Cal Begins Season at Eastern Michigan

Nov. 15, 2005

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California Golden Bears (0-0) at Eastern Michigan Eagles (0-0)
Friday, Nov. 18, 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET, Convocation Center, Ypsilanti, MI
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
TV: Comcast SportsNet

Long Beach State 49ers (0-0, at UNLV 11/18) at California
Monday, Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
TV: none

California begins the 2005-06 season with a visit to Eastern Michigan Friday, followed by a home date against Long Beach State Nov. 21.

The Golden Bears are 7-2 in openers under head coach Ben Braun, including a 4-1 mark when those games have been played away from home.

Braun, who owns a 499-345 record in 28 seasons as a head coach, will be seeking his 500th career victory against an Eastern Michigan program he headed from 1986-96. While at EMU, he guided the Eagles to a 185-132 record, three Mid-American Conference championships, three berths in the NCAA Tournament (with a Sweet 16 appearance in 1991) and an NIT invitation.

Cal, though, will be a bit short-handed when the Bears take to the court this weekend. Senior C Rod Benson (heel) and senior G Martin Smith (pelvis) have been nursing stress fractures the past several weeks and are doubtful for the opener.

Cal also discovered Monday that sophomore F Leon Powe has a stress reaction in his right foot. The 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year, who missed last season following knee surgery, sat out Monday night's 106-62 exhibition win vs. Humboldt State as a precautionary measure. He will undergo a CT scan Tuesday afternoon, which will help determine his status for the opener.

Even with three key players in street clothes, the Bears displayed quite a bit of firepower against a Humboldt State squad that pushed No. 22 Nevada to the limit before falling, 78-72, last Saturday. Using a three-guard lineup that featured a freshman (Theo Robertson) and a sophomore (DeVon Hardin) on the front line, Cal rushed out to an 11-point lead less than nine minutes into the contest and led by as many as 52 points late in the game.

Junior G Ayinde Ubaka and sophomore G Omar Wilkes, who each averaged better than 17 ppg during the Bears' five-game series in Italy over the summer, helped Cal take control. Ubaka tallied 22 of his game-high 29 points in the first half, while Wilkes scored 12 consecutive points during one second-half stretch and finished with 25 points.

Golden Bear Notes

Braun One Victory Away from 500 Career Wins
Head coach Ben Braun enters this season with a 499-345 record, needing one win to join the 500-victory club. And that triumph could come at his former school when the Golden Bears visit Eastern Michigan Nov. 18. Prior to moving to Berkeley in September 1996, Braun served as head coach at EMU for 11 seasons and compiled a 185-132 record that included three Mid-American Conference championships, three MAC Coach of the Year awards and three NCAA Tournament berths. Braun began his career at Siena Heights University, an NAIA school in Adrian, Mich., and was 148-103 in eight years from 1978-85. At Cal, he is the second-winningest coach in school history with a 166-110 record (Nibs Price was 449-294 from 1925-54) and has led the Bears to four NCAA Tournaments, a pair of National Invitation Tournaments (including the NIT title in 1999) and five 20-win seasons. Braun ranks 15th among active coaches with his 499 wins.

Ben Braun Coaching SummaryCalifornia         166-110   1997-currentEastern Michigan   185-132   1986-96Siena Heights      148-103   1978-85Totals             499-365

Cal to See Familiar Foes on Opposing Benches This Season
Cal will face a trio of teams that sport former Ben Braun assistants as head coaches this season. The first to battle Cal will be Charles Ramsey in the season opener Nov. 18 in Ypsilanti, Mich. Now in his first year as head coach at Eastern Michigan, Ramsey served as assistant to Braun at Cal from 1996-97 through 2000-01. Ramsey was also on Braun's staff from 1990-93 when Braun oversaw the EMU program. On Nov. 30, Cal will host San Jose State, which features first-year head man George Nessman. A 1981 Cal graduate, Nessman spent last year as an assistant on Braun's staff before accepting the position with the Spartans in the spring. Finally, when Akron visits Haas Pavilion Dec. 3, the Zips will be led by Keith Dambrot, a second-year head coach who was an assistant coach on Braun's Eastern Michigan teams from 1986-89.

