Cal Hosts Stanford Saturday
Jan. 11, 2005
Stanford Cardinal (7-7, 1-3)) at California Golden Bears (8-6, 1-3)
Saturday, Jan. 15, 1 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California looks to break a two-game losing streak when the Golden Bears host Stanford Saturday afternoon in Haas Pavilion.
Limited to just eight healthy scholarship players the past month and a half, Cal expects that number to rise to nine with the anticipated return of G Ayinde Ubaka to the lineup vs. the Cardinal, barring any unforeseen setbacks. Ubaka, who has started 29 of the 31 games he has played during his career, underwent surgery for a broken bone in his left foot Nov. 24 and began practicing again late last week.
Prior to the injury, the 2004 honorable mention Pac-10 All-Freshman pick was averaging 7.7 ppg and 4.0 apg while shooting 62.5 percent (5-8) from three-point range. His presence will give the Bears added depth in the backcourt, where Cal has started the tandem of junior G Richard Midgley and third-year walk-on Martin Smith the past four contests.
Midgley, who leads the Bears with 15.3 ppg and is 32-for-78 from three-point distance (41.0%), has had to contend with his own injury - a sprained right shoulder that restricted him to just six minutes in last Saturday's game vs. Arizona State. He is expected to be back in the starting five vs. Stanford.
Smith, meanwhile, has provided a steadying influence in Ubaka's absence at the point position. The Pac-10 leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.71:1), Smith tallied a career-high 12 points vs. ASU and his average of 4.1 assists per game ranks seventh in the league.
Up front, junior F Rod Benson has provided consistent play in his first season as a starter. Now averaging 12.3 ppg, he is shooting 57.6 percent from the floor (3rd in the Pac-10) and has reached double figures nine times in his last 11 games.
As a team, the Bears are out-rebounding their opponents by a 35.3-34.0 margin and are 7-1 when winning the battle of the boards. Although Cal doesn't sport a dominant rebounder (such as 2004 Pac-10 leader Leon Powe), the Bears feature six players pulling down 3.6 rpg or more. Freshman C DeVon Hardin and sophomore F Dominic McGuire lead the group with 5.1 rpg.
McGuire, who set his season high with 10 rebounds at Washington State, has played particularly well of late. A member of the all-tournament team at the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic in December, he has scored at least 10 points five times in his last seven outings, with a career-best 12 points vs. Arizona last week.
Stanford Scouting Report
A Look at Stanford
At 1-3 in the Pac-10, Stanford is tied with Cal for eighth place in the Pac-10 standings. However, the Cardinal is coming off an 87-76 victory over No. 13 Arizona last Saturday. Dan Grunfeld led the assault with 29 points, sinking 10-of-12 shots from the floor, including all three of his three-point attempts. After averaging 3.4 ppg last year, he is pouring in a team-best 18.1 ppg this season, a rate that rises to 21.5 ppg in Pac-10 play.
Cal-Stanford State Series History
Cal leads the all-time series, 137-106, although Stanford has won 13 of the past 15 games, including three in a row. The Bears, however, have claimed two of three in Haas Pavilion since 2002. Cal prevailed, 68-54, during the '02 campaign and again, 72-59, in 2003. The Bears own a 52-40 mark in home contests vs. the Cardinal. Last year, Stanford won, 68-61, at Stanford and, 69-58, in Berkeley.
Stanford Head Coach Trent Johnson
Trent Johnson is in his first season as head coach at Stanford. A former Cardinal assistant, he was 79-74 in five seasons at Nevada before returning to the Farm. Last year, Johnson guided the Wolf Pack to a 25-9 record and a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16.
For more information: www.gostanford.com
Golden Bear Notes
Short-Handed Bears Fall to Arizona State, 79-70
With leading scorer Richard Midgley sidelined for all but six minutes due to a sprained right shoulder, Cal fell to the Sun Devils, 79-70, last Saturday in Haas Pavilion. Using a starting line-up that included two freshmen (forwards Kevin Langford and Eric Vierneisel) and a walk-on (Martin Smith), the Bears took a 33-32 halftime lead and were up, 50-44, with 14:08 to go. However, ASU responded with a 12-0 run, and Cal could not get within four points the rest of the night. Smith finished with a career-high 12 points and added seven assists for the Bears. Rod Benson led the squad with 15 points.
