Bears Stay on Road at Cleveland State

Nov. 25, 2002

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Nov. 25, 2002

California Golden Bears (1-0) at Cleveland State Vikings (1-2, at Duquesne, Nov. 27)
Saturday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT, Goodman Arena, Cleveland, OH
TV: None
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)

Fresh off a 76-68 victory at New Mexico, Cal remains on the road this week, traveling to the Eastern Time Zone for a Saturday match-up at Cleveland State. The Bears then return to Berkeley for their home debut Dec. 3 against Howard in Haas Pavilion.

In picking up its fifth consecutive season-opening win, Cal provided head coach Ben Braun his 119th triumph with the Bears, tying him with the legendary Pete Newell for third place on the school's career list.

Cal started a pair of 6-11 frontcourt players against the Lobos - sophomore Amit Tamir and junior Gabriel Hughes - and used its height advantage to score 36 points in the paint. Hughes was limited to just eight minutes as he continues to recover from a herniated disk in his back, but Tamir came through with the first double-double of his career with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

In addition, senior F Joe Shipp grabbed seven of his eight rebounds in the second half, as the Bears overcame a 50-37 deficit. Offensively, Shipp tallied 14 points to move up four spots on Cal's career scoring chart, and he enters the Cleveland State contest with 1,048 points - good for the 25th position in school history.

Cal's other senior starter - guard Brian Wethers - also displayed his all-around ability with 17 points, seven boards and four assists.

At the point, 5-9 junior A.J. Diggs showed why defense is his strong suit, coming away with four steals, a block of 6-6 Jamaal Williams and taking a charge under the basket.

Cal's bench provided solid support against the Lobos, led by junior forward Conor Famulener's career-best 11 points. The former walk-on made 5-of-6 shots from the floor, including a three-point play that capped a 19-1 run midway through the second half.

Two freshmen made their Cal debuts against New Mexico, and both made solid contributions. Forward Erik Bond, who redshirted last season due to ankle surgery, played 17 minutes and chipped in with five points and three boards, while guard Richard Midgley added five points, five rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes.

Golden Bear Notes

Cal Opens Season with 76-68 Win at New Mexico
Cal overcame a pair of 13-point deficits and got 20 points and a career-high 10 rebounds from sophomore F Amit Tamir to win its season opener, 76-68, at New Mexico Saturday night. The Bears trailed by at 30-17 count late in the first period before rallying for a six-point deficit at the break. In the second half, UNM opened a 50-37 advantage with 13:30 left when Cal began a 19-1 run to grab a 56-51 lead with just over nine minutes to go. The Bears made 15-of-16 from the free throw line in the second half to put the game away. In addition to Tamir, who also tied for team honors with four assists, senior G Brian Wethers added 17 points and seven rebounds, senior F Joe Shipp had 14 points and eight boards and junior F Conor Famulener came off the bench for a career-best 11 points (5-6 FG, 1-1 FT).

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. In his opening game at New Mexico, he displayed his all-around ability, leading the team in scoring (20 points) and rebounding (career-high 10 boards) and tying for team honors with four assists. Tamir sank a pair of three-pointers and went a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line, including 6-for-6 in the final 1:18 of the contest. Last year, he averaged 9.9 ppg, including a 39-point effort vs. Oregon that earned him National Player of the Week honors, and was chosen to the Pac-10 All-Freshman unit.

Braun Familiar with Cleveland, Even If Bears Are Not
Cal may be making its first trip to Ohio since upsetting then-No. 13 Cincinnati on its home floor, 89-76, on Dec. 21, 1994, but head coach Ben Braun can provide a bit more insight to playing in the Buckeye State. Braun, who spent 11 seasons at Eastern Michigan before moving to Berkeley in September 1996, made numerous trips to Ohio with the Eagles. In fact, his EMU teams were 3-4 against Cleveland State from 1986-92, including a 1-2 mark in Cleveland, with the victory being a 104-98 overtime decision on Dec. 21, 1989.

Shipp Jumps Four Spots to 25th on Scoring Chart
With his 14-point effort at New Mexico last Saturday, senior F Joe Shipp moved up four spots on Cal's career scoring list, now occupying the 25th position with 1,048 points. The Bears' Most Valuable Player last season when he averaged 14.8 ppg, Shipp needs just 14 more points to pass Larry Friend (1,061 points) for 24th. If Shipp can maintain his scoring rate from a year ago, he should move well into Cal's all-time Top 10 by the end of the season.