Bears Hope to Have Powe-tent Force Back on Block in 2005-06
Despite not playing in a college basketball game in more than a year and a half, sophomore forward Leon Powe has been listed as one of 50 preseason candidates for the Wooden All-America team and is rated the No. 1 power forward in the country by CBS Sportsline. The 6-8, 240-pound Powe, who was voted the 2004 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year after averaging 15.1 ppg and becoming the first freshman in the history of the league to lead the conference in rebounding (9.5 rpg), underwent a pair of surgeries on his left knee following his rookie campaign with the Bears. In May, he received full medical clearance to play and went on to earn MVP honors in the San Francisco Pro-Am league over the summer when he poured in 33 ppg and 11 rpg. Then, during Cal's 12-day trip to Italy in August, Powe tossed in 23.6 ppg and 10.4 rpg to lead the Bears to a 5-0 record against international competition. However, a stress reaction was discovered in his right foot Nov. 14, putting his season debut in doubt.

Cal Posts 5-0 Record during Italy Tour
This past summer, the California basketball team took the trip of a lifetime when the Golden Bears traveled to Northern Italy for a 12-day tour that included five games against international competition. After departing from San Francisco International Airport Aug. 12, Cal started its adventure in Florence, then stayed overnight in Venice and Como, with many stops in between - including Pisa, Lucca, Verona, Milan and the Alps - before returning to the Bay Area Aug. 23. In the competitive portion of their trip, the Bears posted a 5-0 record with four of the wins coming by double-digit margins. Leon Powe led the offense by averaging 23.6 ppg, with four others at more than 10 points per game - Ayinde Ubaka (18.8 ppg), Omar Wilkes (17.8 ppg), Richard Midgley (14.0 ppg) and DeVon Hardin (11.6 ppg).

Date      Score                             Site                   Leading ScorerAug. 16   Cal 111, Ge-Mart 66               Reggio Emila           Wilkes 17Aug. 17   Cal 116, KK Jance (Slovenia) 53   Treviso                Powe 26Aug. 18   Cal 99, Trieste 66                Trieste                Midgley 26Aug. 20   Cal 102, Liege (Belgium) 95       Chiesa Val Mallenco    Powe 37Aug. 22   Cal 88, Assigeco 75               Casapusterlengo        Ubaka 29

Bears Cruise Past Humboldt State in Exhibition Game, 106-62
Guard Ayinde Ubaka, Omar Wilkes and Richard Midgley combined for 71 points to lead Cal to a 106-62 exhibition win over Humboldt State Monday night. The Bears, who took a 54-29 lead at the half, shot 59.4 percent from the floor and sank 8-of-17 three-pointers. Ubaka, whose regular-season career high is 13 points, paced all scorers with 29 points, which included 4-for-6 accuracy from behind the arc. Wilkes made 10-of-15 field-goal attempts on his way to 25 points, while Midgley finished with 17 points. Freshman F Theo Robertson started and had 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Oh Brother! Another Pair of Siblings Plays for Bears
For the third time in Ben Braun's tenure as head coach, a pair of brothers will suit up in Cal uniforms together. This season, the tandem is sophomore guard Omar Wilkes and freshman center Jordan Wilkes. The first set of siblings to play on the same team was the Hughes brothers - centers Solomon and Gabriel. Solomon played for the Bears from 1999-02, while Gabriel was a part of teams from 2001-04. Lastly, Ryan and Tashaan Forehan-Kelly teamed up during the 2002 season. Ryan, a 6-5 wing, lettered for four years from 1999-02, and Tashaan walked on for the 2002 and '03 campaigns.

