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Women's Basketball Week in Review: With Pictures!

[TwistNHook Note:  NorCalNick and I collaborated on this post, because we attended the ASU game together.  You can tell when he is writing here, because, unlike me, he's not functionally illiterate.]

Let's start this post the way we start most CGB posts:  With large throngs of teenage women.  But in this case, they weren't there to see me!  Shocking.  Nothing screams CaliforniaGoldenBlogs like teen idols!  In this case, the story starts with the area outside the ticket window at Haas Pavilion.  I (TnH) had shown up from the rugby game with about 10 minutes left in the first after NorCalNick had gotten there on time.  Attempts to charm my way into the game without paying for a ticket proved, surprisingly, UNIMAGINABLY unsuccessful.  Did not see that coming.  Thought I could bat an eyelash or two and waltz right in.  Even my flawless fox trot was not possible!  Anyway, when we went over to buy tickets, there was a huge group of women.


I went up to one and asked "What are you guys waiting for?"  She said "Nick Jonas."  Playing dumb, I said "Who is that?"Some other girl, WITHOUT ANY SENSE OF IRONY, went all "OH EM GEE!" in a disgusted manner.  Clearly, I had somehow wandered onto the set of a Gossip Girl episode.  Yet Blake Lively was nowhere to be found!  Don't believe me that they were there for the Jonas Brothers?  Check out this:


Still don't believe me?  Check out this bad boy from AEE07 (aka "NorCalNick's Chick")


Yes, January 30, 2010, will be a day that lives on in infamy.  January 30, 2010 will be the day that I nearly saw Nick Jonas.  It is as devastating today, writing this, as it was on that fateful day.  I don't know how I could bring myself to discuss Women's Basketball.  I guess that's why we pay NorCalNick the big bucks.  Check in with him after the fold and GO BEARS!

With four minutes and 7 seconds to go in the 2nd half against Arizona St, Cal had a 10 point lead.  The Sun Devils had looked absolutely incapable of stopping the Bears from scoring for the last 16 minutes, and they seemed confused as they brought the ball up the court.  Their guards slowly dribbled the ball around the perimeter, lacking the urgency a team down 10 with 4 to play should have.  Their coach called a timeout to set the team straight.  The game was over.  I starting imagining dream scenarios involving Cal continuing their improvement and sweeping USC and UCLA out of Berkeley and vaulting into 2nd place in the Pac-10 at 8-3.



Layshia Clarendon watches her fastbreak layup fall through the net with 4:36 to go, stretching Cal's lead to 59-49

4:07 later it had all fallen apart. Arizona St. scored 2 points on six of their last eight possessions, including 6-6 from the line and the buzzer beating jumper from the baseline by Danielle Orsillo.  Cal was successful on 1 of their 7 possessions, including 0-2 from the line and 2 turnovers.

So, considering those grisly details, why am I not upset? 


My Saturday in Berkeley began on Witter Field, when I found out that arriving five minutes late means standing in a long line of rugby fans and missing the first 31 points of the game, which Cal scored in approximately 1 minute and 37 seconds of gametime.  During the 2nd half Twistnhook gently reminded me that  he wasn't 'paying' me to watch rugby, so my loyal photographer and I left early to get down to Haas by tipoff.


Gen Brandon's first of many displays of 'bounciness.'  Note:  All photos taken by the lovely aee07


As I turned right off of Bancroft, I was immediately excited by the amount of fans that had shown up to watch the Bears!  Why, police had to set up street blockades to organize the crush of fans!  Sure, they all seemed to be 15 years old, but the women's team needs all the fans they can get.  But I didn't have time to investigate - it was gametime.  So I left the investigative work up to Twist, who apparently embarrassed himself in front of a wide variety of teenage women.  Or as he likes to call it "Saturday." 



