Cal Hosts 12th Annual Office Depot Golden Bear Classic
Dec. 20, 2004
Office Depot Golden Bear Classic
Wednesday-Thursday, Dec. 22-23, Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Wednesday, Dec. 22
Arkansas State Indians (5-2, at Sam Houston State 12/20) vs. Pepperdine Waves (7-3), 4:30 p.m.
Hampton Pirates (3-6) vs. California Golden Bears (5-3), 7 p.m.
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
Thursday, Dec. 23
Consolation Game, 4:30 p.m.
Championship Game, 7 p.m.
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California returns from an 11-day break for final exams to host the 12th annual Office Depot Golden Bear Classic Wednesday and Thursday in Haas Pavilion.
The tournament begins Wednesday with Pepperdine facing Arkansas State at 4:30 p.m. and Cal playing Hampton at 7 p.m. On Thursday, the consolation game starts at 4:30, with the championship contest at 7.
Cal has won its first-round match-up each previous season of the Classic, with the Bears claiming seven titles, most recently in 2002 with a 77-61 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Last year, Cal fell to Air Force, 49-44, in the final despite Leon Powe's 25 points.
The Bears' 2004-05 squad, which doesn't feature a senior and is limited to just eight healthy scholarship players until G Ayinde Ubaka's anticipated return in mid-January, has relied on a defense that is holding opponents to just 63.5 ppg and 40.0 percent shooting from the field. Of Cal's first eight foes, only UNLV has broken the 70-point barrier (73) and shot better than 43 percent (52.8%).
Even without 2003-04 Pac-10 rebounding champ Powe (out for season with a knee injury), the Bears are winning the battle on the glass, 35.5-34.6, and are a perfect 4-0 when they outperform their opponents on the boards. Sophomore G Marquise Kately and freshman C DeVon Hardin lead the team with 5.8 rpg each.
Offensively, junior G Richard Midgley is averaging a Cal-best 15.1 ppg and has connected on 45.5 percent from three-point range (20-44). He scored a career-high 28 points vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Dec. 4 and added 26 points against Southern Nov. 23.
Up front, junior F Rod Benson has made the most of his opportunity to start for the Bears after seeing limited action his first two seasons at Cal. Not only is he scored 12.8 ppg and shooting 62.5 percent from the field (40-64), but he has broken his career scoring high three times so far, with a best of 25 points vs. Colorado Dec. 7.
Hampton Scouting Report
A Look at Hampton
Hampton is off to a 3-6 start to the season following last Sunday's 66-55 loss at Saint Mary's. With 15 points, Brandon Streeter was the only Pirate to reach double figures in the game. For the year, Bruce Brown leads the squad with 12.7 ppg, shooting 63.6 percent from the floor (49-77), and is tied for the MEAC lead with 7.8 rpg. Rashard West has connected on 16-of-28 three-point attempts (57.1%).
Cal-Hampton Series History
Cal and Hampton are meeting for the first time.
Hampton Head Coach Bobby Collins
Bobby Collins is his third season as head coach, having compiled a 35-34 record with the Pirates. Collins started his coaching career at Old Dominion in 1994-95, then served as an assistant at Hampton for seven years before taking over the head position.
For more information: www.hamptonu.edu/athletics
Pepperdine Scouting Report
A Look at Pepperdine
Pepperdine enters the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic with a 7-3 mark that includes a 75-61 win over then-No. 20 Wisconsin Nov. 27. The Waves, however, have lost their last two games, an 85-83 decision at UCLA Dec. 11 and a 76-58 setback at Bradley last Saturday. Pepperdine averages 7.2 three-pointers made per game and is shooting 36.4 percent from behind the arc.
Cal-Pepperdine Series History
Cal and Pepperdine have not met previously.
