Nov. 25, 2008
This week's games: Thursday, Nov. 27, 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (9:30 p.m. AT) vs South Florida Friday, Nov. 28, 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (9:30 p.m. AT) vs Texas Tech Saturday, Nov. 29, 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (9:30 p.m. AT) vs Iowa All games carried live on KALX 90.7 fm
This week's games:
Thursday, Nov. 27, 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (9:30 p.m. AT) vs South Florida
Friday, Nov. 28, 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (9:30 p.m. AT) vs Texas Tech
Saturday, Nov. 29, 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (9:30 p.m. AT) vs Iowa
All games carried live on KALX 90.7 fm
The California Golden Bears are coming off a 66-52 upset victory over No. 2/3 Rutgers Friday, Nov. 21, at Haas Pavilion. The victory was the sixth time the Bears have beaten a ranked team since head coach Joanne Boyle took over the program in 2005-06. Rutgers was the highest ranked opponent that any Bears team has defeated since they upset No. 2 Stanford in 1992. The Bears pulled off the stunner while playing shorthanded with neither senior post Devanei Hampton nor junior post Rama N'diaye suiting up for the contest. Both players had been practicing all week and were listed as game time decisions for the game. Their status for this week's tournament has also yet to be determined.
Redshirt junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson led the team with 25 points in the Rutgers game. Gray-Lawson is averaging 14.7 ppg this season. She comes into the tournament 31 points shy of becoming the 20th player in Cal women's basketball history to score 1,000 career points.
Senior forward Ashley Walker posted the 36th double-double of her career, scoring 16 points with 10 rebounds against Rutgers. She is currently ranked second in the Pac-10 in scoring (22.0 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (11.7 rpg). Walker, who scored the 1,500th point of her career in the game against Nevada, continues moving up the career scoring and rebounding lists. She needs 14 points to move into fifth place on the all-time scoring list and 16 rebounds to move into third place on the rebounding list.
RECORD HIGH RANKINGS The Bears controlled their own destiny in the national polls. By taking down the higher-ranked team, Cal moved up in both national polls, moving into the top-five in both for the first time in school history. The Bears were ranked No. 7 in the week one AP poll, moving up to No. 3 this week. Cal was No. 6 in week one's USA Today/ ESPN Coaches' poll and are now ranked No. 3 in that poll as well. Prior to this season, the Bears previous high in both polls was No. 8, achieved by last year's team. This week is the first time two Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top five since the final 1989-90 poll. That week, Stanford was No. 2 and Washington was No. 3. Cal trails only UConn and North Carolina in the polls. The Bears are one of 13 remaining undefeated teams in the top-25. Right on Cal's heels are three teams that they will face this season: No. 4 Oklahoma (Dec. 13 at the Basketball by the Bay tournament in San Jose), No. 5 Stanford (1/18 at home and 2/14 at Stanford), and No. 6 Baylor (final home game before Christmas, Dec. 22 at Haas).
This is the busiest week of the regular season for the Bears, playing three games in three days at the Paradise Jam, the only time this season they play three games in one week.
PARADISE JAM The Paradise Jam tournament, held in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands "offers men's and women's college basketball teams a chance for excellent early season competition in an exotic island setting," says the tournaments directors. "Since the tournament's inception in 2000, many of the nation's finest men and women's teams have converged on St. Thomas to test their skills and enjoy some fun in the sun." Since 2001, the tournament has been played at the 4,000-seat UVI Sports and Fitness Center. The two-week tournament in November draws more people to the Virgin Islands than any other event except Carnival. The Virgin Islands are in Atlantic Time, which is a four-hour time change from California.
The players and coaches will fly over 3,600 miles to get to the tournament, travelling overnight on Monday and most of the day Tuesday. After an off day on Wednesday (when they will get to experience some of the fun of the tropical location), the team plays the late game each night (9:30 local time) in the tournament. There are four games per day being played at UVI, with the first game tipping at 1pm each afternoon.
The Paradise Jam consists of two separate tournaments. Each is a four-team, three-game round robin event. One is called the "Island Division Tournament" and the other is called the "Reef Division Tournament." Both are Multiple Team Event (MTE) tournaments. An MTE tournament counts as only two games against a team's annual maximum of 29 games, despite playing three games at the tournament. All four teams in the Reef Division Tournament competed in the 2008 Post Season: California and Iowa in the NCAA Tournament and Texas Tech and South Florida in the Post Season NIT.
The No. 6 Baylor Bears, Cal's opponent on Dec. 22 at Haas, will be in action as part of the "Island Division". Villanova, Wisconsin, and Central Florida round out that division. The team makes the long trek back to California on Sunday.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING Thursday will be the third time the Bears have played a game on Thanksgiving Day and the first Turkey Day game since 2005 when Cal defeated Marshall 62-53 at the Caribbean Classic tournament in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The site of the game had to be moved from its original location, the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, after the city of Cancun was ravaged by Hurricane Wilma. The Bears hold a 1-1 Thanksgiving Day record.
