No. 25 Cal Hosts USC, UCLA
Jan. 20, 2003
USC Trojans (7-6, 3-2) at California Golden Bears (12-2, 5-0)
Thursday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
UCLA Bruins (4-9, 2-3, at Stanford 1/23) at California
Saturday, Jan. 25, 1 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
TV: Fox Sports Net
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
Cal, which has won six straight and nine of its past 10 games, puts its 13-game Haas Pavilion winning streak on the line this week when the Golden Bears host USC Thursday and UCLA Saturday.
To date, Cal is off to its best league start (5-0) since the 1957 squad under head coach Pete Newell began 10-0 in the old Pacific Coast Conference, while the Bears' overall record of 12-2 is the team's best since Newell's 1959-60 squad was 28-2 en route to an NCAA runner-up finish.
This season, Cal continues to be led by the trio of senior F Joe Shipp, sophomore G Amit Tamir and senior G Brian Wethers. They have combined for 40 out of a possible 42 double-digit scoring games and account for 69.3 percent of the team's total points.
Shipp, who was named Pac-10 Player of the Week Jan. 13 and 20, leads the league with 21.4 ppg, an average he has raised to 25.4 ppg in conference action. Over his past three games, Shipp has poured in 29.0 ppg, including a career-high 35 points vs. Oregon State (12-16 FG) and another 33 points at Washington State (14-18 FG).
Tamir, despite spraining his right knee vs. OSU, did not miss a beat at Washington last Thursday when he pumped in 18 of his 26 points in the second half. Cal's leading rebounder with 6.8 per game, the 6-11 Israeli is also the Bears' best three-point shooter, sinking 31-of-67 attempts (46.3 percent).
Wethers has probably been Cal's most consistent performer. Voted MVP of the Golden Bear Classic in December, he ranks among the Bears' Top 3 in scoring (14.0 ppg), rebounding (4.6 rpg) and assists (2.9 apg).
At the point, freshman Richard Midgley and junior A.J. Diggs share the duties. Midgley moved into the starting lineup for Cal's Pac-10 opener vs. Stanford and has averaged 7.8 ppg and 3.6 apg in that role. Overall, he is shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range. Diggs paces the team with 32 steals, including a school-record-tying eight in a victory over Cleveland State Nov. 30.
Cal Stays Unbeaten in Pac-10 with 76-63 Win at WSU
Senior F Joe Shipp made 14-of-18 shots from the floor on his way to 33 points, leading the Bears to a 76-63 victory over Washington State and giving Cal its first three-game winning streak in Pullman since 1988-90. The Bears never trailed in the contest and used a 10-1 run midway through the first half to open a 27-17 advantage. After the break, WSU made nine three-pointers, but never got within seven points. Amit Tamir grabbed 10 of his 12 rebounds in the second half.
Cal Off to Best League Start in 46 Years
At 5-0 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 never as good as 4-0. 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 12-2 overall and have won at least 12 of their first 14 games for the first time since going 28-2 in 1960 under Newell.
Big Three Contribute 69.3 Percent of Scoring
How much does Cal rely on the scoring ability of Joe Shipp, Amit Tamir and Brian Wethers? Try 69.3 percent of the team's total - a figure that, if it holds up the rest of the year, would be the school's highest as far back as complete statistics are available (1949-50 season). The only trio to come close was the combination of Lamond Murray, Jason Kidd and Monty Buckley, who provided 67.8 percent of the Bears' output in 1993-94. Murray led the conference in scoring with 24.3 ppg, while Pac-10 Player of the Year Kidd averaged 16.7 ppg and Buckley added 12.8 ppg. Prior to this season, no Ben Braun-coached team had a threesome average more than 56.1 percent of a squad's total (1998-99 - Geno Carlisle, Thomas Kilgore and Sean Lampley). Last year, Shipp, Tamir and Wethers, who were Cal's top three scorers in 2001-02, contributed 45.1 percent of the Bears' points.
