Cal Meets Kansas in Pete Newell Challenge

Dec. 23, 2002

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Pete Newell Challenge
Saturday, December 28, Arena in Oakland, Oakland, CA

California Golden Bears (6-1) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (6-3), 12:30 p.m.
TV: ABC Radio: KFRC (610 AM)

Stanford Cardinal (7-3) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (8-3), 3 p.m.
TV: KRON

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California faces Kansas in the sixth annual Pete Newell Challenge Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Oakland Arena. The Bears are a perfect 4-0 in the event, but meet their biggest challenge of the season against the 19th-ranked Jayhawks.

Now sporting a 6-1 record on the year, Cal is coming off a championship in the EA Sports Golden Bear Classic last weekend. The Bears defeated Louisiana-Lafayette, 77-61, in the title game in their most complete effort of the season, shooting 56.4 percent from the floor and winning the rebound battle, 31-21.

As has been the case all year, the trio of senior F Joe Shipp, senior G Brian Wethers and sophomore forward Amit Tamir led Cal to the crown.

Shipp, who is averaging a team-high 19.3 ppg, earned all-tournament honors last weekend when he had 17 points vs. Grambling and 15 more vs. UL-Lafayette. He posted back-to-back 30-point games vs. Cleveland State and Howard earlier this season, and he has moved up to 18th on Cal's career scoring list.

The 6-11 Tamir, second on the squad with 15.6 ppg, can pose match-up problems for opposing teams due to his inside-outside abilities. Not only is he pacing the Bears with 8.3 rpg, but he is shooting 46.9 percent (15-32) on three-point attempts, including a 5-for-9 effort vs. Georgia Dec. 7.

Wethers earned MVP honors at the Golden Bear Classic after scoring 18 points and grabbing five boards vs. UL-Lafayette to raise his season average to 14.9 ppg. A double-figure scorer in every game so far, he is shooting 53.7 percent from the floor on the year.

The Bears are also getting solid contributions from point guards A.J. Diggs and Richard Midgley. Diggs has 24 assists and 23 steals, including a team-record-tying eight thefts at Cleveland State, while Midgley is coming off a career-high 13-point effort vs. UL-Lafayette when he made all five of his field goal attempts.

Golden Bear Notes

Cal Wins EA Sports Golden Bear Classic
Tournament MVP Brian Wethers scored 18 points and Amit Tamir added 20 points and eight rebounds to lead Cal to a 77-61 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in the final of the EA Sports Golden Bear Classic last Saturday. The Bears shot a season-high 56.4 percent from the floor, including 59.3 percent in the first half when they raced out to leads of 16-2 and 27-10. The win gave Cal its seventh Classic title in the 10-year history of the tournament. In addition to Wethers, Tamir and Joe Shipp (15 points) were voted all-tournament.

Cal Seeks 5th Win in Pete Newell Challenge
Cal enters Saturday's game with a perfect 4-0 record in the Pete Newell Challenge. In the inaugural event in 1997, the Bears edged BYU, 68-64. Cal then upset ninth-ranked North Carolina, 78-71, in 1998, beat No. 22 Gonzaga, 72-64, in '99 and crushed Georgia, 85-64, in December 2000.

The Pete Newell Legacy at Cal
Pete Newell, who led Cal to the 1959 NCAA title and a runner-up finish in the 1960 tournament, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978. Head coach of the Bears from 1954-55 through 1959-60, Newell's teams won four consecutive conference titles (1957-60), and he was voted the National Coach of the Year in 1960. He finished his Cal career with a 119-44 record. Newell also coached the U.S. Olympic team - which featured Cal center Darrall Imhoff - to a gold medal in the 1960 Rome Games. On Dec. 21, 1987, the playing surface at old Harmon Gym was renamed 'Pete Newell Court' in his honor and the floor at Haas Pavilion retains that distinction.

Braun Takes Over Second Place in Coaching Victories
With Cal's 77-61 win over Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday, head coach Ben Braun passed Lou Campanelli for second place on the Bears' career victories list. Earlier this season, Braun edged past Hall of Famer Pete Newell with a 73-64 OT victory at Cleveland State Nov. 30. Entering this week's match-up, Braun owns a 124-71 record in his seventh season in Berkeley. Newell, who guided the Bears to the 1959 NCAA championship, was 119-44 from 1955-60, while Campanelli was 123-108 from 1986-93.