Pepperdine Head Coach Paul Westphal
Paul Westphal is 59-41 in his fourth season at Pepperdine. He guided the Waves to an at-large NCAA Tournament berth in 2002. The former NBA All-Star previously spent seven seasons coaching in the NBA, with stops at Phoenix (191-88, 1992-95) and Seattle (76-71, 1998-2001).
For more information: www.pepperdinesports.com
Arkansas State Scouting Report
A Look at Arkansas State
Arkansas State, which visits Sam Houston State Monday before flying to the Bay Area, is off to a 5-2 start. Among the Indians' wins is a 70-68 home victory over SEC foe Mississippi, and they suffered a narrow 79-75 loss at Memphis. ASU is limiting opponents to just 39.0 percent shooting from the floor and is outrebounding opponents by a 43.1-34.4 margin.
Cal-ASU Series History
Cal and Arkansas State have not met previously.
ASU Head Coach Dickey Nutt
Dickey Nutt is in his 10th season as head coach of the Arkansas State program and has accumulated a 139-126 record. A two-time district coach of the year, he guided ASU to the NCAA Tournament in 1999 after the Indians captured the Sun Belt Conference title.
For more information: www.asuindians.com
Golden Bear Notes
Hardin Leads Bears over San Diego State, 60-57
Freshman C DeVon Hardin was named game MVP after scoring 11 points and adding five rebounds to lead Cal to a 60-57 over San Diego State in the San Diego SLAM Dec. 11. The Bears dominated inside, scoring 32 of their 60 points the paint while limiting the Aztecs to just 35.0 percent shooting. Cal built as much as a 10-point lead in the second half, but SDSU cut it to 48-47 with 5:55 left. However, freshman F Eric Vierneisel responded with a three-pointer to give the Bears a four-point cushion, and they held on for the victory.
Office Depot Golden Bear Classic History
Cal has won seven of the first 11 Office Depot Golden Bear Classic titles, including three of the last four. Last year, the Bears defeated Columbia, 85-66, in the first round behind 21 points from G Richard Midgley. But in the championship game, Air Force outscored Cal, 16-6, over the final 6:19 to post a 49-44 victory. The Golden Bear Classic began in 1993, when Cal beat Tulane, 83-70, for the crown., and has featured such teams at Alabama, Kansas State, Penn and Penn State over the years.
In Rod We Trust: Benson Blossoms on the Block
Inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in his career this season, junior Rod Benson has emerged as Cal's most reliable offensive threat in the post. After a relatively slow start to the year - he averaged 5.3 ppg over the Bears' first three contests - Benson has broken his career high three times in his last five games, a period during which he has averaged 17.2 ppg. After pouring in 14 points at BYU Nov. 27, he totaled 22 points vs. UNLV Dec. 1 and 16 more vs. Fairleigh Dickinson, then had his most complete game as a Bear - 25 points (11-18 FG, 3-4 FG) and 10 rebounds against Colorado Dec. 7. Now averaging 12.8 ppg on the year, Benson is shooting 62.5 percent (40-64) from the field. What makes Benson's output so remarkable is the fact that entering the season, he averaged just 1.8 ppg in 37 career games and reached double figures just once - 11 points at Arizona last January. His 102 total points so far in 2004-05 is nearly twice the 55 points he scored all of last year.
Downtown is Midgley's Favorite Neighborhood
During his first two seasons at Cal, junior G Richard Midgley was clearly 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. Now, the native of Burgess Hill, England, is looking to put those numbers to shame. Despite a strained forearm that affected his touch at San Diego State (0-6 on threes), Midgley is shooting 45.5 percent from long range (20-44), including a 6-for-8 performance against Southern Nov. 23 and a 6-for-9 effort vs. FDU Dec. 4. For his career, he has connected on 104-of-256 treys, putting him in 10th place on Cal's all-time list and fifth in three-point percentage (40.6%).
