HoF Round of 32: Ashley Walker vs The Play Players



Ashleyw

In our afternoon matchup we pit one of Cal women's greatest hoopsters against the most memorable moment in Cal sports history.

For each athlete, you can vote in the poll; it closes a week from today at midnight.  After the jump, you can read the athlete profiles written up by our commenters, and discuss in the comments your memories of each athlete and which one deserves to move on. (Check out the full bracket here.  To check out the original nomination thread, click here. For those who want to track the CGB Hall of Fame posts exclusively, click here or right next to the timestamp where it says "Hall of Fame".)

Ashley Walker

Norcalnick has both profiles this time around, starting with an excellent post on Walker.

Ashley Walker came to Cal as the overlooked member of the class that revived women’s basketball in Berkeley.  She wasn’t as heralded as Alexis Gray-Lawson or Devanei Hampton.  She’s not flashy.  She’s not particularly fast.  Hampton and Rama N’diaye are both taller and bigger than Walker.  And yet, after the most successful four year stretch in Cal women’s basketball history, it was Walker who emerged as the rock, the go-to player, the one who rewrote the record book with an amazing combination of constant growth and reliability. 

Consider these numbers:  Ashley Walker led Cal in the following statistical categories in her senior year:  Minutes, points, rebounds, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, blocks and three point percentage.  If she had two more steals she would have led the team in that category as well.  And Cal was not a team of scrubs with one superstar – Cal was a consistent top 10 team with talent, depth and a good coach.  Ashley Walker did everything. 

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via cache.daylife.com


Her profile from CalBears.com:

"ranked first in Cal history in rebounds (1117), free throws made (506) and attempted (675)... tied for first in games played (130)...second in career points (2142), blocked shots (174) and made field goals (810)...third in scoring average (16.5 ppg)...fourth in field goal percentage (52.7)... seventh in free throw percentage (75.3), and ninth in career steals (177)...ranks sixth on the Pac-10 career rebounding list and seventh in Pac-10 career scoring."

My favorite memory of Walker is somewhat bittersweet.  Not surprisingly for a player who seemed to get better each game over four years, Walker played her best in her final NCAA tournament.  First, she shot 9-12 for 21 points in an easy win over Fresno St.  Then she destroyed Virginiashooting 14-20 for 32 points along with 10 boards.  And for the first 14 minutes against #1 UConn Walker kept it going, hitting threes, getting inside, grabbing boards and generally frustrating Geno Auriemma.  UConn still cruised to victory, but Walker finished with 21 points.  I firmly believe that Cal would have beaten just about any other team in the nation that day the way the team, and Walker, were peaking. 

Walker was drafted 10th by the Seattle Storm and will now show her talent in the WNBA, where I have little doubt that a player with her versatility and ability to improve will carve out a successful role for a long time to come.  Meanwhile Cal will have to do without what I believe is the best female basketball player ever to wear the blue and gold.  Vote Ashley for the Hall of Fame!

For those of you MTV people wondering what Walker's living conditions were like at Cal...let's just say they were pretty peachy (lots of cool images of her crib if you click!)

 

The Play Players

Norcalnick talks about The Play.

Moen to Rodgers to Garner to Rodgers to Ford to Moen.  Like pi to math majors, every Cal fan should know the sequence.  But how exactly did a last second victory in a game with no real national significance become so legendary, so mythical?

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via upload.wikimedia.org

I tried to find a different picture, but apparently this was the only photo taken in the entire stadium. 

When I was 9 I went to my first Big Game and watched Cal win.  Having been hooked on Cal football, I then saw Cal lose 7 straight times.  My Mom, the consummate pessimistic yet loyal Cal fan, would hold up The Play as our desperate Cal fan trump card.  Lose 7 in a row to the ‘furd?  So what, we have The Play.  Go a decade without a bowl?  Whatevs, we have The Play.  No Rose Bowl berths in either of our lifetimes?  No worries, we have The Play. 

For 20 years between The Play and Tedford, it was our one shining moment in a sea of football pain and misery.  Whenever the Big Game was in Palo Alto my mom would play a tape that analyzed The Play, including an introduction, the CALX call of the game (which is significantly more confusing even than Starkey’s call) and player interviews.  We played it to piss off the Stanford fans, because THEY LOST ON THE PLAY! 

Every once in a while ESPN or Sports Illustrated will have some silly internet voting for the greatest play in college (or sports) history.  Despite a biased voting public, The Play almost always wins.  Nothing can match 6 laterals against your biggest rival with the most insane band in America on the field. 

It is here that we must mention the unfortunate part of our story:  Mariet Ford, he of the psychic blind lateral, is currently behind bars for the murder of his wife and 35 month old son. The Chronicle has a long profile on Ford, detailing the glory of The Play and his fall from grace.

Now, in 2009, with 6 straight bowl games and perennial conference title contention, maybe The Play isn’t as important as it used to be.  We don’t need to hang our hat on one moment.  Or, maybe The Play will remain as a moment that defines Cal athletes and fans alike with the attitude that the Bear will not quit, the Bear will not die. 

And if you ever wondered if The Play was ‘the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending... exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football,’ I’ll leave you with this: 

Via Wikipedia: 

 

For many years, John Elway was bitter, on both a personal level and on behalf of his team, about the touchdown being allowed: "This was an insult to college football... They [the officials] ruined my last game as a college football player."

 

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