Arena in Oakland Almost Like Second Home
Cal may be playing its first game at the Arena in Oakland in two years this week, but the Bears are very familiar with the venue. From 1992-96, Cal held up to seven 'home' games per year in Oakland to take advantage of the arena's large seating capacity. Then, while Cal's Harmon Gym was being renovated and enlarged into Haas Pavilion on campus, the Bears played all of their games in Oakland during the 1998 and '99 seasons. In fact, some of Cal's biggest wins in recent years have come at the arena, including an 89-76 victory over seventh-ranked Arizona on Feb. 25, 1999, a 78-71 triumph over No. 9 North Carolina on Dec. 29, 1998 and an 85-70 win over No. 1 UCLA on Jan. 30, 1994.

Haas Win Streak at 23 vs. Non-Conference Foes
With its win over Louisiana-Lafayette in the EA Sports Golden Bear Classic last week, Cal increased its Haas Pavilion winning streak over non-conference opponents to 23 games. The Bears were a perfect 9-0 against non-Pac-10 schools last year and were 8-0 against teams outside the league in 2000-01. Since Haas Pavilion opened in the fall of 1999, Cal's only home loss to a non-Pac-10 team was a 74-71 decision to Penn in the final of the Golden Bear Classic on Dec. 29, 1999.

Shipp Jumps to 18th on Scoring Chart
Senior F Joe Shipp, who leads the Bears with 19.3 ppg, has jumped 11 spots on Cal's career scoring list already this season. After entering the year in the 29th spot, he now holds the 18th position with 1,169 points, passing such notable alumni as Mark McNamara, Larry Friend, Ed Gray and Andy Wolfe. Shipp poured in 30 points in back-to-back games vs. Cleveland State and Howard, and he is shooting a career-best 45.7 percent (16-35) from three-point range. With 11 more points, Shipp will claim 17th place on the Cal list, topping Chris Washington's 1,179 points scored from 1984-87.

Diggs Ties Kidd with 8 Steals at Cleveland State
Now given a chance to start after serving as a reserve for two seasons, junior point guard A.J. Diggs has provided notice that is one of the best thieves in the country. With 23 steals so far, Diggs is averaging 3.3 per game, No. 1 in the Pac-10 and more than double his team-leading average of 1.5 spg set last season. He has had at least four steals in a game three times this year, including five vs. UC Santa Barbara and four at New Mexico. His most impressive outing came in Cal's overtime win at Cleveland State Nov. 30 when he tied Jason Kidd's school record with eight steals, including two in the last two minutes of regulation and three more in overtime. Kidd had eight steals against Washington on Jan. 28, 1993. Named the preseason Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year by Athlon magazine, Diggs earned a scholarship during the offseason after arriving in Berkeley as a walk-on.

Three-Point Shot Returns as Key Weapon
Last season, Cal shot a Pac-10-worst 31.4 percent from three-point range, the lowest rate at the school in three years. But in 2002-03, the Bears have regained their accuracy from behind the arc, making 41.2 percent of their attempts (54-131). In the three games before EA Sports Golden Bear Classic, Cal shot a combined 31-for-58 (53.4%) - 11-for-18 vs. Howard Dec. 3 (61.1%), 11-for-22 vs. Georgia Dec. 7 (50.0%) and 9-for-18 against UC Santa Barbara Dec. 10 (50.0%). The Howard and Georgia outputs marked the first time since Feb. 15-23, 1995 vs. Stanford (10) and UCLA (11) that the Bears made at least 10 treys in consecutive games. This year's unit is led by senior F Joe Shipp, who is 16-for-35 on three-pointers (45.7%), and sophomore F Amit Tamir, who is 15-for-32 (46.9%), while freshman G Richard Midgley is 10-for-23 (43.5%).

Tamir Gives Bears Triple Threat
As Cal's most experienced frontcourt player, 6-11 sophomore Amit Tamir knows that much of the Bears' success this season depends on his performance. Now averaging 15.6 ppg and 8.3 rpg, Tamir has posted a pair of double-doubles in seven games - 20 points and 12 boards at New Mexico and 27 points and 11 rebounds against Georgia. He grabbed a career-best 14 caroms vs. Howard, giving him three double-digit rebound games after not reaching 10 in any contest last season. In addition, Tamir matched his personal best with seven assists at Cleveland State and is tied for the team lead with 24 total assists (3.4 apg). Not only can Tamir score inside with his 6-11, 260-pound frame, but he can step outside, where he is 15-for-32 on three-pointers, including a 5-for-9 display vs. Georgia.

