Pac-10 Title Still Goes Through Stanford

"They have want we want," Cal head coach Joanne Boyle said of Stanford's Pac-10 dominance. "And we respect them for it."

The No. 3 California women's basketball team prepares this week for round two of the "Battle of the Bay" series with rival Stanford. In the first meeting this season, Cal pulled off a dramatic 57-54 win at Haas Pavilion behind an amazing 37-point effort by Alexis Gray-Lawson.

Since that victory, Cal has breezed through Pac-10 save a last second 73-71 win over USC in Berkeley last month. In spite of the Golden Bears' higher ranking, better record, and earlier victory over the Cardinal, the road to the conference title goes through Stanford.

"I say it every year, they have want we want," Cal head coach Joanne Boyle said of Cardinal's Pac-10 dominance. "And we respect them for it."

A loss by the Bears this Saturday could all but end their chance at an outright conference title. Furthermore, it could damage their resume in terms of landing a No. 1 see in the NCAA tournament. Nonetheless, this is a different Cal team than in year's past.

"Their older, their not a young team that is in that situation," Boyle said. "As an older group – and you've been through it for three years – and the same kids are playing and really haven't graduated a whole lot of them, they've had a lot of experience with this."

"One game never makes your season. I'm not going to approach this game any different. They know the importance of it."

One has to wonder that the Bears will have some added confidence going into this weekend's game. Cal is the last team to beat the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion during the regular season coupled with last month's win could the Bears pull off a sweep along their way to a Pac-10 championship.

"It was a big confidence builder," Boyle said of beating Stanford last month. "What Stanford has been doing is fantastic. I think they are better than the sixth team in the country. They're playing great basketball and dominating the conference with 20, 30, and 40-point wins. To be able to play that game here in front of that crowd and get the win was huge. It gives us the ability to know that we can play with them."

Last time around, Cal had to rely on the hot hand of Gray-Lawson. While another individual 37-point performance would be welcomed, Coach Boyle is hoping for balance. Moreover, with Devanei Hampton in much better playing shape and the return of center Rama N'diaye this is a different looking Golden Bear squad than the one Stanford saw last month.

"Dev was just getting backing rotation last time and we've just looked at film and you can tell a difference in where she was then and where she is now," said Boyle.

"Again, we know them well and we know how to position ourselves to gain an advantage. If it's not about Lexi having 37 it's about getting contributions from everybody."

"I don't think we tell [Lexi] anything. We just watched film, and what we talked about was balance. We're getting more balanced scoring now, we had four girls in double figures on Saturday. Dev is in a different place, Rama is back. We are a little bit of different team than we were then. It's not one person's game. It's never going to fall on one person's shoulders."

Coach Boyle's 2/10 Press Conference – Top Stories