I don't have much to say about the first half of the game because frankly, it was kind of ugly - the game clogged down in half court sets, both teams turned the ball over, and Cal wasn't shooting particularly well. I do want to mention Brenna Heater, who came in towards the middle of the first half and gave Cal some excellent minutes, putting up 5 points and 4 rebounds in only ten minutes of action.  She really sparked Cal on offense and was a big reason the game was tied at half


Brenna cleans up the boards

A 27-27 tie accurately reflected what was happening on the court.  While I went in search of soda and nachos and almost ran into Tierra Rogers as she returned to the court (but I have no photographic proof!  NOOOO!), Twist enjoyed the fine halftime entertainment:

I don't know what kind of halftime adjustments Joanne Boyle made, but Cal came out and played the best 10 minutes of offensive basketball they've played all year.  In the first 11 possessions of the 2nd half, Cal scored 9 baskets by four different players with 4 assists.  They scored on fastbreaks and out of the halfcourt set, they scored on great passing to Stallworth and Brandon inside and on dribble drives from Clarendon and Gray-Lawson.  It was an offensive clinic.  Cal scored 24 points in about 8 minutes of gametime after scoring 27 in the entire first half!


DeNesha Stallworth goes strong to the rim!


One of the many reasons Lexi is unguardable:  When she dribbles the ball phase-shifts through time


Alas, not all good things can last.  Cal's offense stagnated, ASU did a great job of getting to the hoop, sinking layups and drawing fouls, and Danielle Orsillo hit every open jumper she got to send Cal down to bitter defeat.

What could possibly cheer me up after a bitter, last second home defeat?  The fact that Cal has shown constant improvement on the court since getting swept in LA?  Gennifer Brandon's career best performance?  That Cal should have won a game against a solid opponent when Alexis Gray-Lawson had an off night?  Purchasing Season 4 of The Simpsons for only $13.95 at Rasputin?  Yes, all of those things were considered.  But the only tonic for my wounded soul was pure, unadulterated, teeny-bopper love.


Like O. M. G.!!!!!!!

Why did Nick Jonas show up outside of Rasputin?  Was he looking for a Megadeth poster?  Was he hoping to find an obscure klezmer-jazz swing fusion album?  Was he merely doing some last minute promotion for his solo concert at Zellerbach?  Perhaps all of the above.  But I'd like to think that Nick's arrival was no coincidence - that his boyish charm was sent to heal my pain from such a sudden defeat.  So thank you, Nick Jonas.  If the whole Disney/teen heartthrob thing doesn't work out, may I suggest a future as a faith healer?

Stat Chart vs. Arizona and Arizona St.

FGs 3 pts. FTs Pts Rbds Asts TOs Mins
Gray-Lawson 21-50 6-19 5-8 53 7 4 4 68
Brandon 9-19 0-0 5-10 23 24 3 2 75
Stallworth 4-8 0-1 4-4 12 6 0 3 34
Clarendon 6-15 2-5 2-2 16 4 3 7 50
Pierre 2-7 1-3 0-1 5 5 2 0 36
Vital 1-4 0-1 4-4 6 5 1 1 53
Caldwell 1-4 0-0 0-4 2 6 0 2 33
Heater 3-6 0-0 1-2 7 5 1 1 16
Greif 0-1 0-1 0-1 0 1 0 0 10
Federico 2-5 2-4 1-2 7 1 1 1 24


The good:
-Good God, Gennifer Brandon rebounding!
-only 22 turnovers this week (note, chart does not record team turnovers and team rebounds), which is well below the Bear's average of 16 a game.

The bad:
-Rebounding by everybody else - Arizona and ASU did a pretty good job keeping the Bears off of the boards, something that Cal really needs to win most games
-Free throw shooting could be better and was particularly damaging against ASU when every point was critical.  Cal only shot 58% from the line on Saturday.

The interesting:
-Cal shot a ton of 3 pointers in a deliberate strategy to beat Arizona's zone.  Federico played 24 minutes in that game, mostly as a three point threat to help stretch the zone.

Player of the Game vs. Arizona:  Alexis Gray-Lawson

After I used my entire post last week to extol the virtues of Alexis, she had probably her best game of the year against Arizona.  In her 47 point performance against OSU, Lexi relied on drawing fouls to get her points, and by the end I got the sense that every time she missed the refs called a 'respect' foul.  Against Arizona she only got to the line 6 times and still scored more points in regulation than she did against OSU.  Plus, she played great defense on Davellyn Whyte and drew an amazing charge on a 4 on 1 fast break.  And apparently she did it all with a cold.

Player of the Game vs. Arizona St.:  Gennifer Brandon

Brandon was so good against ASU that even Twist was talking about her!  Brandon played 39 minutes, scored 18 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and the Sun Devils never really found an answer to her athleticism.  Brandon was particularly impressive in transition where her speed and hops really allows her to break down a defense.  She got every critical rebound for the Bears and even threw in 4 blocks and a steal.  Brandon has the kind of speed that could make her a real defensive force if she can put all of her abilities together at once.  She did that for periods of time against ASU and it was very impressive.

