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Cal Women's Basketball

Women's Basketball Team Trying to Get Healthy Again

January 3, 2022
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The Cal women’s basketball team was ready to open Pac-12 play and liked its chances against Washington State.

Note the past tense.

Just as they were preparing to take on WSU in Pullman last Friday, the Bears learned they would have to do without three players including the conference’s leading scorer, guard Jayda Curry (above). The result was predictable. The Cougars rolled over the short-handed Bears, 69-42.

“(Guard) Jazlen Green has been day to day with some knee irritation,” head coach Charmin Smith said in a telephone interview. “We are hoping to get that resolved soon.’

Curry and Dalayah Daniels?

“We hope to have them back as soon as possible,” Smith said. She was no more specific than that regarding both the players’ availability and the nature of their ailment. There is one conclusion to jump to after that statement, and I don’t have to tell you what it is.

Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos
Charmin Smith

The Bears (9-3, 0-1 Pac-12) aren’t scheduled to play again until Friday when they host Oregon State (7-3, 0-0). Depending on the severity of whatever ails them, Curry and Daniels certainly could be cleared to play by then. 

Curry’s importance cannot be overestimated. The 5-6 freshman from Corona leads the conference in scoring, averaging 20.09 points per game.

“She is just a phenomenal player and I’m really happy that we have her.,” Smith said. “My favorite thing about her is her personality,  how humble she is, how hungry she is and she wants the best for the team. Her teammates love her, and I think that is a great thing when you are young, super talented and playing the kind of minutes she is. That shows just what kind of teammate you are. That bodes well for us in the future.”

And she is far from a ball hog. She is third on the team and 15th in conference in assists, dishing out 2.91 per game.

“She shares the ball,” Smith said. “There were times I thought she passed too much in games. She is capable of making her teammates better. Other people play better when Jayda’s on the floor. She commands so much attention that it frees up other people and she is able to find other people.”

The Bears are hardly a one-woman gang. Evelien Lutie-Schipholt, who hails from the Netherlands, was conference Player of the Week two weeks ago. 

Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos
Evelien Lutie Schipholt 

“She is a warrior,” Smith said of the 6-2 junior. “She works extremely hard and gives it 100 percent every second she is out there. She has worked hard at being a presence for us in the paint, and she has spent some time trying to develop a perimeter shot as well to keep people from sagging off of her when she is the high post. We call on her to do a lot. Her voice is important from a leadership standpoint.”

Smith, a Stanford grad who was an assistant on the Cal staff for 12 years before becoming head coach two years ago, has had a tough beginning to her new role. The Bears were 12-19, 3-15 her first year and an unsightly 1-16, 1-12 last season as covid played havoc with the roster and the schedule.

“Last year was really hard, there is no other way to say it,” Smith said. “I am really proud of how resilient we were to get through it. It was tough for a number of reasons. People playing 40 minutes a game. People in 14-day isolation. People not being able to go home and see their families. There were a number of challenges that made it really, really tough besides having six freshmen.”

This season things have improved in virtually every phase, starting with the fact that, the current status aside, it takes longer to call the roll. “I like having more bodies than I’ve had in the past,” Smith said. “Obviously I don’t like playing not at full strength. But we are able to practice and continue to get better and that’s something we were not able to do last year. 

“This group is really open to learning and improving. They are working really hard to get better each day. We know we’ve got a tough road ahead of us and we are committed to the challenge and I enjoy coming to work every day and being on this journey with them.”

Related:

Evelien Lutje Schipholt Named Pac-12 Player Of The Week

Jayda Curry Earns Fourth Pac-12 Freshman Of The Week Honors

Discussion from...

Women's Basketball Team Trying to Get Healthy Again

2,039 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by HoopDreams
BearBint
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Thanks, dbush518. I also appreciate Cal's posting a discreet explanation about what's going on with the team. As I've written before, Charmin herself seems to prize honesty above standard athletic b.s.
HoopDreams
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I think last year's bad results had more to do with a lack of any guards (except Leilani) and veterans, than COVID
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