Cal Hosts Oregon, Oregon State
Jan. 3, 2006
Oregon Ducks (7-6, 1-0) at California Golden Bears (8-3, 2-0)
Thursday, Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
Oregon State Beavers (7-5, 0-1, at Stanford 1/5) at California
Saturday, Jan. 7, 5:00 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
TV: Fox Sports Net
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California returns to Haas Pavilion for the first time in nearly a month when the Golden Bears host Oregon Thursday and Oregon State Saturday.
Cal, which is a perfect 6-0 on Newell Court this year, has not played a game in Berkeley since knocking off San Diego State, 82-64, Dec. 6.
However, the Bears are coming off their first two road wins of the season after beating USC (62-58) and then-No. 11 UCLA (68-61) last weekend in Los Angeles - marking the first time since the 1956-57 season Cal has opened conference play with two victories away from home.
Junior G Ayinde Ubaka keyed both outcomes with clutch performances down the stretch. He scored six of the Bears' final seven points in the last 2:24 of the USC win, and he paced the team with 18 points at UCLA, including six of Cal's eight points in the last 35 seconds of the contest.
A workhorse who has played at least 35 minutes in 10 of 11 games this year, Ubaka ranks second on the squad in scoring with 13.9 ppg, and he leads the Bears with 43 assists.
Backcourt mate Richard Midgley moved into a tie for second on Cal's career three-point list over the weekend, and he enters Thursday's Oregon contest with 157 treys (also Joe Shipp, 2000-03). For the season, Midgley is 23-for-50 from long distance (46.0%).
Cal's third perimeter starter - sophomore Omar Wilkes - has reached double figures in scoring in four straight games, and he paces the Pac-10 in three-point accuracy at 56.5 percent (13-for-23).
Up front, the tandem of Leon Powe and DeVon Hardin is combining for more than 30 points and 17 rebounds per game. Powe has five double-digit rebounding efforts in his seven games since returning from injury, while Hardin ranks fourth in the league with 7.4 rpg.
Against USC last week, Powe had 20 points and 14 rebounds - matching Hardin for most rebounds by a Pac-10 player this season. Hardin grabbed a career-high 14 boards vs. Northeastern Nov. 26.
Cal Head 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 174-112, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 507-347. 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.
Oregon Scouting Report
A Look at Oregon
Oregon stopped a two-game skid with a 70-64 win over Oregon State in its Pac-10 opener last Saturday. Nine players average at least 13 minutes per game for the Ducks, while 10 players have earned a start this year. Leading scorer Malik Hairston (14.8 ppg) is shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from three-point range. Oregon is 7-2 at home, but 0-4 away from McArthur Court.
Cal-Oregon Series History
Cal holds a 67-51 series lead over Oregon. The teams have split their season series the past two years with both squads winning on their home court. Last season, the Bears prevailed, 65-62, in Berkeley, while the Ducks won, 63-58, in Eugene.
Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent
Ernie Kent is in his ninth season at Oregon and has a 156-100 record with the Ducks. He has guided UO to five postseason berths, including an NCAA Elite Eight appearance in 2002 when he was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Kent was also 90-80 at Saint Mary's from 1992-97.
For more information: www.goducks.com
Oregon State Scouting Report
A Look at Oregon State
Oregon State, which plays at Stanford Thursday before visiting Cal, has won five of its past seven games, including a 64-60 win over Georgia Dec. 17. The Beavers are 4-0 at home and 3-1 on neutral courts, but have a 0-4 record in opponent venues. Leading scorer Chris Stephens is making 51.9 percent of his field goal attempts and he paces the Pac-10 in free throw shooting at 93.2 percent (41-44).
Cal-Oregon State Series History
Cal is 68-55 all-time vs. Oregon State, but the Bears had a 14-game winning streak against OSU snapped in the most recent meeting when the Beavers claimed an 82-63 decision in Corvallis last Feb. 26. Cal took the other game in 2005, 91-66, in Berkeley.
Oregon State Head Coach Jay John
Jay John has a 49-51 record in his fourth season at Oregon State. Last year, he guided the Beavers to their first winning record since 1990 (17-15) and a berth in the NIT. Prior to taking the reins of the OSU program, he served as a collegiate assistant for 15 years.
For more information: www.gobeavers.com
Golden Bear Notes
Ubaka Leads Cal over No. 11 UCLA, 68-61
Playing all 40 minutes for the first time in his career, junior G Ayinde Ubaka scored 18 points and dished out four assists to lead Cal to a 68-61 win over then-No. 11 UCLA last Saturday in Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins pulled within two points on a jumper by Jordan Farmar with 1:06 to play. Arron Afflalo then stripped the ball from Ubaka under Cal's basket on the following possession, but Ubaka immediately grabbed it back and scored, giving the Bears a 62-58 lead. The final result gave Cal a road victory over a school ranked 11th or higher for the first time since a 74-72 triumph vs. then-No. 9 Arizona on Feb. 12, 1995 in Tucson. In addition to Ubaka, Richard Midgley and Omar Wilkes each chipped in 12 points, and Leon Powe added 12 rebounds.
