By now, you probably recognize the hot-shot names in Cal athletics: Keenan Allen. Jorge Gutierrez. Tony Renda. Nathan Adrian. But with every new season comes a set of budding stars who are ready to make their mark.
We’re featuring mini-profiles of potential breakout players to watch in 2011-2012. Don’t worry if
you don’t know them now — they may very well become household names by the end of next season.
We begin with center Talia Caldwell, who has been a rebounding machine for the Cal women’s basketball team.
The 6-foot-3 Caldwell led the squad in boards as a sophomore with 8.6 per contest, good for second in the conference. On Feb. 24 she put up a 20-rebound game against Oregon.
Her work on the offensive glass was even more impressive, though. The All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention averaged more than four offensive rebounds a game, a ludicrous number. Those offensive rebounds almost always seem to turn into easy baskets, something every team — especially the Bears — can always use.
With the departure of power forward DeNesha Stallworth, Caldwell will be Cal’s main presence down low this coming season. Expect her rebounding numbers to go up even higher during her junior year, as she has the energy and build for the boards.
Her scoring should jump, as well.
Caldwell scored in double figures in half of last year’s games. More than the numbers, though, she just looked more comfortable as the season went on with the ball in her hands — catching the ball at the elbow, driving into the land and getting fouled.
She went to the charity stripe 174 times last season. If Caldwell improves her free throw shooting — 55.7 percent — she will be very hard to stop, since her physically style of play leads to lots of contact on the offensive end, and lots of trips to the foul line.
With a new coach and new energy to the team, Cal has the making for what could be a breakout junior season for Caldwell — perhaps culminating in a spot on the All-conference team.
Image source: Eugene W. Lau/Daily Cal
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