Cal’s first-year head coach Charmin Smith played four seasons for Stanford under Tara VanDerveer from 1993 to 1997, and Smith was a starter on what may have been the Cardinal’s best team ever – its 1996-97 squad.
That Stanford team included Kate Starbird, Kristin Folkl and Jamila Wideman, and Smith was a defensive standout and glue player on that Stanford team, which started the season ranked No. 1 and finished the regular season ranked No. 3 with a 30-1 record.
Smith’s Stanford teams reached the Final Four each of her final three seasons, but suffered a bitter one-point, overtime defeat to Old Dominion in the final game of Smith’s career in 1997. Smith made two free throws with 10 seconds left in regulation to send that game into overtime, and Stanford had three good shots at the basket in the final few seconds of overtime to win it, but missed all three in the 83-82 loss.
Smith later was an assistant coach at Stanford under VanDerveer for three seasons.
“Charmin was an engineering major, and when you know that, she was very precise,” VanDerveer said earlier this month. “She’s a very intelligent young women. She was a great player, hard worker, team player, worked at both ends of the court. . . . very knowledgeable, curious, had questions.
“She’s going to do a great job at Cal and I’m going to be cheering for them, except when they play Stanford.”
One of Smith’s talents is her outstanding imitation of VanDerveer, who admires it as much as anyone. Click here to see Smith’s impersonation of VanDerveer, and compare it to this video.