Cal Hosts USF in Final Non-Conference Game
Dec. 30, 2002
San Francisco Dons (4-6) at California Golden Bears (6-2)
Monday, Dec. 30, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
TV: KRON (Channel 4)
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
* Cal plays its final non-conference game of the season when the Bears host San Francisco Monday night. The Bears lead the series, 44-30, but the schools are playing for the first time since December 1997.
* Since shooting just 11-for-37 (29.7%) from the floor during Cal's first three games, sophomore F Amit Tamir has gone 29-for-56 (51.8%), including 14-for-28, over the Bears' last six contests.
* Junior F Joe Shipp has moved up to 15th on Cal's career scoring list with 1,186 points. He needs 30 more points to take over the 14th position.
* The Bears are 6-0 when out-rebounding opponents, but 0-2 when they lose the battle of the boards.
* For eight league schools, Pac-10 play begins Thursday night, but Cal and Stanford will start their conference action Saturday in Haas Pavilion.
* So far this year, Cal is shooting 48.7 percent from the floor during home games and out-scoring its opposition by an average of 77.0-64.0.
* Against Kansas last Saturday, both Brian Wethers (6) and A.J. Diggs (5) tied career highs for assists in a game. Wethers leads all active players with 175 assists, while Diggs has a team-high 29 this year.
* Freshman G Richard Midgley has made his last four three-point attempts (2-2 vs. both Louisiana-Lafayette and Kansas) to raise his season rate to 48.0 percent (12-for-25).
* The trio of Shipp, Tamir and Wethers has accounted for 22 of Cal's 28 double-figure scoring games this season.
Golden Bear Notes
No. 19 Kansas Downs Cal, 80-67, in Newell Challenge
Kansas shot 63.3 percent from the field and had all five starters scoring in double figures as the 19th-ranked Jayhawks defeated Cal, 80-67, in the Pete Newell Challenge last Saturday in Oakland. With the score, 19-16, in KU's favor, the Jayhawks went on a 10-0 run on their way to building a 42-24 halftime lead. In the second half, a 16-2 spurt by Cal, which featured three three-pointers by Amit Tamir, got the Bears within eight points at 55-47 with 12:58 to go. However, KU responded by scoring the game's next eight points. Tamir paced Cal with 18 points, while Joe Shipp, despite battling leg cramps during much of the second half, had 17 and Brian Wethers 11. The loss was Cal's first in five games in the Pete Newell Challenge.
Cal-USF Resume Rivalry
After a five-year break, Cal and USF resume their Bay Area rivalry Monday when the teams meet in Haas Pavilion. The schools have played 74 times previously, with the Bears owning a 44-30 advantage. USF won the most recent contest, taking a 59-50 decision in 1997 in San Francisco. The Bears were playing with only eight scholarship players that night, as transfers Geno Carlisle (Northwestern) and Thomas Kilgore (Central Michigan) - who would become Cal's top two scorers during the season - were not yet eligible. Cal and USF last played on the Berkeley campus on Dec. 23, 1996 with the Bears prevailing, 78-63.
Former Bear Anwar McQueen on USF Bench
Anwar McQueen, a guard for the Bears from 1994-97, is in his first season as an assistant coach for USF. While with the Bears, McQueen helped Cal to three NCAA Tournaments, including the 1997 Sweet 16 in Ben Braun's first season in Berkeley. He averaged 4.3 ppg and 2.0 rpg with 31 starts in 105 games during his Golden Bear career. After graduating with a degree in sociology, McQueen played professionally in Europe before serving as head coach at Redwood HS for two years.
Braun Takes Over Second Place in Coaching Victories
With Cal's 77-61 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Dec. 21, head coach Ben Braun passed Lou Campanelli for second place on the Bears' career victories list. Earlier this season, Braun edged past Hall of Famer Pete Newell with a 73-64 OT victory at Cleveland State Nov. 30. Entering this week's match-up, Braun owns a 124-72 record in his seventh season in Berkeley. Newell, who guided the Bears to the 1959 NCAA championship, was 119-44 from 1955-60, while Campanelli was 123-108 from 1986-93.
Haas Win Streak at 23 vs. Non-Conference Foes
With its win over Louisiana-Lafayette in the EA Sports Golden Bear Classic Dec. 21, Cal increased its Haas Pavilion winning streak over non-conference opponents to 23 games. 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 15th on Scoring Chart
Senior F Joe Shipp, who leads the Bears with 19.0 ppg, has jumped 14 spots on Cal's career scoring list already this season, including three positions during his 17-point outing against Kansas last Saturday. After entering the year in the 29th spot, he now holds the 15th position with 1,186 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 a career-best 44.4 percent (16-36) from three-point range. With 30 more points, Shipp will claim 14th place on the Cal list, topping Doug True's 1,215 points scored from 1977-80.
