Cal to Face DePaul in Pete Newell Challenge

Dec. 19, 2005

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Ninth Annual Pete Newell Challenge
Wednesday, Dec. 21, Oakland Arena, Oakland, CA
Stanford Cardinal (2-4, vs. Denver 12/19) vs. Princeton Tigers (2-6), 5:30 p.m.
California Golden Bears (6-2) vs. DePaul Blue Demons (5-4), 8 p.m.
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
TV: College Sports Television

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
Following an 11-day break for final exams, California returns to action against DePaul in the ninth annual Pete Newell Challenge at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Oakland Arena. Stanford and Princeton open the doubleheader at 5:30 p.m.

The Golden Bears, who saw a six-game win streak snapped vs. Kansas Dec. 10, look to regain their form in the team's final tune-up before Pac-10 Conference play begins Dec. 29 at USC.

In rushing out to a 6-2 record - Cal's best start since also going 6-2 to begin the 2002-03 campaign - the Bears have battled through a series of injuries and are now rounding into full health. Already, six players have missed a total of 19 games, but all are expected to suit up for the first time this year vs. DePaul.

Sophomore F Leon Powe, who sat out the season's first four games with a minor stress fracture in his right foot, paces Cal with 22.8 ppg and 9.8 rpg, and despite playing in just four of eight games, he ranks second on the squad with nine steals. Powe has led the Bears in rebounding each of his four contests and has been Cal's leader on the glass in 29 of 31 career games.

Alongside Powe on the front line is sophomore C DeVon Hardin, who is contributing 12.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 57.6 percent field-goal shooting. Named MVP of the Golden Bear Classic, he had a personal-high 23 points vs. Northeastern Nov. 26. Senior F/C Rod Benson is now back at full strength after being slowed by a stress fracture in his heel.

On the perimeter, senior G Richard Midgley reached the 1,000-point level for his career after contributing 17 points vs. San Diego State Dec. 6. He has drained 14-of-26 three-point attempts over his last four games and rates fourth in school history with 152 career triples.

As a team, the Bears are shooting 38.2 percent from beyond the arc, up from 32.0 percent last year and 31.0 percent in 2003-04. Cal was 10-for-18 on three-pointers vs. SDSU, making at least 10 in a game for the first time since Feb. 5, 2004 vs. Arizona.

In addition, the Bears hold a significant advantage at the free throw line, where they have outscored opponents, 136-69. Now sinking 72.0 percent of its free throw attempts, Cal is connecting at a far higher rate than in either of the past two seasons (62.8% in 2003-04; 62.7% in 2004-05).

Cal Coach Ben Braun
Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75), the second-winningest coach in Cal history, is in his 10th year in Berkeley and 29th season as a collegiate head coach. His record at Cal stands at 172-112, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 505-347. The 1997 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and one of 25 finalists for the 2003 Naismith National Coach of the Year award, Braun has led the Bears to the postseason six times in his first nine years. After taking Cal to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1997, he guided the Bears to the NIT championship in 1999 and to the NIT quarterfinals in 2000. He also directed Cal to consecutive NCAA Tournaments in 2001, '02 and '03. At EMU from 1985-96, the three-time MAC Coach of the Year guided the Eagles to three NCAA Tournaments and one NIT appearance with an overall record of 185-132. He was also 148-103 from 1977-85 at Siena Heights. A native of Chicago, Braun earned a teaching degree in English with a minor in African-American studies at Wisconsin in 1975. He received his master's degree in guidance and counseling from Siena Heights.

DePaul Scouting Report

A Look at DePaul
DePaul concludes a four-game road trip vs. Cal Wednesday. The Blue Demons began their swing with a 61-54 win at Dayton Dec. 10, then upended No. 16 Wake Forest, 84-81, Dec. 13 before falling at Old Dominion, 87-43, Saturday night. DePaul finally returns home New Year's Eve to host Florida International. Sammy Mejia is the only Blue Demon to have started every game, and he leads the squad in both scoring (14.4 ppg) and assists (2.6 apg).

