Discover more from Write For California
Jayda Curry's transfer adds to Cal women's basketball woes
Cal's leading scorer is moving on; how do the Bears move forward?
If you’ve been focused on Cal’s search for a new MBB, coach, you can perhaps be forgiven for missing some big news that broke late last week:
Curry herself hasn’t said anything, so I guess we can’t completely dismiss the possibility that she may decide to remain at Cal, but I’ll be operating under the assumption that she will be playing basketball somewhere else next year. She certainly won’t be lacking for options.
Curry arrived at Cal following the disastrous COVID season of 2020-21 that saw Cal finish 1-16, and her arrival immediately rekindled hope for Cal’s WBB program. Unfortunately, Curry’s scoring ability never quite translated into Pac-12 wins, and Cal finished her sophomore season with a record of 9-2 against non-conference opponents . . . and 4-15 against Pac-12 opponents, good for a tie for 10th, and only ahead of winless, injury-ravaged Arizona State.
It could be argued that the Bears have lost their best player two years in a row following the transfer of Dalayah Daniels following the end of the 2021-22 season. Losing talent while putting up the worst cumulative Pac-12 record in the conference over the last 4 years (10-51) leaves little room for any kind of optimism entering year 5 under Charmin Smith.
Cal’s incoming freshman recruiting class is one player: guard Lulu Laditan-Twidale, a relatively under-the-radar recruit out of Australia. It’s always hard to project international recruits, but one freshman is very unlikely to be a make-or-break player in year one anyway.
In short, for Cal to improve on their 2022-23 performance, that improvement will either have to come via development and improvement of the current roster, or via the transfer portal. We’re still early in the off-season, but additional attrition into the transfer would hardly be a surprise, which would only add to the challenge.
Cal is very unlikely to make any kind of coaching changes for a non-revenue program, so Charmin Smith will almost assuredly receive a 5th year to try to turn things around. But barring a series of major transfer portal additions, Cal feels very far away from Pac-12 contention.
Four years after the twin departures of Lindsay Gottlieb and Kristine Anigwe inaugurated a long rebuilding process, the Bears feel further than ever from having a foundation in place to move forward.
How did we get here? Just under three years ago, Cal wrapped up a top 10 recruiting class that seemed likely to set the program up for years to come. That class featured six players: four west coast post players listed in the top 100 by major recruiting services, and two international guards.
Three years later, and of those six players only one player remains who has made major on-court contributions as a part of Cal’s regular rotation. Michelle Onyiah has been a solid back-up post player in her three years in Berkeley.
Dalayah Daniels and Fatou Samb transferred away, while Sela Heide, Alma Elsnitz, and Ornela Muca have not been able to break into the on-court rotation. Elsnitz suffered a major ACL injury early in the cursed 2020-21 season, and Heide has dealt with injury issues; it’s not entirely clear the extent to which injuries have derailed their careers. Regardless, that’s five out of six players in an absolutely crucial recruiting class who, for various reasons, haven’t seen the court for the Bears.
Charmin Smith has tried to manage the roster around this challenge with a variety of transfers, but has mostly found solid role players when what Cal needs are major impact lead scorers.
With a handful of scholarship s to play with this off-season, the hunt for impact players begins anew.