Cal Puts 5-Game Win Streak on Line at WSU

Jan. 17, 2003

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California Golden Bears (11-2, 4-0) at Washington State Cougars (5-9, 0-5)
Saturday, Jan. 18, 6 p.m., Friel Court, Pullman, WA
TV: Fox Sports Northwest
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
* Cal looks to extend its winning streak to six games when the Bears visit Washington State Saturday. Cal has won its last two games in Pullman (75-71 OT in 2001 and 77-56 in 2002) after losing three of its previous four in the Palouse.

* With at 4-0 Pac-10 record, Cal is off to its best conference start since the Bears were 10-0 to begin the 1957 Pacific Coast Conference slate under head coach Pete Newell.

* Cal is 11-2 overall, giving the Bears at least 11 wins in their first 13 games for the first time since the 1960 squad was 12-1 en route to a 28-2 final mark and an NCAA runner-up finish.

* Sophomore F Amit Tamir has made seven of his last eight three-point attempts, going 3-for-3 vs. Oregon State and 4-for-5 at Washington. Overall, he has connected on 31-of-64 from behind the arc for a team-high 48.4 percent.

* Senior F Joe Shipp moved up another spot on Cal's career scoring list with 19 points at Washington Thursday. He now has an even 1,300 points, good for 13th place all-time.

* Cal is looking for only its second sweep in the state of Washington since 1993. The Bears defeated both Washington (79-64) and WSU (75-71 OT) on the road in 2001.

* The Bears are 3-0 on opponent home courts so far this season. Cal last started 3-0 on the road in 1995-96 when the Bears won at Texas Southern (112-72), San Francisco (83-70 at the Cow Palace) and Minnesota (70-67). Cal later went on to win a fourth straight game - 63-60 at USC - before suffering its first road loss at UCLA (93-73).

* Cal has not won its first two league road games since 1957 when the Bears claimed their first five Pacific Coast Conference contests away from home. That streak started with a pair of victories over Washington State in Pullman (66-58 and 61-51).

* Cal's top three scorers - Joe Shipp, Amit Tamir and Brian Wethers - account for 68.6 percent of the team's scoring - the highest percentage for any Golden Bear as far back as media guides are available (1949-50).

Cal Stays Unbeaten in Pac-10 with 73-66 Win at UW
Amit Tamir scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half and Cal sank all eight of its free throws in the final minute to lead the Bears to a 73-66 win at Washington Thursday night. The victory made Cal 4-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1957 season, and the Bears won their Pac-10 road opener for the first time in seven years. After the teams entered the locker room tied at 29-all at the half, the Bears opened a 38-33 lead early in the second period, only to see UW pull ahead, 44-41, on a Nate Robinson layup. Cal responded with a 15-3 run, capped by two Tamir free throws, to go up for good. The Bears limited UW to just 34.3 percent shooting from the floor - a season low for a Cal opponent. In addition to Tamir, Joe Shipp scored 19 points, Richard Midgley added 12 and Brian Wethers had 11.

Pullman Site of Some Individual Career Performances
Although Cal hasn't always enjoyed much team success in Pullman in recent years, Friel Court has been the site of some amazing individual performances by Golden Bears. In 1996, for example, freshman Shareef Abdur-Rahim led Cal to an 87-79 win with 32 points and 18 rebounds. A year later, Ed Gray poured in a school-record 48 points, but the Bears lost, 89-87. Two other recent Cal players also set career highs in the Palouse - Lamond Murray tallied 38 points in 1994 (lost, 94-82) and Thomas Kilgore had 34 in 1999 (lost, 79-73).

Win over UW Gives Cal Historic Pac-10 Start
At 4-0 in Pac-10 action, Cal is off to its best conference start since the 1957 season when the Bears began 10-0 in the old Pacific Coast Conference under Pete Newell. Cal had been 3-0 in league action several times in the past 46 years, but the fourth win had always evaded the team. Even during Cal's NCAA Final Four runs of 1959 and '60, the Bears lost early in league play both times. In addition, the Bears are 11-2 overall and have won at least 11 of their first 13 games for the first time since going 28-2 in 1960 under Newell.

Five Players Average 2+ Assists for First Time
For as far back as Cal assist records go (to the 1965-66 season), the Bears have never had five players average at least two assists. That is until this year, when the competition is fierce to see who will ultimately lead the team. To date, the players at the top of the list are senior G Brian Wethers and sophomore F Amit Tamir, who both average 3.0 per outing. Close behind are G Richard Midgley (2.9), G A.J. Diggs (2.6) and F Joe Shipp (2.5). All five players have paced Cal in a game at least once, and Tamir owns the best overall outing with seven assists at Cleveland State. Wethers had six assists against Kansas, while Midgley dished out six vs. Oregon State. Only four other times has Cal had as many as four players average two or more assists - 1997, 1995, 1981 and 1973.