Cal Career Three-Pointers6. Bill Elleby (1989-92) 1357. K.J. Roberts (1992-95) 1098. Ryan Forehan-Kelly (1999-02) 1079. Monty Buckley (1992-95) 10610. Richard Midgley (2003- ) 104
Injuries Deplete Bears' Ranks Early in Season
Cal entered the 2004-05 knowing that three members of the roster would miss most, if not all, of the campaign - sophomore F Leon Powe (knee), freshman C Sam Rayburn (knee) and junior forward Jordi Geli (foot). Then, sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka was added to the injured list in late November, leaving the Bears with just eight healthy scholarship players. Ubaka, who started 29 of 31 games the past two years, fractured the fifth metatarsal of his left foot in the first half of Cal's Nov. 23 game vs. Southern. He underwent surgery the next day and is expected to miss up to eight weeks of action. Over the first three contests this season, Ubaka was averaging 7.7 ppg and 4.0 apg, shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent (5-8) from three-point range.
Powe, the 2004 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, is on the sidelines following Sept. 8 reconstructive knee surgery. The first freshman in the history of the Pac-10 to lead the league in rebounding when he averaged 9.5 rpg last year, he also was Cal's leading scorer in 2003-04 with 15.1 ppg. In addition, Rayburn is rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery, while Geli's preseason foot surgery will keep him off the court for the near future.
Bear Defense Holding Strong
Throughout the early part of the 2004-05 season, the most consistent area for the Bears has been their defensive effort. To date, only one opponent has managed to score as many as 70 points or make at least half its shots (UNLV, 73 points, 52.8 FG%). Overall, teams have been limited to just 63.5 ppg and 40.0 percent shooting from the floor. Two teams - UC Riverside (34.4%) and BYU (32.8%) - didn't manage to hit the 40 percent mark, while Saint Mary's (1-for-13) sank a mere 7.7 percent of its three-point tries. During his tenure as Cal's head coach, Ben Braun has repeatedly fielded teams that rate among the best in the Pac-10 in scoring defense, including last year's squad that ranked third (67.2 ppg).
Cal's Top Defensive Teams since 1986-871. 2004-05 63.5 ppg 3rd in Pac-10 Coach: Ben Braun2. 2001-02 66.6 ppg 2nd in Pac-10 Coach: Ben Braun3. 2003-04 67.2 ppg 3rd in Pac-10 Coach: Ben Braun4. 1996-97 67.8 ppg 1st in Pac-10 Coach: Ben Braun
McGuire, Hardin Lead Cal's Block Party
With the likes of 6-8 sophomore Dominic McGuire and 6-10 freshman DeVon Hardin occupying space in the paint, Cal has blocked 33 shots this season, and the Bears' average of 4.13 per game leads the Pac-10 by nearly 0.5 bpg (Washington. 3.67 bpg). Since the Pac-10 began tabulating blocked shots in 1978-79, Cal has never led the conference for a full season. With 11 blocks (1.38 bpg), Hardin ranks fourth in the league, while McGuire's nine blocks (1.13 bpg) place him tied for eighth. Hardin had three blocks at BYU and a season-high four against Fairleigh Dickinson; McGuire's best effort came vs. Colorado, when he swatted away three Buffalo shots. Last season, McGuire led the Bears with a total of 22 blocks on the year for an average of 0.85 bpg to rank 10th in the Pac-10.
Numbers Aren't High, But Bears Are Efficient from 3-Point Distance
After ranking ninth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting accuracy last season (31.0%), California has greatly increased its precision from long range this year. Entering the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic, the Bears are connecting on 41.8 percent of their attempts (33-79), led by junior G Richard Midgley, who is 20-for-44 (45.5%) from behind the arc. However, only two other players have managed to drain a three-pointer during the season - freshman F Eric Vierneisel is 8-for-22 (36.4%) and sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka was 5-for-8 (62.5%) before breaking a bone in his foot Nov. 23. So although the Bears are not relying heavily on the three-point shot - only 18.0 percent of their points come from long distance - their 41.8 percent success rate is higher than any team in school history (record: 38.7%, 1989-90). In addition, both Vierneisel and Midgley have flirted with the Cal single-game record of 5-for-5 set by Amit Tamir vs. Arizona State in 2003. Vierneisel began his Cal career with a 4-for-4 three-point effort vs. UC Riverside, while Midgley sank his first six three-point attempts vs. Southern before finishing 6-for-8.
