Cal Hosts Office Depot Golden Bear Classic
Dec. 22, 2003
Office Depot Golden Bear Classic
Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 27-28, Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Saturday, Dec. 27
Air Force Falcons (4-2) vs. Prairie View A&M Panthers (0-6, at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 12/23), 5 p.m.
California Golden Bears (3-4) vs. Columbia Lions (2-4, at Villanova 12/22), 7:30 p.m.
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
Sunday, Dec. 28
Consolation Game, 5 p.m.
Championship Game, 7:30 p.m.
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California plays its final two games before the start of conference action when the Golden Bears host the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic Saturday and Sunday in Haas Pavilion.
The Bears, despite a 3-4 overall record, have a No. 38 RPI based on having played the second-toughest schedule in the country, according to CollegeRPI.com.
Of Cal's four setbacks, three have been by two points or less, including last Saturday's 59-57 heartbreaker to 11th-ranked Saint Joseph's.
Back at home this weekend, the Bears are aiming for their fourth consecutive Golden Bear Classic title. Last year, they beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 77-61, for their seventh championship in the 10-year history of the event.
With three freshmen starters, Cal has struggled on the offensive end of the floor all season. However, the Bears have shown signs of turning it around in their past two outings. In rolling up 80 points against Wyoming Dec. 9, Cal shot 51.9 percent from the floor in the second half (45 points) en route to a 25-point victory. Then against Saint Joe's, the Bears made 54.5 percent of their attempts after intermission to nearly pull off the upset.
Freshman F Marquise Kately has led the surge, tallying 18 points against Wyoming and 16 more points vs. Saint Joe's. He has connected on better than 60 percent of his attempts of his past four games, including a combined 14-for-21 effort in the last two contests.
Overall, freshman F Leon Powe paces the Bears in both scoring (15.6 ppg) and rebounding (Pac-10-high 10.3 rpg). He has recorded a double-double six times in seven games, with a best of 13 boards vs. Saint Joseph's.
Golden Bear Notes
Bears Just Miss Upset of No. 11 Saint Joseph's, 59-57
All-American Jameer Nelson hit an 18-foot jumper just over four seconds left to give 11th-ranked Saint Joseph's a 59-57 victory over Cal last Saturday in the Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland. The Bears had tied the score at 57-all on two Marquise Kately free throws with 52 seconds to go. Even after Nelson's bucket, Cal had one last chance, but Ayinde Ubaka's three-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim. Kately paced the Bears with 16 points, while Leon Powe had his sixth double-double in seven games with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
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).
Powe has paced Cal in rebounding (or at least tied for team honors) in every game this year, and his current rate of 10.3 rpg leads the Pac-10 and ranks 22nd nationally. He grabbed a best of 13 rebounds vs. Saint Joseph's last Saturday. In addition, Powe owns the high scoring output for a Cal player with 27 points vs. UC Irvine Dec. 3.
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 251 of the Bears' 438 total points (58.6 percent). Powe paces Cal in scoring (15.6 ppg) and rebounding (10.3 rpg), while Ayinde Ubaka is tops in assists (3.0 apg) and Dominic McGuire leads in blocks (4 - tied). Marquise Kately also had a game-high 18 points vs. Wyoming and is shooting 51.7 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.
Golden Bear Classic History
Cal has won seven of the first 10 Golden Bear Classic titles, including each of the last three. Last year, the Bears defeated Grambling, 84-65, in the opening round, then topped Louisiana-Lafayette, 77-61, for the championship. Cal's Brian Wethers was voted MVP, with fellow Bears Amit Tamir and Joe Shipp earning all-tournament honors. Columbia, Cal's first-round opponent this year, is making its second appearance in the field. The Lions were also in the Classic in 1994, when they lost to Cal, 79-43, and TCU, 66-64. Columbia is one of six Ivy League schools to play in the tourney, joining Princeton (1993), Cornell (1997), Penn (1999), Yale (2000) and Harvard (2001).
Marquise Kately Hitting His Stride
Over his last four games, freshman F Marquise Kately has been Cal's most consistent performer, averaging 12.8 ppg on 62.9 percent shooting from the floor (22-35). He reached double figures for the first time this year vs. UC Irvine (5-7 FG, 11 points), then, after a six-point outing at Colorado, led the Bears with 18 points vs. Wyoming (7-11 FG) and with 16 points (7-10 FG) vs. Saint Joseph's. For the year, the 6-5 wing out of San Francisco is shooting a team-best 51.7 percent from the field.
Close Games Becoming the Norm for Cal
Four of Cal's first seven games this season have been decided by shots in the final seconds, but unfortunately for the Bears, they have come out on the short end three times. Cal Poly stunned Cal in the opener, 63-62, on a follow shot with 4.8 seconds left. The Bears then upended BYU, 47-46, Nov. 26 on Amit Tamir's tip-in with 5.8 seconds to go. In Cal's third game - at UNLV - the Bears battled back from a 20-point second-half deficit, but couldn't get one of three shots to fall in their final possession to lose, 59-57. Then against No. 11 Saint Joseph's last Saturday, the Hawks' Jameer Nelson drained an 18-footer with 4.3 seconds remaining in a 59-57 win. No Ben Braun team at Cal has been involved in as many games determined by two points or less. The last time the Bears were involved in four games as close was in 1992-93 when they also played in four games decided by one or two points - W - at Washington (76-75), vs. LSU (66-64, NCAA Tournament); L - Oregon State (64-63), at USC (67-65).
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. He enters this week with 136 steals. The 5-10 former walk-on, who received a scholarship before the start of his junior campaign, owns a team-best 16 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- ) 136
Cal Taking Care of Basketball in '03-04
Through seven games this season, Cal is committing just 13.4 turnovers per game. But more importantly, the Bears are forcing 18.0 turnovers per game, giving them an impressive +4.6 turnover margin. Cal has had a positive turnover margin in every outing except two - the Bears and Colorado both committed 13 turnovers Dec. 6, and Saint Joe's had 10 TOs to Cal's 14 Dec. 20. The Bears' greatest difference came against Wyoming when the margin was +15 (11-26).
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 107 offensive rebounds for an average of 15.3 per contest. The result is that, despite shooting just 38.5 percent from the floor, the second-chance opportunities have allowed the Bears to take 66 more shots than their opponents. Powe has reached double figures in rebounds in six of seven games (10.3 rpg), while senior C Amit Tamir is pulling down 6.0 rpg. Guards A.J. Diggs (7 of 13) and Richard Midgley (11 of 20) has more offensive boards than defensive caroms.
While Offense Struggles, Defense Keeping Cal in Games
Through seven games, the Bears are shooting just 38.5 percent from the floor and averaging 61.1 ppg. Yet, despite the offensive struggles, Cal's defense has been holding its own. The Bears are surrendering only 59.6 ppg, while they are outrebounding opponents by a 35.9-33.0 margin, have swiped 59 steals (8.4 spg) and forced 126 turnovers (18.0 topg). Cal limited BYU, which has averaged 83.7 ppg in its seven 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 17-4 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.
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.