Cal Hosts Oregon, Oregon State
Jan. 6, 2003
Oregon Ducks (10-2, 1-1) at California Golden Bears (8-2, 1-0)
Thursday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
Oregon State Beavers (7-4, 0-2, at Stanford 1/9) at California
Saturday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
TV: KRON (Channel 4)
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California continues with its three-game homestand to start Pac-10 play when the Golden Bears host No. 12 Oregon Thursday and Oregon State Saturday in Haas Pavilion.
Cal, which opened league action with a 72-59 victory over Stanford last weekend, is a perfect 6-0 at home this year and has won 11 consecutive games on Pete Newell Court, dating back to last February. Included in that run is a 107-103 double-overtime victory over Oregon on Feb. 9, 2002 - a contest that featured a 39-point outburst by Cal F Amit Tamir.
This season, Tamir ranks second on the squad in scoring with an average of 16.4 ppg, while he tops the Bears in rebounding (7.3 rpg), assists (tied with 3.2 apg) and three-pointers made (22).
Senior F Joe Shipp gives Cal added firepower up front with his 19.0 ppg. In the Stanford victory, he totaled 18 points, including 10 straight during one stretch of the second half, and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds, with seven coming on the offensive end.
Cal's other senior starter, G Brian Wethers, has raised his shooting percentage from the floor to 50.4 percent after an 8-for-11, 16-point performance vs. Stanford. In addition, Wethers has paced the Bears in assists in five of Cal's last six games with a career-high-tying six vs. Kansas Dec. 28.
At the point, freshman Richard Midgley stepped into a starting role against Stanford and finished with seven points and two assists despite early foul trouble. Junior A.J. Diggs, although returning to the reserve role he filled the past two seasons, had three steals to increase his Pac-10-leading rate to 2.8 per game.
Off the bench, Cal received a big lift from freshmen David Paris and Erik Bond in the Pac-10 opener. Paris had seven points and four rebounds in 13 minutes, including a tip-in at the first half buzzer to give the Bears a 31-25 lead at the break. Bond also chipped in with seven points in 14 minutes, and he propelled Cal ahead for good with a three-pointer midway through the first period.
Golden Bear Notes
Cal Tops Stanford, 72-59, in Pac-10 Opener
Joe Shipp scored 18 points and grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds to lead Cal to a 72-59 victory over Stanford in the Pac-10 opener for both schools last Saturday in Haas Pavilion. The Bears out-rebounded the Cardinal, which entered the contest leading the league in rebounding margin, 40-31. Cal led for most of the game, going on top for good, 17-15, on an Erik Bond three-pointer. The Bears were ahead, 31-25, at the break and built a 60-47 lead with 4:45 left. In addition to Shipp, Brian Wethers added 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor and Amit Tamir had 11 points. Freshman reserves Bond and David Paris both tallied a career-high seven points.
Bears Push Haas Winning Streak to 11
Now 6-0 at Haas Pavilion this season, Cal has run off an 11-game winning streak on its home floor dating back to last year. The streak ties for the eighth-longest on-campus string in school history (also Jan. 15-Nov. 26, 1977) and is the Bears' best since winning 12 straight on Pete Newell Court from Nov. 15, 2001 to Jan. 19, 2002. Over the past two seasons, Cal is 23-1 in Berkeley - the only loss was a 68-58 setback to Arizona - while the Bears' record since the start of the 2000-01 season is a Pac-10 best 37-4. Cal's longest home win streak ever was 26 games from 1958-60.
Flashback to 2002 - Cal, Oregon Provide Highlight Reel
When Cal and Oregon last met, the Bears and 13th-ranked Ducks produced one of the most exciting games in the country during the 2002 season. Amit Tamir scored 39 points - the fifth-highest total in school history - and Cal overcame a 19-point first-half deficit as the Bears prevailed, 107-103, in double overtime on Feb. 9 in Berkeley. Oregon moved ahead, 45-26, with 2:41 left in the first period, but Cal chopped the lead to 48-35 at the break. The Bears took their first lead at 58-56 on a Ryan Forehan-Kelly three-pointer, but neither team could gain more than a five-point advantage the rest of the way. In the second OT, Cal scored the first eight points and held on before an ABC regional TV audience.
Cal Seeks Ninth Straight Win over Oregon State
Cal enters Saturday's game with an eight-game winning streak over Oregon State, a run that has survived one overtime contest (72-69 in 2001 in Corvallis) and two other games decided by just two points (54-52 in 1999 in Oakland; 70-68 in 2000 in Berkeley). The string is the longest for the Bears in a series that began during the 1915-16 season. Last year, Cal shot 57.1 percent from the floor in a 73-58 victory in Berkeley, while the Bears held OSU without a basket over the final 7:21 in a 61-53 triumph in Corvallis.
