Cal Rides 4-Game Winning Streak into Washington

Jan. 13, 2003

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California Golden Bears (10-2, 3-0) at Washington Huskies (6-7, 1-3)
Thursday, Jan. 16, 7 p.m., Bank of America Arena, Seattle, WA
TV: none
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)

California at Washington State Cougars (5-8, 0-4, vs. Stanford 1/16)
Saturday, Jan. 18, 6 p.m., Friel Court, Pullman, WA
TV: Fox Sports Northwest
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
After opening Pac-10 play with three home games, California makes its first venture outside the Bay Area since early December when the Golden Bears visit Washington Thursday and Washington Saturday.

Cal is 2-0 on opponent home courts so far this year, coming back from a 13-point deficit to defeat New Mexico, 76-68, in the season opener and downing Cleveland State, 73-64, in overtime.

A win over the Huskies would give the Bears a victory in their league road opener for the first time since 1996. In addition, Cal can reach two other milestones with a triumph Thursday night - the Bears would have at least 11 wins in their first 13 games for the first time since 1959-60, and they would be 4-0 in conference play for the first time since 1957.

Much of the credit to Cal's hot start goes to the trio of Joe Shipp, Amit Tamir and Brian Wethers, who combine to average 51.7 ppg.

Shipp is coming off a career night vs. Oregon State last Saturday when he poured in 35 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the floor, including 4-of-5 from three-point range - a feat that earned him Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. He has also paced the Bears in rebounding in all three Pac-10 games to date, including a personal high of 10 boards against Stanford.

Tamir tops Cal in both rebounding (6.7 rpg) and three-pointers made (27), quite a double for a 6-11, 260-pound forward. He tallied 25 points to help the Bears upend No. 12 Oregon last week - the third time he has reached the 25-point level this year.

Wethers serves as Cal's defensive stopper and top assist man (3.1 apg), and he has reached double figures in scoring in every game. One of three starters shooting better than 50 percent from the field, he has a high of 18 points this year.

Cal, though, is more than just the 'Three Bears,' with a group of younger players who seemingly contribute more and more each game. Junior PG A.J. Diggs has swiped 29 steals, including eight at Cleveland State, while freshman PG Richard Midgley moved into the starting lineup vs. Stanford and ranks fourth on the team with 8.8 ppg.

Additionally, rookies Erik Bond and David Paris have seen their playing time increase significantly in recent games. Bond had six rebounds in the win over Oregon State, and both players chipped in with seven points vs. Stanford.

Golden Bear Notes

Shipp's Career Night Sinks Oregon State, 78-73
Senior F Joe Shipp scored a career-high 35 points to lead Cal to a 78-73 win over Oregon State Saturday night in Haas Pavilion. Shipp, who had his third 30-point game of the season, made 12-of-16 attempts from the floor, including 4-of-5 from three-point range. After the Bears built a 42-33 lead at the half, they increased their advantage to 53-36 with 14:35 left. But less than a minute later, sophomore F Amit Tamir suffered a strained right knee when OSU's Brian Jackson fouled him on a three-point attempt. With Tamir forced to the bench, the Beavers used a 12-2 run to make the score 56-51 with 8:28 to go. Erik Bond then hit a free throw and Shipp nailed a three-pointer for a nine-point Cal advantage. The Bears established a 68-55 edge at the four-minute mark before a flurry of OSU three-pointers closed the gap near the end.

Cal Needs Win over UW for Historic Pac-10 Start
At 3-0 in Pac-10 action, Cal is off to its best conference start since the 1996 squad also began 3-0 with wins over Arizona, Arizona State and USC. But with a win at Washington Thursday night, the Bears would reach 4-0 for the first time since they were 10-0 to begin the 1957 Pacific Coast Conference season under head coach Pete Newell. During Cal's NCAA Final Four runs of 1959 and '60, the Bears lost early in league play both times. In addition, the Bears are 10-2 overall for the third time under current head coach Ben Braun (also 1998-99 & 2001-02), and they haven't won at least 11 of their first 13 games since going 28-2 in 1960 under Newell.

