No. 3 Seed Cal Meets No. 6 Seed USC in Pac-10 Tournament
March 6, 2006
USC Trojans (17-12, 8-10) vs.
California Golden Bears (18-9, 12-6)
Thursday, March 9, 6:20 p.m., Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
TV: Fox Sports Net
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
After knocking off USC, 71-60, in the regular-season finale last Saturday, California faces the Trojans again Thursday when the teams meet at 6:20 p.m. in the quarterfinal round of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
If the third-seeded Golden Bears prevail, they will face No. 2 Washington, No. 7 Oregon or No. 10 Washington State in the semifinals Friday at 8:50 p.m. The championship game is 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
Cal owns a 2-0 record vs. sixth-seeded USC this season, having also beaten the Trojans, 62-58, in the league opener Dec. 29 at the Staples Center. The Bears last defeated a Pac-10 team three times in one year in 2003 when they swept Oregon State, which included a 69-46 victory in the Pac-10 tourney quarterfinals.
Sophomore F Leon Powe, who is one of 22 players on the Wooden All-America team national ballot, has averaged 21.0 ppg and 12.5 rpg against the Trojans this season. He had 20 points and 14 rebounds in the first meeting and 22 points and 11 boards this past Saturday.
For the year, Powe leads the Pac-10 in scoring (20.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.9), and is trying to become just the sixth player in history to pace the conference in both categories for an entire season.
Junior G Ayinde Ubaka, now contributing 14.6 ppg and 3.9 apg, has drained 56 three-pointers on the year - more than double the total he had in his first two seasons combined (40). The 56 treys matches Billy Dreher's 1991 total for sixth in the Cal record book.
Ubaka's long-distance accuracy is a big reason the Bears are tied with Arizona State atop the conference in three-point shooting at 37.3 percent. Cal has never finished the season leading the league from three-point distance since the shot was instituted in 1986-87.
Powe, Ubaka Named to 2005-06 All-Pac-10 Team
Sophomore F Leon Powe and junior G Ayinde Ubaka have both been voted to the 10-player All-Pac-10 team, announced Monday. Powe also earned a spot on the squad as a freshman in 2004 when he was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Powe has been named a second-team All-American by ESPN.com and a third-team All-American by foxsports.com, as well. In addition, sophomore C DeVon Hardin was chosen honorable mention All-Pac-10 and F Theo Robertson was selected honorable mention all-freshman.
POS NO NAME HT WT YR PPG RPGF 44 Leon Powe 6-8 240 So 20.0 9.9C 35 DeVon Hardin 6-11 235 So 8.0 6.9G 1 Ayinde Ubaka 6-4 200 Jr 14.6 3.9 apgG 2 Omar Wilkes 6-4 185 So 7.5 1.3G 15 Richard Midgley 6-3 195 Sr 9.2 2.6
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 184-119, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 517-354. 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.
USC Scouting Report
A Look at USC
USC enters the Pac-10 Tournament having lost six of its past eight games. The Trojans were 11-5 at home during the regular season, including 5-4 in conference play. Nick Young (4th, 17.2 ppg) and Gabe Pruitt (6th, 16.7 ppg) both rate among the league scoring leaders. Pruitt, despite missing five games with a knee injury, also has 54 steals and has connected on 65 three-pointers.
Cal-USC Series History
Cal owns a 123-113 series record vs. USC, including a pair of victories this season - 62-58 on Dec. 29 in Los Angeles and 71-60 last Saturday in Berkeley. Ben Braun owns a 14-7 vs. the Trojans during his tenure at Cal, including a 6-5 mark in LA, while the Bears are 1-1 against USC in the history of the Pac-10 Tournament.
USC Head Coach Tim Floyd
Tim Floyd is in his first season at USC, but has more than 17 years experience as a head coach. He served as head coach at Idaho, New Orleans and Iowa State before NBA head coaching stints with the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets. Floyd owns a 260-142 career collegiate record, earning five NCAA Tournament berths.
For more information: www.usctrojans.com
Golden Bear Notes
Last Time Out: Cal Tips USC, 71-60, to Close Regular Season
Ayinde Ubaka scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half as Cal pulled away from USC, 71-60, in the season's final Pac-10 game Saturday in Haas Pavilion. With the win, the Bears clinched third place in the conference standings. Cal, which led, 24-23, at the half, shot 63.6 percent from the floor after intermission and used a 14-2 run to move ahead, 43-29, with 12:35 to go. Leon Powe (22 points, 11 rebounds) and DeVon Hardin (10-11) both recorded double-doubles for the second time this year, while graduating seniors Steve Panawek, Rod Benson and Richard Midgley earned starts in their last regular-season home game.
