Cal Hosts No. 10 Washington Thursday

Jan. 24, 2006

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Washington Huskies (16-2, 5-2) at California Golden Bears (10-6, 4-3)
Thursday, Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
TV: none

Washington State Cougars (9-7, 2-5, at Stanford Jan. 26) at California
Saturday, Jan. 28, 3 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
TV: Fox Sports Net

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
After opening Pac-10 action with five of seven games on the road, California plays five of its next seven contests inside Haas Pavilion, starting with Washington Thursday and Washington State Saturday. The two match-ups this week complete the first half of the conference schedule.

The Golden Bears boast a 7-1 record in Berkeley, where they are averaging nearly 80 points per game (79.5 ppg). Sophomore F Leon Powe leads the way with 24.2 ppg on 54.2 percent shooting from the floor in home contests. He has twice tied his career high of 27 points on Newell Court this year, first vs. San Jose State Nov. 30 and again vs. Oregon Jan. 5.

For the season, Powe ranks second in the Pac-10 in scoring (19.8 ppg), while he leads the league in rebounding (10.2 rpg). He had a pair of double-doubles last week, finishing with 20 points and 10 boards at Arizona State and 23 points and 13 caroms at Arizona.

Powe now has seven double-doubles on the year and has paced Cal in rebounding in 35 of the 39 games he has played over his career. He is on pace to become the first Bear to average a double-double since Brian Hendrick in 1991-92 (16.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg).

In the backcourt, junior G Ayinde Ubaka has improved his average to 15.3 ppg and ranks eighth in the league in scoring. After entering the season with a career best of 13 points, he has equaled or topped that total 11 times, with bests of 29 points vs. Oregon and 24 points at Arizona State.

In addition, senior G Richard Midgley goes into Thursday's game vs. the Huskies tied for 25th on Cal's all-time scoring list with 1,068 points. Next up are Ed Gray, who stands 24th with 1,082 points and No. 23 Ryan Drew, who finished his tenure at Cal with 1,086 points.

Together, the starting trio of Ubaka, Midgley and sophomore G Omar Wilkes have connected on 82-of-191 three-point tries (42.7%), and they are the prime reason Cal leads the Pac-10 in three-point accuracy as a team at 38.8 percent - a rate that falls just ahead of school record pace (38.7% in 1989-90).

Probable Starters & Key Reserves

POS   NO   NAME              HT     WT    YR   PPG    RPG  F     44   Leon Powe         6-8    240   So   19.8   10.2C     35   DeVon Hardin      6-11   235   So   9.4    7.3G      1   Ayinde Ubaka      6-4    200   Jr   15.3   3.7 apgG      2   Omar Wilkes       6-4    185   So   9.1    1.7G     15   Richard Midgley   6-3    195   Sr   9.9    2.9

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 176-116, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 509-351. 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.

Washington Scouting Report

A Look at Washington
Washington (#9 ESPN/USA Today/#10 Associated Press) has won four straight games, including a 69-65 victory at then-No. 11 UCLA, since falling 78-71 to Washington State Jan. 7. The Huskies' only other setback was a 96-95 double OT decision to Arizona Dec. 31. UW leads the Pac-10 in scoring offense (86.5 ppg), scoring margin (+17.4), field goal percentage (48.7%) and rebounding margin (+8.5). Brandon Roy pours in a team-high 18.2 ppg, with a best of 35 points vs. both ASU and UA.

Cal-Washington Series History
In 140 previous games between Cal and Washington, each team has won 70 times. After the Bears claimed seven of eight contests from 2000-04, the Huskies have taken the past three. Last year in Seattle, Cal battled back from 16-point halftime deficit to grab a 60-57 lead midway through the second period, but eventually fell, 81-67. UW later won, 106-73, in Berkeley when the Huskies were ranked 10th nationally.

Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar
Lorenzo Romar owns a 74-37 record in his fourth season at Washington. His career mark, which includes stops at Pepperdine and Saint Louis, stands at 167-125. A former UW player, Romar guided the Huskies to the Pac-10 Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16 last year.

