Our third semifinal matchup of the weekend comes out of the Pappy Waldorf Region and features All-Everything Basketballer Jerome Randle taking on All-Everything Volleyballer Carli Lloyd. Randle got here by taking down Ron Rivera while Lloyd narrowly took out Layshia Clarendon. We'll take a closer look at both of them and then you can cast your vote to decide who moves on. You can take a look at the whole bracket here and voting will end Friday at noon. GO BEARS!
Randle's evolution as a player was remarkable. When I first watched him sophomore year I cringed watching him run the offense. I don't play much basketball, but when I do I'm usually the point guard, and the things Randle did are NOT things that would make my teammates happy. The shots themselves weren't that bad. I'm guessing if he was taking them in the first place he was hitting them in practice, and the next two years proved he could make those shots.
No, it was the lack of ball movement and inability to get the ball to the bigs that really exasperated me. The process of watching our plays developed was chaotic, and not in an enjoyable Nellie-ball sort of way. You could see the team unravel during conference play as they ran into smarter and more efficient teams. That's the point guard mantra--run the offense, make your teammates make happy. Bad point guards lead to bad teams, and that was what Cal was in 2008.
(The most curious thing was that Randle and Ryan Anderson never really gelled. Although people opine what would've been if Ryan had returned for a year (or two) with Monty, Jerome probably would've left as he was already on the fence after the Braun firing, and we'd have probably had two years of Nikola Knezevic running point guard. Think we're Pac-10 champions this year if that happens?)
His maturation was exceptional under Monty though. First he got the alpha dog streak as the team's on-the-court leader in his junior campaign. That he went from an inconsistent shooter shooter to one of college's most efficent offensive players (53rd in the nation in 09) in a year without great bigs to set picks for him lends credence to Montgomery's teaching methods. Amazing what putting a system in place does for good players.
Second, his endurance for a guy his size was exceptional. He played an average of 35 minutes the past two seasons, and that's including blowouts. And it wasn't like the guy was taking plays off either--he handled the ball on over a fourth of our possessions the past two seasons. It not only underscored the importance of Randle, but the faith Monty had in letting him play those long minutes. It wore him out last season, but his performances were solid from beginning to end this year.
Finally, he embraced his teammates and ran with them as they ran with each other. Although his 2009 campaign was more spectacular than his 2010 season, I felt he played even better this year. He sublimated his individual talents in search of the team goal, which was the conference crown. The final stretch of the Pac-10 season (where they won nine out of their last ten games) was perhaps the best basketball he ever played as a Bear. He stepped up when they needed him, he stepped aside when others were ready to carry the load. And they got that conference ring.
From BTown85: "The anchor of Cal's Pac-10 Champion women's v-ball team and National POY, leading the Golden Bears to the NCAA Finals only to lose (again) to Penn St. What a stud !!!!"
She is only the second player in Cal women's volleyball history to be a three-time All-American, and the only setter to win AA honors. This past year, she led the Bears to a program best 30-win season, their first-ever Pac-10 championship, and their first-ever national championship match. In recognition for her amazing play, she was also named the National AVCA Player of the Year. She is the first Cal woman to ever earn this prestigious award.
"Carli Lloyd and Meagan Schmitt, the lone seniors on the Cal volleyball team, were taking a walk on Sunday night, only hours after the NCAA tournament bracket was released.
The cool, crisp November air seemed to hint at the end of the season, the end of the year ... but also the beginning of a new one.
Suddenly Schmitt stopped. She turned to her friend and roommate and asked her if she would be satisfied with getting to the final four, like they did as freshmen in 2007. "Would that be enough for you?" she inquired.
Lloyd looked at her and answered with the intensity that has become her trademark quality in four years at Cal. "Absolutely not," she said. "I can't imagine anything other than winning.""
As a representative for the US, she helped Team USA win two gold medals and bronze medal. She is the only three-time selection to the USA A2 National team in the program's history. Now that she has graduated, Carli is working out with the U.S. Women's National Training Team in hopes of making the 2012 Olympic team.
Carli ended up making the team as an alternate and is well positioned to take a prominent position on the national team in the future.
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