Cal, USC Together Again
After finishing the regular season against each other last Saturday, Cal and USC will face each other again in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament Thursday night. The Bears won the first two games of the year - 62-58 at the Staples Center Dec. 29 and 71-60 in Berkeley - and the teams are meeting for the third time in league tourney history. In 1988, USC claimed the two regular-season contests before Cal came back to win in the Pac-10 first round, 75-59. Then in 2003, the Bears swept during the regular season, and the Trojans prevailed, 79-62, in the semifinals. Injuries limited Cal in that game, as G A.J. Diggs sat out with a sprained ankle and starting G Brian Wethers played just 12 minutes due to tendinitis in his Achilles tendon.
Only once before has Cal met the same team at the end of the regular season and in the first game of the Pac-10 Tournament. In 1990, the Bears and Stanford played consecutive games to finish the year, then faced off again in the tourney. Cal won, 66-63, Feb. 28 at Stanford; Stanford won, 79-58, March 4 in Berkeley; and Stanford won, 77-61, March 9 in Tempe, Ariz. The Bears still advanced to the NCAA Tournament that year, their first invitation since the 1960 campaign.
Cal's Pac-10 Tournament History
In eight previous Pac-10 Tournaments, Cal has advanced to the semifinals three times - 1987, 2002 and 2003 - and lost in the quarterfinals on five occasions - 1988, 1989, 1990, 2004 and 2005. Last year, as the No. 8 seed, the Bears dropped an 88-63 decision to top-seeded Arizona. Richard Midgley had 10 points and three steals for Cal, which shot just 35.7 percent from the floor to UA's 58.1 percent.
This year, the Bears are seeded third for the third time in the past five years. In 2002, Cal topped UCLA, 67-61, before falling to Arizona, 90-78. In 2002, the Bears routed Oregon State, 69-46, then lost to USC, 79-62.
Powe-tent Force on the Block for Bears
Sophomore F Leon Powe, who went 629 days between games due to knee surgery and a foot stress facture, has returned with a vengeance this season, leading the Pac-10 in both scoring (20.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.9 rpg). He has also moved into the Top 10 in the league in field goal shooting (9th, 48.8%) by making 42 of his last 71 shots from the floor (59.2%) over his past six games.
If Powe holds onto his lead in the scoring and rebounding categories, he will become just the sixth player ever in Pac-10 play to lead the league in both lists, joining Ike Diogu of Arizona State (2004-05), A.C. Green of Oregon State (1984-85), Cal's Mark McNamara (1981-82), UCLA's Bill Walton (1972) and UCLA's Lew Alcindor (1967-69). Powe is also on pace to be the sixth Bear to claim a Pac-10 scoring title since 1994, joining Lamond Murray (1994, 24.2 ppg), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1996, 21.1 ppg), Ed Gray (1997, 24.8 ppg), Sean Lampley (2001, 19.5 ppg) and Joe Shipp (2003, 20.4 ppg).
Powe has scored at least 20 points 13 times, with a best of 32 points vs. Stanford Feb. 9 (10-21 FG, 12-15 FT). He also had 27 points against both San Jose State in his season debut Nov. 30 and vs. Oregon Jan. 5, and 30 against Arizona Feb. 16. Even when he totaled just five points at UCLA Dec. 31 (second lowest of his career), Powe contributed a game-high 12 rebounds vs. the Bruins. Overall, he owns 27 career double-doubles and has led Cal in rebounding in 44 of the 50 games he has played, including 19 of 23 this year (includes ties). Powe's 16 rebounds at Oregon State Feb. 2 are the high for a Pac-10 player this season.
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 game.
Bears Claim 8th Upper Division Finish in 10 Years
With its 12-6 Pac-10 record and third-place standing in the league, Cal has claimed its eighth upper-division conference finish in 10 seasons under head coach Ben Braun. Over the first years, the Bears have tied for second place twice (1997, 2002), been third twice (2003, '06), tied for fourth twice (2001, '04) and tied for fifth twice (1998, '99).
18 Victories, 12 Pac-10 Wins Good Sign for NCAA Tournament Invite
With an 18-9 overall record and a 12-6 Pac-10 mark, history indicates Cal is in very good shape for earning an NCAA Tournament berth. Prior to this year, the last 50 teams to win at least 12 Pac-10 contests have made the NCAA Tourney; UCLA, which was 16-14 overall and 12-6 in the Pac-10 in 1988, was the last not to go. In addition, every conference school that ended the regular season with at least 12 Pac-10 victories and 18 overall wins since 1984 (61 total) have earned spots in NCAAs.
Cal Only Team in League to Beat Every Other Pac-10 Team
Cal's 75-66 victory over Arizona Feb. 16 gave the Bears at least one win over each league team for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign - Ben Braun's first season at the helm. The decision also meant Cal became the only school in the Pac-10 to post a triumph over every conference opponent this season; all other Pac-10 teams were swept by at least one league foe. This year, Cal swept two games with Oregon, Washington State and USC, and split with Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington and UCLA.
