Can the Cal women accomplish what the Wichita State men could not do, and advance past Louisville into the championship game of the Final Four?
Here’s our preview package of today’s semifinal matchup in New Orleans:
Click here for staff writer Stephanie Hammon’s story on the maturation of Cal sophomore guard Brittany Boyd.
Here is Hammon’s Final Four notebook, including Louisville’s plans for defending Cal star Layshia Clarendon.
And if you haven’t read it, check out Elliott Almond’s profile on Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb.
From the Louisville Courier-Journal, here’s a story on Cardinals’ star Shoni Schimmel, who has averaged 20 points in nine career postseason games and had the memorable stare-down of 6-foot-8 Baylor star Brittney Griner.
Courtesy of ESPN, here’s an analysis of today’s matchup by the network’s four primary women’s basketball experts: Doris Burke, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck:
On No. 2 seed California
Burke: Lindsay Gottlieb is one of the exciting young coaches in women’s college basketball. She is a passionate, dynamic and a positive force with her team. The Bears have a terrific backcourt with Brittany Boyd and Layshia Clarendon, and a relentless commitment to the offensive glass. The team relies on its ability to get into the open floor and score off their defense. In the half court, Clarendon has to deliver for this team to have a chance to win.
Lawson: Cal is a loose and confident group. Their defense and rebounding carry the day and Layshia Clarendon is a very difficult player to guard, fantastic in the mid-range game.
Lobo: The Golden Bears have found a way to win the close games during this tournament — beating their second-round and regional final opponents in overtime. They want to push tempo and have an athletic team that is built to run. Layshia Clarendon is a terrific break-down guard who can also score from three and their inside game is anchored by Gennifer Brandon, who averages 11 rebounds. Cal hits the glass hard and gets second opportunities as a result. They have struggled scoring at times this season against zone defenses and shoot only 61 percent from the free-throw line. I’m eager to see how they handle playing against Louisville’s different defensive schemes.
Peck: Lindsay Gottlieb has to be on cloud nine right now. Cal is dangerous; if the score is kept close, they are always in the position to win. The team is fast and physical, plus they are a defensive team. Layshia Clarendon is a rising star who makes clutch plays. Louisville has to be concerned about rebounding and defending Cal in the paint.
Note: Lawson and Peck on Sunday morning’s “SportsCenter” both predicted Louisville will beat Cal.