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Washington State Scouting Report

A Look at Washington State
Washington State enters this week's action on a four-game losing streak after falling at home to Oregon (52-50) and Oregon State (59-50) last weekend. WSU paces the conference in both scoring defense (56.9 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (38.7%), while the Cougars are second to Cal in three-point shooting (38.7%).

Cal-WSU Series History
Cal swept the season series with Washington State last year to improve its all-time record against the Cougars to 65-42. The Bears secured their first Pac-10 win of the 2004-05 campaign with a 59-47 decision last Jan. 2 in Spokane, then clinched a berth in the conference tournament with a 63-57 overtime victory in the regular-season finale in Berkeley. Cal is 12-6 vs. WSU during Ben Braun's tenure as head coach.

WSU Head Coach Dick Bennett
Now in his 28th season as a college head coach, Dick Bennett has a 34-39 record in his third year at Washington State. His career mark of 488-296 includes stints at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin. In 2000, Bennett guided the Badgers to the Final Four, and he has taken six of his teams to the NCAA Tournament.

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Golden Bear Notes

Last Time Out: Arizona Edges Cal, 60-55
Sophomore F Leon Powe had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Cal limited Arizona to just 33.3 percent shooting from the field, but the Bears couldn't overcome a 47-30 rebounding deficit and fell to the Wildcats, 60-55, last Saturday in Tucson. Arizona opened a 37-25 lead early in the second half before the Bears whittled the score to 54-51 with 30 seconds to go on an Omar Wilkes steal and dunk. Down just 58-55 with eight seconds left after a Wildcat free throw, junior G Ayinde Ubaka raced down court for a final attempt to tie, but his three-pointer bounced off the back of the rim, and UA made two free throws to clinch the game.

Cal Using Consistent Starting Lineup This Season
With the season now 16 games old, Cal has used only three different starting lineups all year and has had the same opening five for each of the Bears' last 12 games - since Leon Powe returned from his foot injury. With Powe on the sidelines, Cal began the year with a fivesome of DeVon Hardin, Richard Midgley, Theo Robertson, Ayinde Ubaka and Omar Wilkes that started three of the Bears' first four games. Eric Vierneisel subbed for Midgley in Game 2 vs. Long Beach State (Midgley sat out the contest with a shoulder stinger). But beginning with the year's fifth game vs. San Jose State Nov. 30, Cal has had a consistent starting five of Hardin, Midgley, Powe, Ubaka and Wilkes.

Bears Find Three-Point Shooting to Their Liking This Season
After ranking last in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting the last two years, Cal has found its range behind the arc this season. Not only do the Bears lead the Pac-10 from behind the arc, making 38.8 percent of their attempts, but three individuals rate among the Top 10 in conference: 1. Omar Wilkes (50.0%, 16-32); 7. Richard Midgley (43.7%, 31-71); and 9. Ayinde Ubaka (39.8%, 35-88). With a minimum of one three-pointer made per team game, only one other Bear squad has had two 40-percent shooters in the same season - Keith Smith (46.2%, 42-91) and Ryan Drew (42.0%, 68-162) in 1989-90. That squad was the last Cal unit to shoot better than 38 percent from three-point distance for an entire year, making a school-record 38.7 percent of its attempts.

Pre>Cal Three-Point Shooting Last Three Seasons2005-06 97-250 38.8% 6.06 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

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 379 free throws to its opponents' 239 and is outscoring them, 269-175, or by an average of 5.9 ppg. In addition, the Bears are shooting 71.0 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%). Individually, two starters are at 80 percent or higher - Ayinde Ubaka at 83.1 percent (49-59) and Richard Midgley at an even 80.0 percent (24-30). Despite played four fewer games than his teammates, Leon Powe has taken a team-best 118 free throws.

