Battle of the Bay Press Conference
Feb. 29, 2012
Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb
"Thank you all for being here. We are definitely excited for part two of the Battle of the Bay, the Berkeley version. We appreciate all your coverage and support. I think from a macro perspective, this is a really exciting week for women's college basketball. I know Stanford is the number one team in our conference and we are number two. They are number two in the nation and I think we have earned the right to be on the national radar. So, it sets up to be really good for women's college basketball, especially in the bay area. There is definitely a buzz around our program; I think there is a buzz in the community."
"Our freshman point guard, Brittany Boyd, was in my office the other day and we were watching the Texas A&M and Baylor game and she commented on the crowd. I said `wait for Sunday night' because I think we are going to have a crowd like that. I think it just speaks to the fact that the Stanford and Cal rivalry in women's basketball is on par with anyone else in the country and that is really fun for all of us trying to elevate women's basketball on the west coast. I think our players have done that along with the Stanford program as well. From a basketball perspective, we are looking forward to a really competitive, athletic, great representation of basketball."
"The first game was a really good one and I think they are much improved since then and I hope that we are as well. The more film I watch of them, the more impressed I am with the Ogwumike sisters and what they are doing is pretty unbelievable, but I think they are getting elevated play from the rest of their lineup as well. Joslyn Tinkle is playing really well as is Toni Kokenis. I think what I love about our team is that they don't back down from any challenge. We look at this as a great opportunity, not only to have a chance against one of the best teams in the county, but to elevate our own program and continue to boost our resume for postseason. I am really happy to go into this battle with the group that we have. I think they have accomplished a lot this year and the chance to play Stanford is something we are really looking forward to."
On the mood in the locker room for this game
"One thing I love about our players is that they are real competitors. I never have to get them up to play anybody, let alone a team as good as Stanford. I gave them two days off after the win on Satruday, so Sunday and Monday off, and they were bouncing off the walls yesterday. It was one of our best practices. It was interesting, I was watching the UConn and Notre Dame game on Monday night and the speed of that game for women's basketball is remarkable. Then, I put on the film of our first game against Stanford and it was very similar. It was up and down and the way that we practiced yesterday was in that mentality with that type of pace. I think our players relish the big stage and that is a good thing as a coach. If we can harness and utilize that energy, and, at the same time, make some technical adjustments, then I think that will give us our best shot in this game. They are very excited, but they are fully aware of how good Stanford is, the buzz around the community with respect to this game, and just the opportunity in front of them. They are definitely hyped up."
On what a win over Stanford would mean to the program
"It would be huge and that stems from the fact about how good they are. There is a lot of talk about their dominance and some people use that to knock the rest of the conference and the west coast. I just think that is crazy because I think it speaks to how good of a coach Tara is, the type if talent that they have, and how they prepare and play all the time. They are really good. So, for us, I think that any time you have the chance to play a team that has one loss on the year and is number two in the country; it can do a lot for your own program to be able to get a win against a team like that. Again, on the bigger level, one of the things that this group wants to do is put Cal in the conversation of the most elite teams in the country so it would be a step towards achieving that, obviously. The second thing is that we feel like we have done a pretty good job of building a really solid postseason resume. We are 13-2 in our last 15 and have 22 wins and all that kind of stuff, but if you go into postseason play with a win over a team like Stanford, that is obviously a difference maker. Those are all reasons that give us good motivation to want to win this game."
On the matchup of freshman point guards in the game
"I said last time that we went into it, Brittany has been starting since the second game of the year, so I told her that this is one of the times that you are a veteran over the opponent because Amber, who is very talented, moved into the starting lineup a little bit later for them. I think Amber does a lot of great things for them and at one point her assist-to-turnover ratio was something astronomical like 7-to-1. I think she really understands how to get the ball to the Ogwumikes. I think she gives them a little bit different pace. She does a really nice job, in addition to having two of the most talented players in the country in her front-court, I think the rest of the players understand the system and Amber goes along with that. Obviously, we love Brittany and recognize everything that she has done for us. I think that she starts our tempo, she is a gamer, she creates for other people, and she likes this kind of big stage. We are just looking for her to have another solid game as she really has for most of the season."
On facing a team that has won so many games in a row in conference play
"The other thing I felt is that the college basketball season is long. It really is because you hit that point in February where it really feels like a grind. I'm very intentional about trying to pull the right strings with the mood of the team. Sometimes you have to pull them through a grind and sometimes you have to up that mood a little bit. One thing we started talking about a week or two ago is that we want to not be one of those teams just kind of slugging through to the end, but one that is kicking up our heels and sprinting and being energetic. Our players have really bought into that. It obviously gets easier when you see that end point and this week saying we have Stanford, then the Pac-12 tournament, then the NCAA tournament. I think I have seen a really tangible shift in energy levels and excitement levels being really high. Like Talia said, it has been an incredibly energetic and good mood team all year. Even early on and midway, but this week it has been very tangible to see the bounce in their step because it is an exciting time of year and they have earned the right to have a meaningful game at the beginning of March and hopefully well into March."
