Bears Host Colorado Tuesday
Dec. 6, 2004
Colorado Buffaloes (2-2) at California Golden Bears (4-2)
Tuesday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
San Diego SLAM
Saturday, Dec. 11, Cox Arena, San Diego, CA
Game 1: USC Trojans (2-2) vs. San Diego Toreros (2-4), 5 p.m.
Game 2: California Golden Bears vs. San Diego State Aztecs (4-1, at Washington Tuesday), 7:30 p.m.
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
TV: FSN Bay Area
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
* California concludes a three-game homestand Tuesday night when the Golden Bears host Colorado at 7 p.m. in Haas Pavilion. Cal then travels to San Diego to partake in the San Diego SLAM doubleheader Saturday. USC faces San Diego in the opener, followed by Cal vs. San Diego State in the nightcap.
* Despite being reduced to eight healthy scholarship players and having no seniors on the roster, Cal is off to a 4-2 start and averaging 71.8 ppg. Although the Bears aren't breaking any scoring records, their average is 10 ppg higher than at the same point last season, when they poured in 61.8 ppg en route to a 3-3 mark after six contests. In addition, Cal is shooting 48.9 percent from the floor through six games, compared to 38.3 percent after six outings in '03-04.
* Junior G Richard Midgley is one of the key reasons for Cal's stronger offensive showing. This fall, he is averaging 17.2 ppg on 53.1 percent field goal shooting, including 62.1 percent (18-29) from three-point range. At the same time last year, he had struggled to 6.7 ppg, making 24.4 percent from the floor and 25.0 percent (5-20) from behind the arc.
* Only one of Cal's first six opponents has shot at least 50 percent from the floor (UNLV, 52.8%), while the other five have been held to 42 percent or less.
* Cal shot 63.3 percent from the field (31-49) last Saturday vs. Fairleigh Dickinson - its highest rate since the Bears connected on 63.6 percent of their attempts (35-55) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 22, 1998, which resulted in a 94-65 victory.
* Freshman C DeVon Hardin and junior G Marquise Kately lead the team in rebounding with 6.0 per game. Kately's rate is up from 2.8 rpg last year despite moving from small forward to off-guard after sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka broke his left foot vs. Southern Nov. 23.
Golden Bear Notes
Midgley's Career Night Shoots Cal Past FDU, 80-66
Junior G Richard Midgley sank 11-of-15 shots from the floor, including 6-of-9 from three-point range, to lead Cal to an 80-66 win over Fairleigh Dickinson last Saturday at Haas Pavilion. Midgley had 18 points by halftime, when the Bears had built a 42-33 lead. The spread reached 17 points midway through the second stanza. Junior C Rod Benson was 6-for-8 from the field on his way to 16 points, as Cal posted a 63.3 field goal percentage for the contest. In accumulating 23 assists, four players had at least four, with Martin Smith finishing with five assists and no turnovers.
In Rod We Trust: Benson Blossoms on the Block
Junior Rod Benson, inserted into the starting line for the first time in his career this season, has emerged as Cal's most reliable offensive threat in the post, especially in the Bears' last three contests. After scoring a career-high 14 points at BYU Nov. 27, the 6-10, 210-pounder soared past that total with 22 points and a personal-best eight rebounds against UNLV Dec. 1, then added 16 points vs. Fairleigh Dickinson. Over the span, Benson is averaging 17.3 ppg and shooting 70.0 percent (21-30) from the field. In fact, Benson's 68 points this season already equals his entire career total entering the year. Now averaging 11.3 ppg, he is shooting a team-high 66.7% from the floor (26-39) while pulling down 3.0 rpg.
Downtown is Midgley's Favorite Neighborhood
During his first two seasons at Cal, junior G Richard Midgley was clearly Cal's most consistent three-point threat. After setting a school freshman record by making 44.9 percent (44-98) of his long-range attempts in '02-03, he was 40-for-114 (35.1%) last year. Now, the native of Burgess Hill, England, is looking to put those numbers to shame. Through six games, Midgley is 18-for-29 from long range (62.1%), including a 6-for-8 performance against Southern Nov. 23 and a 6-for-9 effort vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Dec. 4. For his career, he has connected on 102-of-241 treys, putting him in 10th place on Cal's all-time list and second in three-point percentage (42.3%).
