Cal campus has Final Four fever

April 3, 2013 8:50:14 PM PDT
March madness has hit UC Berkeley and you know, it's not the men we're talking about here. At UC Berkeley, it's all about women's basketball because the Bears are headed to the 2013 NCAA Final Four Women's Basketball Championship in New Orleans.

The Cal women will be leaving for the tournament on Thursday.

Near the corner of Bancroft and Telegraph Avenue, where academia and the real world blend together, there is an unaccustomed basketball buzz in the air.

By most standards, California's women hoopsters have already exceeded expectations. Last weekend, they upset powerhouse Georgia to advance from the Elite Eight to the Final Four.

"This is a group that really believes, and why shouldn't they?" said Cal coach Lindsay Gottleib.

When the team began its final practice on friendly wood, Wednesday afternoon, they did so with hope and confidence. They've won 32 games this year, lost just three, and have grown from a group of strangers to a family. And now, with this giant stride to New Orleans, the nation is learning about them and their young coach, too.

"I feel like it is incredible intangible, the belief and faith that they have in each other. I have never been around a group that genuinely believes we're going to get it done. Believes in the person next to them," said Gottleib.

"We just wanted something to believe in and I think that's what's awesome about Lindsay. She came in, and she was just like, 'Look, follow me, I'll lead the way. Come to practice, just work hard, run fast, bring the energy, be yourselves, and I will worry about the rest,'" said Cal senior Layshia Clarendon.

For now, "the rest" would be the University of Louisville at 12:30 p.m. PT next Saturday. The game will air on ESPN. They are two wins from immortality, two wins from a national championship.

"There is a difference in thinking you can, and maybe believing you can, and knowing that you can..." said Gottleib.

The team leaves for New Orleans at 10 a.m. Wednesday from outside Haas Pavilion from the way the Cal Athletic department describes it, the sendoff will be big and loud.


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