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Cal Women's Basketball

Cal Women Ready to Open Season

November 6, 2019
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The California Golden Bears are ready to kick of the season.

After two exhibition victories--- 99-77 over Beijing Normal University and 79-55 over Vanguard—the Bears are excited for the games to count. The Bears will take open their season on Friday, visiting Harvard.

New Cal head coach Charmin Smith is getting used to the year of firsts.

“I’m feeling pretty comfortable right now,” said Smith. “[Assistant Coaches] Kai [Felton], Dale [Farrow], and April [Phillips] are really great and really supportive in helping me to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. I think when you have the right people around you, it really makes your job a lot easier.”

The Bears are returning one starter—senior forward Jaelyn Brown—from last year’s 20-13 team, which reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In addition to Brown, the Bears are expected to count on the contributions of their returners CJ West, Alaysia Styles, Anastasia Anastasieska, and Chen Yue. West and Styles were part of the regular rotation last season, while Yue and Anastasieska are less-known quantities, due to lack of playing time and injury, respectively.

The lack of experience is expected to be challenge for Cal.

Smith is bullish on the Bears, however. “I'm really excited about the group that we have and their willingness to work, commit, and compete.” 

Cal will feature some new faces: freshmen Leilani McIntosh, Evelien Lutje Schipholt, Cailyn Crocker, and Jazlen Green all figure to receive extensive playing time. McIntosh looks to be the starting point guard, and Schipholt averaged 13.5 points and 10 rebounds in the two pre-season contests.

“I thought our freshmen performed really well in both exhibition games. They’ve been efficient and bring a lot of energy and a willingness to learn.”

Green missed the game against Vanguard due to concussion symptoms.

Another guard who is sidelined is Mi’Cole Cayton, who is still recovering from her knee injury.

“We do not have a timeline for Mi’Cole’s return,” Smith shared. “She’s still recovering with her knee, so we’re just listening to the doctors and her body.”

Brown, Styles, Yue, Anastieska, and McIntosh were the starters in both exhibition games, but Smith expects things to be in flux at the beginning of the season. “Nothing is set in stone yet in terms of a starting line-up. We have a really young team and are still figuring out roles and what’s best for the team. Overall, we’re looking at energy and effort right now and I was really happy with how the team performed in those aspects in both our exhibition games.”

Smith will continue to look for growth, and much will involve how players learn and adapt to playing in a new offensive and defensive systems.

“We were going to look different regardless this season just because of the players that we lost from last year,” Smith explained. “With that being said, Dale spent a lot of time this season looking for offenses that he thought would fit our personnel well. He brought them to me and we’ve watched a ton of film to come up with something that we think is hard to scout and allows for a lot of freedom. On the defensive end, I’d like to see us have the ability to be more aggressive and pressure our opponents more frequently.”

Still, most predict that the season will be a rebuilding one for Cal. The Bears have been picked to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12:  11th by the coaches and 10th by the media.

Smith believes that Cal’s success will be measured in effort and willingness. “We talk about it a lot, in that we want to put forth our best effort every single day, and that our best is good enough. Whatever the outcome is, if we are putting forward our best effort, we’re going to sleep well at night knowing that we’re giving it our all. That’s the basis of this concept of being willing. This season is all about being willing – having people who are willing to work every single day, willing to commit to each other – to hold each other accountable – and being willing to compete.”

Cal will open the non-conference slate with a trip to New England, taking on Harvard (November 8, 4pm PT) and Connecticut (November 10, 10am PT). Both teams defeated Cal last year.

“We’re not afraid to go to Harvard for our first game,” challenged Smith.  “We’re not afraid to go to UConn for our second game, because we’re willing to compete. As long as we hold on to that competitive spirit and are giving it our all, we can live with any outcome.”

The Bears will then hold their home-opener on November 17 (5pm) against UC Riverside.

While expectations may be tempered for this season, hopes are high for the future, as Smith and Cal have already built tremendous buzz and momentum on recruiting trail. The Bears have secured verbal commitments from three blue-chip recruits: 6’4 Fatou Samb, 6’3 Michelle Oniyah, and 6’4 Dalayah Daniels. All three are top 100 players are figure to give Cal an immediate infusion of talent and height next fall.

In addition, 5’9 point guard Ornela Muca (Albania) is also expected to become a Golden Bear.

While Smith cannot discuss specific recruits—per NCAA rules—she did give a glimpse into why Cal has been so successful this fall, pointing to the continuity of retaining the same staff.

“We did a really good job of building strong relationships with the recruits,” explained Smith.  “These relationships were able to withstand my departure and then return to Cal. We also invested a lot of time and energy in these student athletes that understand Cal, they value the degree, and they believe in our vision.”

 

Cal Women Ready to Open Season

881 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 10 days ago by OBear073akaSMFan
pearbear
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This will be an interesting season, one in which we'll be rooting for the Bears to overachieve.

I don't expect Cal to be that successful in the win-loss column. The Pac-12 is much too tough. But in addition to "willingness to work, commit, and compete," I'm also interested in how the team plays together, both in terms of execution and in mental toughness. To me, those are the marks of a rebuilding team that will accelerate on their road back.

GO BEARS!
OBear073akaSMFan
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pearbear said:

This will be an interesting season, one in which we'll be rooting for the Bears to overachieve.

I don't expect Cal to be that successful in the win-loss column. The Pac-12 is much too tough. But in addition to "willingness to work, commit, and compete," I'm also interested in how the team plays together, both in terms of execution and in mental toughness. To me, those are the marks of a rebuilding team that will accelerate on their road back.

GO BEARS!
Any TV? Harvard's game is listed on ESPN+ and the UConn game on SNY. Are both of these only accessible via computer?
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