TROPICAL LESS THAN PARADISE The Bears have played in five early season tournaments in tropical locations in their history. They participated in the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Hawaii four times (1987, 1993, 1997, 2004), posting a 3-7 overall record. Add in the 1-1 mark at the 2005 Caribbean Classic and the Bears are 4-8 in tropical locations. This is their first trip to the Virgin Islands.
STARTING THE SEASON STRONG The Bears look to start the season 4-0 for the third straight year when they take on South Florida on Thursday. The Bears have started the season with a 4-0 or better win streak six times, including a record 8-0 start to the 1986-87 season. The Bears' 2007-08 opening streak was snapped after going 4-0 with their loss at then-ranked No. 12 Baylor, 69-56.
SO LONG SHOOTING WOES? After starting the season shooting just 16.0 percent from three-point range with the team having two halves (the first half against Albany and the second half against Nevada) when they failed to make a single three-pointer, the Bears went 7-16 (43.8%) from long range against Rutgers. Sophomore forward Kelsey Adrian, junior guard Natasha Vital and junior guard Lauren Greif each hit a pair of treys in the game.
20+ 20's Ashley Walker 23 points against Albany and 27 against Nevada were the 21st and 22nd times she has scored 20 or more points in a game in her Cal career.
WALKER SCORES POINT NO. 1500, MOVING UP CAREER LIST Ashley Walker entered the season with 1,470 career points, 30 points shy of becoming just the seventh player in Cal history to score 1,500 points. She scored her 1500th career point in the first half of the Nevada game. Walker is just the seventh player in Cal history to score at lest 1,500 points. Her 16 points against Rutgers moved her past Trisha Stafford (1989-92, 1530 points) into sixth place on the all-time list and is now 14 points from passing Karen Smith (1981-84, 1559 points) to move into fifth place.
COUNTDOWN TO 1,500 Devanei Hampton comes into the season at 1,301 career points, 199 points shy of reaching joining Walker at 1500 career points.
COUNTDOWN TO 1000 Alexis Gray-Lawson came into the season with 925 career points. After scoring 44 points in her first three games, she is now just 31 shy of becoming the 20th member of the Cal 1,000-point club. Gray-Lawson needs to average 10.3 points-per-game at the Paradise Jam to reach that milestone over 3,600 miles away from Haas Pavilion. She is currently averaging 14.7 points per game, ranking her eighth among all players in the Pac-10.
Ashley Walker enters the game with 859 career rebounds. Walker needs 141 rebounds to become just the second player in Cal history to grab 1,000 boards. Walker presently ranks fourth on the school's all-time rebounding list, with her 10 rebounds against Rutgers moving her past Cynthia Cooke (1982-85, 855 rebounds) on the all-time list. She needs 16 boards to move past Teresa Palmisano (1988-91, 874) into third place on the list.
COUNTDOWN TO 500 Natasha Vital scored the 500th point of her career in the opener against Albany. She needed three points to reach 500, and scored nine. Lauren Greif comes in the game with 485 points, needing 15 to reach 500.
CAL PRESEASON UNANIMOUS TOP-10 California is ranked No. 9 or higher in four preseason women's basketball polls. Both the AP poll and the USA Today/ ESPN Coaches' poll have the Bears ranked ninth. Lindy's Magazine has the Bears ranked eighth. Athlon Sports Magazine rates the Bears as the No. 2 team in the country. The Bears were included in all 18 regular season AP polls last season as well as being chosen as the preseason No. 13 team. They spent three weeks ranked No. 8, their highest-ever ranking. They closed out the season ranked No. 10. In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll, the Bears also were included in all 19 regular-season polls and were the preseason No. 14 team. They spent two weeks ranked No. 8 on the USA Today/ESPN poll and finished the season ranked No. 18 after falling to George Washington in the second round game of the NCAA Tournament.
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 the media poll. The ears had four first-place votes and 76 total points to place second. This is the highest that Cal has ever been slated to finish since the poll's inception in 1998-99. Stanford, the national runner-up, earned six first-place votes to take first place in the poll. Arizona State was picked to finish third after advancing to the postseason in 2007-08 for the fourth straight season. Last season, the Bears finished a program all-time best of second with a school-record 15-3 record. Cal led or held a share of first place in the conference until the Bears lost the regular-season final at Washington, 74-66, on March 2. The Pac-10 had three teams earn NCAA Tournament bids last year, the sixth consecutive year at least three league teams earned invites.