Bears Break Pac-10 Road Opener Drought in Seattle
Back on Jan. 4, Cal defeated Stanford, 72-59, to win its Pac-10 opener for the first time since 1996. Now, with their 73-66 victory at Washington, the Bears have snapped a six-game losing streak in league road openers. Although head coach Ben Braun owns a 62-50 conference record - he's the first Cal coach to have a winning league mark since Pete Newell was 62-26 from 1955-60 - he had never won either a Pac-10 home or road opener before this year.

Shipp in Rare Company with Four 30-Point Games
With three 30-point outings so far this season and another against Fresno State last year, senior forward Joe Shipp has joined eight other players in school history with at least four career 30-point games. He is the first to reach the milestone since Ed Gray scored 30 or more six times during the 1996-97 season on his way to Pac-10 Player of the Year honors. In addition to his 31 points vs. Fresno State on Dec. 11, 2001, Shipp had 30 points at Cleveland State and vs. Howard and a career-best 35 against Oregon State this year.

Bears Push Haas Winning Streak to 13
Now 8-0 at Haas Pavilion this season, Cal has run off a 13-game winning streak on its home floor dating back to last year. The streak ties for the sixth-longest on-campus string in school history, and is just one shy of the Haas Pavilion record of 14 in a row set from March 4, 2000 to Feb. 1, 2001. Over the past two seasons, Cal is 25-1 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 39-4. Cal's longest home win streak ever was 26 games from 1958-60.

Shipp Jumps to 13th on Scoring Chart
Senior F Joe Shipp, who leads the Bears with 20.5 ppg, has jumped 16 spots on Cal's career scoring list this season. After entering the year in the 29th spot, he now holds the 13th position with 1,300 points, passing such notable alumni as Mark McNamara, Larry Friend, Ed Gray and Andy Wolfe. Shipp has reached double figures in every game, and he is shooting a career-best 43.9 percent (25-57) from three-point range. With 44 more points, he will claim 12th place at Cal, topping Jackie Ridgle's 1,343 points scored from 1969-71.

Shipp, Tamir Hog Scoring Honors
One season after seeing eight different players earn game-high scoring honors, two Bears are dominating the point race this year. Through 13 games, either senior F Joe Shipp or sophomore F Amit Tamir has paced Cal in every contest. Shipp has claimed the top spot six times, while Tamir is just ahead with seven.

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 are on the other end of the spectrum, leading the league at 40.4 percent (91-225). Cal has connected on at least 50 percent of its tries five times, including a best of 61.1 percent (11-18) vs. Howard. Sophomore F Amit Tamir leads this year's unit with 31 treys in 64 attempts (48.4%), while senior F Joe Shipp is 25-for-57 (43.9%) and freshman G Richard Midgley is 15-for-33 (45.5%). The school team record is 38.7 percent set by the 1989-90 club. Shipp is also creeping up Cal's career list with 142 triples, good for third place behind only Ryan Drew (214, 1988-91) and Randy Duck (153, 1994-97). Tamir, meanwhile, is just off the school-record pace set by Billy Dreher in 1991 (50.0%, 56-for-112).

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 to just 6-for-17 shooting in the championship game. Later, he kept Oregon's Luke Jackson without a field goal for the first 36 minutes in Cal's Jan. 9 win. 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 ranks third on the team in scoring (14.1 ppg), tied for first in assists (3.0 apg) and third in rebounding (4.5 rpg). He has paced the Bears in assists six times in Cal's last nine games and leads all current players on the roster with 189 career assists.

25-Point Nights Becoming Common for Tamir
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 6.4 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 17.5 ppg, he tops Cal in both three-pointers made (31) and three-point percentage (48.4%). His most important triple 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. Tamir has scored at least 25 points four times this season, including Thursday's 26-point outing at Washington. His other big nights came against Georgia (27 points), San Francisco (26) and Oregon (25). Since making just 11 of his first 37 attempts from the floor (29.7%) over Cal's first three games, Tamir is scorching the nets at a 51.7 percent clip. In addition, he is tied for the team lead in assists (3.0 apg) and paces the squad in free throw shooting (85.2%). Before missing against Stanford Jan. 4, Tamir had made 23 straight from the free throw line, and he has sunk 38 of his last 41attempts (92.7%).

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 Jan. 4 - that of a defensive sparkplug coming off the bench. Despite the change in status, Diggs, who averages 2.31 steals 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.

Rebounding Key Factor in Cal Results
Cal, which owns a +2.7 rebounding margin this season, is a perfect 8-0 when winning the battle of the boards, but 3-2 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. However, Cal has been in negative territory the past three games, although that hasn't affected the outcomes. 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 52.3 percent from the floor, including a perfect 5-for-5 outing vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, and 45.5 percent (15-for-33) 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. Third on the team with 38 assists, the native of England dished out six assists without committing a turnover vs. Oregon State. He 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 seven of its past eight overtime games, including a 2-1 mark this season ... head coach Ben Braun has moved into second place on Cal's all-time coaching list with 129 wins, passing both Pete Newell (119-44, 1955-60) and Lou Campanelli (123-108, 1986-93) this season ... 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 ... 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; although he has not played yet, he has been cleared for action.

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