Cal-DePaul Series History
Cal leads the series with DePaul, 2-1, but the teams have not met since the 1998-99 season. The Bears took the first match-up, 62-59, Feb. 4, 1996, at the Bay Area Classic at the San Jose Arena. The squads then played twice in 1998-99 at the Rosemont Horizon. During the regular season, DePaul edged Cal, 75-72, Nov. 28, but the Bears came back to claim a 58-57 decision March 16 in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament en route to the NIT title.

DePaul Head Coach Jerry Wainwright
Jerry Wainwright is in his first season at DePaul and 12th year as a collegiate head coach. He previously served as head coach at UNC Wilmington from 1995-2002 and at Richmond from 2003-05. Wainwright has guided teams to four conference championships and five postseason berths (2 NIT, 3 NCAA).

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Golden Bear Notes

Kansas Ends Cal's Six-Game Win Streak, 69-56
Brandon Rush scored eight points during a 24-6 run opening the second half, and Kansas beat Cal, 69-56, Dec. 10 at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. The Bears held KU to just one field goal over the first eight minutes and took a 12-3 lead. But the Jayhawks battled back and closed the gap to 34-31 at the break. Cal shot only 25.8 percent from the floor in the second half and missed all six of its three-point attempts. Leon Powe finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and a career-best four steals for the Bears. As a team, Cal picked off a season-high 11 steals in the game.

A Quick Look at the Pete Newell Challenge
This year's Pete Newell Challenge marks the ninth anniversary of the event that began in 1997 to honor the Hall of Fame coach who directed Cal to the 1959 NCAA title. Newell also won an NIT championship while at USF in 1949, and he directed the U.S. team to a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Newell, who turned 90 last Aug. 31, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978 and into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987. He served as head coach of the Bears from 1954-60 and compiled a 119-44 record.Cal is 4-2 in Newell Challenge games, having defeated BYU (68-64 in 1997), No. 9 North Carolina (78-71 in '98), No. 22 Gonzaga (72-64 in '99) and Georgia (85-64 in 2000). The Bears lost to No. 19 Kansas in 2002 (80-67) and to No. 11 Saint Joseph's (59-57) in 2003.

Bears Find Success Behind the Arc
After ranking last in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting the last two years, Cal is finding its range behind the arc this season. Entering this week's game vs. DePaul, the Bears are sinking 38.2 percent (52-for-136) of their long-range attempts. Cal shot at least 33 percent from three-point range in each of its first seven games, with a high of 55.6 percent (10-for-18) vs. San Diego State. Senior G Richard Midgley is 18-for-38 overall (47.4%), while junior G Ayinde Ubaka, who entered the year with a career 27.6 three-point percentage rate, is 18-for-48 (37.5%). In addition, sophomore G Omar Wilkes has drained 5-of-9 from long distance and sophomore F Leon Powe made his only attempt vs. San Diego State.

Cal Three-Point Shooting Last Three Seasons2005-06    52-136   38.2%   6.50 three-pointers per game2004-05   110-344   32.0%   3.79 three-pointers per game2003-04   127-410   31.0%   4.54 three-pointers per game

Powe-tent Force Back for Bears
Leon Powe, on the sidelines for more than a year and a half due to both knee surgery and a stress fracture in his right foot, has returned to action seemingly without missing a beat. In his first four games on the court this season, the 6-8, 240-pound forward has averaged 22.8 ppg and 9.8 rpg while shooting 59.6 percent from the floor. He tied a career high with 27 points (11-18 FG, 5-9 FT) and snared a game-best 10 rebounds vs. San Jose State Nov. 30, then chipped in 26 points and 10 more rebounds against Akron Dec. 3 to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors (announced Dec. 5). Powe also had 22 points and eight rebounds vs. San Diego State, and 16 points, 11 rebounds and four steals vs. Kansas. He now has 17 career double-doubles and has led Cal in rebounding in 29 of the 31 games he has played. Powe first underwent a pair of surgeries on his left knee in 2004 that kept him out all of the '04-05 campaign. Cleared to play last May, he earned MVP honors at the San Francisco Pro-Am and averaged 23.6 ppg and 10.4 rpg during Cal's trip to Italy over the summer. But just before the Bears' exhibition game vs. Humboldt State Nov. 14, Powe was diagnosed with a minor stress fracture in his right mid-foot, putting a hold on his return until the San Jose State contest.

