Nov. 17, 2010
Saturday, Nov. 20: California at New Mexico, 2:00 p.m. MT; TV: none; Radio: 960 AM KKGN; Web video streaming: Cal All Access
The California Golden Bears (2-0) head out onto the road for the first time in the 2010-11 season, heading to one of the most storied arenas in college basketball when they take on the New Mexico Lobos (1-1) in Albuquerque on Saturday, Nov. 20. The game tips at 2 p.m. Mountain Time.
New Mexico will be the third consecutive opponent for the Bears that saw post season action in 2009-10. New Mexico, like Saint Mary's, earned a WNIT bid last season, advancing to the second round before falling to Oregon. Rutgers advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10.
The Bears head to the Chihuahuan Desert with confidence after two strong, but very different, victories to open the season. In the Rutgers game, Cal held a slight advantage the first 12 minutes of the game, only to go down by as many as six and trail by a point at halftime. They did not retake the lead for good until a lay-up by freshman guard Eliza Pierre put them up two with just over 15 minutes left in the game. The points sparked an 18-5 run that helped cement the victory.
In the Saint Mary's game, the Bears started off on fire and never cooled off, jumping out to an 8-3 lead and never looking back. They scored 51 first-half points against Saint Mary's, a team that they had beaten by just three points when they met in 2009-10.
Sophomore forward DeNesha Stallworth was dominant in both games. Stallworth posted back-to-back double doubles with 10 rebounds in each contest. She scored 12 points against Rutgers, but it was the Saint Mary's game when Stallworth really took over the game, posting 23 points. Stallworth scored 10 of Cal's first 19 points in that contest.
Stallworth was one of two Bears to score 20 against Saint Mary's. In just her second collegiate game, freshman guard Lindsay Sherbert scored 20 points. Sherbert knocked down four threes (in five attempts).
Stallworth wasn't the only Bear to come up with double digit rebounds against Saint Mary's. Sophomore guard Eliza Pierre had 10 rebounds against the Gaels after pulling in six against Rutgers. Pierre, the shortest player on the team, began the season by blocking the first shot of the Rutgers game. The fiery defender had 11 blocked shots during the 2009-10 season.
Win Streak The Bears bring an eight-game win streak into the week. Cal has started the season 2-0, adding to the six games they won to bring in the WNIT title in the 2009-10 postseason. The longest win streak in Cal history was a 12-gamer during the 2008-09 season (12/29/08-- 2/12/09).
Freshmen Debuts Freshmen Afure Jemerigbe, Mikayla Lyles, and Lindsay Sherbert have all officially begun their Cal careers. Sherbert has started both games for the Bears. She scored 20 points against Saint Mary's. She has hit six three pointers this season, shooting 54.5 percent from beyond the arc. Jemerigbe has scored nine points in each of the first two games. Lyles had a delayed debut, making her first appearance against Saint Mary's where she scored six points with five rebounds in 17 minutes on the court. Jemerigbe and Sherbert were both McDonald's, WBCA, and Parade Magazine high school All-Americans. Their addition to the roster gave Cal six players who have earned McDonald's All-American honors in high school and four who were named WBCA All-Americans.
Long Range The Bears hit 11 three-pointers in the Saint Mary's game. It was the most three-pointers made by a Cal team in a game since the Bears connected for 12 on Dec. 9, 2009 against San Jose State. Cal only had two games last season, the San Jose State game and a home contest against Arizona, in which they reached double-digits in made-threes. The Bears were models of efficiency as well, making 50 percent of their attempts that game (11-for-22). It was the first time Cal had been .500 or better from beyond the arc since Valentines Day of last year when they went 9-for-17 (.529) against Washington in the overtime victory in Seattle. Cal had one other .500 or better performance last season, going 8-for-15 against Nevada in the Surf `n Slam Tournament in San Diego just after Christmas.
Assists The Bears dished 21 assists against Saint Mary's, the most by the team since the Dec. 6, 2008 game against Princeton in which the Bears had 23. Cal's single-game season-high last year was 20 in the WNIT opener against Davis.
Career Highs Several Bears had career-high performances in the opening games. Sophomore guard Layshia Clarendon had a career-high 9 assists against Saint Mary's. Eliza Pierre's 10 boards in that same game was a new benchmark. Senior center Rama N'diaye tied a career mark for blocked shots with three bat-aways against the Gaels.
On the road The Bears have won their first road game of the season each of the last four years. Last season, Cal defeated Southern, 78-47, at the Ohio State Buckeye Classic Tournament over Thanksgiving. Cal's last loss in their first road trip of the season was the 2005 55-46 game at New Mexico.