Bears Break Long Streaks with LA Sweep
With victories over USC (62-58) and UCLA (68-61) last weekend in Los Angeles, Cal pulled off a sweep of the Southern California schools on the road for the first time since the 2000 campaign and for only the second time in 11 seasons. In addition, Thursday's win over the Trojans snapped USC's nine-game winning streak, while Saturday's triumph over UCLA broke the Bruins' eight-game run. Cal has now opened conference action with two road wins for the first time since the 1956-57 season when the Bears began league play with back-to-back victories at Washington State.
Cal Hopes to Regain Scoring Prowess at Home
Returning to Haas Pavilion for the first time since a Dec. 6 match-up with San Diego State, Cal hopes to regain its scoring touch that has allowed the Bears to pour in 82.5 ppg on Newell Court. In six home games to date - all wins - Cal has reached the 80-point level five times, with a high of 89 points vs. Akron Dec. 5. By contrast, the Bears are averaging just 63.2 ppg outside of Berkeley, with a best of 68 points at UCLA.
Home vs. Away ComparisonSite Record California OpponentHaas Pavilion 6-0 82.5 ppg 49.7 FG% 65.8 ppg 43.2 FG%Away/Neutral 2-3 63.2 ppg 42.8 FG% 64.6 ppg 44.6 FG%
Bears Find Their Range from Long Distance
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 Thursday's game vs. Oregon, the Bears are sinking 39.4 percent (71-for-180) of their long-range attempts to rate second in the league to Washington State (40.0%). Cal has shot at least 33 percent from three-point range in 10 of 11 games, with a high of 60.0% (6-10) at UCLA. Sophomore G Omar Wilkes paces the conference at 56.5 percent (13-23), while senior G Richard Midgley is fourth at 46.0 percent (23-50). In addition, junior G Ayinde Ubaka has made 38.3 percent of his long-range attempts (23-60). The last Cal squad to shoot better than 38 percent from three-point distance was the 1989-90 team that made a school-record 38.7 percent of its attempts.
Cal Three-Point Shooting Last Three Seasons2005-06 71-180 39.4% 6.45 three-pointers per game (2nd in Pac-10)2004-05 110-344 32.0% 3.79 three-pointers per game2003-04 127-410 31.0% 4.54 three-pointers per game
Cal Hopes to Stay Perfect at Home vs. Oregon Schools since 2001
California hosts a pair of teams this week that have not defeated the Bears in Berkeley since the 2000-01 season. Cal has claimed its last five in Haas Pavilion vs. Oregon, while the Bears have won seven in a row over Oregon State in the East Bay (the 1999 contest that started the run was played at the Oakland Arena). Several of the Bear-Duck games have particularly close, though, with two going into overtime - 107-103 in 2OT in 2002 and 85-81 in 1OT in 2004.
Bears Put Together Best Defensive Efforts in Los Angeles
Cal entered its Pac-10 opener last week ranked last in the conference in field goal percentage defense, having allowed opponents to make 45.3 percent of their shots during the non-conference portion of its schedule. But in producing a pair of victories to start league action, the Bears held USC and UCLA to a combined 37.0 percent shooting from the floor. USC sank 37.3 percent (22-for-59) Thursday - lowest for a Cal foe this year until UCLA shot just 36.7 percent (18-for-49) two days later. The Bruins had entered the game tied for the Pac-10 lead with Washington with a 50.1 percent field goal rate.
From Jan. 7 - March 2, 13 of 14 Cal Games on TV
Starting with Saturday's game vs. Oregon State, 13 of Cal's next 14 games will be televised. The lone exception is the Bears' Jan. 26 home date against Washington. During the span, two games will be shown on Comcast SportsNet, one on ABC, nine on Fox Sports Net and one on FSN Bay Area. Every Cal road game during the 2005-06 season will be televised.
Powe-tent Force Back for Bears
Leon Powe, on the sidelines for more than a year and a half due to both left knee surgery and a stress fracture in his right foot, has returned to action seemingly without missing a beat. In his first seven games on the court this season, the 6-8, 240-pound forward has averaged 18.4 ppg and 10.4 rpg while shooting 50.0 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, 16 points, 11 rebounds and four steals vs. Kansas, and 20 points and 14 boards at USC. Even when he totaled just five points at UCLA (second lowest of his career), Powe contributed a game-high 12 rebounds. He now has 18 career double-doubles and has led Cal in rebounding in 31 of the 34 games he has played, including six of seven this year.