Tamir Gives Bears Triple Threat
The list of Cal's all-time top three-point shooters is littered with guards, players who had to rely on outside shots because of their lack of height. However, 6-11 sophomore Amit Tamir is breaking the mold. Not only has he connected on a team-high 19 three-pointers, his 48.7 percent rate best on the team and fifth in the Pac-10. Tamir sank five treys against Georgia Dec. 7 and he had four more vs. Kansas last Saturday. Last year, the big Israeli was 25-77 (32.5%) from behind the arc. In addition to his shooting skills, Tamir leads the Bears with 7.8 rebounds per game, including a pair of double-doubles and a career-best 14-carom effort against Howard. He also rates second on the squad with 28 assists and dished out a career-high-tying seven at Cleveland State.
Diggs Ties Kidd with 8 Steals at Cleveland State
Now given a chance to start after serving as a reserve for two seasons, junior point guard A.J. Diggs has provided notice that he is one of the best thieves in the country. With 24 steals so far, Diggs is averaging 3.0 per game, exactly double his team-leading average of 1.5 spg set last season. He has had at least four steals in a game three times this year, including five vs. UC Santa Barbara and four at New Mexico. His most impressive outing came in Cal's overtime win at Cleveland State Nov. 30 when he tied Jason Kidd's school record with eight steals, including two in the last two minutes of regulation and three more in overtime. Kidd had eight steals against Washington on Jan. 28, 1993. Named the preseason Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year by Athlon magazine, Diggs earned a scholarship during the offseason after arriving in Berkeley as a walk-on.
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 42.2 percent of their attempts (62-147). Cal has connect on at least 50 percent of its tries four times, including a best of 61.1 percent (11-18) vs. Howard. This year's unit is led by sophomore F Amit Tamir, who is 19-for-39 on three-pointers (48.7%), while freshman G Richard Midgley is 12-for-25 (48.0%) and senior F Joe Shipp is 16-for-36 (44.4%). The school team record is 38.7 percent set by the 1989-90 club.
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. And Wethers displayed his all-around skill to its fullest at last week's EA Sports Golden Bear Classic. In earning tournament MVP honors, Wethers averaged 16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 4.0 apg. In addition, he helped hold Louisiana-Lafayette's high-scoring guard Brad Boyd to just 6-for-17 shooting in the championship game. Wethers, who has tallied at least 10 points in every game this season, has twice scored 18 points - at Cleveland State and vs. UL-Lafayette. He his shooting 49.5 percent from the floor (despite a 5-for-17 effort vs. Kansas) and is tied for second on the squad in rebounding with 5.1 per outing. In addition, Wethers leads all current players on the roster with 175 career assists.
Shipp's Shots Sail Through from Three-Point Distance
Joe Shipp entered this season as Cal's most accomplished long-range bomber and he has only enhanced his reputation so far this year. '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 133 career treys, Shipp ranks fifth in Cal history, needing just three more to top No. 4 Bill Elleby, who had 135 from 1989-92.
Rebounding Key Factor in Cal Results
Cal, which owns a +4.9 rebounding margin this season, is a perfect 6-0 when winning the battle of the boards, but 0-2 when opponents grab more caroms. Since being out-rebounded 43-33 to Georgia, the Bears were +6 vs. UC Santa Barbara (28-22), +22 against Grambling (53-31) and +10 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (31-21). Kansas broke the string with a 29-27 edge last weekend. The margin in the Grambling game was Cal's largest since posting a +25 advantage (47-22) vs. Texas Southern on Nov. 30, 1996. Last season, the Bears were -1.6 in rebounding margin and Cal hasn't been positive for a full year since 1999-00 (+0.9).
Midgley Cool Competitor as a Freshman
Guard Richard Midgley may be just a freshman in eligibility, but the collegiate rookie has displayed a level of maturity on the court usually reserved for more veteran players. Now averaging 8.0 ppg, he is shooting 51.2 percent from the floor after a perfect 5-for-5 outing (2-2 on three-pointers) on his way to a career-best 13 points vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. Earlier in December, the native of England drained 5-of-6 free throws in the final 1:26 against UC Santa Barbara when the Gauchos were purposely trying to foul him due to his youth. Fourth on the team with 22 assists, Midgley has also grabbed at least six rebounds three times, with a best of seven against Grambling Dec. 20.
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.