Cal Hosts No. 13 Arizona Thursday

Jan. 3, 2005

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Arizona Wildcats (11-2, 1-0) at California Golden Bears (8-4, 1-1)
Thursday, Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)

Arizona State Sun Devils (11-2, 0-1, at Stanford Jan. 6) at California
Saturday, Jan. 8, 8 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
TV: Comcast SportsNet

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California returns to Haas Pavilion this week for its first two home games of the Pac-10 season, starting with No. 13 Arizona Thursday. The Golden Bears then host Arizona State Saturday night and continue their homestand against Stanford Jan. 15.

Despite a roster that does feature a senior and a line-up that is limited to just eight healthy scholarship players due to injury, Cal has achieved an 8-4 overall record with a defense that ranks second in the league in both points allowed (61.7 ppg) and field goal shooting (38.9%).

Last weekend, Cal limited Washington, which entered the game leading the nation in scoring offense at 91.6 ppg, to more than 10 points below its average (81 points). Two days later, Washington State sank 29.8 percent of its field goal attempts - the lowest for a Bear foe since Oregon State shot 27.3 percent from the floor on March 13, 2003. To date, only two of the Bears' first 12 opponents have managed to crack the 70-point barrier.

Clogging up the middle are sophomore F Dominic McGuire and freshman C DeVon Hardin, who are tied for fourth in the Pac-10 in blocks (1.33 per game). And even without 2003 Pac-10 rebounding champ Leon Powe (out for season with knee injury), Cal is winning the battle of the boards, 35.9-33.8. In fact, the Bears are 7-0 when they outrebound their opponents.

On the offensive end, junior G Richard Midgley leads the attack with 16.7 ppg. Now 30-for-70 from three-point range, he has moved into seventh place on Cal's all-time list with 114 treys. Midgley has connected on at least two three-pointers nine times in 12 games, with a high of six against both Southern and Fairleigh Dickinson.

For the past two contests, Midgley's teammate in the backcourt has been junior G Martin Smith, a third-year walk-on who was inserted into the starting line-up for the first time in his career at Washington. The team leader with 48 assists (4.0 per game), Smith boasts a stellar 2.82:1 assist-to-turnover ratio - a figure that paces the Pac-10 entering this week's action. He dished out seven assists vs. the Huskies and snagged a career-high six rebounds at Washington State.

Arizona Scouting Report

A Look at Arizona
Arizona has won eight in a row to improve to 11-2 on the year, most recently defeating Arizona State, 97-79, behind 21 points from Channing Frye. Salim Stoudamire, who is shooting 56.7 percent from three-point range (38-67), leads three players averaging in double figures, while Frye paces the squad with 8.3 rpg and 20 blocked shots.

Cal-Arizona Series History
Arizona holds a 43-24 series lead and has won 10 of the last 11 meetings. However, Cal prevailed in the most recent match-up between the schools, defeating the Wildcats, 87-83, last Feb. 5 in Haas Pavilion. Richard Midgley (18 points), Leon Powe (21) and Amit Tamir (21) combined for 60 points in the victory, with the Bears sinking 10-of-19 from three-point range as a team.

Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson
Lute Olson is 530-159 in his 22nd season at Arizona and 722-251 in his 32nd year overall. A six-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, he guide the Wildcats to the 1997 NCAA title. Prior to moving to Arizona, he served as head coach at both Long Beach State and Iowa.

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Arizona State Scouting Report

A Look at Arizona State
Arizona State, which visits Stanford Thursday, saw its nine-game winning streak come to an end with last Sunday's 97-79 loss at Arizona. The Sun Devils' revolve around junior forward Ike Diogu, who is averaging 22.8 ppg and 10.3 rpg while shooting 62.8 percent from the floor and 87.1 percent (122-140) from the line. He also has 36 blocks.

Cal-Arizona State Series History
Arizona State owns a 30-27 series lead over Cal, but the Bears have taken seven of the past eight games, including both contests last year. Cal won, 74-62, in Tempe and, 85-83, in Berkeley. Marquise Kately tallied a career-high 24 points in the home victory.

ASU Head Coach Rob Evans
Rob Evans is 101-91 in his seventh season at Arizona State. He led ASU to the 2003 NCAA Tournament, as well as to a pair of NIT berths. Evans was also 86-81 at Mississippi from 1993-98, winning a pair of SEC West titles.

