Gottlieb and her five starters spent two hours at New Orleans Arena today going through a series of interviews and photo shoots to promote the Final Four. It was attention fit for royalty, and the Bears appeared to have a lot of fun doing it.
Starting at Noon, Gottlieb, guards Layshia Clarendon and Brittany Boyd and forward Gennifer Brandon posed for some NCAA photos. Clarendon and Boyd were also interviewed by ESPN for sound bites that will be aired throughout the network's coverage. Later, each of the five starters were filmed in ESPN's "Tease Room," where they posed with different moods and different positions, sometimes dribbling or holding a basketball. Finally, Gottlieb and the starters were filmed as a group. The five starters also did the same choreographed dance the team did after winning the Spokane Regional last weekend.
Later, Gottlieb and the players spent extensive time in a conference room meeting with ESPN's crew, including announcers Doris Burke and Holly Rowe as well as producers and other crew members. Gottlieb and the players also did interviews for content that will appear on the video board at the New Orleans Arena.
Finally, Gottlieb and the players also did interviews for the Dial Global Radio Network which is broadcasting the game, as well as NCAA.com.
The media obligations took two hours, and Gottlieb and the players immediately met the rest of the team afterward for practice.
Some images from today:
NEW ORLEANS - What an amazing first day of this journey for Cal's women's basketball team. After an incredible sendoff at Haas Pavilion in front of a large crowd, the Bears boarded their busses for the Oakland Airport. When they arrived at the terminal, they were greeted at security with an airport sign to wish them well. At their gate, there were blue and gold balloons and another "Go Bears" sign.
After a smooth flight to New Orleans, the Bears got on their busses and were immediately taken to Mardi Gras World, a large warehouse where floats are made for Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans. During the ride, team host Polly Thomas pointed out special sights of the city and educated Cal's players about New Orleans and Mardi Gras. Once inside, the Bears had the opportunity to explore, finding larger than life characters and other memorabilia. Then it was time for a group picture.
Back to the busses the Bears went again for the short drive to the team hotel. Along the way, when players found out that weren't included in a special VIP dinner on Saturday night on a riverboat, it produced a couple of groans. That's when assistant coach Charmin Smith pointed out "Yes, but you do get to play in a game." That was followed by a few people saying, "Two games!"
Things really got festive when the team arrived at the hotel.. The players were met with hotel personnel, which issued them beads with a Final Four emblem attached to the bottom. The band was already in place and played for the Bears as they headed up the escalators for a special welcome from the hotel and the city of New Orleans.
Once inside a special banquet room, Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb was presented with a game ball and a welcome from the local organizing committee. Then it was off to a late team dinner.
Tomorrow, Gottlieb and selected players will tape several interviews and shoots with ESPN at New Orleans Arena. Then there will be a special team dinner back at Mardi Gras World.
A large crowd of fans came to Haas Pavilion Thursday morning to help give the Golden Bears a rousing send-off for their trip to New Orleans and the Final Four. In addition to performances from the Cal Straw Hat Band and Dance Team, Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, head coach Lindsay Gottlieb and junior guard Mikayla Lyles all spoke and thanked the Cal fans for their enduring and enthusiastic support. Here are a few photos from the event. You can view more images in this photo gallery on CalBears.com. See you in New Orleans!
Some highlights to point out:
- Cal is the "High Seed Semifinal 1," meaning the Bears' open practice at The New Orleans Arena on Saturday is from 11 a.m.-Noon CT. That practice is completely open to the public and free of charge.
- Following the open practice, the Bears will hold an autograph session from 12:10-12:40 p.m. CT. The session will be held in sections 112 and 114 on the arena concourse.
- Not listed on the schedule is a "Battle of the Bands" that will take place Saturday from 3:45-4:15 p.m. CT at the arena.
- Lucy's Retired Surfer's Bar & Restaurant will serve as the official "Cal Gathering Place" for the weekend. Spend some free time there socializing with your fellow Cal fans.