McGuire Takes Well to Reserve Role
In starting the first 11 games of the season, sophomore F Dominic McGuire was having a solid year for the Bears, averaging 6.4 ppg and 4.6 rpg and blocking a team-high 15 shots. But over his past three outings - all as a reserve - McGuire has managed to raise his level of play even higher. Over those contests, he is contributing 8.3 ppg and 6.7 rpg and shooting 61.1 percent from the floor (11-18). He snared a career-best 10 rebounds at Washington State, then poured in a personal-high 12 points vs. Arizona (6-7 FG). Finally, McGuire posted his sixth double-figure game of the year last Saturday against Arizona State, finishing with 10 points and a pair of blocks. For the season, McGuire is shooting an even 50.0 percent (38-76) from the field, up from 38.7 percent as a freshman in '03-04.
FG-A Pct PPG RPGFirst 11 Games (Starter) 27-58 .466 6.4 4.6Last 3 Game (Reserve) 11-18 .611 8.3 6.7
In Rod We Trust: Benson Blossoms on the Block
Inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in his career this season, junior Rod Benson has emerged as Cal's most reliable offensive threat in the post. Midway through the year, Benson is averaging 12.3 ppg and ranks third in the Pac-10 in field goal shooting (57.6%). He enters Saturday's Stanford game having reached double figures in four consecutive games and owns nine double-digit efforts this year. Benson's best effort came against Colorado Dec. 7 when he set career highs in both scoring (25 points) and rebounding (10). He also poured in 22 points vs. UNLV Dec. 1. Labeled 'the most improved player in the Pac-10' by FSN analyst Dan Belluomini, Benson is contributing 13.3 ppg and 5.5 rpg in league action. What makes his output so remarkable is the fact that entering the season, Benson averaged just 1.8 ppg in 37 career games and reached double figures just once - 11 points at Arizona in January 2004. His 172 total points this year is more than 2.5 times the 68 points he scored his first two seasons combined.
Downtown is Midgley's Favorite Neighborhood
Throughout his tenure at Cal, junior G Richard Midgley has clearly been 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. This season, the native off Burgess Hill, England, again has his average over 40 percent, and he enters the Stanford contest connecting on 41.0 percent of his long-distance attempts (32-78). He sank six straight three-pointers in a 6-for-8 effort vs. Southern Nov. 23 and had a 6-for-9 outing vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Dec. 4. For his career, Midgley has made 116-of-290 treys, putting him in seventh place on Cal's all-time list and fifth in three-point percentage (40.0%).
Cal Career Three-Pointers4. Shantay Legans (2000-02) 1395. Amit Tamir (2002-04) 1366. Bill Elleby (1989-92) 1357. Richard Midgley (2003- ) 1168. K.J. Roberts (1992-95) 109
Injuries Take Toll on Bears throughout 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). But since the start of the season, two additional injuries have had significant injuries have had significant impacts on the Bears' lineup. First, sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in the first half of the Nov. 23 Southern game. He underwent surgery the next day, a procedure that kept him off the court for eight weeks. Ubaka, though, is listed as probably for Saturday's game vs. Stanford.
Next, junior G Richard Midgley sprained his right shoulder at Washington State Jan. 2. Although he continued to play against the Cougars and in Cal's next game vs. Arizona, he was limited to just six minutes against Arizona State. Like Ubaka, Midgley is probable for a return vs. Stanford.
Powe, the 2004 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, is on the sidelines for all of '04-05 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. Rayburn is rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery, while Geli's preseason foot surgery will keep him off the court for the foreseeable future.
Bear Defense Holding Strong
Throughout the 2004-05 season, the most consistent area for the Bears has been their effort on the defensive end. Not only is Cal holding opponents to just 64.7 ppg - the lowest figure at the school since the introduction of the shot clock - but the Bears are also limiting teams to 40.8 percent shooting from the field and 31.0 percent accuracy from three-point range. Six of 14 foes have had field goal shooting percentages of 35.0 percent or less, including Washington State's 29.8 percent Jan. 2. During his tenure as Cal's head coach, Ben Braun has repeatedly fielded teams that rate among the best in the Pac-10 in scoring defense. His first squad in 1996-97 led the league (67.8 ppg) and two other teams finished the year among the conference's top three.
