Monday, April 08, 2013

Why Cal is my new favorite team

I really, really, really though Cal was going to take down the Cardinals last night. And I was rooting hard for that to happen. Sure Cal's trip to the Final Four didn't help my bracket any. But I was deeply distraught that Baylor was beaten by Louisville and I felt so bad for Brittany Griner and all the elbows she took during that game.
But the more I observed Cal and heard pieces of their story, the more my cheers were about them winning and less about vindication for Baylor and Griner.
Because, admittedly, I was a reluctant Baylor fan. I have always like Griner but not so much the Lady (gag) Bears as an organization. But who else could beat UConn consistently? It was Machiavellian really. But Griner is graduating and I can move on.
And I have moved on to Cal. Because I looked at the members of that team and I looked at their coach and I knew exactly what kind of atmosphere is fostered on that team.
Clarendon hugs Coach Gottlieb, pic from San Francisco Examiner
I have this theory--yet to be empirically proven (working on that)--that the make-up of a team is a direct reflection of a coach's philosophy and identity. And if you look at Lindsay Gottlieb's players you see that she believes in an inclusive environment. Can you imagine what Rene Portland would have done with a player with a mohawk like the one sported by senior standout Layshia Clarendon? I can't even imagine Geno Auriemma allowing a player who looks like Clarendon to be a Husky. Gottlieb has recruited almost exclusively from California (the one exception is the player from Israel) and her team looks like few others in DI women's basketball. Long hair, short hair, very little hair, almost no make-up, braids, mohawks. No apologetics here. Even Gottlieb eschews a lot of the unspoken mandates for female coaches. She rarely wears make-up. And yes, she sported some shiny black stiletto sandals last night, but she a quick search of Google images shows that she usually opts for a casual professional look.
And with the exception of the video coordinator, Gottlieb has put together an entirely female staff. I find that particularly impressive at a time when there remains some unspoken need to have a mixed gender coaching staff.
I'm just so excited to have a new team to root for that I feel really good about. So please wait a while before bursting my bubble about some kind of problem or issue with the Cal Bears. It was a tough basketball weekend for me, I need some optimism.


Beck said...

And a quick search for Layshia Clarendon reveals even more to like:

- definitely not someone Rene Portland would have allowed on (or even near) her team

ken said...

Very cool. Thanks for sharing, Beck.

margahayuland said...

she took during that game