- Mechelle Voepel, espnW.com
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Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.
If you're extremely impressed with Cal's Gennifer Brandon grabbing 26 rebounds in one game -- and you should be -- also consider that rebounding is sort of second nature to her.
The 6-foot-2 junior forward has rebounded from a stress fracture that forced her to redshirt the 2010-11 season. And she has also rebounded from difficult family circumstances. Her father was killed in 1997, and her struggling mother allowed another family to adopt Gennifer and her older sister, Kimberly, in 2006.
Kimberly finished her college hoops career at Arizona State last season. Meanwhile, Gennifer, in her third season, is now truly coming into her own for Cal.
Gennifer Brandon is known among her teammates for her sense of fashion, her generous heart, her light-up-the-room smile, and her giving nature. But opponents just know her more as the woman who often makes it ridiculously hard for anybody else to get a rebound.
Working the boards has always been Brandon's forte. But the rest of her game is expanding, too, as evidenced by her being named espnW player of the week. Her No. 7-ranked Bears followed up their huge win at Stanford last Sunday with victories over USC and UCLA.
Brandon tied a school record with the 26 rebounds against the Trojans on Thursday, and she also had 23 points in a 71-63 overtime win. Brandon scored the last six points in regulation for the Bears, who were having a lot of difficulty putting the ball in the basket (31.4 percent from the field) against USC. Luckily for Cal, Brandon time and again gave them second chances.
Then Sunday in a 70-65 win against the No. 14 Bruins, Brandon had 14 points and 11 rebounds. She's now averaging 12.6 points and 11.4 rebounds.
It was such a good week for Cal that another Bear, senior guard Layshia Clarendon, also could have gotten the nod for player of the week; she had a combined 49 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the two victories.
Cal and Stanford are tied atop the Pac-12 at 5-1 and are done with each other for the regular season. But they might be on a collision course for another meeting in the league tournament.
The Bears are home again this week, hosting Colorado and Utah. The Buffs and Utes already got a look at Cal earlier this month, as the Bears beat both on the road. The Cal team they'll see in Berkeley is even more confident now. And so is Brandon.
Brittney Griner, Baylor: The Lady Bears' senior, who nearly tallied a triple-double against West Virginia, averaged 27.5 points on 64 percent shooting in victories against Kansas State and West Virginia.
16dBonnie D. Ford