Sunday, March 29, 2009

Game Notes

The Bears made it to the Sweet 16 for the first time in women’s basketball program history. They are now 4-8 overall in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bears finish the 2008-09 campaign with a 27-6 overall record, tying for the most wins in a season in school history.

UConn’s largest deficit of the season came when Cal went up by eight points with 6:38 to play in the first half.

UConn’s 24-point scoring margin against the Bears fell well under the Huskies average of 31.6 points through the entire season and 33.5 points in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

The 35-33 halftime score was Connecticut’s closest since the 34-34 tie in the Nov. 16, 2008 game versus Georgia Tech.

Walker has scored 20 or more points in six of seven NCAA Tournament games in her career. She has now scored 155 points in NCAA Tournament and has led the Bears in scoring in each of the seven NCAA Tournament games in which she has played.

Cal shot 100 percent (11-11) from the free-throw line against the Huskies. Cal shot 80.4 percent from the charity stripe in the three NCAA Tournament games.

The Bears made five or more three-pointers in each of this season’s NCAA Tournament games. Against UConn, Cal made eight three-pointers.

With 21 points against the Huskies, Ashley Walker finished her Cal career with 2,142 total points for second place on the all-time scoring list behind Colleen Galloway, who has 2,320. Hampton is in sixth place with 1,588 career points.

Ashley Walker further etched her name into program history with seven rebounds against UConn to bring her career total to 1,117, the all-time most by any Cal women’s basketball player.

Devanei Hampton had a team-high 11 rebounds to move into fourth place on the all-time list with 876, surpassing Teresa Palmisano (874).

Ashley Walker finished her Cal career with an average of 16.48 points per game.

UConn: 77, Cal: 53 - FINAL

The Bears are defeated by No. 1 seed UConn.

Game notes to follow after press conferences.

UConn: 61, Cal: 43 - 9:41 second half

Great trey by Tasha, followed by a defensive rebound by Dev. Tasha's three tied her career best for points in an NCAA Tournament game with eight.

Dev's got a team-high nine boards but Cal needs more production as she's 1-8. She's not catching a break on foul calls either.

Great rebound by Ash on a missed three by Maya Moore.

Tasha continues to shine at slowing the transition for the Bears.

UConn: 50, Cal: 40 - 15:38 second half.

Great trey by Lexi, just what the doctor ordered to bring Cal within seven. Then Maya Moore distanced UConn by 10 with a three of her own for UConn's largest lead of the game.

Halftime Update

UConn: 35, Cal: 33 - halftime

Cal's keys to success against UConn:
REBOUNDS: Rebounds will determine this game for Cal. At the half, Cal is outrebounding UConn, 22-19, but it's going to have to be a lot more than that. UConn has nine second-chance points that could have been well avoided with a couple more boards by the Bears on the defensive end.

TURNOVERS: The Bears have nine turnovers, compared to UConn's one. The Bears have lost two possessions on shot-clock violations, much to the UConn bench's elation. The Huskies have 11 points off turnovers, most of which could have been avoided by Cal.

TRANSITION: Natasha Vital has done a great job of slowing Cal's transition, but they need to me slightly more effective here. UConn loves to run an up-tempo offense and force that onto the opposition, but if the Bears can slow it down and play California basketball, they'll have more luck. I could tell twice when the UConn defense was overpowering Cal's offense, and that was when Cal had the two shot-clock violations.

Cal needs to spread the points production around a little bit more. Ashley Walker has 16 first-half points and Devanei Hampton has eight.

This is the second time all season that Ashley Walker has hit two threes. She's 2-2 from beyond the arc so far.

Cal has a better shooting percentage than UConn in the first half - 40.7 percent to 35.9 percent.

UConn has missed five free throws out of its 10. Cal is 100 percent at 6-6 from the charity stripe.

Cal: 31, UConn: 23 - 6:37

Geno calls a timeout after Ashley Walker drains a three-pointer with five seconds remaining on the shot clock!

Alexis Gray-Lawson got an amazing basket to put the Bears up by five, 28-23, with 7:25 remaining.

Cal: 15, UConn 13 - 11:53 first half

Ashley Walker hit a gorgeous pull-up trey.

Rebecca Lobo's watching the team huddle for clues.

Rebounds are going to be the key in this game for both teams. Everyone can produce points on both squads, but it's going to be who's strongest under the basket that determines the winners.

Cal: 7, UConn 5 - 15:57 first half.

Cal's in the blue unis while UConn dons the home white jerseys.

Ashley Walker just drove it down the lane for two, excellent.

Cal takes its first lead of the game off a Walker score.

Starting Line-Ups

Seconds away from tip!