30-Point Win Featured 41-Point Turnaround
The final score showed Cal appeared to cruise to an 88-58 win at Arizona State last Thursday, but in reality, the Bears had their biggest comeback of the season. Cal trailed, 16-5, in the opening minutes and didn't sink its first field goal until Leon Powe's layup with 13:28 remaining in the first half. The 11-point deficit was the Bears' largest in the first half all year (Cal fell behind Oregon State, 29-20, Jan. 7). Over the final 33:28 of the game, Cal outscored ASU by an 83-42 margin, including 24-2 in the last 6:23.

Senior F Rod Benson Out with Knee Injury
Senior F Rod Benson underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee last Friday and is expected to be sidelined for 4-5 weeks. He injured his knee in practice Jan. 16 and an MRI revealed the tear. Cal's leading scorer and rebounder last season when he averaged 13.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg, the 6-10, 220-pound Benson struggled through much of the early part of this year due to a stress fracture in his left heel. He missed Cal's opener at Eastern Michigan Nov. 18, but returned to score 14 points vs. Long Beach State Nov. 21. However, Benson re-aggravated the heel in Cal's next game against Northern Colorado and sat out the next three contests before playing vs. San Diego State Dec. 6. For the season, Benson has played in 10 games, all as a reserve, and averaged 6.3 ppg and 3.6 rpg.

Cal Allowing Fewest Points in 20 Years
Cal enters this week's games surrendering an average of only 65.6 ppg - the lowest rate allowed by the Bears since the 1985-86 squad gave up 63.4 ppg (when a 45-second shot clock was in use and before the introduction of the three-point line). Cal has given up more than 70 points just four times, while holding opponents to 60 or fewer points on five occasions. Last week, for example, the Bears beat Arizona State, 88-58, with the Sun Devils scoring their fewest points against Cal in 10 seasons (ASU 56, Cal 53 in 1996). And although Arizona won Saturday's contest, 60-55, the Wildcats had their lowest point total vs. the Bears since 1984 (a 56-50 UA victory).

Bears Improve Field Goal Percentage Defense in Arizona
Before the Bears went on the road last week to visit Arizona State and Arizona, Cal ranked last in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage defense, allowing teams to shoot 44.6 percent from the floor. But when the Bears returned home, they had moved all the way up to sixth in the league, with their defensive field goal percentage down to 43.2 percent. During its two games in the desert, Cal combined to hold ASU and UA to just 34.5 percent from the field (41-119). ASU managed to make only 35.7 percent (20-56) - lowest for a Bear foe this season until Arizona sank 33.3 percent (21-63) of its tries.

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. Since his debut vs. San Jose State Nov. 30, he has averaged 19.8 ppg and 10.2 rpg. Powe has twice tied his career scoring high, with 27 points vs. both SJSU and Oregon, while he has produced eight double-digit rebounding efforts in 12 games. Voted Pac-10 Player of the Week Dec. 5 when he combined for 53 points and 20 rebounds in victories over San Jose State and Akron, he now ranks second in the conference in scoring and first in rebounding. Even when he totaled just five points at UCLA (second lowest of his career), Powe contributed a game-high 12 rebounds. Including last week's 20-point, 10-rebound outing at Arizona State and 23-point, 13-rebound effort at Arizona, he has 21 career double-doubles and has led Cal in rebounding in 35 of the 39 games he has played, including 10 of 12 this year.

Despite playing in only 12 games, Powe paces the Pac-10 in free throws, both with 79 made and 118 attempted. Now averaging 9.8 FT attempts per game (11.0 in Pac-10 play), he has made 63 trips to the charity stripe over his past five games (12.6 per game).

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.

Ayinde Ubaka is Cal's Iron Man at the Point
In averaging 36.6 minutes per game, junior PG Ayinde Ubaka ranks second in the Pac-10 to Arizona State's Kevin Kruger (38.1 mpg). Ubaka has played all 40 minutes twice - at UCLA and vs. Oregon - and has been on the court for 265 of a possible 280 minutes in conference action. He has played at least 35 minutes in every game this season, except vs. Northern Colorado when he played 28 minutes.

