Cal Looks to Extend Streak vs. Oregon State Saturday
Jan. 10, 2003
Oregon State Beavers (7-5, 0-3) at California Golden Bears (9-2, 2-0)
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 concludes it three-game homestand to begin Pac-10 action when the Golden Bears host Oregon State Saturday at Haas Pavilion.
Now 9-2 overall and 2-0 in league play, Cal can equal its best conference start since the Bears were 3-0 in 1996 with wins over Arizona, Arizona State and USC. Cal has not been 4-0 since 1957 when the Pete Newell-directed squad jumped out to a 10-0 mark in the old Pacific Coast Conference.
This year's team is coming off its two most impressive performances of the season - a 72-59 victory over Stanford and an 88-72 upset over 12th-ranked Oregon. The win over Stanford gave Cal its first back-to-back triumphs over the Cardinal since 1996-97, while the margin against Oregon was the Bears' largest vs. a Top 15 opponent since an 84-64 rout at then-No. 14 Washington on Jan. 12, 1970.
Senior F Joe Shipp has clearly raised the level of his play this month, averaging 20.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg in the two games. Cal's overall leading scorer at 19.3 ppg, he ranks 14th on the school's all-time chart with 1,246 points.
Sophomore F Amit Tamir ranks second on the squad in scoring with an average of 17.2 ppg, while he tops the Bears in rebounding (7.0 rpg) and three-pointers made (24). He notched his third 25-point effort of the season with 25 points (8-13 FG, 2-4 3P, 7-7 FT) against Oregon.
Cal's other double-digit scorer, senior G Brian Wethers, displayed his all-around skill vs. the Ducks. Not only did he tally 16 points, but he grabbed four steals (tying a career high) and held the Ducks' Luke Jackson without a field goal until less than five minutes remained.
Combined, the trio of Shipp, Tamir and Wethers is averaging 50.8 ppg, or 67.0 percent of the Bears' total, and Cal has not had three players pour in at least 14.0 ppg since Roy Fisher (14.9 ppg), Brian Hendrick (14.9 ppg) and Keith Smith (16.6 ppg) in 1990. That unit finished 22-10 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament - the Bears' first appearance in the field in 30 years.
Golden Bear Notes
Big Three Lead Cal past No. 12 Oregon
Amit Tamir, Joe Shipp and Brian Wethers combined for 63 points and 14 rebounds to lead Cal to an 88-72 upset over No. 12 Oregon Thursday night in Haas Pavilion. Tamir, who tallied 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, continued his hot shooting against the Ducks and now sports a 27.7 ppg average in three career games against UO. Taking advantage of six Oregon turnovers in the first 4:09, the Bears raced to a 27-16 lead, only to see the Ducks rally to tie the score at 27-all. However, Tamir scored four straight points, and when Shipp's baseline runner went through the net with one second left, Cal held a 43-33 advantage at the break. The Bears' lead dipped below 10 points just once the rest of the way and grew to as much as 20 at 76-56 with 4:13 remaining. Shipp finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Wethers had 16 points and four steals.
Bears Push Haas Winning Streak to 12
Now 7-0 at Haas Pavilion this season, Cal has run off a 12-game winning streak on its home floor dating back to last year. The streak ties for the seventh-longest on-campus string in school history (also Nov. 15 to Jan. 19, 2002). Over the past two seasons, Cal is 24-1 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 38-4. Cal's longest home win streak ever was 26 games from 1958-60.
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.
Alumni Reunion Attracts Large Gathering
Cal is hosting its second annual basketball alumni reunion this weekend, with more than 125 former players, coaches and managers returning to Berkeley. After a reception at the Claremont Resort Friday night, most of the alums will be in attendance at the Oregon State contest. Among those who returned to Berkeley for the weekend are Cal Athletic Hall of Famers Pete Newell (head coach, 1955-60), Darrall Imhoff (Class of '60), Charles Johnson ('71), Joe Kapp ('60), Earl Robinson ('58), Rupe & John Ricksen ('53) and Andy Wolfe ('48). More recent players Alfred Grigsby ('97), Ed Gray ('97) and Dave Butler ('86) are also revisiting the campus.
Bears Look for Quick Start to Conference Season
Since Ben Braun took over the Cal program in September 1996, Cal has posted a 60-50 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 and is 2-0 so far.
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 127-72 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 14th on Scoring Chart
Senior F Joe Shipp, who leads the Bears with 19.3 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 1,246 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 46 more points, Shipp will claim 13th place on the Cal list, topping Dave Butler's 1,291 points scored from 1983-87.
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 (14.4 ppg), first in assists (3.2 apg) and third in rebounding (4.8 rpg). He has paced the Bears in assists six times in Cal's last seven games and leads all current players on the roster with 185 career assists.
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 7.0 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 17.2 ppg, he tops all Cal players in three-pointers made (24-of-56) with an accuracy rate of 42.9 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 - pumped in 25 more points vs. Oregon Jan. 9. He is also second on the squad with 34 assists (3.1 apg) and his free throw rate (86.5%) is No. 1 on the squad. Before missing against Stanford last Saturday, he had made 23 straight from the FT line and he has sunk 30 of his last 31.
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.
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 2.64 per game, played 25 minutes and swiped the ball three times from the Cardinal. 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 (76-196). 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 24-for-56 on three-pointers (42.9%), while freshman G Richard Midgley is 13-for-28 (46.4%) and senior F Joe Shipp is 21-for-48 (43.8%). The school team record is 38.7 percent set by the 1989-90 club.
Rebounding Key Factor in Cal Results
Cal, which owns a +4.4 rebounding margin this season, is a perfect 8-0 when winning the battle of the boards, but 1-2 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 9.0 ppg after a career-high 16-point effort vs. USF Dec. 30, he is shooting 53.6 percent from the floor, including a perfect 5-for-5 outing vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, and 46.4 percent (13-for-28) 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 29 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 138 career three-pointers, good 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.