baka Already Equals 2004-05 Point Total
Although the Bears are just eight games into the season, junior G Ayinde Ubaka has already equaled his point total for all of last year (110 points). Now Cal's second-leading scorer at 13.8 ppg, he has reached double figures in seven of eight games after doing so just eight times over his first two years in the program and only twice last season. Ubaka set a career high with 17 points in the opener at Eastern Michigan, then topped the total with 21 points in the Golden Bear Classic final vs. Northeastern to earn all-tournament team honors. In addition, he is shooting 37.5 percent from three-point range (18-for-48), up from just 29.7 percent last year, and leads the Bears with 33 assists.

Comparing Ayinde Ubaka's Last Two Seasons2004-05   34.2 FG%   29.7 3P%   2.0 rpg   2.7 apg   6.1 ppg2005-06   41.8 FG%   37.5 3P%   3.4 rpg   4.1 apg   13.8 ppg

Win Streak Longest for Cal since 2003
When Cal won six consecutive games from Nov. 21 through Dec. 6, the run was the best for the team since an eight-game spurt from Dec. 30, 2002 to Jan. 25, 2003. That season - the last year the Bears reached the NCAA Tournament - Cal defeated San Francisco, then won its first seven Pac-10 games. The Bears went on to finish 22-9 overall and 13-5 in the Pac-10 (third place), reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Richard Midgley Hits 1,000 vs. San Diego State
Senior G Richard Midgley became the 34th player in school history to score 1,000 career points when he reached the plateau vs. San Diego State Dec. 6. Now in 33rd place with 1,009 points, Midgley needs just 16 more points to match Charlie Johnson for the 32nd spot, and with 60 more points, he will jump up to 25th.

Cal Career Scoring Leaders29. Bill Hagler       1949-51   1,04230. Mark McNamara     1981-82   1,04131. Monty Buckley     1992-95   1,03532. Charlie Johnson   1969-71   1,02533. Richard Midgley   2003-     1,009

Bears Winning Turnover Battle
Football coaches regularly emphasize winning the turnover battle as a key to success on the gridiron. And the margin can be just as important in basketball. So far this year, Cal has been on the positive end of the turnover margin in every game and owns a season average of +5.50. Overall, the Bears have forced 149 turnovers, while committing just 105 themselves. The difference has been at least five in six contests, reaching a high of +8 vs. both Eastern Michigan and Northern Colorado.

Bears Take Advantage of Free Throw Opportunities
Not only is Cal forcing its way to the free throw line more than its opponents, but the Bears are taking advantage once they reach the charity stripe. To date, Cal has attempted 189 free throws to its opponents' 97 and is outscoring them, 136-69, or by an average of 8.4 ppg. In addition, the Bears are shooting 72.0 percent from the line, far higher than their 62.7 percent success rate last year or 62.8 percent rate in 2003-04. The last time Cal shot as high as 70 percent for an entire season was in 1995-96 (70.1%) and no team has shot 72 percent or better since 1990-91 (72.5%). Individually, five players are making more than 77 percent of their tries, led by Martin Smith (8-9, 88.9%) and Richard Midgley (18-21, 85.7%). DeVon Hardin, who leads the Bears with 45 attempts, is shooting 66.7 percent from the line, up from 38.6 percent last year.

DeVon Hardin Sets Career High in Three Straight Games
Sophomore C DeVon Hardin didn't realize what he was starting when he totaled 14 points in Cal's 88-69 win over Long Beach State Nov. 21. With that career-high effort, he began a run of three consecutive games setting personal bests in the points column. Hardin followed his Long Beach State outing with 21 points vs. Northern Colorado Nov. 25, then added 23 points against Northeastern Nov. 26. Named MVP of the Golden Bear Classic for his 44-point performance in the tournament, he also had a string of three straight double-doubles, including a career-high 14 boards vs. Northeastern. Last year, Hardin scored at least 10 points only two times and had just one double-double. This season, he is averaging 12.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg and shooting 57.6 percent from the floor (34-59). Of his 58 rebounds, more than half - 30 - have come on the offensive end.

