Bears Open Pac-10 Play at No. 12 Washington
Dec. 27, 2004
California Golden Bears (7-3, 0-0) at Washington Huskies (10-1, 0-0)
Friday, Dec. 31, 1:30 p.m., Bank of America Arena, Seattle, WA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
California at Washington State Cougars (5-4, 0-0, vs. Stanford 12/31)
Sunday, Jan. 2, 2 p.m., Spokane Arena, Spokane, WA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
With three consecutive triumphs under its belt, California embarks on a road trip to Washington to open Pac-10 play, where the Golden Bears will face the No. 12 Huskies Friday afternoon in Seattle before playing Washington State Sunday in Spokane.
Despite a spate of injuries that has limited the team to just eight healthy scholarship players the past five weeks, Cal enters conference action with a 7-3 record - a three-win improvement over last year when the Bears were 4-5 following the non-league portion of their schedule.
This season's squad, which doesn't list a senior on the roster, has achieved is success with a defense that is limiting teams to only 61.2 ppg - the lowest rate at the school since the introduction of the 35-second shot clock in 1986-87. In capturing the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic title last week, Cal held Hampton and Pepperdine to combined averages of 52.0 ppg and 32.4 percent shooting (35-108) from the floor. Overall, five of the Bears' 10 opponents to date have had field goal rates of 35.0 percent or less, and only UNLV has managed to score as many as 70 points (73) or shot 50 percent (52.8%).
Even without 2003-04 Pac-10 rebounding champ Leon Powe (out for season with a knee injury), Cal is winning the battle on the glass, 36.0-34.1, and is a perfect 6-0 when outperforming its opponents on the boards.
Offensively, junior G Richard Midgley is averaging a team-best 16.0 ppg and has connected on 42.9 percent from three-point range (24-56). He scored a career-high 28 points vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Dec. 4, added 26 points against Southern Nov. 23 and had 25 points vs. Hampton. In addition, his three-pointer as time expired gave Cal a 61-58 win over Pepperdine and secured his spot on the GBC all-tournament team.
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 scoring 11.9 ppg and shooting 59.0 percent from the field (46-78), but he has broken his career scoring high three times so far, with a best of 25 points vs. Colorado Dec. 7. Sophomore F Dominic McGuire has also reached double figures in three consecutive games, and he snared a season-high nine rebounds against Pepperdine.
Washington Scouting Report
A Look at Washington
Washington is off to a 10-1 start after crushing Houston, 110-63, Dec. 24 in its final tune-up before the start of Pac-10 action. Six Huskies are averaging in double figures, led by Nate Robinson's 19.2 ppg. UW tops the conference in three-point shooting (44.3%) and scoring offense (91.6 ppg), and its swarming defense has already forced 218 turnovers (19.8 per game). Washington won the Great Alaska Shootout in November with wins over Utah, Oklahoma and Alabama and also owns a 68-64 victory over North Carolina State. The Huskies' lone loss was a 99-87 setback at Gonzaga.
Cal-Washington Series History
Cal holds a narrow 70-68 series lead over Washington on the strength of seven wins in the past nine meetings. Last season, each team won on its home floor. The Bears opened Pac-10 play with a 76-62 victory after making six straight three-pointers to break a 53-all tie. UW then took the rematch in Seattle, 76-58.
UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar
Lorenzo Romar is 39-30 in his third season at Washington. In 2003-04, he guided UW to a 19-12 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Prior to moving to Seattle, he served as head coach at both Pepperdine and Saint Louis.
For more information: www.gohuskies.com
Washington State Scouting Report
A Look at Washington State
Washington State's deliberate style features a defense that is holding teams to just 51.8 ppg and 39.0 percent field goal shooting. Only two teams - Kansas State (62) and Oklahoma State (81) have scored more than 54 points vs. the Cougars this year.
Cal-WSU Series History
Despite being swept in 2004, Cal holds a 63-42 series lead over Washington. Last season, WSU took a 55-50 decision in Berkeley and won, 70-58, in Pullman. The losses snapped Cal's six-game winning streak vs. the Cougars.
WSU Head Coach Dick Bennett
Dick Bennett is 18-20 in his second season at Washington State, and he owns a career mark of 472-277 that includes stops at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin. In 2000, he guided the Badgers to the Final Four.
For more information: www.wsucougars.com
Golden Bear Notes
Midgley Leads Cal to Office Depot Golden Bear Classic Title
Junior G Richard Midgley drained a three-pointer from the left wing as time expired, lifting Cal to a 61-58 victory over Pepperdine in the championship game of the 12th annual Office Depot Golden Bear Classic Dec. 23. After seven lead changes and seven ties, Cal got the ball back with 36 seconds left after Pepperdine's Glen McGowan tied the score on a pair of free throws. With about five seconds to go, the Waves nearly stole the ball, but David Paris gathered it in and passed it to Martin Smith, who found the open Midgley. The junior's big shot came one night after he totaled 25 points in a 69-46 win over Hampton in a first-round match-up. The title was Cal's eighth in the history of the event. McGowan, who averaged 23.5 ppg and 10.0 rpg in two games, was voted Classic MVP, while the all-tournament team included Midgley, Smith and Dominic McGuire from Cal, Pepperdine's Yakhouba Diawara and Dewarick Spencer from Arkansas State.
