Nov. 10, 2011
Sunday, Nov. 13: California at No. 16 Rutgers, 2:05 p.m. Eastern Time
BERKELEY- The California Golden Bears and first-year head coach Lindsay Gottlieb, open the 2011-12 season on the road, traveling to New Jersey to face the No. 16 Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Sunday, Nov. 13. The game tips at 2:05 p.m. Eastern Time (11:05 a.m. Pacific). Live audio streaming will be available through CalBears.com.
This will be the fourth meeting in the last five years between the Bears and the Scarlet Knights. Cal has won the last two games, a 66-52 victory over a then-ranked No. 2 Rutgers team in 2008 and a 66-57 victory over an unranked squad to start last season. Both of those victories came on the home court at Haas. Rutgers last victory over the Bears was in New Jersey when they edged Cal, 56-51, Dec. 10, 2007.
Rutgers is one of two ranked teams the Bears will face in the month of November. Texas, currently ranked No. 24, will be one of the three teams Cal will take on over the Thanksgiving holiday in Hawaii. Ohio State, an opponent Cal will face in December at Haas Pavilion, is currently one spot away from cracking the top-25.
The Bears have won the season-opener each of the last eight years. The last time that Cal started the season 0-1 was 2002 when then-head coach Caren Horstmeyer's squad was defeated on the home court. The opponent: Rutgers.
This is also the first time since 2007 that Cal has begun the season on the road. Cal, and then-head coach Joanne Boyle with then-associate head coach Gottlieb, opened the `07 campaign at Fresno State with a 83-79 victory.
Gottlieb, who grew up just outside of New York City in Scarsdale, will be vying for her first career win as the head coach of the Bears. Only two of Cal's nine head coaches have won their Golden Bear debut: Barb Iten in 1975 and Joanne Boyle in 2005. Caren Horstmeyer, the seventh head coach in program history's, began her tenure on Nov. 17, 2000 with a 66-47 loss at Rutgers.
In addition to being the debut of Gottlieb, this game will also be the first for assistant coaches Kai Felton and Daron Park. Charmin Smith is the only member of the coaching staff to remain from last year. Smith, who coached alongside Gottlieb during the 2007-08 season, is beginning her fifth year on the Cal bench.
The game will also mark the return to the court of redshirt sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon. Brandon sat out the entire 2010-11 campaign with a stress fracture in her shin. She had been an important part of the 2010 WNIT Championship squad, earning a spot on the Pac-10 Media All-Freshmen team and was an honorable mention for the Pac-10 All-Defensive Team. She led the Bears in rebounding (8.5 rpg) and was the top freshman in the Pac-10 in rebounding that season.
Steals Junior guard Eliza Pierre led the Pac-10 last season in steals, averaging 2.65 per game. She finished the season with 90 steals, the fourth-highest single-season total in program history. Pierre began the 2010-11 campaign with 13 consecutive games in which she had at least one steal. She had six games last season with five or more takeaways. In her two seasons with Cal, Pierre already has 161 career steals, 17 shy of moving into the program's career top-10.
Rebounding The Bears return their top rebounder from 2010-11, Talia Caldwell. Caldwell was second in the Pac-10 in rebounding, averaging 8.6 boards per game. The Bears also return their top rebounder from 2009-10 with Gennifer Brandon returning to the floor. Brandon averaged 8.5 rebounds per game her freshman year. Caldwell had nine games in 2010-11 where she pulled in double-digit rebounds including a career-best 20 against Oregon. Brandon's career best was a 21-board performance, a Haas Pavilion record, in the 2010 opening round WNIT game against UC Davis.
Three Pointers In each of the last five seasons, Cal has had a player enter the top-ten list in the program record book for made-threes. Last year, Lindsay Sherbert hit 49 treys, the seventh-highest single season total. Alexis Gray-Lawson has three seasons in the top-10 (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10) and Lauren Grief one (2006-07).
Scoring StreaksTalia Caldwell has scored at least one point in 49 consecutive games, going back to Feb. 12, 2010. Layshia Clarendon has scored at least two points in 34 consecutive games, a streak that encompasses every game of the 2010-11 season. Clarendon was held scoreless in the 2010 WNIT Final against Miami, the last time she did not score for the Bears. In all, Clarendon has only been held scoreless four times in her career. Caldwell has only twice gone without scoring.
Late Season Heroics No one was sadder to see the 2010-11 season come to a close than sophomore guard Afure Jemerigbe. She averaged 3.8 points per game in the regular season, but went on a post-season tear. Starting with the Pac-10 Tournament and going through Cal's WNIT run, Jemerigbe averaged 10.8 points per game.
Cal in the Polls The Bears have been picked to finish third in both the Preseason Pac-12 Coaches' Poll and the Preseason Pac-12 Media Poll. Cal also received votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. Last year, Cal was unranked all season, but received votes in the preseason poll and continued to receive votes through the first five weeks of the season. Cal was last ranked No. 22 in the week four poll of the 2009-10 season.
Last Year vs. Rutgers In last season's game against Rutgers, guard Layshia Clarendon led the Bears with 16 points. Guard Eliza Pierre had 10 points and six assists. Guard Afure Jemerigbe had one of her more well-rounded games with nine points and five rebounds in 20 minutes of play. Rutgers leads the all-time series, 3-2.
Cal vs. Ranked Teams Cal's last victory over a ranked team was the 99-73 victory over No. 23/25 Virginia in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The No. 2/3-ranked Rutgers team was the highest-ranking team to be defeated by Cal when the Bears defeated the Scarlet Knights, 66-52, in Berkeley (11/21/08).
Past Honors The Bears have seven former McDonalds High School All-Americans [Gennifer Brandon (2009), Eliza Pierre (2009), Tierra Rogers (2009), Afure Jemerigbe (2010), Lindsay Sherbert (2010), Reshanda Gray (2011), Justine Hartman (2011)], four WBCA high school All-Americans [Layshia Clarendon (2009), Afure Jemerigbe (2010), Lindsay Sherbert (2010), Justine Hartman (2011)], and five players with National Team playing experience [Layshia Clarendon (2009, USA U-19), Avigiel Cohen (2006-09, Israel), Reshanda Gray (2010, USA U-18), Justine Hartman (2009, USA U-16), Afure Jemerigbe (2011, Nigeria)] on the current roster.
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Back-to-Back-to-Back Top Recruiting Classes Cal will snap its streak of three straight years with top-15 ranked recruiting classes. With a team that has zero seniors on it, the Bears will not sign any players during the 2011 fall signing period.
Last season, Cal's recruiting class (this year's freshmen) was ranked No. 5 in the country by ESPN RISE in the final rankings. The Golden Bears were ranked No. 7 after the initial fall signing period in which they inked McDonald's All-American Reshanda Gray and Washington's Gatorade State Player of the Year Erika Johnson as well as local star point guard Brittany Boyd (from Berkeley High). After adding the No. 7-ranked recruit in the class, McDonald's and WBCA All-American post Justine Hartman.
California has signed recruiting classes ranked in the top-10 by at least one scouting service each of the last three years. The 2009 group, which comprises Cal's junior class, was ranked No. 1 by the BlueStar Basketball Report, while the sophomore class was rated 7th by Blue Star.