Shipp Could Be 5th Bear in 10 Years to Lead Pac-10
Senior F Joe Shipp, who has averaged 29.0 ppg on 68.1 percent shooting from the floor (32-47) over his past three games, has taken over the Pac-10 scoring lead with an overall rate of 21.4 ppg. If he can maintain that position for the rest of the season, he would become the fifth Bear in the last 10 years to pace the conference. Lamond Murray averaged 24.3 ppg in 1994, while Shareef Abdur-Rahim (21.1 ppg in 1996), Ed Gray (24.8 ppg in '97) and Sean Lampley (19.5 ppg in '01) also topped the league. Abdur-Rahim, Gray and Lampley earned Pac-10 Player of the Year honors in the seasons they led the Pac-10.
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, freshman G Richard Midgley tops the list with an even 3.0 apg. Close behind are senior G Brian Wethers (2.9 apg) and sophomore F Amit Tamir (2.9 apg), with junior G A.J. Diggs (2.6 apg) and senior F Joe Shipp (2.4 apg) in hot pursuit. 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, '95, '81 and '73.
Shipp in Rare Company with Five 30-Point Games
With four 30-point outings so far this season and another against Fresno State last year, senior forward Joe Shipp has joined just seven other players with five career 30-point games. The next time he reached 30, Shipp will tie the school record of six held by Ed Gray (1996-97) and Mark McNamara (1981-82). In addition, Shipp's four 30-point outbursts this year are only two off the Cal season record - Gray reached 30 six times in 1997, while Lamond Murray had five 30-point contests from 1992-94. Shipp's career high is 35 points established against Oregon State Jan. 11 - a feat that helped him earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors.
Bears Put 13-Game Haas Win Streak on Line vs. USC
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.
Bears Break Pac-10 Droughts vs. Stanford, UW
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 last Thursday, the Bears snapped a six-game losing streak in league road openers. Although head coach Ben Braun owns a 63-50 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 Jumps to 13th on Scoring Chart
Senior F Joe Shipp, who leads the Bears with 21.4 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 1,333 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 43.3 percent (26-60) from three-point range. With 11 more points, he will claim 12th place at Cal, topping Jackie Ridgle's 1,343 points scored from 1969-71.
Tamir, Shipp Monopolize Scoring Honors
One season after seeing eight different players earn game-high scoring honors, two Bears are dominating the point race this year. Through 14 games, either senior F Joe Shipp or sophomore F Amit Tamir has paced Cal in every contest, with each player claiming the top spot seven times.
Three-Point Accuracy: From Worst to First
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 40.1 percent (93-232). 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 67 attempts (46.3%), while senior F Joe Shipp is 26-for-60 (43.3%) 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 143 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).
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 6.8 rpg, including three double-doubles and a career-high 14 boards vs. Howard. But Tamir's game is not limited to the area just around the hoop. Cal's second-leading scorer at 17.1 ppg, he tops Cal in both three-pointers made (31) and three-point percentage (46.3%). 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 last week's 26-point outing at Washington. His other big nights came against Georgia (27 points), San Francisco (26) and Oregon (25). In addition, he is tied for second on the team in assists (2.9 apg) and is second on the squad in free throw shooting (83.8%). Before missing against Stanford Jan. 4, Tamir had made 23 straight from the free throw line, and he has sunk 43 of his last 48 attempts (89.6%).
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 (14.0 ppg), tied for second in assists (2.9 apg) and third in rebounding (4.6 rpg). He leads all current players on the roster with 191 career assists.
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 2.29 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.
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 8.9 ppg with a career-high 16-point effort vs. USF Dec. 30, he is shooting 54.4 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. Now leading the team with 42 assists, the native of England dished out six assists without committing a turnover vs. Oregon State.
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's +22 rebound margin vs. Grambling (53-31) was its largest since posting a +25 advantage vs. Texas Southern (47-22) on Nov. 30, 1996 ... 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 130 wins, passing both Pete Newell (119-44, 1955-60) and Lou Campanelli (123-108, 1986-93) this season ... 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.