Preseason Coaches' Poll Team (First Place) Points 1. Stanford (6) 78 2. California (4) 76 3. Arizona State 65 4. USC 55 5. UCLA 48 6. Oregon 40 7. Washington 27 8. Oregon State 25 9. Washington State 20 10. Arizona 16
Preseason Media Poll Team (First Place) Points 1. Stanford (13) 139 2. California (1) 126 3. Arizona State 112 4. USC 94 5. UCLA 85 6. Oregon 64 7. Washington 56 8. Oregon State 51 9. Arizona 26 10. Washington St. 21
HAMPTON, WALKER PRESEASON All-PAC-10 Ashley Walker, a two-time first team All-Pac-10 honoree, was the lone unanimous selection to the preseason All-Pac-10 team. Cal had two of the five players on the preseason All-Pac-10 team with Devanei Hampton, a three-time All-Pac-10 honoree, also earning the recognition.
HAMPTON, WALKER EARN PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS Devanei Hampton, a two-time All-American and three-time All-Pac-10 honoree added more honors to her resume. Hampton was named preseason third-team All-American by The Sporting News. She is also on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list and the State Farm/Wade Trophy Watch List. Ashley Walker, a two-time All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 player, was named a first-team preseason All-American by the Sporting News and an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press. She, like Hampton, is also on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list and the State Farm/Wade Trophy Watch List.
HAMPTON NAMED BEST POWER FORWARD BY ESPN.COM ESPN.com, in a list of the top five players at each position, declared Ashley Walker to be the best power forward in the nation. "She plays with the aggressive mentality of thinking she has something to prove. She has been the steady presence as Cal has risen in the national rankings" said ESPN contributor Mechelle Voepel about Walker. Alexis Gray-Lawson was among the top five 2-guards. Devanei Hampton was "other forwards receiving votes".
CAL LANDS NO. 1 RATED RECRUITING CLASS Seven highly-ranked student-athletes, all of whom are ranked in the top 50 by at least one scouting service, have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball at California beginning with the 2009-10 season. The combination of the seven incoming players has given Cal the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to Blue Star Basketball Report. Cal's recruiting class is ranked No. 2 by All-Star Girls Report and the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, with ESPN HoopGurlz ranking the class at No. 3. Included in the Bears freshman class of 2009-10 are two Bay Area standouts, Sacred Heart Cathedral High's Tierra Rogers and Pinole Valley High's DeNesha Stallworth, who will be joining four Southern California prep stars, Talia Caldwell of Marlborough High in Los Angeles, Layshia Clarendon of Cajon High in San Bernadino, Eliza Pierre of John Muir High in Pasadena, and Gennifer Brandon of Chatsworth High in Sylmar, and one Oregon product, Brenna Heater of Ashland High in Ashland. Of the seven Bear recruits, five are rated in the top ten at their position (as ranked by ESPN HoopGurlz) and all are in the top 15.
TOUGH NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE Cal faces a tough non-conference schedule in 2008-09, with four 2008 NCAA Tournament participants and three 2008 WNIT selections on the docket. After a pair of opening-weekend home games, Rutgers, a 2008 NCAA Elite team, comes to Haas on Nov. 21. Cal then travels to the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for Thanksgiving weekend to battle three perennial basketball powers. The Bears open the tournament against South Florida Nov. 27, then face Texas Tech Nov. 28 and conclude the event vs. 2008 NCAA qualifier Iowa Nov. 29. South Florida and Texas Tech both competed in the 2008 WNIT. Cal then returns home to host the Contra Costa Times Classic, with this year's tournament featuring top-25 TCU (a 2008 WNIT quarterfinalist), Princeton and Saint Louis. The Bears will face a pair of top-10 teams in Big 12 power Oklahoma, a 2008 NCAA Tournament participant, at the Basketball by the Bay Tournament in San Jose and Baylor, the 2005 national champion and a 2008 NCAA team, at Haas Pavilion Dec. 22.
BEARS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS Friday's victory over Rutgers was the Bears' first taste of top-25 action this season. Last season, Cal went 2-4 in the regular season against ranked opponents, coming up with victories over No. 18/23 Vanderbilt, 67-59 (12/2/07), and at No. 25/NR Arizona State 64-51 (1/17/08). They added two postseason losses to ranked teams, falling in the Pac-10 tournament to No. 4/7 Stanford (56-35) and in the second round of the NCAA tournament to No. 20/16 George Washington (55-53). Cal has three other victories over ranked teams since coach Joanne Boyle has taken over the program, with six total in her three plus seasons at the helm.
HOME NON-CONFERENCE WIN STREAK AT 32 The victory over Rutgers extended Cal's school-record home non-conference win streak to a school-record 32 games. The Bears play seven of 12 non-conference games at home this season. All told, Cal will play 16 of 30 regular-season games at Haas Pavilion. The Bears were 13-1 overall at home last season, with their only loss coming on Feb. 23 in their 60-58 loss to Stanford. Their next chance to extend the streak is thew weekend of December 5-6 when they host the Colliers International Classic tournament at Haas Pavilion, taking on Princeton in the opening round and No. 22 TCU or St. Louis in the finale.