Like Father, Like Son with Smith, Wilkes Brothers
In 1975, the Golden State Warriors captured the NBA title with a couple of rookies playing key roles during their championship run - guard Phil Smith (7.7 ppg) and forward Jamaal Wilkes (14.2 ppg). Thirty years later, the sons of Smith and Wilkes are members of the California basketball team. Senior guard Martin Smith is a fourth-year walk-on who was rewarded with a scholarship for the 2005-06 campaign. Last year, he started 16 Pac-10 games and ranked fifth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.95:1). Omar and Jordan Wilkes join the squad as active members of the Bears this year. Omar, a 6-4 guard, sat out last season after transferring from Kansas and in his first action in a Cal uniform, poured in 17.8 ppg during Cal's trip to Italy over the summer. Jordan is a 6-11 center who averaged 20 ppg and 10 rpg en route to league MVP honors last year at Loyola HS in Los Angeles.

Bears Hope to Minimize Training Room Visits This Season
After suffering through an injury-filled campaign last year, the Bears hope to spend as much time away from the training room as possible in '05-06. Last season, forward Leon Powe sat out the entire year following a pair of surgeries to his left knee, guard Ayinde Ubaka missed 11 games with a broken foot, and guard Richard Midgley played nearly the entire Pac-10 schedule with a sprained right shoulder suffered at Washington State Jan. 2. Powe suffered a setback Nov. 14 when a stress reaction was discovered in his right foot and was held out of Cal's exhibition game as a precaution. However, Ubaka and Midgley enter the season with clean bills of health and enter the year in the best shape they have been in since joining the Bears.

Richard Midgley Poised to Move Up Career Lists
Senior G Richard Midgley enters his final season at Cal poised to move up on several of Cal all-time lists. With 919 points entering the year, he needs just 81 more points to become the 34th player in school history to reach 1,000. In addition, Midgley ranks seventh in school history with 134 three-pointers and he can jump all the way to fourth once he reaches 140. Finally, he stands eighth all-time with a 37.6 three-point shooting percentage after setting a Cal freshman record in 2002-03 when he drained 44.9 percent of his long-range attempts.

Cal Career Three-Pointers Made1. Ryan Drew         1988-91   2142. Joe Shipp         2000-03   1573. Randy Duck        1994-97   1534. Shantay Legans    2000-02   1395. Amit Tamir        2002-04   1366. Bill Elleby       1989-92   1357. Richard Midgley   2003-     134

Rod Benson Finds Success on Two Courts
Last season, F/C Rod Benson may have been the most improved player in the Pac-10. After averaging 2.6 ppg and 1.7 rpg as a sophomore in 2003-04, Benson raised his rates to a team-best 13.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg last year. He ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in rebounding and seventh in the league in field goal shooting (54.3%). But the 6-10 post hasn't limited his exploits to the basketball court as a college student. For the last two springs, Benson has competed as a member of Cal's men's club volleyball team, even helping the Bears to a national No. 1 club ranking in 2005. As a prep at Torrey Pines HS outside San Diego, Benson earned first-team all-league honors and receive recruiting interest in both sports.

Golden Bear Notes ...
Leon Powe has been listed a preseason first-team All-Pac-10 performer by Lindy's, CBS Sportsline College Basketball and The Sporting News ... two walk-ons have been awarded scholarships for the 2005-06 season - junior G Alex Pribble and senior G Martin Smith ... Ivan Kovacevic, a 6-6 freshman guard from Laguna Beach HS (Laguna Beach, Calif.), has joined the team as a walk-on this year ... junior G/F Marquise Kately withdrew from school in October for personal reasons; he is eligible to re-enroll for the spring semester in January ... when Cal meets Kansas Dec. 10 at Kemper Arena, the Bears will be making their first visit to Kansas City since playing in the Big Seven Tournament in December 1954 ... at least 21 Cal games will be televised this season, with appearances on ABC, ESPN, Fox Sports Net, Comcast SportsNet and CSTV.

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