Bears Meet Saint Joseph's in Pete Newell Challenge
Dec. 15, 2003
Pete Newell Challenge
Saturday, Dec. 20, Arena in Oakland, Oakland, CA
Stanford Cardinal (6-0) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (7-1), 6 p.m.
California Golden Bears (3-3) vs. Saint Joseph's Hawks (7-0), 8 p.m.
TV: CSTV / KRON (Channel 4)
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California returns from an 11-day break for final exams to face its toughest opponent of its pre-Pac-10 schedule - 11th-ranked Saint Joseph's - in the seventh annual Pete Newell Challenge Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Arena in Oakland.
The Golden Bears, despite a 3-3 record, sport an early No. 36 RPI rating based on a strength of schedule that ranks 15th in the country. Cal is the only team to beat BYU (No. 23 RPI), and the Bears have not played an opponent ranked outside the Top 100.
With a starting lineup that features three freshmen, Cal's offense has struggled much of the year. The Bears appeared to get untracked in their most recent outing vs. Wyoming Dec. 9, however, soaring to a season-high 80 points, including 45 in the second half when Cal shot 51.9 percent from the floor.
Forward Marquise Kately tallied a career-best 18 points against the Cowboys, while sophomore guard Richard Midgley broke out of his shooting slump with 13 points (3-5 FG, 2-3 3P, 5-6 FT) in 14 minutes.
Throughout the season, freshman forward Leon Powe has been Cal's workhorse down low. The Bears' leader in both scoring (15.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.8 rpg), Powe already has five double-doubles, including a 27-points, 11-rebound effort vs. UC Irvine Dec. 3.
Along the perimeter, senior guard A.J. Diggs has excelled at his specialty - defense. The 5-10 former walk-on leads the Pac-10 with 2.5 steals per game, while his total of 15 steals in 2003-04 has pushed him into fifth place all-time at Cal with 135 thefts.
Defense has also been the most consistent element of the Bears' performances this season. So far, Cal is surrendering just 59.7 ppg and has allowed only two teams to crack the 60-point barrier. The Bears also boast a +6.0 turnover margin and have swiped 55 steals (9.2 spg - best in the Pac-10).
The Bears have also benefited from strong offensive rebounding, with 95 of their 212 boards (44.8%) coming on that end of the floor. The extra possessions mean that Cal has already attempted 76 more shots than their opponents (12.7 per game).
A Look at Saint Joseph's
Saint Joseph's enters Saturday's game vs. Cal with a perfect 7-0 record on the season. The Hawks are led by All-American Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, who both average more than 19 ppg. Although opponents out-rebound St. Joe's by an average of 38.9 to 30.1, the Hawks have a +8.1 turnover margin and have swiped 70 steals (10.0 spg). Center Dwayne Jones has also swatted away 19 shots, nearly three per game. St. Joe's has played just two games on its homecourt this year, with the team's most impressive win a season-opening 73-66 victory over Gonzaga Nov. 14 in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York.
Cal-Saint Joseph's Series History
This will be the first meeting between Cal and Saint Joseph's.
Golden Bear Notes
Defensive Pressure Helps Cal to 80-55 Win over Wyoming
California turned up the heat defensively against Wyoming, forcing 26 turnovers and limiting the Cowboys to just 26.1 percent shooting from the floor in the second half, as the Golden Bears rolled to an 80-55 win Dec. 9 at Haas Pavilion. Wyoming took a 20-11 lead before Cal went on a 15-0 run. Key to the spurt was a seven-point play with the Cowboys up, 20-15, that started when Richard Midgley hit a three-pointer. UW's Ryan Wildenborg was called for an intentional foul while the shot was in the air, placing David Paris on the free throw line. After Paris hit both attempts, Martin Smith nailed an 18-foot jump to give the Bears the lead for good. Cal broke open the game with an 18-4 burst at the start of the second half.
Leon Powe Living Up to His Nickname - 'The Show'
On his way to earning McDonald's All-America honors at Oakland Tech High School, F Leon Powe was deemed 'The Show' for his exploits on the court. And since arriving at Cal this fall, the freshman has lived up to that moniker. In the Cal Poly opener, Powe became the first Golden Bear freshman to record a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) in his debut effort since Jason Kidd had 11 points and 10 assists vs. Sacramento State in 1992. He eventually ran his double-double streak to five games, the longest points-rebounds run since Mark McNamara had eight consecutive double-doubles from Dec. 22, 1981 through Jan. 16, 1982. No Golden Bear has averaged a double-double for an entire season since Brian Hendrick in 1991-92 (16.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg).