Bears Could Top Pac-10 in Three-Point Shooting for First Time
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, now connecting on a 37.3% pace - a rate that ties with Arizona State for first in the conference. Since the shot was implemented in 1986-87, the Bears have never led the league from three-point distance for an entire year. Omar Wilkes is draining a team-high 44.4 percent (20-45), while both Richard Midgley (46-115, 40.0%) and Ayinde Ubaka (56-148, 37.8%) have rated among the league leaders most of the year. In Pac-10 games only, freshman Theo Robertson has made a team-high 42.3 percent (11-26).
Cal Three-Point Shooting Last Three Seasons2005-06 149-400 37.3% 5.52 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 Finds His Way to the Line Just Fine
With 222 free throw attempts this season, Leon Powe has become the first player in school history to take at least 200 free throw shots twice in a career. As a freshman in 2004, Powe went to the line 205 times. He is averaging 9.7 visits per game this year and 8.5 in his two seasons with the Bears. In addition, Powe is converting his attempts at a much higher rate than as a freshman - 72.1% (160-222) to 61.0% (125-205). He was 10-for-10 from the stripe vs. USC March 4 and has drained 58-of-73 (79.5%) over his last seven games. Powe's 222 FT tries are the most for any Cal player since Sean Lampley had 242 free throw attempts in 2001 and rank fifth in school history, while his 160 FTM tie for No. 5 on the Bear season list.
Cal Allowing Just 63.6 ppg After Holding WSU to 41
Cal enters Thursday's game vs. USC surrendering an average of only 63.6 ppg - lowest for a Bear team in 20 years when the 1985-86 squad gave up 63.4 ppg. Cal has allowed more than 70 points just five times, while holding opponents to 60 or fewer points on 10 occasions. Eight Pac-10 foes have failed to break 60, including Washington State, which was held to 41 points Feb. 23 - the lowest total for a Cal opponent since the Bears beat Eastern Washington, 56-27, on Nov. 16, 2001.
Ubaka Clutch from Free Throw Line
With the game on the line, no one has been better at the charity stripe than junior G Ayinde Ubaka. To date, Ubaka is 32-for-35 (91.4%) in the final two minutes of contests, and as the chart shows below, his performances have been key factors in seven of the Bears' 12 Pac-10 wins. Overall, Ubaka is draining 83.2 percent from the foul line (94-113). Prior to this season, he was a career 68.5 percent FT shooter. As a team, Cal is making 78.8 percent in the last two minutes and OT (89-113).
Opponent Key Ubaka Free Throws Resultat USC Hit 2 FT with 3 seconds left with Cal ahead, 60-58 W, 62-58at UCLA Hit 2 FT with 21 seconds left with Cal up, 62-59 W, 68-61vs. Oregon Shot 6-6 from FT line in final 37 seconds W, 77-66vs. Washington Shot 3-4 from FT line in final 36 seconds W, 71-69vs. Washington St. Hit 2 FT with 21 seconds left to give Cal 55-51 lead W, 55-53at Oregon Hit 2 FT with 16 seconds left to give Cal 61-55 lead W, 62-60vs. Stanford Shot 4-4 from FT line in final 24 seconds W, 65-62
Ayinde Ubaka is Cal's Iron Man at the Point
In averaging 37.2 minutes per game, junior G Ayinde Ubaka ranks second in the Pac-10 to Arizona State's Kevin Kruger (38.9 mpg). Ubaka has played all 40 minutes three times - at UCLA, vs. Oregon and vs. Stanford - plus another 46 minutes in a double-overtime contest vs. ASU Feb. 18 and 43 minutes against UCLA March 2. In conference action, he has been on the court for 685 of a possible 735 minutes (93.2%). He has played at least 35 minutes in every game this season, except three - vs. Northern Colorado, when he played 28 minutes, at Oregon, when a sprained ankle limited him to 32 minutes, and vs. USC (32 minutes).
Bears Take Advantage of Free Throw Opportunities
Throughout the 2005-06 season, Cal has made more free throws than its opponents have attempted, with the margin entering Pac-10 Tournament 450-421. In addition, the Bears have outscored their opposition at the line, 450-308, or by an average of 5.3 ppg. Cal has had at least twice as many FT attempts as their opponents 10 times. The Bears are also shooting 72.9 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 higher for an entire season was in 1988-89 (73.3%). Individually, two starters are at 79 percent or higher - Ayinde Ubaka at 83.2 percent (94-113) and Richard Midgley at 79.2 percent (42-53).