CAL TO HOST 2009 NCAA REGIONAL, 2010 FIRST & SECOND ROUNDS Cal as been selected as a regional host for the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship and as a first- and second-round host for the 2010 event. Competition will take place at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley in 2009 and 2010, marking the first time the venue has been chosen for the NCAA women's or men's basketball tournament. Haas Pavilion opened in the fall of 1999. In 1992, Harmon Gym - the Bears' previous home before Haas Pavilion - was the site of an NCAA first-round women's match-up between Cal and Santa Clara. Cal was the host of the 1998 NCAA women's regional at the Oakland Arena.
PARADISE JAM OPPONENTS
SCOUTING SOUTH FLORIDA (2007-08 16-16, 5-11 BIG EAST Conference; 4-0 this season) The University of South Florida women's basketball team comes into the 2008-09 season looking to advance to an unprecedented sixth-straight postseason appearance. After recording a 16-16 record during the 2007-08 campaign, the Bulls return seven players off of last year's Women's National Invitation Tournament team - including two starters in Shantia Grace and Jazmine Sepulveda - however also welcome five newcomers into the mix. In addition, USF loses five players from season's squad including third leading scorer and second leading rebounder ChiChi Okpaleke. The Bulls have gotten off to a strong start (4-0), averaging over 90 points per game. Strong starts are very common for the Bulls as they have posted a 40-8 record in the month of November since Jose Fernandez began his reign at USF in 2000-01. Senior guard Shantia Grace, the team's leading scorer, ranking 20th in the nation last season in points per game, had a record-breaking game her last time on the court, tying the schools record for most three pointers in a game, six, during the first half, and quickly surpassed it hitting a three just a minute into the second half. She ended the game shooting 8-13 from behind the arc. Grace also upped her career high for points in a game from 35 to 44 and broke the schools record high of 39 points in a game.
This is the first meeting between the two teams.
SCOUTING TEXAS TECH (2007-8 17-16, 4-12 Big 12, 4-0 this season) The Lady Raiders enter the Paradise Jam tournament with a 4-0 record after beating Texas-Arlington, 72-57, last Sunday. On the year, senior Dominic Seals is averaging 15.5 points followed by freshman Jordan Barncastle at 12.0 and junior Tilmila Martin at 10.5. Barncastle is the top rebounder, grabbing 10 boards per outing. Barncastle is shooting a team-high 53.6 percent from the field and junior Maddy Brown is shooting 39.1 percent from the three-point line. Martin is shooting 83.3 percent from the free throw line. Senior Maria Moore has a team-high 12 assists, while Seals and freshman Kierra Mallard are the top shot blockers with four blocks apiece. Martin leads the team in steals with eight. The Lady Raiders are shooting 44.1 percent from the field, 32.1 percent from three-point range and 69.7 percent from the charity stripe. The Raiders got off to a blistering 12-1 start last season, before going on a late season slide, posting their worst-ever Big 12 record (4-12), but still made it to the third round of the WNIT.
Texas Tech won the inaugural Paradise Jam tournament in 2000. They are in the "others receiving votes" in this week's Coaches' poll.
Texas Tech won the last meeting between the two teams, 76-69, Dec. 1, 2003, in Lubbock, Texas. The series is tied 1-1.
SCOUTING IOWA (2007-08 21-11, 13-5 Big Ten, 3-1 this season) The Hawkeyes returned to the national spotlight last season winning a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, advancing to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament and competing in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa will look to maintain the momentum and level of play from last season and increasing fan enthusiasm. Iowa won 11 of its final 13 contests, including a Big Ten-season-best eight-straight, to conclude the season. It helped capture a share of the ninth conference title in the program's history. Last year's squad had tremendous leadership, as it was led by five seniors. Although the Black and Gold lose those five players, five new seniors are ready to take charge and lead the 2008-09 Hawkeyes. Iowa picked up wins over Boston University (83-58) and Providence (64-46) last weekend to claim its 18th Hawkeye Challenge title. Senior center Megan Skouby was named tournament MVP, while senior teammates forward Wendy Ausdemore and guard Kristi Smith were recognized on the all-tournament team. Megan Skouby scored 16 of Iowa's 27 first-half points on 6-8 shooting from the field and 4-4 from the foul line, at Kansas. Additionally, the senior scored Iowa's first nine points in the second half. She finished with a game and career-high 33 points (10-17 FG, 13-14 FT).
Cal and Iowa have only played each other once, with Cal winning 89-66 in a game played Dec. 9, 1982 in Tempe, Arizona.