Bears Open Basketball Practice Saturday
Oct. 13, 2000
BERKELEY - Head coach Ben Braun welcomes 10 returning lettermen plus four newcomers when the Golden Bear men's basketball team begins practice Saturday morning - the first day schools across the country can start preparations for the 2000-01 season.
Cal will work out at the Golden State Warriors practice facility in downtown Oakland for the first 7-10 days until the new scoreboards are fully installed in Haas Pavilion.
Cal is coming off an 18-15 season in which the Bears reached the quarterfinals of the National Invitational Tournament. After going through last year's campaign with a freshman-dominated group, Cal has each of its top 9 scorers back from 1999-2000.
Leading the contingent is senior forward Sean Lampley, an All-Pac-10 selection in 2000 who paced the Bears in both scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg) and ranked second in assists (3.1 apg). A preseason All-Pac-10 choice again this year, Lampley is hoping to carry Cal back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997.
The majority of the supporting cast are sophomores, including point guard Shantay Legans, forward Joe Shipp and center Nick Vander Laan. Legans averaged 9.4 ppg as a freshman last year and ranked among the Pac-10 leaders in assists, steals, free throw shooting and three-point shooting. With work in the weight room, he has also added 15 pounds to his frame for the coming year.
Offseason conditioning also proved beneficial to Shipp, who enters the season stronger and in better shape than last year. In 1999-2000, Shipp averaged 9.1 ppg and made 40 three-pointers. Vander Laan led all Pac-10 freshmen in rebounding last year with 6.7 per game, while also scoring at an 8.5 ppg clip.
The Bears have added two scholarship freshmen and a pair of walk-ons, as well. Saulius Kuzminskas is a 6-11, 220-pounder from Lithuania who was voted MVP of the European Junior Championships last year. The other newcomer to the frontline is 6-10 Gabriel Hughes, younger brother of Cal junior Solomon Hughes.
The Bears hold their first exhibition game Nov. 2 against the Los Angeles Stars at 7:30 p.m. in Haas Pavilion. The regular-season opener is Nov. 13 versus Mississippi State at 9 p.m. in the first round of the Preseason NIT.