Dec. 9, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
Off to its best start in 14 seasons and boasting its highest national ranking ever, No. 16 California (7-1) visits Kansas (4-3) for the first time in over 13 years Sunday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m. CT. Following the game against the Jayhawks at historic Phog Allen Fieldhouse, the Bears don't play another game for 10 days due to final exams.
This year's Cal team is keeping pace with the 1992-93 Bears, who opened the season at 9-1.
The Golden Bears are coming off a 77-62 victory over Fresno State Dec. 7, marking Cal's 22nd consecutive home non-conference win. Cal has won all seven of its games by at least 15 points and owns a +17.8 scoring margin overall this season.
Cal began the week second in the Pac-10 in scoring at 76.0 ppg and has improved that output to 76.1 ppg. On the defensive front, the Bears were third in the conference in scoring defense to start the week at 57.8 ppg and fell slightly to 58.4 ppg.
Rebounding has been a Cal strength during the non-conference season, as the Bears own a +8.9 rebounding margin and haven't been outrebounded this year (led seven times, tied once).
Sophomore forward/center Ashley Walker has stepped up her production this season and leads Cal in scoring (19.6 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg) and blocked shots (1.9 bpg). She's also shooting 64.7 percent from the floor, which is second to junior Krista Foster's 69.0 clip. Walker led Cal with her second double-double against Fresno State (23 points, 11 rebounds) and added a career-high seven blocks.
One of the most inspiring stories on this year's Cal team comes from senior guard Keanna Levy. After seeing limited action as a reserve for her first three seasons, Levy has been elevated to a starting role over the last six games and is averaging 7.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.0 apg and 2.0 spg. Over the last three games, Levy is averaging 12.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 4.0 apg.
The Bears' other starter is freshman guard Lauren Greif, who is playing like a veteran. Greif averages 9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg and paces Cal with 2.5 spg.
Cal is fortunate to showcase more versatility and depth this season. Foster (17.6 mpg), freshman forward/center Rama N'diaye (17.4 mpg) and freshman guard Natasha Vital (16.4 mpg) all play at least 16 minutes per game off the bench. Foster averages 7.0 ppg, N'diaye posts 5.9 ppg and Vital adds 3.0 ppg.