On the game plan to neutralize the Ogwumike sisters and backcourt speed
"I think, what are we on the 30th game and if there was a game plan for containing the Ogwumike sisters, I haven't seen it. One thing that we do feel like is that our physicality, size, and depth in the post allow us to match up better than most teams. Obviously, last game we sort of did a pretty good job on Nnemkadi by limiting her below her average and Chiney had a really good game. The main thing is taking away easy baskets and I think that is huge. I think those two run as well in transition as Oregon does with their transition and as well as any guards I have seen. We have to take away easy baskets and take away easy deep one-on-one touches in the post and make them take tough shots. We have to take away offensive rebounds and all the things that are really backbreakers. If they are making tough shots, then that is different. In terms of their guard play, they are playing really well. Tinkle has really stepped up and Toni as well. It is the same thing; we need to do a better job guarding the ball. I thought last time that we gave them too many easy looks on the perimeter. We like playing a fast tempo and like the game being up and down, but we need to also keep the ball in front of us and not let their guards get to the rim or get anything easy."
On lessons learned from early conference losses
"We had a really good nonconference and I think we had established somewhat of an identity in terms of how we played. We went down to LA and came back with two beat downs. We didn't do well in those games and we had been used to going through the pain, getting to the free throw line a lot, and kind of overpowering people. For whatever reason, the way the games were called, the way those teams game planned, and as good as those teams are, we learned that we have to have more than just that. I think that was a huge turning point for us and we really came back from that and said two things. Number one is that we have to pay more attention to detail. We have to make sure that we control the things we do well and doing it with a great attention to detail. The second part is that we have to understand that if someone wants to take away one thing by putting three or four people in the paint, then we have to be able to score other ways. I think that the job that Layshia has done, stepping up since then is huge and I think our entire backcourt has really followed suit. Now, what you see is that if someone is going to sag off, we are capable of knocking down threes. If someone is going to physically manhandle or control our paint, then we are going to get up and down and play fast, we are going to play presses. It certainly made me better in terms of having to do a better job preparing us, having to do a better job making us have multiple weapons and clearly our players have bought into that. What I loved about that trip is we came back and no one panicked or did any finger pointing. We just looked at ourselves and said we need to be better. I think that helped us going forward and we haven't had a "bad loss" since then. We would have loved to have won the USC game here or the Stanford game there, but I don't think that we can say there was any type of negative repercussions from that. In fact, I think there were a lot of positive repercussions out of that, besides the fact that we took two early losses that we didn't want."
Junior center Talia Caldwell
On playing Stanford tough earlier this season
"We already knew that we could compete with them and win a game. This game is completely different because they are much more improved and we are much more improved. We are going to look at film and see things that we definitely did wrong, but it is a whole new game. It is the last game of the regular conference season for both of us, so we are just going to look at film and see what we can take away to just get a win on Sunday."
On matching up with the Ogwumike sisters
"It is going to be a lot of fun. I always have fun playing against really talented post players and Nnemkadi and Chiney are definitely the most talented in the country. I always enjoy playing against Nnemkadi because she is just skilled and ridiculously athletic so it is going to be fun. I'm going to sharpen my skills a bit and it is going to be a good focus and going to be a good matchup."
On the mood in the locker room
"The good thing is that it has been like that all season with all our games is the next game is important. This one is important because it is our next game, and, of course, it is also cool because it is my last game at home as a senior and our last regular season game so that is also exciting. We want to end on a great note. We have won 13 of the last 15 games and we want to end on a really good note in front of these fans that have just been amazing so we are just really excited."
On facing a team that has won so many games in a row in conference play
"You know, honestly, for our team it is more about that we lost by three in overtime and did a lot of things wrong. It is just another opponent like how we played UCLA and beat them the second time. It is more like and we lost the first one by three in overtime and we want to get that one. We haven't thought about so much that it is number two in the nation, even though it is obviously apparent. It is more about we let that one slip and we want to get a win Sunday."
On what having a better rebounding ratio over opponents means
"I think it has really helped solidify our identity. It is always cool that you can start out the season with an identity that teams know and they can fear. You can tell that people really scout that and it is exciting because you see them put two people on you or really make an effort with people that don't normally box out are making a huge effort to box out, whether it is Reshanda, Justine, Gennifer or myself. It is good that we can solidify a strong identity and really show the work we put in on practice."
On rebounding against Stanford
"We need to box out. It can't just be a jumping contest because some people like Gennifer Brandon can just out jump most people in the world. I think it is going to be a good focus eliminating easy baskets, because there were some baskets that we gave Nnemkadi or Chiney just because we didn't box out and go grab the rebound. It will be more technical, but I think we will still have a good advantage on the boards."