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Cal hires ex-assistant Charmin Smith as coach

Cal hired longtime assistant Charmin Smith as its new women's basketball coach, the team announced Friday. She replaces Lindsay Gottlieb, who left to be an assistant with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers last week.

It is Smith's first head-coaching position. She was an assistant for 12 years at Cal, first under Joanne Boyle and then Gottlieb. But Smith left in April to become an assistant for the New York Liberty. Her coaching stay in the WNBA was brief, though, as she returns to Cal about two months after leaving.

"The experience with the New York Liberty only furthered my passion for and commitment to the game," Smith said in a statement. "Berkeley has been my home for the last 12 years and has made a lasting mark on my life. I am incredibly proud of what this program has already accomplished under the direction of both Joanne and Lindsay, and I am thrilled to continue the work of preparing our student-athletes for success both on the court and beyond."

Smith is a native of St. Louis who played collegiately in the Bay area for Stanford from 1993-97, helping the Cardinal advance to the Women's Final Four three times. She played professionally in the short-lived ABL, then in the WNBA and also overseas in Sweden.

She began her coaching career in 2003 at Boston College, before returning to her alma mater under head coach Tara VanDerveer. In 2007, she went to Cal, which advanced to the Final Four in 2013 and has made the NCAA tournament nine times during Smith's tenure.

"I think this is a phenomenal hire all the way around," Gottlieb said in a statement. "Charmin has played and coached in Final Fours, she has two engineering degrees from Stanford, she was my right-hand person for years, and now she's the head coach at Cal."