Wethers Report: Senior Reigns on Both Ends
According to coach Ben Braun, senior guard Brian Wethers, Cal's most athletic player, has the ability to dictate play on both ends of the court. And Wethers displayed his all-around skill to its fullest at last week's EA Sports Golden Bear Classic. In earning tournament MVP honors, Wethers averaged 16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 4.0 apg. In addition, he helped hold Louisiana-Lafayette's high-scoring guard Brad Boyd to just 6-for-17 shooting in the championship game. Wethers, who has tallied at least 10 points in every game this season, has twice scored 18 points - at Cleveland State and vs. UL-Lafayette. He his shooting 53.7 percent from the floor and is third on the squad in rebounding with 5.1 per outing. In addition, Wethers leads all current players on the roster with 169 career assists.

Shipp's Shots Sail Through from Three-Point Distance
Joe Shipp entered this season as Cal's most accomplished long-range bomber and he has only enhanced his reputation so far this year. 'He was shooting that NBA '3.' He's made a believer out of me in the quality of play he exhibited,' said Howard head man Frankie Allen. Against Allen's Bison Dec. 3, Shipp tallied 30 points for the second consecutive game, making 5-of-7 from three-point range. Also ringing up 30 points at Cleveland State Nov. 30, he became the first Cal player to post back-to-back 30-point totals since Ed Gray reached the mark in three straight games against Oregon State, Oregon and Washington State in January 1997. With 133 career treys, Shipp ranks fifth in Cal history, needing just three more to top No. 4 Bill Elleby, who had 135 from 1989-92.

Rebounding Key Factor in Cal Results
Cal, which owns a +5.9 rebounding margin this season, is a perfect 6-0 when winning the battle of the boards, but 0-1 when opponents grab more caroms. Since being out-rebounded 43-33 to Georgia, the Bears were +6 vs. UC Santa Barbara (28-22), +22 against Grambling (53-31) and +10 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (31-21). The margin in the Grambling game was Cal's largest since posting a +25 advantage (47-22) vs. Texas Southern on Nov. 30, 1996. Last season, the Bears were -1.6 in rebounding margin and Cal hasn't been positive for a full year since 1999-00 (+0.9).

Midgley Cool Competitor as a Freshman
Guard Richard Midgley may be just a freshman in eligibility, but the collegiate rookie has displayed a level of maturity on the court usually reserved for more veteran players. Now averaging 8.7 ppg, he is shooting 51.4 percent from the floor after a perfect 5-for-5 outing (2-2 on three-pointers) on his way to a career-best 13 points vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. Earlier in December, the native of England drained 5-of-6 free throws in the final 1:26 against UC Santa Barbara when the Gauchos were purposely trying to foul him due to his youth. Third on the team with 22 assists, Midgley has also grabbed at least six rebounds three times, with a best of seven against Grambling last weekend.

Bears Sport International Flair
On a campus that prides itself on diversity, the Cal basketball team sports a roster that includes players from three foreign countries. Sophomore forward Amit Tamir hails from Jerusalem, Israel, while freshman guard Richard Midgley is a native of Burgess Hill, England, and freshman forward Jordi Geli Vilardell came to Berkeley by way of Girona, Spain. By no means does this trio represent all of the overseas players who have suited up for Cal under head coach Ben Braun. Others who have needed student visas before joining the squad include Sean Marks (New Zealand, 1995-98), Shahar Gordon (1999-00, Israel), Francisco Elson (1998-99, The Netherlands) and Saulius Kuzminskas (2001, Lithuania).

Fathers and Sons Share Athletic Backgrounds
Four members of the 2002-03 Cal team can point to their fathers as men who paved their way into the athletic arena. Junior guard A.J. Diggs, for example, is the son of Shelton Diggs, who was a wide receiver at USC from 1973-76 and played for the NFL's New York Jets in 1976. Redshirt-freshman forward Erik Bond hails from a family of basketball players - his father, Jay, starred at Washington, while both of this brothers (Jason at Gonzaga and Jesse at Saint Mary's) played at the collegiate level. In addition, freshman forward David Paris is the son of former San Francisco 49er lineman Bubba Paris, and freshman guard Martin Smith is the son of the late Phil Smith, who played college basketball at San Francisco and was a two-time NBA All-Star.

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