Cal Women's Basketball: Charmin Smith Hits It Out of the Park at News Conference

Jeff Faraudo

Charmin Smith won the press conference.

The former long-time assistant to Cal women's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb came across as comfortable, confident and optimistic at her introductory news conference Tuesday at Memorial Stadium. Smith, 45, even had the audience laughing with a spot-on impersonation of her former college coach, Stanford's Tara Van Derveer.

Back from a two-and-a-half month stint as an assistant with the WNBA's New York Liberty, Smith appeared right at home in her return to Berkeley.

She said the time was right for her to leave her job as an assistant at Cal, that she had accomplished all she could in that role. Smith also stressed that when Gottlieb was hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers that she felt a strong pull to return to Berkeley for a new challenge in a familiar environment.

In her opening remarks, in the video above, Smith takes time to thank all the appropriate people for their role in her life and career, and she lays out a thumbnail vision of what the Cal program will look like under her leadership. Smith conceded the Bears suffered substantial personnel losses, including All-American Kristine Anigwe, but she is excited about the players who remain and said her team will emphasize an aggressive defensive style that will lead to offense.

She confirmed she will retain the current coaching staff of Kai Felton, Wendale Farrow and April Phillips.

(Cal AD talks about the choice of Charmin Smith.)

Smith also said she already is re-recruiting rising sophomore guard McKenzie Forbes, who asked for release from her scholarship after Smith initially departed for a position with the Liberty and Gottlieb was hired as an assistant with the Cavaliers.

A Cal spokesperson also confirmed the Bears are recruiting top high school prospect Lauren Fields, who had signed with the Bears then asked out of her letter-of-intent when Gottlieb announced her plans to exit.

(Click here for late news regarding the status of Lauren Fields.)