Oct. 30, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. - No. 12 California tips off the 2006-07 season at home with an exhibition game versus Melbourne Roos Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears play their final exhibition game at home against Love and Basketball Sunday, Nov. 5, at 2 p.m.
Cal entertains Saint Mary's Sunday, Nov. 12, at 2 p.m. in the regular-season opener before hitting the road for their next four contests. The Bears' schedule features 11 teams that competed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament and four WNIT selections.
Under the direction of second-year head coach Joanne Boyle, Cal returns three starters and seven letterwinners from last year's team, which recorded an 18-12 record and placed sixth in the Pac-10 at 10-8, signifying the first time the Bears posted winning overall and conference records since 1992-93. Cal also earned its first NCAA Tournament bid in 13 years in 2005-06.
After recording a memorable 2005-06 season, Cal has earned a spot in the national spotlight heading into this year. Four preseason polls have picked the Bears among the top 25 teams nationally, headlined by ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman tabbing Cal No. 12 in an ESPN.com poll. Athlon Sports, SportspageMagazine.com and Lindy's chose Cal No. 19, No. 22 and No. 25, respectively, in their preseason predictions.
The last time Cal was ranked in a major preseason poll likely was in 1982 when the Associated Press tabbed the Bears No. 20. It's been over 13 years since Cal held a spot in the AP Top 25 Poll, dating back to a No. 23 ranking on Feb. 16, 1993.
Cal has also been chosen to tie for fourth this year in the Pac-10 Conference, according to the Pac-10 preseason coaches' poll released Oct. 16. This marks the highest the Bears have been voted in the nine-year history of the poll.
Sophomores Devanei Hampton, Alexis Gray-Lawson and Ashley Walker are Cal's top returning players, as they finished first (15.4 ppg), second (14.6 ppg) and third (13.3 ppg), respectively, in scoring on the team as rookies. Hampton was selected to the USA Under-20 National team over the summer, while Gray-Lawson and Walker were finalists. Gray-Lawson garnered Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors last year, and Hampton became the 10th freshman to ever be named to the All-Pac-10 team. Walker joined Hampton and Gray-Lawson on the Pac-10 All-Freshman team, giving Cal the distinction of being the first school to ever land three players on the rookie recognition squad.
Melbourne Roos, which features nine all-state players from Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, begins its 11-game tour against Cal. The team then faces UC Davis, San Diego, Loyola Marymount, Fresno State, UNLV, Occidental College, Biola, California Lutheran, Central Arizona and Yapavai College Nov. 2-18. Tamara Inoue, an assistant coach for Melbourne Roos, played basketball at Cal in 1997-98.
Love and Basketball is comprised of 11 former collegiate players, and the majority of the members having ties to Southern California. Of note to Cal fans on the roster is Amber White, a 6-0 forward who starred for the Bears from 1999-03. White was named honorable mention Pac-10 All-Freshman in 1999-00. The game against Cal is Love and Basketball's sixth game in six days, with Stanford on the schedule Nov. 4.