Charmin Smith returns home to take Cal to the national stage
Viewership for women’s basketball is skyrocketing. The 2022 WNBA regular season was the most viewed in 16 years according to Sports Pro Media, while the 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game was the most-watched title tilt since 2004. The eyeballs are there for women’s basketball, and national networks are taking notice.
Pac-12 Networks is increasing its stash of women’s basketball games to an all-time-high 132 contests on the mothership, and of course there are the usual handful of Pac-12 games on ESPN and ABC. But for the first time ever, NBC is broadcasting a women’s college basketball game, airing Cal’s Nov. 12 contest against Notre Dame in the inaugural Citi Shamrock Classic (it will also be streamed live on Peacock).
With the game taking place at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri, it’s a homecoming game for both Cal head coach Charmin Smith and Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey. Surprisingly enough, it is Smith’s first time back to St. Louis as a player or a coach after starring at Ladue Horton Watkins High School.
There’s more to the Citi Shamrock Classic than the game itself, and the trip back home for Smith will allow her and the Golden Bears to visit the Matthews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club, the same place where Smith first learned how to play basketball.
“I know my family and friends are super excited to see me at home,” Smith said at Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day. “It’s just a great opportunity for our program…I know it’s special to Niele, as well, and happy for her that she gets to experience this in St. Louis.”
The Citi Shamrock Classic will not only be a great opportunity to showcase women’s basketball to a national audience, but also an opportunity for the nation to see what Cal women’s basketball is all about. The Golden Bears return three starters from a 2021-22 team that boasted a 10-win improvement over the previous campaign. An early-season contest against a 2022 Sweet 16 team like Notre Dame is no easy feat, but a strong showing against the Fighting Irish could make people think differently about a team that is picked to finish 11th in the Pac-12.
Armed with players like Jayda Curry, the conference’s leading scorer a year ago and Pac-12 transfers Kemery Martin (Utah) and Peanut Tuitele (Colorado), there is plenty of reason for optimism in Berkeley.
“We play extremely hard, and we’re going to always be a team that plays hard and competes. Regardless of the circumstances, we compete,” Smith said. “It’s time to take that next step, and I think we can really be successful. Not only in the non-conference but carrying it over to Pac-12 play as well.”