Cal Career Three-Pointers 7. K.J. Roberts (1992-95) 1098. Ryan Forehan-Kelly (1999-02) 1079. Monty Buckley (1992-95) 10610. Richard Midgley (2003- ) 102
Cal Career Three-Point Percentage1. Billy Dreher (1991-92) 43.1%2. Richard Midgley (2003- ) 42.3%3. Keith Smith (1987-90) 41.3%4. Bill Elleby (1989-92) 41.0%
Midgley Picks Up the Pace since Move to Point
In the four games since Richard Midgley returned from off-guard to the point guard position he occupied as a freshman, the junior has seen his offensive numbers skyrocket. During those contests, he is pouring in 20.3 ppg and shooting 60.0 percent from the floor (27-45), including 65.4 percent from behind the arc (17-26). He started the run with 26 points vs. Southern Nov. 23 and then posted a career-high 28 points against FDU last Saturday.
Injuries Deplete Bears' Ranks Early in Season
Cal entered the 2004-05 knowing that three members of the roster would miss most, if not all, of the campaign - sophomore F Leon Powe (knee), freshman C Sam Rayburn (knee) and junior forward Jordi Geli (foot). Then, sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka was added to the injured list in late November, leaving the Bears with just eight healthy scholarship players. Ubaka, who started 29 of 31 games the past two years, fractured the fifth metatarsal of his left foot in the first half of Cal's Nov. 23 game vs. Southern. He underwent surgery the next day and is expected to miss up to eight weeks of action. Over the first three contests this season, Ubaka was averaging 7.7 ppg and 4.0 apg, shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent (5-8) from three-point range.
Powe, the 2004 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, is on the sidelines following Sept. 8 reconstructive knee surgery. The first freshman in the history of the Pac-10 to lead the league in rebounding when he averaged 9.5 rpg last year, he also was Cal's leading scorer in 2003-04 with 15.1 ppg. In addition, Rayburn is rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery, while Geli's preseason foot surgery will keep him off the court for the near future.
Braun, Fisher Familiar Foes
Ben Braun and Steve Fisher are facing each other for the first time at their respective schools, but the pair are very familiar with each other from their days in Michigan. Braun served as head coach at Eastern Michigan from 1986-96, while Fisher was at Michigan from 1989-97 prior to moving to San Diego State. Fisher's Wolverines, however, claimed all three meetings with Braun's Eagles, although each match-up took place on Michigan's home floor.
Braun vs. Fisher - Head to HeadDec. 30, 1989 at Michigan 107, Eastern Michigan 83Dec. 4, 1990 at Michigan 78, Eastern Michigan 76Jan. 2, 1993 at Michigan 88, Eastern Michigan 58
3-Point Shot Returns as Big Weapon; Cal 3rd in NCAA in 3-Point Pct.
During the 2003-04 season, Cal ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting by sinking just 31.0 percent of its attempts from long range. But this year, the Bears have become one of the top long-distance teams in the country. Cal made at least 50 percent of its three-point tries in four of its first six contests - 6-8 vs. UC Riverside, 3-6 vs. Saint Mary's, 7-13 vs. Southern and 6-11 vs. FDU - and the Bears enter the Colorado game making 51.85 percent from behind the arc (28-54) - third in the country behind George Washington (53.8%) and Miami (OH) (51.89%), as of Dec. 6. Two players have already flirted with the Cal single-game record of 5-for-5 set by Amit Tamir vs. Arizona State in 2003. Freshman F Eric Vierneisel began his Cal career with a 4-for-4 three-point effort vs. UC Riverside, while junior G Richard Midgley sank his first six three-point attempts vs. Southern before finishing 6-for-8.
