Oct. 12, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. - The eighth-ranked California women's basketball team has its first official practice for the 2007-08 season Saturday morning at Haas Pavilion.
After posting a 23-9 overall record last season and earning its second straight NCAA Tournament selection, Cal has high expectations for this season. The prognosticators also expect big things for the Bears, as Athlon Sports Magazine tabbed Cal No. 8 in its preseason poll -- likely the program's best ranking ever in a major poll.
CSTV.com included Cal today in its "Great Eight" story, which mentions eight teams that have a legitimate chance to win the national title this year. The other programs mentioned include Tennessee, Maryland, Rutgers, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Louisiana State and Stanford.
Boyle, the 2006-07 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, directed Cal to third place in the Pac-10 with a 12-6 mark. The Bears were one win away from matching the 1983-84 team for the most wins in school history. Cal also posted its best-ever Pac-10 finish and equaled the 1991-92 Bears for the program's best Pac-10 record.
This year's Cal team is led by a trio of juniors - forward/center Devanei Hampton, forward/center Ashley Walker and guard Alexis Gray-Lawson. Hampton was chosen the Pac-10 Player of the Year last season after leading the Pac-10 in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and ranking second in scoring (18.9 ppg) in conference games. Walker, who led Cal in scoring (17.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.7 rpg), joined Hampton as first-team All-Pac-10 honorees. Gray-Lawson, the 2005-06 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, tore her ACL nine games into last season.
Hampton (963) and Walker (950), both honorable mention All-Americans last year, look to join Cal's 1000-point club early in the season. Hampton is on this year's Wade Trophy Watch List for national player of the year recognition.
Overall, Cal returns eight letterwinners and welcomes freshmen Kelsey Adrian and Rachelle Federico. Adrian, a guard/forward, plays for the Canadian National team, and Federico, a guard, garnered All-America recognition in high school.