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Cal WBB Media Day

There’s a high level of optimism in Berkeley this season.

NCAA Womens Basketball: California at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Led by Coach Lindsay Gottlieb, the California Golden Bears Women’s Basketball team is optimistic about the potential that lies within their team.

Accompanied by senior guard Asha Thomas and senior forward Kristine Anigwe, Coach Gottlieb began by talking about the post-season team meeting that took place after last seasons end. In the meeting, she presented statistics from the teams that participated in the Sweet 16, showing her team that they had much more work to do if they wanted to be able to compete with those team.

Thomas admitted to not being a person who likes numbers and analytics, but recognized the value in what she saw on the presentation. Contrarily, Anigwe loves numbers and statistics, so this was a lesson to her on how much the team needed to improve in so many areas. Coach Gottlieb shared that these analytics were not shown to make the team feel as if they needed to match the numbers they saw, but it was to be seen as a message of how the team needed to commit themselves to the process of improving, being consistent in their pursuit of excellence, so that they could be the team that goes far in the tournament playing high-caliber teams.

Citing their commitment to the program over their respective Cal careers, Coach Gottlieb says that it is motivation to the team this year to win for their senior leaders who set the example for the rest of the team.

Her expectations of the team this year are high — the chemistry, leadership, and desire are all there. Last season, they were not as good as they thought they were. Though with the additions of freshmen, a grad-transfer in Recee Caldwell who will be an immediate impact player, and the returning players, they are in a position to reach their goal of being the PAC-12 champions. For the coaching staff, this is seen as their most deep and capable team since the 2012-2013 team that went to the Final Four.

The final ingredient that makes this team so special is their bond off the court. Coach Gottlieb recently got married, and she invited her entire team. Anigwe referred to Coach Gottlieb as a mom to her, and a mentor — that’s how close they are. The team came to her wedding and did their dance that the team made up over the season. For the Cal Women’s Basketball program, this is more than a game, this is a family.

When asked about if they pay attention to draft boards and preseason rankings, they both answered similarly — their focus is on the season that is a little under a month away. Thomas is not concern with her draft stock, and spends very little time thinking about it, because she is eager to win now with the team she is currently on. Anigwe does not like draft boards and preseason polls simply because no one has taken the floor yet, so one does not really know what they will see out of a team. Right now, Anigwe is not focused on what predictions say, because she believes her team can make serious noise over the course of the upcoming season, san where she lands in the draft is not worthy of consideration during her final Cal campaign.

This team is optimistic of their ability to compete this season. They are hungry to win, and they believe in each other. The Women’s Golden Bear team will play its first official game on November 6 against Houston at Haas Pavilion.