Cal Hosts 10th Annual EA Sports Golden Bear Classic
Dec. 19, 2002
10th Annual EA Sports Golden Bear Classic
Friday-Saturday, Dec. 20-21, Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Friday, Dec. 20
Detroit-Mercy Titans (4-2) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (4-2), 4:30 p.m.
Grambling Tigers (3-4) at California Golden Bears (4-1), 7 p.m.
TV: KRON (Channel 4)
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
Saturday, Dec. 21
Consolation Game, 5:30 p.m.
Championship Game, 8 p.m.
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
Following a 10-day break for final exams, Cal returns to action Friday and Saturday in the 10th annual EA Sports Golden Bear Classic. A pair of 2002 NIT teams - Detroit and Louisiana-Lafayette - meet the opener at 4:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Cal against Grambling at 7 p.m. The consolation game is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with the championship at 8 p.m. KRON TV will televise both Cal games.
The Bears, who are seeking their seventh tournament title and sixth in the last seven years, are off to a 4-1 start this season, including a 2-0 record in Haas Pavilion. Cal has won 21 consecutive games vs. non-Pac-10 opponents in Berkeley and hasn't lost to a team outside the league on Pete Newell Court since falling to Penn in the final of the 1999 Golden Bear Classic.
Led by forwards Joe Shipp and Amit Tamir, this year's Cal squad is using the three-point shot better than any preceding unit. The Bears are connecting on 46.2 percent of their long-range attempts, well ahead of last season's rate of 31.4 percent. Shipp has been the hottest member of the downtown club, sinking 60.9 percent of his tries (14-23), while Tamir is right behind at 52.2 percent (12-23).
In addition, Tamir tops the rebounding chart with 9.4 per game, including three outings when he corralled at least 10 boards. He also shares team honors with 17 assists after dishing out a career-high-tying seven at Cleveland State.
Junior point guard A.J. Diggs has continued with his defensive masterwork, so far. Through five games, he has swiped 20 steals, more than 40 percent of his team-leading total of 47 for all of last season. Diggs matched Jason Kidd's school record with eight steals in Cleveland and he had five more last week against UC Santa Barbara.
As a unit, the Bears are limiting teams to just 41.4 percent shooting from the floor and have held the rebounding advantage in four of five contests.
Golden Bear Notes
Cal Tops UC Santa Barbara, 67-60
Cal shot 9-for-18 from three-point range and Joe Shipp led five players in double figures with 17 points as the Golden Bears defeated UC Santa Barbara, 67-60, Dec. 10 in Haas Pavilion. Cal scored the first 13 points of the game and rushed out to a 32-13 advantage with 4:57 left in the opening half. However, the Gauchos closed to 35-30 early in the second period and stayed with the Bears the rest of the way. Cal never surrendered the lead, although it dwindled to 50-49 with 4:02 to go. A layup by A.J. Diggs, followed by two free throws each from Amit Tamir and Shipp gave Cal some breathing room. In addition to Shipp, Tamir (12 points), Brian Wethers (12), Richard Midgley (11) and Diggs (10) all tallied at least 10 points in the game. Diggs also had five steals.
Cal Seeks 7th Golden Bear Classic Title
Cal enters this week's EA Sports Golden Bear Classic having won six of the previous nine titles, including the past two. Last year, the Bears defeated Harvard, 69-54, in the opening round, then edged Penn State, 76-73, on a Dennis Gates three-pointer with four seconds left in the championship game. Since Ben Braun became head coach at Cal in 1996, the Bears have won five of six Classics, including a 94-65 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette in the 1998 final held at the Arena in Oakland.
Haas Win Streak at 21 vs. Non-Conference Foes
Cal enters Friday night's game vs. Grambling with a 21-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents. The Bears were a perfect 9-0 against non-Pac-10 schools last year and were 8-0 against teams outside the league in 2000-01. Since Haas Pavilion opened in the fall of 1999, Cal's only home loss to a non-Pac-10 team was a 74-71 decision to Penn in the final of the Golden Bear Classic on Dec. 29, 1999.
Shipp Jumps to 20th on Scoring Chart
Senior F Joe Shipp, who leads the Bears with 20.6 ppg, has jumped nine spots on Cal's career scoring list already this season. After entering the year in the 29th spot, he now holds the 20th position with 1,137 points, passing such notable alumni as Mark McNamara, Larry Friend, Ed Gray and Andy Wolfe. Shipp poured in 30 points in back-to-back games vs. Cleveland State and Howard, and he is shooting 50.7 percent from the floor, including 60.9 percent (14-23) from three-point range. With nine more points, Shipp will claim 19th place on the Cal list, topping Butch Hays' 1,145 points scored from 1981-84.
