Bears Host Wyoming Tuesday
Dec. 8, 2003
Wyoming Cowboys (3-2) at California Golden Bears (2-3)
Tuesday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California hosts Wyoming Tuesday in the Golden Bears' last game before an 11-day break for final exams. After this week, Cal returns to action Dec. 20 vs. No. 12 Saint Joseph's in the Pete Newell Challenge.
So far this season, Cal has alternated wins and losses each time out, but the Bears have won their last two contests at home, defeating BYU (47-46) and UC Irvine (65-57).
In Wyoming, Cal will be facing a team from the Mountain West Conference for the third time already in 2003-04. In addition to BYU Nov. 26, the Bears also visited UNLV Nov. 29. The Cowboys, meanwhile, will be taking on their second straight Pac-10 opponent, having defeated Washington at home last Saturday.
With three freshmen and a sophomore in the starting lineup, Cal has relied on its defense to keep games close until its offense gets untracked. The Bears are surrendering just 60.6 ppg and have allowed only two teams to crack the 60-point barrier. Cal also boasts a +4.2 turnover margin and has swiped 45 steals (9.0 spg).
The Bears have also benefited from strong offensive rebounding, with 82 of their 175 boards (46.9%) coming on that end of the floor. The extra possessions mean that the Bears have already attempted 61 more shots than their opponents (12.2 per game).
Freshman F Leon Powe continues to pace Cal in both points (16.4 ppg) and rebounds (10.8 rpg). He has recorded a double-double in all five outings, with a high of 27 points vs. UC Irvine.
Senior C Amit Tamir seemed to snap out of his offensive funk at Colorado last Saturday when he tallied 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor. Tamir, who poured in 14.9 ppg last year, had been scoring at an 8.5 ppg clip over Cal's first four games.
Coming off the bench, senior G A.J. Diggs moved into Cal's all-time Top 5 in steals at Colorado last Saturday. With a pair of picks against the Buffaloes, he tied Gene Ransom (1976-78) for fifth all-time with 133 steals. Diggs had a season-high four steals at UNLV and was the catalyst in starting Cal's comeback bid from a 20-point second-half deficit, helping jump-start a 16-0 run. He was also the key element in a 14-0 spurt midway through the first half vs. UC Irvine, coming away with two of his three steals during the stretch.
Leon Powe Living Up to His Nickname - 'The Show'
On his way to earning McDonald's All-America honors at Oakland Tech High School, F Leon Powe was deemed 'The Show' for his exploits on the court. And since arriving at Cal this fall, the freshman has lived up to that moniker. In the Cal Poly opener, Powe became the first Golden Bear freshman to record a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) in his debut effort since Jason Kidd had 11 points and 10 assists vs. Sacramento State in 1992. And he has had a double-double in every game since, making him the first Bear to record five straight points-rebounds double-doubles since Mark McNamara, who had eight consecutive double-doubles from Dec. 22, 1981 through Jan. 16, 1982. No Golden Bear has averaged a double-double for an entire season since Brian Hendrick in 1991-92 (16.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg).
Freshman Class Makes Immediate Impact on Lineup
Cal's recruiting class, which was ranked among the Top 10 in the country by several recruiting services, has made its presence felt early this season. After starting just one rookie - F Leon Powe - in the Cal Poly opener, head coach Ben Braun had three freshmen in the opening lineup in every game since. So far, the freshman foursome has combined to score 168 of the Bears' 291 total points (57.7 percent). Powe paces Cal in scoring (16.4 ppg) and rebounding (10.8 rpg), while Ubaka is tops in assists (3.0 apg) and McGuire leads in blocks (4). The BYU game marked the first time that Braun started at least three newcomers since 1999-2000 when he started three, and sometimes four, first-year players most of the year. That class featured Joe Shipp, Brian Wethers, Donte Smith, Shantay Legans and Nick Vander Laan and finished 18-15 while reaching the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Ppg Pct. of Team Total Rpg Pct. of Team Total2003-04 Freshman Class 33.6 57.7% 17.2 49.1%1999-00 Freshman Class 38.5 53.6% 16.5 50.7%
A.J. Diggs Moves into Top 5 on Career Steals List
With two steals in last Saturday's game at Colorado, senior G A.J. Diggs moved into a tie with Gene Ransom for fifth place in Cal history with 133 career steals. The 5-10 former walk-on, who received a scholarship before the start of his junior campaign, owns a team-best 13 steals this season, including a high of four thefts at UNLV and three more vs. UC Irvine. Diggs also led the Bears in steals as both a sophomore (47 in 2001-02) and junior (57 in 2002-03). In addition, he tied Jason Kidd's Cal single-game record with eight steals at Cleveland State on Nov. 30, 2002, and he set a school NCAA Tournament mark with six steals against North Carolina State in a first-round game last March.
Cal Career Steals Leaders1. Jason Kidd (1993-94) 2042. Butch Hays (1981-84) 1663. Kevin Johnson (1984-87) 1554. Michael Chavez (1980-83) 1405. A.J. Diggs (2001- ) 133 Gene Ransom (1976-78) 133
Mountain West Conference, Part III
When Cal hosts Wyoming Tuesday, the Bears will be facing a Mountain West Conference team for the third time in six games this season. Earlier, Cal defeated BYU, 47-46, at home Nov. 26, and the Bears fell at UNLV, 59-57, Nov. 29. Even after Tuesday's match-up, Cal could still play another MWC opponent - Air Force is in the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic Dec. 27-28, and the Bears and Falcons could meet on the second day of the tournament.
Tamir Breaks Slump at Colorado
Senior C Amit Tamir broke out of a season-long shooting slump at Colorado when he scored 21 points (8-13 FG, 2-6 3P, 3-3 FT) and grabbed seven rebounds in 26 minutes of action. In his previous four games this season, Tamir was averaging just 8.5 ppg on 31.8 percent shooting from the floor - this on the heels of an All-Pac-10 season in 2003 when he poured in 14.9 ppg and drained a team-high 61 three-pointers. Tamir's 21-point effort was his highest since tallying 27 points at Oregon State last Feb. 6 - a span of 17 games.
With Powe on the Block, Bears Increase Rebounding Margin
With the addition of freshman F Leon Powe to the frontline, Cal has increased its numbers on the glass, especially on the offensive end. The Bears owned a positive rebounding margin in each of their first four games - a four-game feat they did not accomplish all of last year. So far in 2003-04, Cal has pulled down 82 offensive rebounds for an average of 16.4 per contest. The result is that, despite shooting just 38.0 percent from the floor, the second-chance opportunities have allowed the Bears to take 61 more shots than their opponents. Powe has reached double figures in rebounds in every game (10.8 rpg), while senior C Amit Tamir is pulling down 6.6 rpg. Guards A.J. Diggs (7 of 11) and Richard Midgley (8 of 13) both have more offensive boards than defensive caroms.
While Offense Struggles, Defense Keeping Cal in Games
Through five games, the Bears are shooting just 38.0 percent from the floor and averaging 58.2 ppg. Yet, despite the offensive struggles, Cal's defense has been holding its own. The Bears are surrendering only 60.6 ppg, while they are outrebounding opponents by a 35.0-32.4 margin, have swiped 45 steals (9.0 spg) and forced 90 turnovers (18.0 topg). Cal limited BYU, which has averaged 80.8 ppg three other games this season - all wins, to 46 points in a 47-46 victory Nov. 26. Cal also allowed UNLV to score only 22 points in the second half last Saturday night.
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