This summer, the Cal Women’s Basketball program underwent major change with the surprising news that Joanne Boyle was leaving for Virginia. It does feel like the change has been for the better. I loved the hire of Lindsay Gottlieb and the way her staff were able to keep all our high-ranked recruits and even secure one of the best recruits in program history is amazing. I have high hopes for the upcoming season, despite the way last season ended and also the loss of Denesha Stallworth.
This year’s incoming freshmen all have a lot of promise. I know that the past few years have brought us some great recruiting classes but all we’ve seen so far are WNIT berths. And yet, I have faith that this team can push through into the NCAA tournament.
Point guard Brittany Boyd is a local girl having just graduated from Berkeley High. Considered one of the ESPNU HoopGurlz Top 50 prospects in the nation, she will hopefully bring a spark to the point guard role. “My passion is creating options for others,” she told ESPN when she got recruited last year. “I see points guards in the Pac-10 and they pass, but sometimes it’s also, ‘I gotta get my own.’ I’m more of a pass first point guard. I want to create better opportunities for my teammates.” Strengths include her “explosiveness” and speed, but she needs amore consistent perimeter shot. Being a local girl means she gets to play in front of her family, something I hope will elevate her play in the years ahead.
With Denesha Stallworth now at Kentucky, it is vital to see Reshanda Gray, another top prospect, step up and become the team’s main rebounder in the future. At 6’3, she has a lot of potential to be a big factor in the transition game, but we probably won’t see that happen this year. She still needs to work on converting chances (a familiar problem with the Cal team the past two seasons) and needs to improve her technique. Her backstory, growing up in a crime-ridden area in LA , reminds me a lot of Alexis Gray-Lawson and hopefully her play will remind me of her too!
After the jump, more on the Incoming Freshman for Cal Womens Basketball 2011-2012.
Erika Johnson, a forward from Holy Names in Seattle, was a first team All American last year, and has great athleticism andmovement. It’ll be interesting to see how she can move through the difficult defenses the Pac-12 will bring. There was some fear that she might leave the program after Joanne Boyle left, but fortunately for us, she is going to be with us this year. Her Pull-Up jumper and speed will be very valuable and hopefully we can see it sooner than later.
Justine Hartman is the real surprise. After the departure of Nikki Caldwell as head coach of UCLA, Hartman decommitted from our SoCal sisters from the South and opened her sights elsewhere. Now she’s a California Golden Bear. This Top 10 prospect is the whole package: rebounding, is a good surveyor of the defense, can score from the post, and can defend.
Given that we played so many freshmen two years ago, it’s not hard to believe all four of these girls can see significant playing time this season, and it would be amazing if they could help lead this team to another NCAA tournament berth. So, remember folks, every Thursday and Saturday from January to March should be marked in your calendars because it doesn’t matter if its men’s or women’s basketball, you should be there!
Expect more detailed commentary on each individual player in the future. I hope to get better at writing stuff like this as time goes on!