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 15.3 ppg this year. Now Cal's second-leading scorer (and No. 8 in the Pac-10), he has reached double figures 14 times in 16 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 then bettered that performance with 29 points against Oregon (8-10 FG, 3-3 3P, 10-12 FT) Jan. 5. Ubaka also played key roles in Cal's sweep of USC and UCLA to begin Pac-10 play, 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 39.8 percent from three-point range (35-88), up from just 29.7 percent last year, and leads the Bears with 59 assists.

Pre>Comparing Ayinde Ubaka's Last Three Seasons2003-04 34.1 FG% 25.9 3P% 69.8 FT% 2.1 rpg 3.9 apg 6.4 ppg2004-05 34.2 FG% 29.7 3P% 65.0 FT% 2.0 rpg 2.7 apg 6.1 ppg2005-06 44.4 FG% 39.8 3P% 83.1 FT% 3.1 rpg 3.7 apg 15.3 ppg

Cal Hosts 5th Annual Basketball Reunion
Cal hosts its fifth annual basketball team reunion this weekend, with a host of former players, coaches and managers expected to return to Berkeley. The ex-Bears will attend a reception in Haas Pavilion Friday night, and they will be introduced to the crowd at halftime of Saturday's Cal-Washington State game.

Richard Midgley Moving Up Career Lists
Now firmly secured as Cal's No. 2 all-time three-point shooter, senior G Richard Midgley is creeping up the Bears' career scoring chart. He enters Thursday's Washington game with 1,068 points, which ties him with Kevin Singleton for 25th place. On the three-point list, he ranks second all-time with 165 triples, and he will likely end his career there, as leader Ryan Drew had 214 three-pointers from 1988-91. Midgley scored a season-high 17 points vs. both San Jose State and San Diego State, and he has reached double figures in nine of the 15 games he has played (missed Long Beach State due to shoulder stinger). His three-point rate of 43.7 percent this season is just shy of his career best of 44.9 percent set during his freshman year.

Cal Career Scoring Leaders22. Andy Wolfe        1946-48   1,11223. Ryan Drew         1988-91   1,08624. Ed Gray           1996-97   1,08225. Richard Midgley   2003-     1,06825. Kevin Singleton   1977-81   1,068

Cal Career Three-Pointers Made1. Ryan Drew 1988-91 2142. Richard Midgley 2003- 1653. Joe Shipp 2000-03 157

DeVon Hardin 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, 55.2%), rebounding (5th, 7.3 rpg), offensive rebounds (5th, 2.75 rpg) and blocks (2nd, 1.75 bpg). He is pouring in 9.4 ppg, having reached double figures six times, while he has paced Cal in rebounding on six occasions.

Injury Woes Have Kept 6 Players Out at Least Once This Year
Through the first 16 contests of the 2005-06 season, six Cal players have missed a total of 28 games due to injury. The Bears dressed just 10 players five times and 11 once in their first six outings, and have suited up everyone on the roster only one time - Dec. 21 vs. DePaul. Senior G Martin Smith, who earned 17 starts last season, and senior F Rod Benson are the most recent to be sent to the sidelines. Smith has an abdominal strain that has forced him out of the last seven games, while Benson underwent surgery on his right knee for a torn meniscus last Friday and is not expected back for about four weeks.

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 Dec. 29, getting on the court for three minutes, and he had four points (4-6 FT) in 17 minutes vs. Oregon Jan. 5. 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.

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 are suiting 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.

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 ...
When Ayinde Ubaka and Leon Powe tallied 29 and 27 points, respectively, vs. Oregon Jan. 5, they became the first Cal duo to each score at least 25 points in a game since Lamond Murray (26) and Jason Kidd (25) vs. Oregon on March 3, 1994 ... Powe was 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 ... junior G/F Marquise Kately, who withdrew from school in October for personal reasons, has re-enrolled 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 ... Cal's 88-58 win at Arizona State Jan. 19 matched the Bears' largest victory margin in a conference road game ever. Cal also defeated USC by 30 points in 1998 (73-43) ... the Bears sank 31 free throws at ASU (38 attempts), their highest total since also making 31 at Washington State on Feb. 22, 1997.

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