California Golden Bears enter season with high expectations after 2012 NCAA Tournament berth

This season could probably be seen as a major moment for the California Golden Bears women's basketball program: it's the final season for that highly touted freshman class from 2009 that won the WNIT their freshman year, failed to make the NCAA tournament their second year, and made a splash against Stanford last season.

And a large part of taking the next step to getting to the tournament last year was due to the play of dynamic guard Brittany Boyd.

Maybe for the first time in three years, there's a lot less uncertainty about Cal's roster and how far they can go: Boyd is the star of the program, they still have a rugged frontline, and Layshia Clarendon has emerged as one of the Pac-12's top scorer without the pressure of point guard duties.

But norcalnick of SB Nation's California Golden Blogs highlighted the toughest player to project in his Cal women's basketball preview.

That leaves Justine Hartman, who is easily the toughest player to project. She's immensely talented, but saw only limited action last year as she was still getting used to playing on her surgically repaired knees. On other teams she almost certainly would have seen major minutes, but Cal had the luxury of bringing her along slowly. If she's fully recovered and ready to burst on the scene then Cal has an even stronger bench. The coaches praised the work she's done to get ready for this season, so hopefully she's ready to play more minutes.

And how do you find more minutes for Hartman without taking away minutes you need for Caldwell, Brandon and Gray? You play a lineup with three post players.

Obviously, this is a "problem" most programs would love to have: an abundance of talent. And while every player on their roster could stand to prove in one way or another, they really are in position to make some noise on a national stage.

For more on the California Golden Bears, visit California Golden Blogs.

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