When Cal women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who graduated from Brown with a political science degree, heard President Barack Obama picked her team to go to the Final Four, she knew she had to call her dad.
“I said, ‘Sorry, it’s late but I want to tell you something,” Gottlieb said to her father, a former judge. “‘The President picked us in his Final Four. He said, `President Obama?’”
Leading a program which never made past the Sweet Sixteen in its 40-year history, Gottlieb knows this is a testament to how far Cal has made in the college women’s basketball spotlight.
“The things this team has done to put California in the public eye, I am proud of,” Gottlieb said.
It’s sweeter when you realize Obama picked Cal, the No. 2 seed in the Spokane regional, over top-seeded Stanford. Placed in the same regional, the Bay Area schools are on a collision course.
One of Gottlieb’s biggest accomplishments in her two years at Berkeley has been raising the program shoulder-to-shoulder with the Cardinal, who held a monopoly on Pac-12 supremacy for two decades.
The tide in the Pac-12 has shifted, at least in the President’s mind. Although a little distracting for Gottlieb, who has preached absolute focus on the prize to her team, the White House shoutout was just too cool to ignore.
“Literally my message to the team was anything you hear, good or bad, block it out, but I didn’t expect that would include from President Obama,” Gottlieb said. “We’ll probably give them a pass on that one and laugh about it today.”