Bears Hope to Break Pac-10 Road Opener Drought
Back on Jan. 4, Cal defeated Stanford, 72-59, to win its Pac-10 opener for the first time since 1996. Now, the Bears hope snap a six-game losing streak in league road openers Thursday at Washington - a drought that dates back to a 63-60 squeaker over USC on Jan. 11, 1996. Although head coach Ben Braun owns a 61-50 conference record - he's the first Cal coach to have a winning league mark since Pete Newell was 62-26 from 1955-60 - he had never won either a Pac-10 home or road opener before the Stanford victory.

Shipp in Rare Company with Four 30-Point Games
With three 30-point outings so far this season and another against Fresno State last year, senior forward Joe Shipp has joined eight other players in school history with at least four career 30-point games. He is the first to reach the milestone since Ed Gray scored 30 or more six times during the 1996-97 season on his way to Pac-10 Player of the Year honors. In addition to his 31 points vs. Fresno State on Dec. 11, 2001, Shipp had 30 points at Cleveland State and vs. Howard and a career-best 35 against Oregon State this year.

Bears Push Haas Winning Streak to 13
Now 8-0 at Haas Pavilion this season, Cal has run off a 13-game winning streak on its home floor dating back to last year. The streak ties for the sixth-longest on-campus string in school history, and is just one shy of the Haas Pavilion record of 14 in a row set from March 4, 2000 to Feb. 1, 2001. Over the past two seasons, Cal is 25-1 in Berkeley - the only loss was a 68-58 setback to Arizona - while the Bears' record since the start of the 2000-01 season is a Pac-10 best 39-4. Cal's longest home win streak ever was 26 games from 1958-60.

Shipp Jumps to 14th on Scoring Chart
Senior F Joe Shipp, who leads the Bears with 20.6 ppg, has jumped 15 spots on Cal's career scoring list this season. After entering the year in the 29th spot, he now holds the 14th position with 1,281 points, passing such notable alumni as Mark McNamara, Larry Friend, Ed Gray and Andy Wolfe. Shipp has reached double figures in every game, and he is shooting a career-best 47.2 percent (25-53) from three-point range. With 11 more points, he will claim 13th place at Cal, topping Dave Butler's 1,291 points scored from 1983-87.

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 40.2 percent of their attempts (86-214). Cal has connected on at least 50 percent of its tries five times, including a best of 61.1 percent (11-18) vs. Howard. Joe Shipp leads this year's unit with 25 treys in 52 attempts (47.2%), while sophomore F Amit Tamir is 27-for-59 (45.8%) and freshman G Richard Midgley is 14-for-32 (43.8%). The school team record is 38.7 percent set by the 1989-90 club. Shipp is also creeping up Cal's career list with 142 triples, good for third place behind only Ryan Drew (214, 1988-91) and Randy Duck (153, 1994-97).

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 the EA Sports Golden Bear Classic in late December. 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. Later, he kept Oregon's Luke Jackson without a field goal for the first 36 minutes in Cal's Jan. 9 win. 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 ranks third on the team in scoring (14.3 ppg), first in assists (3.1 apg) and third in rebounding (4.6 rpg). He has paced the Bears in assists six times in Cal's last eight games and leads all current players on the roster with 187 career assists.

Tamir Gives Bears Triple Threat
At 6-11, 260 pounds, sophomore F Amit Tamir looks like he should be Cal's dominant player near the basket. And in fact, he leads the Bears with 6.7 rpg, including a pair of double-doubles and a career-high 14 boards vs. Howard. But Tamir's game in not limited to the area just around the hoop. Cal's second-leading scorer at 16.8 ppg, he tops all Cal players in three-pointers made (27-of-59) with an accuracy rate of 45.8 percent. Tamir scorched the nets for five treys vs. Georgia and four more against Kansas, and he was 3-for-3 from behind the arc against Oregon State. His most important triple, however, came against USF Dec. 30 when his three-pointer with 3.7 seconds left in regulation sent the contest into overtime, a game the Bears won, 77-70. In addition, Tamir - who had 27 points vs. Georgia and 26 more against USF - pumped in 25 more points vs. Oregon Jan. 9. He is second on the squad with 36 assists (3.0 apg) and his free throw rate (83.6%) is also No. 2 on the squad. Before missing against Stanford Jan. 4, he had made 23 straight from the free throw line.