Midgley's Shot Has Familiar Ring
Although Richard Midgley's buzzer-beater against Pepperdine last Wednesday provided plenty of excitement, it doesn't even come close to qualifying as the biggest shot of the Englishman's career. During his freshman season in 2003, Cal trailed North Carolina State by a point late in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Midgley then proceeded to sink a three-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in overtime to propel the Bears to a 76-74 win.
Cal Faces Difficult Task in Pac-10 Opener
No conference school faces a more difficult talk in its Pac-10 opener than Cal, which has to face No. 12 Washington on the road Friday afternoon. Not only are the Bears meeting a UW team that owns a 27.4 ppg average margin of victory this year in Seattle, but they need to break with history if they are to pull off the upset. Despite owning an 82-64 conference record - best at the school since Pete Newell was 62-26 from 1955-60 - head coach Ben Braun is just 2-6 in league lid-lifters, although the triumphs have come the past two seasons (72-59 vs. Stanford in 2003 and 76-62 vs. Washington in '04). In addition, the Bears have not defeated a Top 15 opponent on the road since a 74-72 win over No. 9 Arizona on Feb. 12, 1995 in Tucson.
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 since. After pouring in 14 points at BYU Nov. 27, he totaled 22 points vs. UNLV Dec. 1, 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 11.9 ppg on the year, Benson is shooting 59.0 percent (46-79) from the field - second-best in the Pac-10. 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 119 total points so far in 2004-05 is more than twice the 55 points he scored all of last year.
Downtown is Midgley's Favorite Neighborhood
Throughout his tenure 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. This season, the native off Burgess Hill, England, again has his average over 40 percent, and he enters Pac-10 play connecting on 42.9 percent of his long-distance attempts (24-56), ranking fourth in the league in three-pointers per game (2.40). He sank six straight three-pointers in a 6-for-8 effort vs. Southern Nov. 23 and had a 6-for-9 effort vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Dec. 4. For his career, Midgley has made 108-of-268 treys, putting him in eighth place on Cal's all-time list and fifth in three-point percentage (40.3%).
Cal Career Three-Pointers4. Shantay Legans (2000-02) 1395. Amit Tamir (2002-04) 1366. Bill Elleby (1989-92) 1357. K.J. Roberts (1992-95) 1098. Richard Midgley (2003- ) 108
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 his 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 isn't expected to return to active duty until mid-January. 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 foreseeable future.
Bear Defense Holding StrongThroughout 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 61.2 ppg and 39.8 percent shooting from the floor. Five teams have been held to 35 percent or less, 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 61.2 ppg 2nd in Pac-1) 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 39 shots this season, and the Bears' average of 4.20 per game is tied for first in the conference with Arizona State. Since the Pac-10 began tabulating blocked shots in 1978-79, Cal has never led the conference for a full season. With 13 blocks (1.30 bpg) apiece, McGuire and Hardin are tied for fifth in the league. 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 Pac-10 season, the Bears are connecting on 43.3 percent of their attempts (45-104), led by junior G Richard Midgley, who is 24-for-56 (42.9%) from behind the arc. But among the rest of the team, only freshman F Eric Vierneisel has reached double figures (10-29, 34.5). The three others to sink a trey, however, have done so at a highly efficient rate: Martin Smith (3-3, 100%), Ayinde Ubaka (5-8, 62.5%) and Marquise Kately (3-6, 50.0%). So although the Bears are not relying heavily on the three-point shot - only 19.8 percent of their points come from long distance - their 43.3 percent success ratio 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 62.2 percent from the field (23-37), averaging 5.5 ppg and is tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.4 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 year 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 39 assists (3.9 apg). Early in the season, he had seven assists vs. Southern and added six more in Cal's win over UC Riverside. Then in the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic Dec. 22-23, Smith set career highs with 10 points and eight assists vs. Hampton and had four assists (no turnovers) against Pepperdine to earn a spot on the all-tournament team. For the year, he owns a 2.79:1 assist-to-turnover ratio (39 assists/14 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 10 games on the year ... 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 59.8 percent from the free throw line, the Bears have scored 26 more points than their opponents at the stripe (140-114) and average 6.7 more trips to the line per game (23.4-16.7) ... Cal is 8-8 in games decided by five points or less over the past two seasons, including a 3-2 mark this year.