Stanley's Future in Jeopardy

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The Cal women's basketball team will conclude its season this weekend, but when the Bears finish their matchup Saturday against Arizona, it may signal more than the game's - or even the season's - end.

While there are some pretty significant facts pertaining to Cal's games with the Arizona schools, there are also some intriguing ramifications that this weekend's games could have within the Cal program.

The Bears (10-16, 5-11 in the Pac-10) need to win both games to surpass last season's conference win total of six and equal the previous campaign's 12 overall wins. They will begin chasing that goal against Arizona State tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.

Cal's finish this weekend could play a role in head coach Marianne Stanley's future with the Bears. The coach is close to completing the final year of a four-year contract, and Cal officials have not committed to extending it.

Stanley, who is not talking to the media this week, issued a statement yesterday regarding the games this weekend and her future with the Bears.

"Three weeks ago we set a team goal to win our last six games," Stanley said in the statement. "We still have an opportunity to complete this season with a 5-1 record. My focus is on the Cal women's basketball games against Arizona State and Arizona. When the season is over, I will sit down with (Athletic Director) John Kasser and (Senior Women's Administrator) Chris Dawson and discuss my future with the Cal program."

Stanley owns a 34-74 (.315) record at Cal, and the team has not improved significantly under her guidance. Stanley took over the Bears in 1996-97 and compiled a 6-21 record (2-16 in the Pac-10) in her first season. After finishing with a similar mark in '97-98, the Bears appeared to turn a corner under her last season, going 12-15 (6-12).

But Cal is nearing the end of yet another losing season, prompting speculation over Stanley's future. The coach herself has reportedly begun to plan for a future outside of Berkeley.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Stanley had an interview scheduled for an assistant coaching position with the WBNA's Los Angeles Sparks while her team was in Southern California to play USC and UCLA.

Sparks spokeswoman Stacey Terrien declined to comment on whether the interview actually took place. Terrien did acknowledge that the team is currently in the process of hiring a second assistant coach, and that the organization would prefer to hire a woman.

Stanley's future with the team aside, the Bears do have two important games ahead of them. They will look to play the role of spoiler this weekend after beating defending Pac-10 co-champion UCLA last Sunday.

"I wasn't surprised with the outcome at UCLA even though a lot of other people may have been," Stanley said. "I hope it carries over to this week."

The Bears hope to dash ASU's Women's National Invitational Tournament aspirations. The Sun Devils (14-12, 7-9) have not won in Berkeley since the 1992-93 season.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats are third in the conference and currently sit a game behind Stanford and Oregon in the loss column. If Arizona (22-6, 11-5) beats Stanford Thursday and the Ducks lose to Oregon State this weekend, the Wildcats could win the Pac-10 title Saturday at Haas if they defeat Cal in the 1 p.m. showdown.

The weekend will also mark the conclusion of Paige Bowie's basketball career for the Bears. The senior has started her entire career and is the only Cal player to play under Stanley all four years. Bowie did not place the blame for a lack of wins on any single person.

"It's hard to say," Bowie said. "It's been disappointing for all of us - players and coaches."

The wing is averaging 9.5 points per game this season and passed the 1,000-point plateau at USC last Friday. With 1,025 career points, Bowie is currently 14th in scoring at Cal.


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