Cal's Top Free Throw Shooting Percentages Last 20 Years1986-87* 513-698 73.5%1988-89 544-742 73.3%2005-06 450-617 72.9%1987-88 358-491 72.9%1990-91 485-669 72.5%*school record
Ubaka More Than Doubles Career Scoring Average
Ayinde Ubaka, who entered the season with a career scoring average of 6.3 ppg, is pouring in 14.6 ppg this year. Cal's second-leading scorer (and No. 9 in the Pac-10), he has reached double figures 24 times in 27 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 later bettered that performance with 29 points against Oregon (8-10 FG, 3-3 3P, 10-12 FT) Jan. 5. In addition, Ubaka is shooting 37.8 percent from three-point range (56-148), up from just 29.7 percent last year, and leads the Bears with 104 assists.
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 40.8 FG% 37.8 3P% 83.2 FT% 3.1 rpg 3.9 apg 14.6 ppg
Richard Midgley Moving Up Career Lists
Now firmly secured as Cal's No. 2 all-time three-point shooter, senior G Richard Midgley is moving up the Bears' career scoring chart. He enters the Pac-10 Tournament with 1,157 points, which puts him in 21st place and five points behind No. 20 Michael Chavez. On the three-point list, he ranks second all-time with 180 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 13 times.
Cal Career Scoring Leaders19. Chris Washington 1984-87 1,17920. Michael Chavez 1980-83 1,16221. Richard Midgley 2003- 1,157
Hardin Climbing Season, Career Block Ladders at Cal
Sophomore C DeVon Hardin, who owns a team-best 45 blocks this year - including four each against Arizona and Arizona State Feb. 16-18 - has moved into Cal's career and season Top 10 lists. In just under two full seasons, he has swatted away 71 shots, putting him in a tie for sixth with Sean Marks. On Cal's season list, Hardin is in fifth place by himself. His average of 1.67 per game is third in the Pac-10 this year.
Cal Career Blocks Leaders4. Brian Hendrick 1980-93 985. Lamond Murray 1992-94 756. DeVon Hardin 2005- 716. Sean Marks 1995-98 71
Bears to Finish Second in Pac-10 in Attendance Again
With five consecutive crowds of more than 10,000 to end the season - including sellouts vs. Stanford and UCLA (11,877) - Cal has moved into second place in the Pac-10 in home attendance with an average of 9,324 fans per game. Cal averaged more than 10,000 per game the first five years after Haas Pavilion opened - ranking second to Arizona each season (2000-04). After attendance dipped to 8,704 last season, the Bears have return to the No. 2 spot in the league.
Injury Woes Have Kept 8 Players Out at Least Once This Year
Although Cal about is as healthy as it has been all year, the Bears have still only suited up all 14 players on the roster just once - Dec. 21 vs. DePaul. To date, eight Cal players have missed a total of 47 games due to injury. Two of Cal's three seniors - G Martin Smith and F Rod Benson - have been out for extended periods in Pac-10 action, although Benson returned vs. Arizona Feb. 16 after missing seven games following Jan. 20 knee surgery.
Nikola Knezevic Gives Cal a Boost at the Point
With senior G Martin Smith sidelined for the season due to an abdominal injury, a 6-2 Serbian has come to Cal's rescue. Nikola Knezevic (NEE-koh-lah k-NEH-zhuh-vich), a freshman point guard from Belgrade, 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. Over the past few weeks, he has had his largest impacts - 3 assists in 12 minutes vs. Stanford, 5 points and 2 assists vs. UCLA and 3 points and 4 assists vs. USC. 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.
Golden Bear Notes ...
Cal has won at least 18 games seven times in Ben Braun's 10 years at Cal; Nibs Price is the only other coach to lead the Bears to 18 or more victories seven times, but it took him 30 years to reach the plateau (1925-54) ... four members of the 2005-06 roster are on track to graduate this year: Richard Midgley (social welfare major), Rod Benson (political science), Martin Smith (interdisciplinary studies) and Steve Panawek (political science) ... with a 6-3 road record in Pac-10 play, Cal had its first winning road mark in conference action since the Bears were 5-4 in 2001; the six wins are the best for the Bears since they were 6-3 away from home in 1993 ... when Cal beat Washington State, 43-41, Feb. 23, it marked Cal's lowest point total in a victory since beating Stanford, 43-41, in double overtime on Feb. 16, 1985 ... Cal has had two six-game winning streaks this year - Nov. 21 through Dec. 6 and Jan. 26 through Feb. 16 ... Leon Powe's run of six consecutive double-doubles from Jan. 13 through Feb. 2 was the longest streak at Cal since Mark McNamara ran off eight straight double-doubles during the 1981-82 season ... Cal's 88-58 win over Arizona State Jan. 19 featured the Bears' biggest comeback of the year; Cal trailed, 16-5, midway through the first half before outscoring ASU, 83-42, over the final 33 minutes of the game ... the ASU result 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 ... 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 ... head coach Ben Braun picked up his 500th career victory with an 88-69 win over Long Beach State Nov. 21 ... 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.