Cal's Top Defensive Teams since 1986-871. 2004-05 64.7 ppg 2nd in Pac-10 Coach: Ben Braun2. 2001-02 66.6 ppg 2nd in Pac-10 Coach: Ben Braun3. 2003-04 67.2 ppg 3rd in Pac-10 Coach: Ben Braun4. 1996-97 67.8 ppg 1st in Pac-10 Coach: Ben Braun
Martin Smith Carries on Strong Walk-on Tradition
Since his arrival at Cal in the fall of 1996, coach Ben Braun has had a knack for finding walk-ons who eventually became key cogs for the 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 last year 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 57 assists (4.1 apg). Early in the season, he had seven assists vs. Southern and added six more in Cal's win over UC Riverside. Then in the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic Dec. 22-23, Smith scored 10 points and dished out a career-best eight assists vs. Hampton and had four assists (no turnovers) against Pepperdine to earn a spot on the all-tournament team. As a reward for his strong play, he started for the first time in his career at Washington, finishing with seven assists against the Huskies. He added a personal-best six rebounds at Washington State and a career-high 12 points against Arizona State. For the year, he owns a 2.71:1 assist-to-turnover ratio (57 assists/21 turnovers) - a figure that leads the Pac-10.
McGuire, Hardin Lead Cal's Block Party
With the likes of 6-8 sophomore Dominic McGuire and 6-10 freshman DeVon Hardin occupying space in the paint, Cal has blocked 57 shots this season, and the Bears' average of 4.07 per game is second to Pac-10 leader Arizona State (4.80 bpg). Since the Pac-10 began tabulating blocked shots in 1978-79, Cal has never led the conference for a full season. McGuire has 19 blocks - fourth in the Pac-10 (1.36 bpg) - and just three shy of his team-leading total of 22 last year. His best effort came vs. Colorado when he batted away three Buffalo shots. Hardin is fifth in the league with 17 blocks (1.21 bpg) and owns a high of four blocks vs. Fairleigh Dickinson.
Numbers Aren't High, But Bears Are Efficient from 3-Point Distance
After ranking ninth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting accuracy last season (31.0%), California has greatly increased its precision from long range this year. Entering the Stanford contest, the Bears are connecting on 39.9 percent of their attempts (59-148), led by junior G Richard Midgley, who is 32-for-78 (41.0%) from behind the arc. But among the rest of the team, only freshman F Eric Vierneisel has reached double figures (11-35, 31.4%). The four others to sink a trey, however, have done so at rather efficient rates: Alex Pribble (1-1, 100%), Martin Smith (5-8, 62.5%), Ayinde Ubaka (5-8, 62.5%) and Marquise Kately (5-15, 33.3%). So although the Bears are not relying heavily on the three-point shot - only 18.8 percent of their points come from long distance - their 41.0 percent success ratio is higher than any team in school history (record: 38.7%, 1989-90). In addition, both Vierneisel and Midgley have flirted with the Cal single-game record of 5-for-5 set by Amit Tamir vs. Arizona State in 2003. Vierneisel began his Cal career with a 4-for-4 three-point effort vs. UC Riverside, while Midgley sank his first six three-point attempts vs. Southern before finishing 6-for-8.
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).
Bear Notes ...
Cal won its first two road games for the first time since 2002-03 and for just the second time since 1995-96, and at 3-1 on the road overall, the Bears have their best road mark after four games since they began 4-0 during that '02-03 campaign ... every returning scholarship player who has seen action this year, except Ayinde Ubaka, has set or tied his career scoring high this season - Rod Benson (25 vs. Colorado), Marquise Kately (24 vs. Saint Mary's - tie), Dominic McGuire (12 vs. Arizona), David Paris (16 vs. UC Riverside) and Richard Midgley (28 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson) ... walk-on G Alex Pribble played a career-high nine minutes vs. Arizona Jan. 8, finishing with three points (1-1 3P), one rebounds and two assists ... Jordan Wilkes, a 6-10, 210-pound center out of Loyola HS in Los Angeles, signed a National Letter of Intent with the Bears Nov. 10. Rated the No. 5 center in the country by Rivals.com, he averaged 16.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game as a junior.