Hardin Hardly Plays Like a Freshman in Starting Debut
With G Ayinde Ubaka sidelined for up to eight weeks due to a broken foot, Ben Braun decided to replace him in the starting lineup with 6-10 freshman DeVon Hardin. And the rookie from Fremont, Calif., certainly made the Bears' head coach look smart in his debut effort at BYU Nov. 27. In 32 minutes against the Cougars, Hardin finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. He converted a pair of three-point plays and ended the night shooting 4-for-7 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the line. As a reserve, Hardin's best performance came Dec. 23 vs. Southern when he totaled eight points and seven boards in just 14 minutes of action. For the year, he is shooting 63.3 percent from the field (19-30), averaging 5.9 ppg and tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.8 rpg). He was also voted MVP of Cal's game in the San Diego SLAM after scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds vs. San Diego State.
Martin Smith Carries on Strong Walk-on Tradition
Since his arrival at Cal in the fall of 1996, head coach Ben Braun has had a knack for finding walk-ons who eventually became key cogs for the Golden Bears. Most notably, Ryan Forehan-Kelly (1999-02) developed into one of the top three-point shooters in school history, finishing his career with a 40.7 percent success rate from behind the arc (84-212). In addition, A.J. Diggs completed his tenure with the Bears last spring ranked No. 3 on Cal's all-time steals list with 158. Now add junior G Martin Smith to the mix. Son of the late Phil Smith, an All-Star guard with the Golden State Warriors in the 1970s, Martin is in his third season with the Bears and currently leads the squad with 27 assists (3.4 apg). He had a career-high seven assists vs. Southern and added six more in Cal's win over UC Riverside. For the year, he owns a 2.45:1 assist-to-turnover ratio (27 assists/11 turnovers). At BYU Nov. 27, Smith's free throw with 18 seconds left put the final touches on the Bears' 67-64 victory.
Darrall Imhoff to Be Inducted into Pac-10 Hall of Honor
Darrall Imhoff, a standout center for the Bears from 1958-60 who led Cal to the 1959 NCAA championship, will be inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor at a banquet March 9, prior to the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles. In the '59 title game, Imhoff hit the winning basket with 17 seconds left to lift Cal to a 71-70 win over West Virginia. A two-time All-American, he also won a gold medal as part of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team in Rome. Imhoff went on to a 12-year NBA career, with All-Star Game appearances in 1966 and '67. He was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988. Every year, starting in 2002, the Pac-10 adds one person from each league school into the Hall of Honor. The other Golden Bears who have been recognized are: Pete Newell (2002), Kevin Johnson (2003) and Jason Kidd (2004).
Bear Notes ...
Cal has started 2-0 on the road for the first time since 2002-03 and for just the second time since 1995-96 ... five different players have led the Bears in scoring over the first eight games on the year ... under head coach Ben Braun, Cal is 7-1 in its first game after final exams, with the only loss being a 59-57 setback to then-No. 11 Saint Joseph's in last year's Pete Newell Challenge ... every returning scholarship player who has seen action this year, except Ayinde Ubaka, has set or tied his career scoring high this season - Rod Benson (25 vs. Colorado), Marquise Kately (24 vs. Saint Mary's - tie), Dominic McGuire (11 vs. UNLV), David Paris (16 vs. UC Riverside) and Richard Midgley (28 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson) ... although Cal is shooting just 61.2 percent from the free throw line, the Bears have scored 16 more points than their opponents at the stripe (104-88) and average 5.4 more trip to the line per game (21.3-15.9).