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Golden Bear Notes

Cal Picks Up Pac-10 Road Win at Washington State, 59-47
Junior G Richard Midgley scored 22 points and shot 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 1:03 to lead Cal to a 59-47 win at Washington State last Sunday. The Bears used an early 10-0 run to take a 13-4 lead and increased their margin to 33-23 at the break. Cal then held WSU without a field goal until 9:22 remained in the game. The Cougars eventual cut their deficit to 50-43 with 1:52 left, but the Bears pulled away for the victory. WSU shot just 29.8 percent from the floor and was only 1-for-16 from three-point range. In addition to Midgley, junior F Rod Benson added 13 points and seven rebounds, while junior G Martin Smith grabbed a career-high six boards.

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 the Arizona contest connecting on 42.9 percent of his long-distance attempts (30-70) and averaging 2.50 treys per game. He sank six straight three-pointers in a 6-for-8 effort vs. Southern Nov. 23 and had a 6-for-9 outing vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Dec. 4. For his career, Midgley has made 114-of-282 treys, putting him in seventh place on Cal's all-time list and fifth in three-point percentage (40.4%).

Cal Career Three-Pointers4. Shantay Legans (2000-02)   1395. Amit Tamir (2002-04)       1366. Bill Elleby (1989-92)      1357. Richard Midgley (2003- )   1148. K.J. Roberts (1992-95)     109

Cal Career Three-Point Percentage1. Billy Dreher (1991-92) 43.1%2. Keith Smith (1987-90) 41.3%3. Bill Elleby (1989-92) 41.0%4. Ryan Forehan-Kelly (1999-02) 40.7%5. Richard Midgley (2003- ) 40.4%

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 is expected to return to active duty later this month. 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 Strong
Throughout the 2004-05 season, the most consistent area for the Bears has been their effort on the defensive end. Not only is Cal holding opponents to just 61.7 ppg - the lowest figure at the school since 1983-84 (58.7 ppg) and before the introduction of the shot clock - but the Bears are also limiting teams to 38.9 percent shooting from the field and 30.0 percent accuracy from three-point range. Six of 12 foes have had field goal shooting percentages of 35.0 percent or less, including Washington State's 29.8 percent last Sunday. So far, only two opponents have managed to score as many as 70 points or make at least half their shots (UNLV, 73 points, 52.8 FG%; Washington, 81 points, 50.0 FG%), and every team Cal has played has scored under its season average against the Bears. 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. His first squad in 1996-97 led the league (67.8 ppg) and two other teams finished the year among the conference's top three.

Cal's Top Defensive Teams since 1986-871. 2004-05   61.7 ppg   2nd 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 

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 12.0 ppg on the year and labeled 'the most improved player in the Pac-10' by FSN analyst Dan Belluomini, Benson is shooting 58.8 percent (57-97) 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. So far this year, he has tallied at least 10 points seven times, and his 144 total points is more than twice the 68 points he scored his first two seasons combined.

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 51 shots this season, and the Bears' average of 4.25 per game is second to Pac-10 leader Arizona State (4.92 bpg). Since the Pac-10 began tabulating blocked shots in 1978-79, Cal has never led the conference for a full season. McGuire and Hardin both have 16 blocks this year, and their 1.3 bpg average is tied for fourth 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 batted 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 Arizona contest, the Bears are connecting on 43.1 percent of their attempts (53-123), led by junior G Richard Midgley, who is 30-for-70 (42.9%) from behind the arc. But among the rest of the team, only freshman F Eric Vierneisel has reached double figures (11-30, 36.7). 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 (4-10, 40.0%). So although the Bears are not relying heavily on the three-point shot - only 19.7 percent of their points come from long distance - their 43.1 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.

Martin Smith Carries on Strong Walk-on Tradition
Since his arrival at Cal in the fall of 1996, coach Ben Braun has had a knack for finding walk-ons who eventually became key cogs for the 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 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 48 assists (4.0 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. As a reward for his strong play, he started for the first time in his career at Washington, finishing with seven assists against the Huskies. He then had a personal-best six rebounds at Washington State. For the year, he owns a 2.82:1 assist-to-turnover ratio (48 assists/17 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).

Hardin Hardly Plays Like a Freshman in Starting Debut
With G Ayinde Ubaka sidelined 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. In Cal's Pac-10 opener at Washington, he had seven points and a team-best nine rebounds. For the year, he is shooting 59.1 percent from the field (26-44), averaging 5.3 ppg, and he leads the Bears in rebounding (5.5 rpg). Hardin 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.

Bear Notes ...
Cal won its first two road games for the first time since 2002-03 and for just the second time since 1995-96, and at 3-1 on the road overall, the Bears have their best road mark after four games since they began 4-0 during that '02-03 campaign ... 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 61.6 percent from the free throw line, the Bears have scored 25 more points than their opponents at the stripe (172-147) and average 4.4 more trips to the line per game (23.3-17.9) ... Cal is 8-8 in games decided by five points or less over the past two seasons, including a 3-2 mark this year.

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