This morning the Cal Women’s Basketball team released it’s 2011-2012 schedule just in time for the start of the Fall 2011 semester. As students (including me) are getting ready to begin a new chapter at Berkeley, we now have a look at how the Lindsay Gottlieb chapter will begin. Things will be difficult at the start as the non-conference schedule features several teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament.
Last season the Golden Bears opened the season with a nice home win over powerhouse Rutgers (who would go on to make it to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament), and this year the Bears will open up with them again on Sunday, November 13. This time though the game will be played in New Jersey. The Bears have won two games in a row against the Scarlet Knights but both games were in Berkeley.
The Bears then play two home games against Sacramento State (the official home opener, not including the exhibition game against Vanguard) on November 17 and Illinois on November 20. They will certainly be a nice way to prepare for what lies ahead.
The big part of the non-conference schedule is the University of Hawaii tournament in Honolulu. The Bears will play Hawaii, Texas, and Virginia. None of the three schools are that tough compared to Cal (Hawaii and Virginia were also WNIT teams and Texas lost in the first round of the NCAAs) but for a team like Cal that still has to prove that it is an elite team, this will be a telling Thanksgiving weekend. Did I also mention that Virginia is coached by Joanne Boyle, the same one who left Cal in April to join the Cavaliers? Well, now I did! Winning two out of three in this tournament would go a long way to giving the Bears confidence going into Pac-12 play.
They’re not done with non-conference challenges though as they later host WBI contenders Cal State Bakersfield and possibly UNLV (pending their game with Prairie View A&M) in early December. The toughest non-conference game is December 17 (a Saturday) when they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes, who made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to powerhouse Tennessee. Lucklily, it’s a home game so make sure you mark that one on your calendars as it will be the non-conference game to come to. Other non-conference home games include Santa Clara (December 10), Dartmouth (December 20) and although this is a road game, you don’t have to travel far to watch the Golden Bears take on Saint Mary’s in Moraga on December 8.
A LOT more Schedule analysis after the jump.
As for the conference schedule, the Bears open on the road at UCLA (December 29) and USC (December 31). How great would it be if the Bears could come away with even one win? Certainly going to be a difficult series for sure, but not impossible as UCLA is also undergoing a new head coach, and Cal has always played USC tough.
The Bears take on Oregon State (January 5) and Oregon (January 7) at Haas Pavilion to open up the home conference slate, then it’s on the road to face the new Pac-12 participates in Colorado (January 12), who also happens to be the school that ended the both the women’s and men’s basketball seasons in the (W)NIT, and Utah (January 14).
The Bears then host the Washington schools (UW on January 19, WSU on January 21) and they will be the schools that Cal ONLY hosts, due to the new scheduling format on the account of the addition of teams in the conference.
The “Battle of the Bay” is Saturday, January 28 at Stanford. Stanford could come into the game still riding a long conference winning streak, their last loss currently to the Bears in Berkeley in January of 2009. I don’t know about you, but I have reasons to beleive in this game and will hopefully making the roadtrip to the South Bay (I did this last season too), especially with the Men’s game in Berkeley occuring on Sunday the 29th. January 29 also happens to be my birthday!! I won’t ask for many presents, just the Cal Men whooping Stanford and… why not, how about a mega upset by the women in blue over the Cardinal red the day before! Stanford lost Kayla Pederson, arguably their best player last year, to graduation but they still feature lots of great players (they always do), and by no means am I saying I’m predicting an upset, but considering Cal seems to be the only conference team that’s beaten Stanford over the last few years (although still rare) it’s always worth the hope.
The Bears roadtrip continues with Arizona (February 2) and Arizona State (February 4) who are the two schools Cal WON’T see in Berkeley. After that, it’s rematches at home vs. USC (February 9) and UCLA (February 11), rematches on the road at Oregon (February 16) and Oregon State (February 18) and then closing out the season with Utah (February 23), Colorado (February 25), and Stanford (March 3).
The men’s basketball game at Stanford is also apparently going to take place on a Sunday (March 4) so that means you should go to both games! If Cal can have a good year in conference play (without any long losing streaks like last year) there’s every reason to believe that Round 2 of the “Battle of the Bay” in Berkeley will be a HUGE matchup and a large crowd will be needed to help the Golden Bears pull a monumental victory!
So mark your calendars with all the games (and also make sure you have your Men’s Basketball schedule there too) and prepare for an amazing winter which will hopefully end with both teams returning to their rightful spots in the NCAA Tournament. Golden Bear Lair will have a preview of both teams before the season starts and will have constant coverage during the season. Go Bears!