Bond Returns to Seattle
Redshirt-freshman F Erik Bond, a former Washington state Player of the Year at Seattle Prep, returns to his hometown for Thursday's game against the Huskies. The son of Jay Bond, a letterwinner on the UW basketball teams of 1968, '69 and '70, Erik made the Seattle road trip last season when he was rehabilitating from ankle surgery. This year, the 6-7 forward is averaging 2.9 ppg and 1.7 rpg. In last week's win over Oregon State, he grabbed a personal-best six rebounds, while he was a big factor in Cal's win over Stanford with seven points in 14 minutes of action.

Even in New Role, Diggs Takes Steals Seriously
After starting each of Cal's first nine games this season, junior point guard A.J. Diggs returned to the more familiar role he filled during his first two years in the program against Stanford Jan. 4 - that of a defensive sparkplug coming off the bench. Despite the change in status, Diggs, who averages 2.42 steals per game, played 25 minutes and swiped the ball three times from the Cardinal. Earlier this season, Diggs tied Jason Kidd's school record with eight steals at Cleveland State Nov. 30, 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.

Rebounding Key Factor in Cal Results
Cal, which owns a +3.7 rebounding margin this season, is a perfect 8-0 when winning the battle of the boards, but 2-2 when opponents grab more caroms. The Bears were +22 against Grambling Dec. 20 (53-31) - their largest margin since posting a +25 advantage (47-22) vs. Texas Southern on Nov. 30, 1996 - while they produced a +9 differential (40-31) against a Stanford team that entered the Jan. 4 contest leading the Pac-10 in rebounding margin. Last season, the Bears had a -1.6 average 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 8.8 ppg after a career-high 16-point effort vs. USF Dec. 30, he is shooting 50.8 percent from the floor, including a perfect 5-for-5 outing vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, and 43.8 percent (14-for-32) from three-point range. For his efforts, head coach Ben Braun rewarded him a spot in the starting lineup, beginning with the Pac-10 opener vs. Stanford. Third on the team with 35 assists, the native of England dished out six assists without committing a turnover vs. Oregon State. He has also grabbed at least six rebounds three times, with a best of seven against Grambling Dec. 20.

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.

Bear Notes ...
Cal has won seven of its past eight overtime games, including a 2-1 mark this season ... head coach Ben Braun has moved into second place on Cal's all-time coaching list with 128 wins, passing both Pete Newell (119-44, 1955-60) and Lou Campanelli (123-108, 1986-93) this season ... Cal has won 24 consecutive non-conference home games, dating back to Jan. 2, 2000 ... Joe Shipp's back-to-back 30-point outings against Cleveland State and Howard were the first such occurrence since Ed Gray had three straight 30-point games in January 1997 ... Brian Wethers recently had his number retired at Murrieta Valley HS ... Cal has added two walk-ons to the roster who are not in the media guide - 6-3 freshman guard Joe Abrahams from Crossroads HS in Los Angeles and 5-11 freshman guard David Brutocao-Kemp from Oakland's Bishop O'Dowd HS ... seven former Bears were on NBA opening night rosters this year: Jason Kidd (Nets), Lamond Murray (Raptors), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Hawks), Michael Stewart (Cavaliers), Sean Marks (Heat), Sean Lampley (Heat) and Jamal Sampson (Bucks) ... senior guard Donte Smith underwent quadriceps surgery in September; although he has not played yet, he has been cleared for action.

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