Bears Look for Quick Start to Conference Season
Since Ben Braun took over the Cal program in September 1996, Cal has posted a 59-50 record in Pac-10 play, making Braun the first Golden Bear coach since Pete Newell (1954-60) to have an overall winning league mark. But before last Saturday's 72-59 win over Stanford, Braun's Bears were 0-6 in conference openers, falling to Arizona three times, Oregon twice and Stanford once. This year, Cal has the advantage of playing its first three Pac-10 games at home.
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-ups, Braun owns a 126-72 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.
Shipp Jumps to 15th on Scoring Chart
Senior F Joe Shipp, who leads the Bears with 19.0 ppg, has jumped 15 spots on Cal's career scoring list this season. After entering the year in the 29th spot, he now holds the 14th position with 1,224 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 42.9 percent (18-42) from three-point range. With 68 more points, Shipp will claim 13th place on the Cal list, topping Dave Butler's 1,291 points scored from 1983-87.
Overtime Kind to Bears in Recent Years
Since beating Mississippi State, 83-76, to open the 2000-01 season, Cal has won seven of its past eight overtime games, including 2-of-3 this year. The Bears' streak of six straight OT victories was snapped Dec. 7 when Georgia topped Cal, 78-73, at the John Wooden Classic. However, the Bears returned to the winning column with their 77-70 decision over San Francisco Dec. 30. Last season, the Bears defeated both USC (92-91) and Oregon (107-103 in 2OT) in overtime, but they own an all-time record of 38-44 in extra period contests. Cal has only played four OT games in a season once, in 1971-72 when the Bears were 3-1.
Tamir Gives Bears Triple Threat
At 6-11, 260 pounds, sophomore F Amit Tamir looks like he should be Cal's dominant player near the basket. And in fact, he leads the Bears with 7.3 rpg, including a pair of double-doubles and a career-high 14 boards vs. Howard. But Tamir's game in not limited to the area just around the hoop. Cal's second-leading scorer at 16.4 ppg, he tops all Cal players in three-pointers made (22-of-52) with an accuracy rate of 42.3 percent. Tamir scorched the nets for five treys vs. Georgia and four more against Kansas. His most important triple, however, came against USF Dec. 30 when his three-pointer with 3.7 seconds left in regulation sent the contest into overtime, a game the Bears won, 77-70. In addition, Tamir - who had 27 points vs. Georgia and 26 more against USF - is tied for the team lead with 32 assists (3.2 apg) and his free throw rate (84.4%) is No. 1 on the squad. Before missing against Stanford last Saturday, he had made 23 straight from the FT line.
Even in New Role, Diggs Takes Steals Seriously
After starting each of Cal's first nine games this season, junior point guard A.J. Diggs returned to the more familiar role he filled during his first two years in the program against Stanford last Saturday - that of a defensive sparkplug coming off the bench. Despite the change in status, Diggs, who leads the Pac-10 in steals with an average of 2.80 per game, played 25 minutes and swiped the ball three times from the Cardinal to increase his season total to 28. Earlier this season, Diggs tied Jason Kidd's school record with eight steals at Cleveland State Nov. 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. 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 38.8 percent of their attempts (69-178). Cal has connected 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 22-for-52 on three-pointers (42.3%), while freshman G Richard Midgley is 12-for-25 (48.0%) and senior F Joe Shipp is 18-for-42 (42.9%). 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 the EA Sports Golden Bear Classic in late December. 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 (19.5 ppg) 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. Wethers ranks third on the team in scoring (14.2 ppg), tied for first in assists (3.2 apg) and third in rebounding (5.1 rpg). He has paced the Bears in assists five times in Cal's last six games and leads all current players on the roster with 182 career assists.
Rebounding Key Factor in Cal Results
Cal, which owns a +5.0 rebounding margin this season, is a perfect 8-0 when winning the battle of the boards, but 0-2 when opponents grab more caroms. The Bears were +22 against Grambling Dec. 20 (53-31) - their largest margin since posting a +25 advantage (47-22) vs. Texas Southern on Nov. 30, 1996 - while they produced a +9 differential (40-31) against a Stanford team that entered the Jan. 4 contest leading the Pac-10 in rebounding margin. Last season, the Bears had a -1.6 average 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 9.2 ppg after a career-high 16-point effort vs. USF Dec. 30, he is shooting 54.0 percent from the floor, including a perfect 5-for-5 outing vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, and 48.0 percent (12-for-25) from three-point range. For his efforts, head coach Ben Braun rewarded him a spot in the starting lineup, beginning with the Pac-10 opener vs. Stanford. Fourth on the team with 26 assists, the native of England 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.
Bear Notes ...
Cal has won 24 consecutive non-conference home games, dating back to Jan. 2, 2000 ... Joe Shipp's back-to-back 30-point outings against Cleveland State and Howard were the first such occurrence since Ed Gray had three straight 30-point games in January 1997 ... Shipp has 135 career three-pointers, tying Bill Elleby for fourth place in school history ... the Bears open league action with three straight games at home for the first time since 1993 when they beat Oregon and Stanford, but lost to Oregon State ... Brian Wethers recently had his number retired at Murrieta Valley HS ... 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 later this month.