BERKELEY — Yes, the Cal women's basketball team opened the season with a 63-39 victory over Albany on Friday afternoon at Haas Pavilion.
And yes, the Bears got another solid effort from senior forward Ashley Walker in doing so. But none of that mattered to coach Joanne Boyle. With the game long in the books, the fourth-year coach didn't mince words, instead openly voicing her disgust with what she saw.
"We're very lucky to come away with a win," Boyle said. "I'm really disappointed with the way we started the season. I don't care what the score is. I know my team best. It was unacceptable."
Boyle, whose team committed 20 turnovers, cited a lack of focus, discipline and accountability, despite the one-sided result. She even called out individual players, saying in no uncertain terms that things must change if the No. 9 Bears are to compete for the Pac-10 title, much less make an extended run in the NCAA Tournament. Friday's effort, Boyle said, did nothing to move them in that direction.
"I think our chemistry is nowhere to be found," she said. "We've talked all year long about going in and playing Cal basketball. Until they really understand what that means, we're going to have games like this. If we say these things, talk about our mission statement in the locker room and play like this, we have to re-evaluate who we are. I did not see one good thing that we did in this game; I cannot tell you one good thing about my team."
The Bears (1-0) were already at somewhat of a disadvantage, as forward Devanei Hampton and center Rama N'diaye are both out nursing knee injuries. Hampton had a minor procedure on her right knee during the spring and has been bothered by swelling. She could be available for Cal's showdown against No. 5 Rutgers next week, but Boyle made no guarantees.
N'diaye, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee last March, isn't expected to play until the end of the month, at the earliest.
With the two mainstays unavailable, Walker did the bulk of the heavy lifting, finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds and four steals in 31 minutes. The effort had Great Danes (0-1) coach Trina Patterson uttering the words "All-American" and speaking of a "three-headed monster that is going to get everyone in the country" once Hampton and N'diaye return.
Patterson was the only one heaping praise on the Bears, however.
"Without Dev and Rama, we essentially have to be perfect," said Walker, the only Cal player to reach double digits. "We need to click."
Contact Jennifer Starks at firstname.lastname@example.org.