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.
Ubaka More than Doubles Career Scoring Average
Junior G Ayinde Ubaka, who entered the season with a career scoring average of 6.3 ppg, is pouring in 13.9 ppg this year. Now Cal's second-leading scorer, he has reached double figures nine times in 11 games after doing so on just eight occasions over his first two years in the program combined 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. He played key roles in Cal's sweep of USC and UCLA last week, scoring seven of his nine points in the final 4:35 vs. the Trojans and tossing in 18 points in 40 minutes of action vs. the Bruins. In addition, Ubaka is shooting 38.3 percent from three-point range (23-60), up from just 29.7 percent last year, and leads the Bears with 43 assists.
Comparing Ayinde Ubaka's Last Three Seasons2003-04 34.1 FG% 25.9 3P% 2.1 rpg 3.9 apg 6.4 ppg2004-05 34.2 FG% 29.7 3P% 2.0 rpg 2.7 apg 6.1 ppg2005-06 42.5 FG% 38.3 3P% 3.2 rpg 3.9 apg 13.9 ppg
Richard Midgley Moving Up Career Lists
Senior G Richard Midgley is moving up a pair of Cal career lists this season - points and three-pointers. He enters Thursday's Oregon game with 1,036 points, which puts him in 31st place, and he needs nine more to jump all the way to 28th. On the three-point chart, he is tied for second place all-time with Joe Shipp, who had 157 from 2000-03. Midgley scored a season-high 17 points vs. both San Jose State and San Diego State, and he has reached double figures in eight of the 10 games he has played (missed Long Beach State due to shoulder stinger). His three-point rate of 46.0 percent this season is the highest of his career, surpassing the 44.9 percent during his freshman year.
Cal Career Scoring Leaders26. Larry Friend 1955-57 1,06127. Amit Tamir 2002-04 1,05528. Michael Pitts 1980-84 1,04429. Bill Hagler 1949-51 1,04230. Mark McNamara 1981-82 1,04131. Richard Midgley 2003- 1,036
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 243 free throws to its opponents' 145 and is outscoring them, 174-104, or by an average of 6.4 ppg. In addition, the Bears are shooting 71.6 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%). Individually, six players are making 75 percent or more of their tries, led by Martin Smith (8-9, 88.9%), Ayinde Ubaka (28-33, 84.8%) and Richard Midgley (20-24, 83.3%). DeVon Hardin, who leads the Bears with 57 attempts, is shooting 66.7 percent from the line, up from 38.6 percent last year.
DeVon Provides Defense in the Middle
One of the most improved players in the Pac-10, sophomore C DeVon Hardin has taken advantage of his opportunity to start for the Bears this season. When Leon Powe began the year on the sidelines (foot stress fracture), Hardin produced three double-doubles and was voted MVP of the Golden Bear Classic after totaling 23 points and 14 rebounds in the title game vs. Northeastern. He was also named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his Golden Bear Classic performance. Now, the 6-11, 235-pounder ranks among the Pac-10 leaders in four categories - shooting percentage (1st, 60.6%), rebounding (4th, 7.3 rpg), offensive rebounds (1st, 3.36 rpg) and blocks (T5th, 1.45 bpg). On the scoring front, he is pouring in 11.3 ppg, having reached double figures six times.
Injury Woes Have Kept 6 Players Out at Least Once This Year
Through the first 11 contests of the 2005-06 season, six players missed a total of 21 games for the Bears. Cal dressed just 10 players five times and 11 once in its first six outings. The Bears have suited up everyone on the roster only one time - Dec. 21 vs. DePaul. 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 E. Michigan, Long Beach St., N. Colorado, NortheasternMartin Smith stress fracture, pelvis Eastern Michigan, Long Beach State abdominal strain USC, UCLAJordan Wilkes sprained right ankle San Jose State, Akron, San Diego State, Kansas
Nikola Knezevic Joins Bears Mid-Season
Nikola Knezevic (NEE-koh-lah k-NEH-zhuh-vich), a 6-2, 190-pound freshman point guard from Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro, has enrolled for the spring semester and became eligible for the Bears Dec. 21 - one day after fall final exams. He saw his first action at USC last Thursday, getting on the court for three minutes. Rated the No. 3 point guard and No. 17 overall player at last summer's adidas Superstar Camp, Knezevic played on the Serbia-Montenegro Junior National team at the Under 18 European Championships in 2004. As a member of his Beovuk '72 club team, he helped the squad to a pair of Serbian titles and two Serbia-Montenegro championships.
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.
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 ... head coach Ben Braun picked up his 500th career victory with an 88-69 win over Long Beach State Nov. 21 ... 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 ... 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, who withdrew from school in October for personal reasons, has re-registered 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.