Pete Newell Challenge History
Cal sports a 4-1 record in the Pete Newell Challenge, which began in December 1997 as a tribute to the former Golden Bear coach who led Cal to the 1959 NCAA championship. The Bears knocked off BYU, 68-64, in that initial game, then defeated ninth-ranked North Carolina, 78-71, in 1998. Cal also beat Georgia, 72-64, in 1999 and Gonzaga, 85-64, in 2000 before losing to Kansas, 80-67, last year. Newell compiled a 119-44 record in six seasons at Cal from 1955-60, winning four conference titles. The Hall of Famer also guided the U.S. team to a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, and in 1987, the playing surface at Harmon Gym (now Haas Pavilion) was renamed 'Pete Newell Court' in his honor.
Freshman Class Makes Immediate Impact on Lineup
Cal's recruiting class, which was ranked among the Top 10 in the country by several recruiting services, has made its presence felt early this season. After starting just one rookie - F Leon Powe - in the Cal Poly opener, head coach Ben Braun has had three freshmen in the opening lineup in every game since. So far, the freshman foursome has combined to score 212 of the Bears' 371 total points (57.1 percent). Powe paces Cal in scoring (15.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.8 rpg), while Ayinde Ubaka is tops in assists (2.8 apg) and Dominic McGuire leads in blocks (4). Marquise Kately also had a game-high 18 points vs. Wyoming and is shooting 47.9 percent from the floor. The Nov. 26 BYU game marked the first time that Braun started at least three newcomers since 1999-2000 when he started three, and sometimes four, first-year players most of the year. That class featured Joe Shipp, Brian Wethers, Donte Smith, Shantay Legans and Nick Vander Laan and finished 18-15 while reaching the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Ppg Pct. of Team Total Rpg Pct. of Team Total2003-04 Freshman Class 35.3 57.1% 16.0 44.8%1999-00 Freshman Class 38.5 53.6% 16.5 50.7%
A.J. Diggs Moves into Top 5 on Career Steals List
With two steals against Wyoming Dec. 9, senior G A.J. Diggs moved into sole possession of fifth place in Cal history with 135 steals. The 5-10 former walk-on, who received a scholarship before the start of his junior campaign, owns a team-best 15 steals this season. Diggs had a season-high four steals at UNLV and was the catalyst in starting Cal's comeback bid from a 20-point second-half deficit, helping jump-start a 16-0 run. He was also the key element in a 14-0 spurt midway through the first half vs. UC Irvine, coming away with two of his three steals during the stretch. Diggs led the Bears in steals as both a sophomore (47 in 2001-02) and junior (57 in 2002-03). In addition, he tied Jason Kidd's Cal single-game record with eight steals at Cleveland State on Nov. 30, 2002, and he set a school NCAA Tournament mark with six steals against North Carolina State in a first-round game last March.
Cal Career Steals Leaders1. Jason Kidd (1993-94) 2042. Butch Hays (1981-84) 1663. Kevin Johnson (1984-87) 1554. Michael Chavez (1980-83) 1405. A.J. Diggs (2001- ) 135
Tamir Breaks Slump at Colorado
Senior C Amit Tamir broke out of a season-long shooting slump at Colorado when he scored 21 points (8-13 FG, 2-6 3P, 3-3 FT) and grabbed seven rebounds in 26 minutes of action. In his previous four games this season, Tamir was averaging just 8.5 ppg on 31.8 percent shooting from the floor - this on the heels of an All-Pac-10 season in 2003 when he poured in 14.9 ppg and drained a team-high 61 three-pointers. Tamir's 21-point effort was his highest since tallying 27 points at Oregon State last Feb. 6 - a span of 17 games.
Cal Taking Care of Basketball in '03-04
Through six games this season, Cal is committing just 13.3 turnovers per game. But more importantly, the Bears are forcing 19.3 turnovers per game, giving them an impressive +6.0 turnover margin. Cal has had a positive turnover margin in every outing except one - the Bears and Colorado both committed 13 turnovers Dec. 6. The Bears' greatest difference came against Wyoming when the margin was +15 (11-26). The margin also reached +8 vs. UC Irvine (11-19) and +6 at UNLV (10-16). What is remarkable about the stat is that Cal has started a freshman at the point - Ayinde Ubaka - five times in six games, and his two backups are a former walk-on (A.J. Diggs) and a current walk-on (Martin Smith). Low turnover totals, though, are a trademark of Ben Braun teams at Cal, as the Bears have not averaged more than 14 topg since 1999-2000.
