SAN FRANCISCO -- From halfway around the world, Brittany Boyd showed this summer that she is ready to take the lead for the Cal women's basketball team.
Coming off their first ever trip to the Final Four, the Bears will attempt to maintain their elite status in the women's basketball world.
And with standout guard Layshia Clarendon now showing off her silky jumpshot and clutch scoring in the WNBA, Boyd knows it's her time to take more of a starring role for Cal.
The junior point guard played "at a whole different level" during the team's August tour in China, Cal associate head coach Charmin Smith said at Thursday's Pac-12 media day.
Smith, filling in for head coach Linsday Gottlieb after the death of Gottlieb's father earlier in the week, said Boyd's eye-opening performance in China had everything to do with her consistency and speed.
"The way she pushed the ball in transition," Smith said. "We'd seen spots of her brilliance before. This was a pace that's going to be hard to guard."
When asked whether she felt responsibility to fill the scoring and leadership void left by Clarendon, Boyd hesitated at first, then firmly declared in the affirmative.
"Those are really some big shoes to fill and I'm still learning how to fill those shoes but I believe I am capable of filling them," said Boyd, who has been named to the Wade Watch and Wooden Award preseason lists honoring the nation's top players.
Though Boyd said improving her jump shot and finishing through contact were her biggest areas of focus in the offseason, Smith has been most encouraged by the junior's leadership on the court.
"I hear her being more vocal," Smith said. "We've been yelling at her for two years to be vocal and I think she realizes now is the time for her to do those things. That's a great step in terms of maturity."
Boyd suffered a high ankle sprain soon after returning from China, but said she's back at close to full strength now and will be ready in time for the Bears' Nov. 1 exhibition game against Vanguard.
Senior forward Gennifer Brandon, named to the same preseason award watch lists as Boyd, will more than likely not be ready for the Bears' season opener after undergoing surgery in August to repair a stress fracture.
Brandon is expected back sometime during November or December, but there is no firm timetable for her return.
Cal's nonleague slate includes games with two teams ranked in the top six nationally by USA Today. The Bears host No. 6 Duke on Nov. 10, then take on defending national champion and top-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 22 as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic in New York City.
Neither Smith nor Boyd said they were bothered by Stanford being picked as the overwhelming favorite.
"That's just respect (for Stanford)," Smith said. "I'd rather talk about postseason standings than preseason polls."
Cal is ranked No. 5 while Stanford is No. 7 in USA Today's preseason poll.
"We still have the same have the same standards, it's just how do we use the weapons we have to get to where we want to go, which is the Final Four," Boyd said. "We still plan on being Pac-12 champions, we still plan on getting to the Final Four. It's a new group, it's a new story, but our mentality hasn't changed."