Apr 1, 2013; Spokane, WA, USA; California Golden Bears head coach Lindsay Gottlieb holds up the net after a game against the Georgia Lady Bulldogs during the finals of the Spokane regional of the 2013 NCAA womens basketball tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. The Bears beat the Bulldogs by a final score of 65-62. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Bay Area Buzz 11/6: Big Expectations For Cal Women; Aldon Smith Makes Pledge; San Jose Woman Dies After Marathon

Women’s Basketball A Program Cal Can Be Proud Of

And now for some good news about Cal athletics.

The women’s basketball team, which opens the season this week, is ranked No. 9 in the country, the team’s graduation rate under coach Lindsay Gottlieb is 100 percent, and the future only looks bright.

Sky-high expectations? Gottlieb says bring them on.

“Isn’t this what we’re striving for?” she asked. “It’s not about having one great team but building one of the few elite programs in women’s college basketball. We want to be in that conversation.”

After last season’s 32-4 journey, which ended in the national championship semifinals, Cal is definitely in that conversation. Third-year coach Gottlieb is trying to prepare her team for another potential postseason push. Part of that preparation is a tough preconference schedule.

On Sunday, the Bears host second-ranked Duke. In December, they’ll take on currently top-ranked UConn at Madison Square Garden. With Cal’s two conference dates against third-ranked Stanford, the Bears are the only team scheduled to face the three teams that top the preseason rankings.

“I try to be very aware of the pulse of women’s basketball and how to be relevant,” Gottlieb said. “And, to me, you’re relevant if you’re playing UConn on TV. If you’re in games that ESPN wants to pick up. We want our future recruits to know we’re going to be in those games.”

–Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle

Aldon Smith Says Episodes Are A Thing Of The Past

Aldon Smith is back on the 49ers after coming to what he termed “agreements” with the NFL following his five-game absence while in substance-abuse rehab.

What did he promise?

“Making sure this doesn’t happen again,” Smith said after participating in Tuesday’s walk-through practice, which was closed to the media.

Smith, despite only being in his third season, is no stranger to facing the media after an off-field issue. But those previous incidents paled in comparison to his current plight: he voluntarily headed off for out-of-state treatment following a Sept. 20 car accident that resulted in his arrest for alleged drunken driving.

“Of course, I didn’t want to be away from the sport I love,” Smith said. “But it was good for me to get away and get my mind together and work, like I say, just to get to the positive spot I need to be at.”

Smith declined to reveal where he sought treatment, but while there, he kept in touch with teammates, watched 49ers games on television and kept his sack-piling talents in shape.

“He sounds great, looks great and is ready to go,” defensive tackle Justin Smith said. “He’s a freak of nature so I think he’ll be ready to go no matter what.”

–Cam Inman, San Jose Mercury News

Joy Johnson, 86, Runs New York Marathon, Dies Following Day

Joy Johnson always said she was going to run until she dropped. She wasn’t kidding.

At 86 years old, Johnson was the oldest woman to complete the New York Marathon on Sunday. It was her 25th, and she completed it in about eight hours. Monday, she did an interview with the “TODAY” show, returned to her hotel to rest and never woke up. She was 86.

“I’m going to die in my tennis shoes,” she told the New York Daily News on Saturday. “I just don’t know when I’m going to quit.”

Johnson, of San Jose, Calif., had taken up running after retiring from her job as a gym teacher. She had always been active and wanted to stay that way, so she took up running. At her peak in the early 1990s, she would finish marathons in less than five hours. By this year, she mostly was happy to be there.

–Tully Corcoran, FOXSports.com

Tags: Aldon Smith Cal Bears New York Marathon San Francisco 49ers Women's College Basketball

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