Hardin Hardly Plays Like a Freshman in Starting Debut
With G Ayinde Ubaka sidelined for up to eight weeks due to a broken foot, Ben Braun decided to replace him in the starting lineup with 6-10 freshman DeVon Hardin. And the rookie from Fremont, Calif., certainly made the Bears' head coach look smart in his debut effort at BYU Nov. 27. In 32 minutes against the Cougars, Hardin finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. He converted a pair of three-point plays and ended the night shooting 4-for-7 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the line. As a reserve, Hardin's best performance came Dec. 23 vs. Southern when he totaled eight points and seven boards in just 14 minutes of action. For the year, he is shooting 60.0 percent from the field (12-20) and is tied for the team lead in rebounding (6.0 rpg).
Martin Smith Carries on Strong Walk-on Tradition
Since his arrival at Cal in the fall of 1996, head coach Ben Braun has had a knack for finding walk-ons who eventually became key cogs for the Golden Bears. Most notably, Ryan Forehan-Kelly (1999-02) developed into one of the top three-point shooters in school history, finishing his career with a 40.7 percent success rate from behind the arc (84-212). In addition, A.J. Diggs completed his tenure with the Bears last spring ranked No. 3 on Cal's all-time steals list with 158. Now add junior G Martin Smith to the mix. Son of the late Phil Smith, an All-Star guard with the Golden State Warriors in the 1970s, Martin is in his third season with the Bears and currently leads the squad with 22 assists (3.7 apg). He had a career-high seven assists vs. Southern and added six more in Cal's win over UC Riverside. For the year, he owns a 3.14:1 assist-to-turnover ratio (22 assists/7 turnovers). At BYU Nov. 27, Smith's free throw with 18 seconds left put the final touches on the Bears' 67-64 victory.
Bears Post Big Road Win at BYU
How rare was Cal's 67-64 win at BYU Nov. 27? Not only did the Bears break BYU's 18-game home winning streak, but they also snapped the Cougars' run of 40 wins in a row over non-conference games at the Marriott Center in Provo. In fact, the last non-league team to defeat BYU on its home court was Cal, which posted a 71-70 victory on Dec. 19, 1998. Since that triumph since years ago, however, the Bears prevailed in just two of their next 10 non-Pac-10 road games, with the only wins coming in November 2002 at New Mexico (76-68) and at Cleveland State (73-64 OT). In all games, Cal was only 2-9 away from home last season. The Bears now hope that the BYU decision signals a quick reversal to that trend.
Darrall Imhoff to Be Inducted into Pac-10 Hall of Honor
Darrall Imhoff, a standout center for the Bears from 1958-60 who led Cal to the 1959 NCAA championship, will be inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor at a banquet March 9, prior to the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles. In the '59 title game, Imhoff hit the winning basket with 17 seconds left to lift Cal to a 71-70 win over West Virginia. A two-time All-American, he also won a gold medal as part of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team in Rome. Imhoff went on to a 12-year NBA career, with All-Star Game appearances in 1966 and '67. He was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988. Every year, starting in 2002, the Pac-10 adds one person from each league school into the Hall of Honor. The other Golden Bears who have been recognized are: Pete Newell (2002), Kevin Johnson (2003) and Jason Kidd (2004).
Golden Bear Notes ...
Bear reserves are averaging 17.7 ppg, contributing a high of 36 points against UC Riverside; last season, Cal's bench provided only 14.2 ppg as the starters accounted for 78.8 percent of the team's scoring output ... Cal was picked to finish seven in the Pac-10 media poll ... up to 18 of Cal's regular-season games will be televised this year ... Cal will play three Mountain West Conference schools this season - BYU, UNLV and San Diego State ... with both Leon Powe and Ayinde Ubaka currently nursing injuries, Cal has just 43.8 percent of its scoring back from last season's team ... junior F David Paris, who began his career just 1-for-16 from the free throw line and entered the season a career 38.1 percent foul shooter, currently leads the Bears from the charity stripe at 85.7 percent (12-14).