When I was asked to write about Cal’s new Women’s Basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb, I have to admit I was a little nervous. Women’s basketball is foreign to me. How was I going to paint her in the light she deserves? How was I going to not make a fool of myself? What should I even write about? So, I scoured my brain for all my NCAA women’s basketball knowledge and came to the conclusion that I know Tennessee and UConn are good. Great start, eh? But that simply left me with more questions. Like how they, or any other team for that matter, win games? So, as any good sports reporter does, I guessed (thank you Skip Bayless). Well, it wasn’t so much of a guess as following the maxim “Defense Wins Championships.”
I went with this premise, hoping to find some conclusions. I found something incredibly interesting, and I believe telling about how to be successful in the women’s game. Of the teams that made the Elite 8, four were in the top 6 in opponents FG%. Additionally, 6 of the 8 Elite 8 teams were in the top 37 in PPG allowed. Lastly, all of the Elite 8 teams were in the top 23 in rebounding margin. Needless to say, those teams that played defense and rebounded tended to be more successful.
So, now that I knew the game as well as Pat Summitt, I felt qualified to assess how coach Gottlieb would fare as the Golden Bears’ new coach (Yes, that’s a little sarcasm, so no angry e-mails). I became instantly impressed and excited about the prospects for next season, based on this: “Under her tutelage, UCSB ranked in the nation’s top-10 in field goal percentage defense and the top-20 in points allowed per game.” Furthermore, UCSB had the 38th highest rebounding margin in the NCAA. This seems to be a testimony to Gottlieb’s coaching ability, for she was recruiting in the Big West, which doesn’t have the same talent pool as the PAC-12, SEC, Big East, or other power conferences.
And this success with UCSB isn’t new. Before taking the head coaching job there, she was an assistant here in Berkeley, under Coach Joanne Boyle. In her three seasons as part of the Golden Bears’ staff, the Golden Bears went 68-28 (.708). Gottlieb was described as an extremely important member of the staff with recruiting, scouting, and coaching duties. She worked heavily with Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton who were Honorable Mention All-Americans in 07-08, who were a huge part of Cal’s success during her tenure.
Along with the stellar results Coach Gottlieb has seen under her tutelage, she also appears to be a player’s coach. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Senior Guard Rachelle Federico (who played during Gottlieb’s last stint) said, “ [she is]the most knowledgeable coach you’ll ever meet. … She was my pick from the beginning. There’s an energy about her that’s contagious.”
Come next winter, I’m expecting big things out of this team. With the 7th rated recruiting class in the nation, four (maybe 5) returning starters, and Gottlieb at the helm, things are looking up in Berkeley.