Braun Ties Newell for Third in Cal Coaching Victories
With Cal's 76-68 win at New Mexico, head coach Ben Braun notched his 119th victory with the Bears, tying him with Hall of Famer Pete Newell for third on the school's all-time list. Braun now owns at 119-70 record in his seventh season, while Newell, who guided the Bears to the 1959 NCAA championship, was 119-44 from 1955-60.

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.

Diggs Makes His Point on Defense
Defense has always been a strong suit for junior point guard A.J. Diggs, and in Saturday's opener at New Mexico he showed just why - picking off four steals, blocking a shot for the first time in his career and taking a charge under the basket. He was so disruptive that the UNM fans booed loudly every time he touched the ball. Named the preseason Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year by Athlon magazine, Diggs led the Bears with 47 steals last year, including a high of six in only 11 minutes vs. Harvard. On the offensive end against the Lobos, Diggs matched his career high with four assists without committing a turnover.

Once Again, Walk-ons Play Key Roles for Bears
At many schools, walk-ons are no more than practice players who get their only chance to play late in blowouts. But at Cal, head coach Ben Braun has developed a walk-on program that has consistently developed key contributors to the Bears' success. Six walk-ons are on the roster this year, and two players - guard A.J. Diggs and forward Conor Famulener - were awarded scholarships during the offseason. Diggs, now the Bears' starting point guard, led Cal with 47 steals last season, while Famulener has moved into a more prominent position after attending Pete Newell's Big Man Camp over the summer. Prior to the current pair, three other walk-ons received scholarships under Braun - guards Ryan Forehan-Kelly, Morgan Lingle and Robbie Jones. Forehan-Kelly, whose brother, Tashaan, is a sophomore walk-on this year, graduated last spring as the fourth-best three-point shooter in school history (40.7%).

Wethers Report: Senior Making Impact on Both Ends
According to head coach Ben Braun, senior guard Brian Wethers, Cal's most athletic player, has the ability to dictate play on both ends of the court. In the New Mexico opener, for example, the 6-5 wing scored 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists. During each of his first three seasons with the program, Wethers has increased his scoring average every year, from 5.5 ppg as a freshman, to 8.5 ppg, to 10.3 ppg last season. In addition, he leads all current players on the roster with 154 career assists.

Cal to Be Tested on Road in 2002-03
With only five non-conference home games on tap for the 2002-03 season, Cal will have to prove its mettle on the road this season. Since the opening of Haas Pavilion in the fall of 1999, the Bears are 41-11 on their home court, including a 17-1 mark last year. But this season, Cal opens with back-to-back road games - at New Mexico Nov. 23 and at Cleveland State Nov. 30 - for the first time since 1990 when the Bears lost at Houston (98-81) then defeated San Francisco (86-63). In addition, Cal plays neutral-site games against preseason No. 16 Georgia in the John Wooden Classic Dec. 7 in Anaheim and No. 2 Kansas in the Pete Newell Challenge Dec. 28 at Oakland.

Bears Notes ...
Cal's 76-68 win at New Mexico was the Bears' first non-conference victory on an opponent's home floor since a 71-70 triumph at BYU on Dec. 19, 1998 ... 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 ... of Cal's non-conference opponents, three played in the NCAA Tournament last year (UC Santa Barbara, Georgia, Kansas) and three were in the NIT (New Mexico, Detroit-Mercy, Louisiana-Lafayette) ... seven former Bears were on NBA opening night rosters ... senior guard Donte Smith underwent quadriceps surgery in September and is not expected to return until the Pac-10 opener vs. Stanford in January.

A Look at Cleveland State
Cleveland State, which visits Duquesne Wednesday night, opened the season with a 1-2 mark at the Dell BCA Invitational in Ft. Collins, Colo., Nov. 16-19. The Vikings lost their opener to Florida Atlantic (71-66), before beating Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne (78-71) and falling to host Colorado State (77-63). Jermaine Robinson averages a team-high 14.0 ppg, although reserve Percell Coles poured in 31 points (11-14 FG, 7-9 3P, 2-2 FT) vs. IPFW.

Cal-Cleveland State Series History
Cal holds a 1-0 series lead, taking the only meeting, 62-54, on Dec. 5, 2000. Cleveland State took a 37-29 lead with 15 minutes left, before the Bears went on a 10-0 run to go ahead for good. Cal sank 10 free throws in the final 2:08 to put the game away.

Cleveland State Head Coach Rollie Massimino
Rollie Massimino is in his seventh season at Cleveland State and 30th year overall, compiling a 508-371 record. The former Villanova and UNLV mentor ranks 15th among active coaches in victories and tied for 11th (with Arizona's Lute Olson and Navy's Don DeVoe) in number of seasons as a head coach.

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