No, I’m not talking about the men’s basketball team, which decidely did not defeat Stanford this weekend. Though they fought back valiantly, I find it hard to root for a team that falls behind 20-4 against its arch-rival at home. If you can’t get up for playing Stanford, there’s some problem with a lack of motivation. Even a few years back, when Cal was losing to a top-10 Cardinal squad 102-50, they still managed to keep it close for a while.
Instead, I want to bring some love for the women’s basketball team, who beat Stanford at Maples this weekend. You may not have noticed because a) not as many people watch women’s basketball, and b) the game was played on Super Bowl Sunday to fill a Fox Sports Net TV slot, but if you did catch the game, you caught something historic. Our Bears, who are nationally ranked, by the way (No. 21), went on the Farm and took down a top-10 team by 15, ending a streak of losing 14 straight to their rival. The game also ended Stanford’s 17-game winning steak, gave them their first conference loss of the year, and ended their 52-game home conference winning steak, dating back to 2001. Huge.
Now, to be fair, Stanford struggled in part because they lost their starting point guard to injury in the opening minute. However, in fairness to the Bears, Cal lost its starting point guard two months ago, and the remaining Bears have stepped up in her place, leading Cal (18-5) to its best start in school history. Injuries happen (see: Cal men’s basketball), but good teams have backups that can step up when needed, and this team is cementing its reputation as one of those teams.
Now, a knee-jerk reaction might be to draw some parallels between yesterday’s game and the men’s streak-ending win at Maples last month, but I don’t know that the comparison is valid. I would say that the men caught Stanford in a down year, fallen somewhat from the years of top-10 rankings and No. 1 seeds they enjoyed under Mike Montgomery, whereas the women have risen up under second-year coach Joanne Boyle and shown a nationally-regarded Cardinal squad that the Bears are a team to be reckoned with, both in the Pac-10 and nationally. Boyle called the victory "the biggest win in our program’s history," and I can’t say that I disagree. Perhaps Boyle is the next Tedford, rescuing a Cal program from the mires of mediocrity, and this is her 2003 upset of USC. And perhaps Ben Braun should be worried that in the span of 5 years, his program has gone from being the most successful major sport on campus to the least successful. Finally, if people are going to keep discussing Cal Basketball, perhaps they should focus on a team worth following, and that team doesn’t start Ayinde Ubaka.
Go Bears! Beat the Cardinal (in every sport)!