99 that Cal has received such a high preseason ranking. Stanford, a 2008-09 Final Four team, earned eight of the nine first place votes to take first place in the poll. Arizona State was picked to finish third after advancing to the postseason in 2008-09 for the fifth straight season. Each of the last two seasons, the Bears have finished in second place in the conference with a school-record 15-3 record. The Pac-10 had three teams earn NCAA Tournament bids last year, the seventh consecutive year at least three league teams earned invites.
THREES Natasha Vital spent much of last season with a three-point shooting percentage hovering near 40 percent. Her final 38.1 percent ranked fifth in the Pac-10. Alexis Gray-Lawson enters the season ranked No. 2 on the Cal career three-point list. She has 150 treys in her career, nine behind Jennifer Self who made 159 from 1989-1992.
POINTS Alexis Gray-Lawson is currently ranked No. 10 on the Cal career scoring list. She is 160 points shy of becoming the eighth player in Cal history to score 1,500 career points. Former teammates Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton each reached the 1,500 point mark last season. Walker became the first Cal player to score 1,500 points since 1992. She went on to pass the 2,000 career point mark later in the season.
ASSISTS Natasha Vital is currently ranked No. 5 on the Cal career assist list. She is three shy of overtaking Jackie Lear and moving into fourth place on the list. Alexis Gray-Lawson is 25 assists away from moving into the career top-10 list.
100 WINS Head Coach Joanne Boyle enters the season with a Cal career record of 95-35, five victories shy of her 100th Cal win. Gooch Foster, with 279 victories, is the only Cal coach in the history of the program with more than 100 victories.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE The Golden Bears home court was the setting for a 33-game non-conference win streak. From November 26, 2005 through Dec. 6, 2008, Cal did not lose a non-conference game played at Haas Pavilion. The 2008-09 season saw one of the biggest non-conference wins in the history of the program when the Bears knocked off the then-ranked No. 2 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 66-52 in front of 4,458 fans. Last season was also the second time in two years that Haas was filled literally to the rafters with a crowd of over 10,000 fans. The 2008-09 Battle of the Bay game against Stanford had 10,126 fans on hand to witness the Bears' 57-54 victory over the Cardinal. In 2007-08, the game at Cal between the two nationally-ranked women's basketball powers was attended by a Haas Pavilion record 10,525 fans.
HS ALL-AMERICANS The incoming Bears of 2009-10 garnered 10 All-American honors last season. Forward DeNesha Stallworth was named to all three major All-American teams. She was a WBCA All-American, playing in their All-American game April 4 in St. Louis as well as a McDonald's All-American, playing April 1 in Miami in that game. She was also named a Parade Magazine fourth team All-American. Guard Layshia Clarendon was also played in the WBCA All-American game and was a Parade Magazine fourth team All-American. Guard Tierra Rogers was a second team Parade Magazine All-American and played in the McDonalds All-American game. Forward Gennifer Brandon and guard Eliza Pierre were also McDonalds All-Americans.
TEAM USA Three members of this year's team were invited to Team USA tryouts in Colorado Springs last spring. Natasha Vital, Alexis Gray-Lawson, and Layshia Clarendon were vying with the best players in the nation for a spot the national team's roster. Alexis Gray-Lawson made the squad that went to Belgrade, Serbia to compete at the 2009 World University Games. Gray-Lawson started three of the seven games for Team USA. She scored in all seven games, averaging over 20 minutes of playing time. She finished the tournament averaging 7.9 points per game with 4.3 rebound per contest, helping lead the USA team to a gold medal. Gray-Lawson also had nine assists and ten steals in her gold-medal performance.
Layshia Clarendon made the Under-19 team that went to Bangkok, Thailand to compete at the FIBA World Championships where the United States won the gold medal. Clarendon played in eight of the nine games, averaging 4.5 points per game and 1.5 rebounds per game in 13.4 minutes of playing time per contest.
GRAY-LAWSON UNANIMOUS PRESEASON ALL-PAC-10 Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson was one of two unanimous selections for the 2009-10 Preseason All-Pac-10 team. The Pac-10 also released the 2009-10 Preseason Media Poll which predicts Cal will finish third in the conference this season. Gray-Lawson, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection at the end of 2008-09, was a unanimous selection by all 21 members of the media voting on the five-player preseason team. Gray-Lawson earned first team All-Pac-10 honors last season. The other members included Jayne Appel (Stanford, F/C, Sr.), Doreena Campbell (UCLA, G, Jr.), Ify Ibekwe (Arizona, F, Jr.), Jeanette Pohlen (Stanford, G, Jr.).
GRAY-LAWSON NAMED WOODEN AWARD PRESEASON TOP-30 Alexis Gray-Lawson has been announced as one of the 31 preseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award, basketball's most prestigious honor. 31 student athletes who, based on last year's individual performance and team records, are announced preseason. In late December, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 list, followed in March by the National Ballot, consisting of approximately 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Women's Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round during the NCAA Tournament.
GRAY-LAWSON NAMED TO STATE FARM WADE AWARD WATCH Alexis Gray-Lawson as been named to the 2009-10 preseason "Wade Watch" list for The State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year. The 25-member list is made up of top NCAA Division I student-athletes who best embody the spirit of Lily Margaret Wade according to the following criteria: game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability. The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 33rd year and named after the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade, debuted in 1978 as the first-ever women's national player of the year award in college basketball. This highly prestigious award, regarded as the "Heisman of Women's Basketball," is organized by the WBCA, in conjunction with the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS). The 2010 State Farm Wade Trophy winner will be announced at the WBCA National Convention, held in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Final Four, in San Antonio, Texas, April 2-6.