Grad­u­ate trans­fer Cald­well has been on point for Bears

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SPORTING GREEN - By Rusty Sim­mons

The Cal women’s bas­ket­ball team has made a habit of run­ning op­po­nents out of the gym in the third quar­ter.

Search for an ex­pla­na­tion for the No. 13 Bears outscor­ing op­po­nents by 9.6 points per third quar­ter dur­ing the 7-0 start to the sea­son, and you’ll un­doubt­edly find grad­u­ate-trans­fer guard Re­cee Cald­well, who has an abil­ity to quickly process head coach Lind­say Got­tlieb’s half­time ad­just­ments and put them into ac­tion on the court.

“She’s like a coach on the floor,” Got­tlieb said of Cald­well, who earned a busi­ness de­gree from Texas Tech in May and ar­rived at Cal as the pro­gram’s first grad­u­ate trans­fer.

The 5-foot-9 guard tops the team in min­utes per game (33.8) and as­sists per game (five), is tied for the team lead in steals (seven) and chips in 4.9 points and 3.6 re­bounds per game. Those num­bers say noth­ing of her real im­pact.

Cal led Cal State Northridge only 31-28 on Sun­day, and Got­tlieb lit up her team at half­time.

“My role on this team is to be a vo­cal leader. Ev­ery pos­ses­sion, I’m say­ing: ‘Lock in. Get in a stance. One stop. Right here. Right now.’ ” Re­cee Cald­well, Cal guard

“‘Step up. Man up. Woman up,’ ” Got­tlieb said in re­count­ing her half­time speech. “We have great play­ers at ev­ery spot. We need to play harder. We need to be more locked in. We need to not take pos­ses­sions for granted in any type of way. ‘Step up. Be bet­ter.’ That’s ex­actly what they did.”

The Bears shut out the Mata­dors for the first nine min­utes of the third quar­ter and turned a three-point game into a 20-point laugher as Cald­well par­roted Got­tlieb’s mes­sage through im­pas­sioned on-court re­minders.

“My role on this team is to be a vo­cal leader,” Cald­well said. “Ev­ery pos­ses­sion, I’m say­ing: ‘Lock in. Get in a stance. One stop. Right here. Right now.’ …

“I think I’ve been pretty ver­sa­tile in my roles. At the pre­vi­ous schools I was at, I was a scorer, and that’s what I was sup­posed to do. On Team USA, my job is to pass. You come in here, and it’s kind of like the USA team. That’s how I look at it. … What­ever my role needs to be for us to win, I feel like I can ful­fill that.”

Got­tlieb was on the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee for the un­der-18 na­tional team that Cald­well helped win the 2014 FIBA World Cham­pi­onship. Cald­well, who grew up in River­side and moved to San An­to­nio when she was 10, re­turned to Cal­i­for­nia for a fresh­man sea­son.

After a de­but sea­son ham­pered by a right knee in­jury at UCLA, Cald­well trans­ferred to Texas Tech, where her fa­ther was on the coach­ing staff. She posted a teambest 14.5 points per game and earned All-Big-12 hon­ors in 2016-17 and fol­lowed that up by av­er­ag­ing 10.7 points and six as­sists in a sea­son short­ened by a shoul­der in­jury.

“She could be our lead­ing scorer. She leads us in as­sists. She boxes out and re­bounds. It’s crazy how one per­son is able to adapt, flex, bend and be re­li­able,” said se­nior for­ward/cen­ter Kris­tine Anigwe, who leads Cal with 24.3 points and 13.6 re­bounds per game. “She’s al­ways very con­sis­tent with her lead­er­ship role on our team. As you see us grow, you see her be­ing an even bet­ter leader. A re­flec­tion of her lead­er­ship is Kianna (Smith). Re­cee is show­ing her what a leader is sup­posed to be like.”

Dur­ing one stretch Sun­day, Smith was on the floor with four re­serves. The typ­i­cally quiet sopho­more combo guard started di­rect­ing traf­fic and tak­ing con­trol of the tempo of the game — just like Cald­well.

“I think we have horses on the floor,” Cald­well said. “With all re­spect, I don’t think there’s a post in the coun­try as fast as Kris­tine Anigwe or Jae­lyn Brown. So, to take full ad­van­tage of that, why would we not play fast? Why run an of­fense when we have them?”

Mol­lie McClure / McClure Im­ages

Re­cee Cald­well leads Cal with five as­sists per game and in min­utes played.

Mol­lie McClure / McClure Im­ages

Cal guard Re­cee Cald­well helped the U.S. win the FIBA Un­der-18 world cham­pi­onship in 2014.

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