Richard Midgley Moving Up Three-Point Lists
With his 18 three-pointers this season, senior G Richard Midgley has moved up to fourth on Cal's career three-point list with 152, needing just two more to pass Randy Duck for the third spot. Midgley entered the year in seventh place, but has risen, in part, due to a 47.4 percent success rate from behind the arc. In addition, he stands sixth all-time with a 38.6 three-point shooting percentage (152-394) 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. Richard Midgley   2003-     152

Cal Career Three-Point Percentage3. Bill Elleby 1989-92 41.0%4. Ryan Forehan-Kelly 1999-02 40.7%5. Kevin Johnson 1984-87 38.7%6. Richard Midgley 2003- 38.6%

Cal Scoring Up Significantly from Last Season
By scoring more than 80 points in five of eight games this year, Cal has produced a season scoring rate of 77.0 ppg, a nearly 10-ppg jump from the 67.4 ppg the Bears averaged last season. Cal has not averaged 75 ppg or more for a full campaign since 1996-97, while only one team in school history has poured in more than 80 ppg (83.9 ppg, 1970-71). This year's Bears reached a high of 89 points vs. Akron and also tallied 88 points against Long Beach State.

Braun Reaches 500th Career Win vs. Long Beach State
Head coach Ben Braun entered this season with 499 wins, and he picked up this 500th career victory with an 88-69 decision over Long Beach State Nov. 21 in Haas Pavilion. 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 172-112 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 505 wins.

Ben Braun Coaching SummaryCalifornia          172-112   1997-currentEastern Michigan    185-132   1986-96Siena Heights       148-103   1978-85Totals              505-347

Stressful Start to the Season for Bears
California entered the 2005-06 season with three key contributors on the sidelines - all due to stress fractures. Senior C Rod Benson, who paced the Bears in both scoring (13.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.3 rpg) last year, missed four games with a stress fracture in his heel. After sitting out the Eastern Michigan opener, he re-aggravated it vs. Northern Colorado and didn't return until the Dec. 6 game vs. San Diego State. Senior G Martin Smith, meanwhile, was kept out of Cal's first two games with a stress fracture in his pelvis. Finally, sophomore F Leon Powe missed the Bears first four games due to a minor stress fracture in his right foot discovered the week of the opener.

Injury Woes Have Kept 6 Players Out at Least Once This Year
The 2005-06 is barely a month old, and already six players have missed a total of 19 games for the Bears. Although Cal lists 13 players on the roster, the Bears dressed just 10 five times and 11 once in their first six games. Below is a list of the players, their injuries and their games missed:

Name             Injury   Games MissedRod Benson       stress fracture, heel        Eastern Michigan, Northeastern, San Jose State, AkronRichard Midgley  stinger, right shoulder      Long Beach StateSteve Panawek    bulging disk, back           Northern Colorado, Northeastern, San Jose State, AkronLeon Powe        stress fracture, right foot  Eastern Michigan, Long Beach State, Northern Colorado, NortheasternMartin Smith     stress fracture, pelvis      Eastern Michigan, Long Beach StateJordan Wilkes    sprained right ankle         San Jose State, Akron, San Diego State, Kansas

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.

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.

Cal on TV 19 Times in 22 Games
Cal fans will get plenty of opportunities to watch the Bears the rest of the season as Cal will appear on television 19 times during a 22-game stretch that began vs. San Jose State Nov. 30. Every road contest will be shown during the span. Five games will air on Comcast SportsNet, with other contests televised by Fox Sports Net, ABC, ESPN and CSTV. Comcast SportsNet broadcasts in Northern California are on Channel 400 for Bay Area digital cable subscribers, on DirecTV channel 656 and on Dish Network channel 409.

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 ... Powe is also listed as a preseason candidate for both the Wooden All-America team and the Naismith Trophy ... 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 ... with this season's win, Cal has captured nine of 13 Golden Bear Classics, including 8-of-10 under head coach Ben Braun ... sophomore C DeVon Hardin was voted MVP of the Golden Bear Classic, with senior G Richard Midgley and junior G Ayinde Ubaka joining him on the all-tournament team.

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