44 - Ashley Walker
20 - Devanei Hampton
2 - Natasha Vital
10 - Lauren Greif
21 - Alexis Gray-Lawson

3 - Maya Moore
31 - Tina Charles
3 - Tiffany Hayes
20 - Renee Montgomery
32 - Kalana Greene

In-Game Blogging Notes:
Per NCAA regulation, I'm only allowed to blog five times per half, once at the half and twice per overtime period. Please hit refresh on your browser window to see if there are new updates!

More Sights and Sounds From Sovereign Bank Arena

We're now under 20 minutes until game time and fans have well begun to trickle into the Sovereign Bank Arena.

Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan, whom was denied her 700th career win when the Bears defeated the Cavaliers in the second round last week, was one of the first fans in the door.

California Vice Chancellor Nathan Brostrom was also one of the first to arrive.

Many of the families of the Cal student-athletes have made their way out to New Jersey over the past few days and were at the hotel to send the Bears on their way.

Both teams just left the floor after a half-hour shootaround. Even though Storrs, Conn., is clearly much closer to Trenton, N.J., than Berkeley, the cheers from the Cal fans in attendance equaled that of the UConn contingent.

Rebecca Lobo, who won a national championship with UConn and now commentates for ESPN, is sitting to my right, just a couple feet away. She'll be today's sideline reporter with Debbie Antonelli and Pam Ward on the call. ESPN keeps mentioned how Rebecca Lobo Twitters from the games, which she will be doing today and you can read it here. With her strong UConn allegiance, it will be interesting to see the degree to which it influences her coverage.

For those of you who aren't famliar with Twitter, it's another social networking Website that allows people 140 characters to write something like a status update of their current activities, random thoughts or an opinion. People can follow you on Twitter and read your updates. It's much like a Facebook status update.

For example, mine would read: blogging live from the Sweet 16 in Trenton, N.J., as the Golden Bears get set to take on UConn.

Rebecca Lobo's most recent "twit" was: Getting ready for the Uconn/Cal game. I'll be talking Tina Charles at the top of the show. Last year... timid. This year... unstoppable.

With Cal's head coach Joanne Boyle hailing from nearby Pittsburgh, she'll have a lot of friends and family in the audience today. Her mom greeted the other Cal families in the stands.

Lauren Greif's family has made the trek out, and you can tell by their shirts. The front reads "Oh good Greif" and the back says "L.G. For Three..."

Per NCAA regulation, no one can bring a bottle out on the floor, everyone must put their water into a cup, which this and other signs constantly remind everyone:

The NCAA is so organized, they've even got a place for the bus drivers of the team and spirit busses:

Listen to the Game!

As with all of the Cal women's basketball games, you can hear today's Sweet 16 game live from anywhere in the world thanks to Cal's student radio station, KALX 90.7-FM. If you're in the Bay Area, tune your radio dial to 90.7-FM. If you're not in the Bay, go to

I just listened to their pre-game intro, and it could have been professionally done. They'll go on the air at roughly 8:57 PST.

They carry an Oski doll to every broadcast for good luck:

Today's News Clippings

Lots of stories for you to read before tip thanks to my cohort's mad research skills.

San Francisco Chronicle: Clash against No. 1 Huskies? Just routine

Bay Area News Group: UConn tall order for Cal women

Connecticut Post: Cal's Boyle on amazing journey and For UConn women, no complacency

Hartford Courant: Cal A Long Way From Home and UConn Keeps Focus On Perfecting Its Game

Associated Press: California-Connecticut Preview

ESPN: East meets West in diverse Trenton (Graham Hays mistakenly calls Ashely Walker the "reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year)

Greetings from Sovereign Bank Arena!

We've safely arrived at Sovereign Bank Arena for the Sweet 16 game vs. No. 1-seeded UConn at noon EST (that's 9 a.m. for the Californians). The team was up early with a walk-through before heading to a filling breakfast at 8:30 a.m. The team and staff had their choice of pancakes, hash browns, pancakes, ham, bagels, and made-to-order eggs.

Once again, the loyal Cal Straw Hat Band and Cal Dance Team were in front of the hotel to send the team on its way with the traditional Cal fight songs. It was a great way to head to the Sweet 16, though I'm sure the other guests in the hotel were not as amused.

It was a quick bus ride from our hotel in Princeton to the arena in Trenton. It's a gray and drizzly day here in New Jersey, which makes everyone glad basketball is an indoor sport.

We've got a little more than an hour until game time. More updates soon.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Press Conference Quotes

As I mentioned earlier, we had two sets of "pressers" as they're known in the biz aka press conferences - one with Joanne Boyle and another with the players. We've posted the quotes on for your reading pleasure.

Since they're quite extensive, here's a link to them at

Photo Update

I grabbed a couple of shots during the open practice. We should hopefully have some professional shots later on today.

The team at practice at Sovereign Bank:
Some of the fans on both sides of the court. I thought it was a pretty good turnout! I'm thinking that this arena will be really intimate for the fans that come tomorrow.
The bracket with only 16 teams remaining:

Cal's part of the bracket...the Trenton, N.J. Regional!