Bears Host Chico State in Exhibition Game

Nov. 1, 2004

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Chico State Wildcats at California Golden Bears (exhibition)
Tuesday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
TV: None

In preparation for the 2004-05 regular season, California hosts Chico State in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears then open the year Nov. 11-12 when they host the first two rounds of the 16-team Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
Cal returns 10 lettermen, including three starters, from last year's squad that finished 13-15 overall and tied for fourth in the Pac-10 with a 9-9 mark. Although featuring a young lineup - the Bears do not list a senior on the roster - Cal's returning crew does own a combined 100 starting assignments, including three players - junior G Richard Midgley, sophomore F Marquise Kately and sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka - who have earned Pac-10 All-Freshman recognition during their careers. Kately averaged 10.5 ppg and ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in field goal shooting (53.5%) in '03-04, while Midgley scorched the nets for 10.6 ppg and already has connected on 84 career three-pointers. Ubaka, meanwhile, averaged 6.4 ppg and 3.9 apg last year and led all Pac-10 newcomers in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.96:1).

The recruiting class adds depth up front with 7-0 center Sam Rayburn, 6-10 forward/center DeVon Hardin and 6-7 forwards Eric Vierneisel and Kevin Langford. The other new addition is sophomore guard Omar Wilkes, who will sit out this year after transferring from Kansas during the offseason.

About Chico State
Chico State, an NCAA Division II school that competes in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, was 17-11 overall in 2003-04 and placed fifth in the CCAA with a 14-8 league record. The Wildcats welcome back three starters, including Jason Van Eck, a 6-6 wing from Oakland's Skyline High School who averaged 15.5 ppg last season. In addition, 6-4 guard Scott Land, who poured in 21.2 ppg in 2002-03, is back after missing most of the past year due to a knee injury.

Injuries Already a Factor for Bears
Cal enters the season knowing that three members of the team may miss most, if not all, of the upcoming campaign. Most notably, sophomore F Leon Powe, the 2004 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, is on the sidelines following Sept. 8 knee surgery and is not expected back in uniform until next season. Powe, who became the first freshman in the history of the Pac-10 to lead the league in rebounding (9.5 rpg), also was Cal's leading scorer in 2003-04 with 15.1 ppg. In addition, freshman C Sam Rayburn is rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery, while junior F Jordi Geli's recent foot surgery will keep him off the court for the near future.

2003-04 in Review
Sporting one of the youngest teams in the country - three freshmen and a sophomore composed a majority of the starting lineup - Cal went through many of the ups and downs that are often associated with such an inexperienced crew. Still, the Bears knocked off 12th-ranked Arizona, 87-83, in February and topped NIT semifinalist Oregon, 85-81 in overtime, to post an upper-division Pac-10 finish. Powe paced the team in both scoring (15.1 ppg) and rebounding (9.5 rpg), with senior C Amit Tamir ranking second in both categories (12.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg). In addition to Freshman of the Year Powe, Marquise Kately earned Pac-10 All-Freshman status and Ayinde Ubaka was an honorable mention All-Freshman pick. Tamir claimed first team Pac-10 All-Academic honors, with senior A.J. Diggs claiming a spot on the second team.

Coaches vs. Cancer Classic
Cal opens the regular season by hosting the first two rounds of the 16-team Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Nov. 11-12. In addition to the Cal regional, the three other regional hosts are Syracuse, Mississippi State and Memphis. Regional winners will then meet for the championship rounds Nov. 18-19 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The schedule for the Cal site features Saint Mary's vs. Belmont at 5:30 p.m. and Cal vs. UC Riverside at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 11. The following night, the consolation game will start at 5:30 p.m., with the winners' game at 7:30 p.m.

In New York, winners of the Cal-Memphis and Syracuse-Mississippi State regionals will meet in the semifinals.