The Pit The Bears will face challenges in their first road game as they head to a tough road venue. The Pit, the home of the Lobos, has just finished a $60 million dollar renovation. Last season, New Mexico women's basketball averaged over 7,000 raucous fans per game. In 2009-10, Cal had three opportunities to play in front of crowds of 5,000 or more, going 1-1 in those contests on the road. The Bears fell at Stanford (attendance 5556) but scored a victory in the WNIT semifinal at Illinois State (attendance 6075). In addition to the noise, The Bears will also be dealing with an elevation issue with the venue sitting over a mile above sea level (5200 feet). Cal has only made one trip to the Pit, falling 55-46 on Nov. 13, 2010. Overall, the series between the two teams is tied, 2-2.
National Polls Cal is back in the top-25 discussion. The Bears are bubbling under in both polls. In the ESPN/ USA Today Coaches poll, Cal ranks the equivalent of 29th, receiving 19 votes. In the AP poll, the Bears are even closer, ranking just two slots off the poll at the equivalent of 27th. Cal received votes in both preseason polls, ranking the equivalent of 31st in the AP and 37th in the Coaches. Cal was last officially ranked in the Week 4 polls last season, coming in at 22 in both polls.
Back-to-Back-to-Back Top Recruiting Classes Three highly touted high school seniors - wing Erika Johnson, forward Reshanda Gray and point guard Brittany Boyd - will join the Golden Bears roster as freshman for the 2011-12. All three players are considered among the top 40 players in the country, according to the ESPN HoopGurlz rankings. Their addition gives the Bears three consecutive recruiting classes rated among the best 15 nationally; the 2009 incoming group, which comprises Cal's sophomore class, was ranked No. 1 by the BlueStar Basketball Report, while the current freshman class was rated 7th by Blue Star. This Cal class is rated ninth best in the country by BlueStar, It was also tabbed No. 12 by HoopGurlz prior to Gray publicly announcing her decision Wednesday afternoon. With her included in the group, the ranking is expected to rise once the list is re-tabulated.
Johnson, ranked as the country's No. 21 recruit by HoopGurlz, is also considered the No. 3 wing in the class. She averaged just over 13 ppg last season when she guided her Holy Names Academy team to the Washington Class 3A title game. Holy Names fell to Cleveland High School, 47-44, despite 13 points and 12 rebounds from Johnson, the 2010 Metro League Player of the Year and a first-team all-state choice.
Gray is rated one spot behind Johnson on the HoopGurlz national list at No. 22. The No. 8 forward in the country, Gray was chosen the Los Angeles City Player of the Year by the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles City-Section Player of the Year by a coaches' panel and league MVP after leading Washington Prep to a 22-12 record and a Marine League championship. She contributed 19.3 ppg, 14.5 rpg, 2.3 spg and 1.0 rpg during her junior campaign.
Boyd, the No. 8 point guard and No. 38 overall prospect by HoopGurlz, is a local product out of Berkeley HS. She averaged 17.8 ppg and 6.7 apg as a junior, leading the Yellowjackets to the North Coast Section title. In addition, Boyd also participated in tryouts for the USA U18 team this past June. She was named All-Metro by the San Francisco Chronicle and first-team All-East Bay by the Contra Costa Times.
Charitable Works This season, the Bears will again be doing the We Assist, You Assist promotion where fans can make pledges per assist to help a local charity. This season, the team has decided to focus their efforts on assisting Upward Roots. Upward Roots is aimed at generating positive change through community service. Their programs develop a greater sense of leadership and personal impact among under-served youth through the creation of self-initiated community service projects. The goal is to produce and sustain the concept that change can come from within and that every small action makes a resounding difference. Upward Roots strives to break the cycle from these youth being served to serving others. Every dollar raised, up to $10,000, will be matched by Coach Boyle.
Listen Live For the first time in program history, Cal women's basketball will be carried on a commercial radio station. Green 960 AM (KKGN) will be carrying the action this season. Dave Lewis, who called the games last season as part of an internet-only broadcast package, will be back again this year with the play-by-play. Games will still be available on the internet through CalBears.com as part of the Cal All-Access program.
Cal Coaches Corner Each Monday(beginning Dec. 13), head coach Joanne Boyle will also be featured weekly on the Cal Coaches Corner radio program. The show airs on KNEW Radio (910 AM) every Monday from 6-7 p.m. The program is broadcast live from the Paragon at the Claremont Hotel, Club and Spa in Berkeley. In addition to Coach Boyle, men's head coach Mike Montgomery will also be a weekly guest on the show. After the end of the football season, men's and women's basketball players will also be interviewed by host Todd McKim. The show allows fans to email questions for the coaches and players. Fans are also encouraged to go to the Paragon to watch the show live.