What's Next:  USC (13-7, 7-2) @ Cal, UCLA (14-6, 7-2) @ Cal

Despite the painful loss to ASU, Cal still controls quite a bit of their destiny - If they sweep next week they'll probably be in a tie for 2nd place in the Pac-10 (I'm assuming that UCLA and USC also fall to Stanford in Palo Alto) and it would create a huge logjam with ASU in the mix as well.  Despite Cal's loss to USC early in the season (on a buzzer beater 3) I still feel that Cal matches up well with the Trojans - they have a decided rebounding advantage.  Hopefully home court advantage an improved 3 point defense will carry Cal.  UCLA will be a sterner test.  But the fact that Cal is in this position is great news.  I hope people take some time to find these games on TV or make their way down to Haas - these next two are HUGE!



TwistNHook - It was not easy for me to weave my photos and stories through NorCalNick's photos and analysis, because it would have ruined so much of it.  So, I'll throw it down here.  When we got there, much later than NorCalNick, we didn't really know where to go and wandered aimlessly towards the court.  Just in time to see a Cal Bears offensive possession!




This is Eliza Pierre, or mini-Gray-Lawson.  She has the same quickness, the same energy, and the same hairstyle.



We made our way to some seats.  The game was pretty packed.  I mean it was not as packed as the men's OSU game that I went to the week before.  However, it was much more packed than some of the men's game in the last year(s) of the Braun Era.  A lot of families and a lot of children.  Definitely a good scene. 











The photos I have here are not so good, because (the theme of the day) when I zoomed in, it got blocked.  In rugby, my photos were blocked by the uprights (as you will see).  Here they were blocked by the backboard.  So, we moved at halftime to the other side of the Court to get a solid angle.

I think NorCalNick wanted me to discuss the halftime show.  The halftime show was............interesting.  It was a dance troupe.  The dance troupe did a riverdance style dance to a riverdance style song.  Good stuff.



Then, all of a sudden, they were doing a Michael Jackson themed dance to a Michael Jackson song.  But still doing the riverdance-style moves.



Check it out:

I mean the moves weren't bad by any stretch of the imagination.  Just a odd combo:



Well, enough about the halftime show.  It was definitely interesting.  The team came back out to warm up.


I echo NorCalNick's impression of Gennifer Brandon.  She has great leaping ability and great balance.  She is just a freshman now and I think she'll become a great player here before her days are done.  She also had her shorts rolled up the entire game.  Fashion statement!

Lexi got hot to start the second half and Cal jumped out to an ill-fated lead.










Lexi always seems to have great form when shooting the ball.  I'm not a basketball expert, but look at her compact she has her body there.  No wasted motion in her leap. 

Rolled up shorts!





I am writing this post after I wrote the rugby one, but it'll appear before the rugby one, so this might not make sense until later.  However, this reminded me kinda of a rugby in bounds throw in.



This was actually a Cal turnover.  Notice how the ASU player got her hand in on this, seemingly violent, pass.


We learned more about some of the Cal players dreams when they were kids:






We've discussed this a bit already, but I just wanted to show photographic evidence of the "Quads Of Steel" stance. 


Coach Boyle spends the entire game crouched in that stance there.  Wearing giant high heeled boots!  Even Bengie Molina is impressed!  She also has a look the entire game that combines incredibly focus with fierce anger.  It seemed no matter how big the Cal lead got, she was upset over something.  Of course, when ASU came roaring back to eventually win the game, we understand why she didn't let up no matter how big the lead was.

Oski was rocking the "Yamulke with Boobs" look.  Not entirely sure why he went for the French Sailor look, but as long as he doesn't attempt to drink through his eyes in front of all the kids there, I figure it's OK.





The end of the game was particularly frustrating.  Cal put the ball into the hands of Lexi, which is what you want!  But she took a low percentage 3 with lots of time left on the clock.  Then, they called a ticky tack foul on the other end, which helped ASU set up their final shot.  The ASU player, from the baseline, hit it and the entire arena fell silent as the ASU team flooded the court.  Frustrating. 

But a fun afternoon, nonetheless.  Especially when you consider how close we all came to Nick Jonas!