Diggs Ties Kidd with 8 Steals at Cleveland State
The 2002-03 season may be just five games old, but junior point guard A.J. Diggs has provided notice that he may make a run at Jason Kidd's school record for steals in a season. With 20 steals so far, Diggs is averaging 4.0 per game, slightly ahead of Kidd's 1992-93 pace when he averaged 3.7 steals for a total of 110 during a 30-game season. Diggs tied Kidd's mark for steals in a game when he swiped eight at Cleveland State Dec. 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. In addition, Diggs picked New Mexico for four steals Nov. 23, and he stole the ball five times against UC Santa Barbara Dec. 10. Named the preseason Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year by Athlon magazine, Diggs led the Bears with 47 steals last year (1.5 per game).
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 46.2 percent of their attempts (45-93), including 53.4 percent (31-58) over their past three games. Cal shot 11-for-18 vs. Howard Dec. 3 (61.1%), 11-for-22 vs. Georgia Dec. 7 (50.0%) and 9-for-18 against UC Santa Barbara Dec. 10 (50.0%). The Howard and Georgia outputs marked the first time since Feb. 15-23, 1995 vs. Stanford (10) and UCLA (11) that the Bears made at least 10 treys in consecutive games. This year's unit is led by senior F Joe Shipp, who is 14-for-23 on three-pointers (60.9%), and sophomore F Amit Tamir, who is 12-for-23 (52.2%). In addition, freshman G Richard Midgley is 7-for-17 (41.2%) and junior F Conor Famulener is 2-for-5 (40.0%).
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. Now averaging 15.2 ppg and 9.4 rpg, Tamir has posted a pair of double-doubles in five games - 20 points and 12 boards at New Mexico and 27 points and 11 rebounds against Georgia. In addition, he grabbed a career-best 14 caroms vs. Howard, giving him three double-digit rebound games in five contests after not reaching 10 in any contest last season. In addition, Tamir matched his personal best with seven assists at Cleveland State and is tied for the team lead with 17 assists (3.4 apg). Not only can Tamir score inside with his 6-11, 260-pound frame, but he can step outside, where he is 12-for-23 on three-pointers, including a 5-for-9 display vs. Georgia.
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. In the New Mexico opener, for example, the 6-5 wing scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. Wethers then raised his numbers to 18 points and eight boards at Cleveland State. Now averaging 14.4 ppg, Wethers is shooting 51.7 percent from the floor and is third on the squad in rebounding (5.2 rpg). During each of his first three seasons with the program, Wethers has increased his scoring average 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 161 career assists.
Shipp's Shots Sail Through from Three-Point Distance
Joe Shipp entered this season as Cal's most accomplished long-range bomber. But in the Bears' first four games, his accuracy has reached a level fans have rarely seen. 'He was shooting that NBA '3.' He's made a believer out of me in the quality of play he exhibited,' said Howard head man Frankie Allen. Against Allen's Bison Dec. 3, Shipp tallied 30 points for the second consecutive game, making 5-of-7 from three-point range. Also ringing up 30 points at Cleveland State Nov. 30, he became the first Cal player to post back-to-back 30-point totals since Ed Gray reached the mark in three straight games against Oregon State, Oregon and Washington State in January 1997. With 131 career treys, Shipp ranks fifth in Cal history, needing just five more to top No. 4 Bill Elleby, who had 135 from 1989-92.
Braun Can Tie Campanelli for 2nd in Coaching Victories
With Cal's 73-64 win at Cleveland State Nov. 30, head coach Ben Braun notched his 120th victory with the Bears, edging him past Hall of Famer Pete Newell for third on the school's all-time list. Braun now owns a 122-71 record in his seventh season, needing one more win to tie Lou Campanelli for second place all-time at Cal. Newell, who guided the Bears to the 1959 NCAA championship, was 119-44 from 1955-60, while Campanelli was 123-108 from 1986-93.
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.
Bears Notes ...
Junior Conor Famulener had his first career start vs. UC Santa Barbara ... Brian Wethers recently had his number retired at Murrieta Valley HS ... prior to its 78-73 loss to Georgia Dec. 7, the Bears had won their previous six overtime games, including a 73-64 decision at Cleveland State Nov. 30 ... although the end of the season is a long way off, Cal's 46.2 percent success rate from three-point range is well ahead of the school record of 38.7 percent set in 1990 ... 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 and is not expected to return until the Pac-10 opener vs. Stanford in January.