Recent Turnover Averages2003-04 13.33 per game2002-03 13.96 per game2001-02 13.22 per game2000-01 13.68 per game
With Powe on the Block, Bears Increase Rebounding Margin
With the addition of freshman F Leon Powe to the frontline, Cal has increased its numbers on the glass, especially on the offensive end. The Bears owned a positive rebounding margin in each of their first four games - a four-game feat they did not accomplish all of last year. So far in 2003-04, Cal has pulled down 95 offensive rebounds for an average of 15.8 per contest. The result is that, despite shooting just 38.3 percent from the floor, the second-chance opportunities have allowed the Bears to take 76 more shots than their opponents. Powe has reached double figures in rebounds in five of six games (9.8 rpg), while senior C Amit Tamir is pulling down 6.2 rpg. Guards A.J. Diggs (7 of 13) and Richard Midgley (8 of 13) both have more offensive boards than defensive caroms.
While Offense Struggles, Defense Keeping Cal in Games
Through six games, the Bears are shooting just 38.3 percent from the floor and averaging 61.8 ppg. Yet, despite the offensive struggles, Cal's defense has been holding its own. The Bears are surrendering only 59.7 ppg, while they are outrebounding opponents by a 35.3-33.3 margin, have swiped 55 steals (9.2 spg) and forced 116 turnovers (19.3 topg). Cal limited BYU, which has averaged 83.3 ppg in its six other games this season - all wins - to 46 points in a 47-46 victory Nov. 26. Cal also held UNLV to only 22 points in the second half last and Wyoming to just 23 points in the second stanza.
Martin Smith Carries on Strong Walk-on Tradition
Ever since his arrival at Cal, head coach Ben Braun has had the knack of finding walk-on players who have become key contributors to the Bears. Five walk-ons eventually earned scholarships, including a pair of current players - A.J. Diggs and Conor Famulener. Ryan Forehan-Kelly (1999-02) finished his career ranked fifth on Cal's career three-point shooting list (40.7%), while Diggs holds down the fifth position in career steals (135). Now, sophomore Martin Smith is bidding to join the select group. The son of the late Phil Smith, a two-time NBA All-Star, Smith saw the most significant action of his young tenure with the Bears vs. Wyoming, when he had six points, four rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes. He was the key catalyst to Cal's 15-0 run in the first half that gave the Bears the lead for good. Smith played in 15 games last season and has a career 14-4 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Senior Amit Tamir Hauls in Preseason Honors
Senior F/C Amit Tamir - the only player in the league to earn both All-Pac-10 and first team Pac-10 All-Academic honors last year - received his fair share of awards heading into the 2003-04 campaign. One of 10 players on the Playboy All-America team, Tamir is also one of 50 preseason candidates for the John Wooden All-America team and one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith National Player of the Year prize. In addition, Lindy's magazine placed Tamir on its five-player All-Pac-10 squad for 2004.
Bears Out to Keep Postseason, 20-Win Streaks Alive
Cal has advanced to postseason play for five consecutive years - two NIT, three NCAA - the longest streak in school history. The previous best run came from 1957-60 when Pete Newell's teams reached the NCAA Tournament four straight seasons. If the Bears can reach the NCAA playoffs again this March, they would match Newell's squads for the Cal NCAA record. In addition, the Bears have won at least 20 games each of the past three seasons - a feat accomplished only one other time, when Nibs Price guided Cal to records of 30-6 in 1946, 20-11 in '47 and 25-9 in '48.
Golden Bear Notes ...
Cal was picked to finish third in the Pac-10 in a preseason vote of West Coast media ... freshman F Dominic McGuire did not make the trip to Colorado Dec. 6 due to the flu ... Jason Kidd, who earned National Freshman of the Year honors in 1993 and Pac-10 Player of the Year recognition in 1994, will have his No. 5 jersey retired before the Feb. 14 Stanford game ... sophomore F Erik Bond announced in early December that he plans to transfer and he has been given his scholarship release ... five games have been added to Cal's initial television schedule; the Dec. 20 St. Joseph's, Jan. 4 Washington State and Jan. 31 Oregon State games will be on KRON (Channel 4), while road games at Arizona Jan. 8 and UCLA Feb. 19 will be Fox Sports Bay Area ... the attendance for the Cal Poly game (9,971) was Cal's largest in a home opener since the Bears drew 10,528 against Pacific on Nov. 27, 1999 - the first game in Haas Pavilion ... senior G A.J. Diggs attended the Public Policy International Affairs fellowship program for seven weeks at Princeton University over the summer ... Cal has sold out its student section for the 2003-04 season ... for individual games tickets, visit www.CalBears.com or call (800) GO BEARS.
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