Cal Hosts UC Riverside in Coaches vs. Cancer Classic

Nov. 8, 2004

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Coaches vs. Cancer Classic
Thursday-Friday, Nov. 11-12, Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA

Thursday, Nov. 11
Saint Mary's Gaels (0-0) vs. Belmont Bruins (0-0), 5:30 p.m.
California Golden Bears (0-0) vs. UC Riverside Highlanders (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
TV: None
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)

Friday, Nov. 12
Consolation Game, 5:30 p.m.
Winners' Bracket Game, 7:30 p.m.

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California begins the 2004-05 season by hosting the first two rounds of the 16-team Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Thursday-Friday in Haas Pavilion.

Four schools will meet in the Berkeley regional, starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with Saint Mary's facing Belmont and followed by Cal vs. UC Riverside at 7:30. On Friday, the consolation game starts at 5:30 p.m., with the winners playing at 7:30.

The team that emerges unscathed advances to the championship rounds Nov. 18-19 in New York against the winners of the other three regionals hosted by Memphis, Syracuse and Mississippi State.

The Golden Bears are 6-2 in season openers under head coach Ben Braun and have won five of their past six home openers - with the lone setback being last year's 63-62 loss to Cal Poly. The UC Riverside contest represents the earliest lid-lifter in school history.

Although Cal does not list a senior on the roster, the Bears do welcome back 10 lettermen from last year's squad that finished 13-15 overall and tied for fourth in the Pac-10 with a 9-9 mark.

The Bears' three returning starters - junior G Richard Midgley, sophomore F Marquise Kately and sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka - have all earned Pac-10 All-Freshman recognition during their tenures at Cal and give the Bears a strong presence on the perimeter. 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 frontcourt is Cal's biggest area of concern, especially after the graduation of C Amit Tamir and season-ending knee surgery for 2004 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Leon Powe. However, replacements Dominic McGuire (16 boards) and Rod Benson (11 points, 12 boards) both reached double figures in rebounds during the Bears' 80-53 exhibition rout of Chico State last Tuesday.

Golden Bear Notes

Bears Down Chico State, 80-53, in Exhibition Game
California defeated Chico State, 80-53, in the team's lone exhibition game Nov. 2 behind 20 points from junior G Richard Midgley and 16 rebounds from sophomore F Dominic McGuire. The Bears led 48-31 at the break, shooting 47.5 percent from the floor during the opening 20 minutes. Junior C Rod Benson added 11 points and 12 boards, as Cal won the rebounding battle, 50-32, over its Division II foe. Sophomore F Marquise Kately chipped in 11 points, while sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka contributed five assists.

Early Season Opener for Cal
Thursday, Nov. 11 game represents the earliest season opener in school history. The previous record came during the 2000-01 season when the Bears hosted Mississippi State on Nov. 13, 2000 in the first round of the Preseason NIT. Cal won that contest, 83-76, in overtime. The Bears also began seasons on Nov. 15 twice - vs. Princeton in the BCA Classic (2001, won 70-58) and at Hawaii (1998, won 71-60).

Coaches vs. Cancer Classic
The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic features 16 teams in four regional sites Nov. 11-13, followed by the championship rounds Nov. 18-19 at Madison Square Garden in New York. In addition to the Cal regional, the three other hosts are Syracuse, Mississippi State and Memphis.

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 Thursday. 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.

Below is the regional breakdown of the tournament:

Cal Regional (Nov. 11-12)
California vs. UC Riverside
Saint Mary's vs. Belmont

Memphis Regional (Nov. 11-13)
Memphis vs. Savannah State
George Mason vs. IPFW

Syracuse Regional (Nov. 11-12
Syracuse vs. Northern Colorado
Bucknell vs. Princeton

Mississippi State Regional (Nov. 11-12)*
Mississippi State vs. Fairfield
Alabama A&M vs. Birmingham Southern
*games played at Birmingham, AL

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.

Downtown is Midgley's Favorite Neighborhood
In his first two seasons at Cal, junior G Richard Midgley has clearly been Cal's most consistent three-point threat. After setting a school freshman record by making 44.9 percent (44-98) of his long-range attempts in '02-03, he was 40-for-114 (35.1%) last year. Midgley's career rate of 39.6 percent rates fifth all-time at Cal, while his 84 treys already rank 14th in the school record book. The biggest shot of Midgley's career - a three-pointer, naturally - came with 3.9 seconds left in overtime to lift the Bears to a 76-74 win over North Carolina State in the first round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.

Cal Career Three-Pointers10. Lamond Murray (1992-94)    9911. Geno Carlisle (1988-99)    9212. Keith Smith (1987-90)      9013. Bryant Walton (1987-90)    8714. Richard Midgley (2003- )   84

Cal Picked 7th in Pac-10 Media Poll
Cal was picked to finish seventh in the league in a vote of West Coast media released at Pac-10 Media Day Nov. 4. Arizona received 19 first-place votes and was the media's choice to win the conference.

2004-05 Pac-10 Men's Basketball Media Poll1. Arizona (19)     2532. Washington (7)   2373. Stanford         1944. Oregon           1675. UCLA             1566. USC              1167. California        878. Oregon State      869. Washington State  7310. Arizona State    64

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. F Leon 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.