Cal Opens Pac-10 Season at Arizona

Dec. 26, 2006

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California Golden Bears (8-4, 0-0) at Arizona Wildcats (9-1, 0-0)
Thursday, Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m. PT/6:30 p.m. MT, McKale Center, Tucson, AZ
Radio: KYOU (1550 AM)
TV: Comcast SportsNet

California at Arizona State Sun Devils (6-5, 0-0, vs. Stanford 12/28)
Saturday, Dec. 30, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT, Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, AZ
Radio: KYOU (1550 AM)
TV: FSN Bay Area Plus

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
In the midst of a four-game road swing, California heads to the desert to begin Pac-10 play this week with visits to Arizona and Arizona State.

The Golden Bears have won three of their last four conference openers, including last season's sweep of USC (62-58) and UCLA (68-61) in Los Angeles. However, Cal faces a difficult task at No. 9 Arizona, where the Bears have not won since a 74-72 decision in 1995.

Cal also enters the contest short-handed along the front line, with junior C DeVon Hardin out due to a stress fracture in his left foot suffered vs. Furman Dec. 19. He is expected to miss 8-12 weeks.

Because sophomore C Jordan Wilkes is already slated for a redshirt year following preseason knee surgery, the Bears will rely even more heavily at the post on freshman F Ryan Anderson as the season progresses. Cal's leading scorer and rebounder on the year, the 6-10 rookie came through with 24 points and 16 rebounds at DePaul last Saturday in his first test without Hardin alongside him.

Overall, Anderson is contributing 17.7 ppg (second in the Pac-10) and 9.3 rpg (fifth) - the only player in the conference to rate among the Top 5 in both categories.

Senior G Ayinde Ubaka remains Cal's leader at the point, now averaging 13.2 ppg and 5.5 apg. He paces the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.14) and has 42 assists against just eight turnovers his last six contests.

Sophomore Theo Robertson, now playing more of a power forward role, has raised his scoring average to 7.8 ppg by reaching double figures in four of his last five games, while junior G Omar Wilkes leads the Bears in field goal shooting (54.5%) after contributing 15 points against Furman last week.

Freshman Patrick Christopher replaced Hardin in the starting lineup at DePaul and came through with two points, two rebounds and a career-best three assists. In addition, junior F Eric Vierneisel tossed in 11 points against the Blue Demons - his highest total since a 12-point outing vs. UC Riverside on Nov. 11, 2004, the first game of his career.

Probable StartersPOS  NO  NAME                  HT    WT   YR  PPG   RPGF    23  Patrick Christopher   6-5   210  Fr  3.5   1.59 points vs. Hawaii & Chicago State; 8 points vs. Furman F    24  Theo Robertson        6-6   225  So  7.8   4.1Averaging 12.0 ppg last five games (19-33 FG); 16 pts. vs. FurmanF   34  Ryan Anderson          6-10  235  Fr  17.7  9.324 points, 16 rebounds at DePaul; 45.6 3P% (26-57) G     1  Ayinde Ubaka          6-4   200  Sr  13.2  5.5 apgLast 6 games: 42 assists, 8 turnovers; 11 assists, 0 TO vs. FurmanG     2  Omar Wilkes           6-4   185  Jr  10.7  1.9Team-high 54.5 FG%; tied career high with 18 points vs. LMU

Cal Head Coach Ben Braun
Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75), the second-winningest coach in Cal history, is in his 11th year in Berkeley and 30th season as a collegiate head coach. His record at Cal stands at 194-125, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 527-360. 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 seven times in his first 10 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, plus another NCAA berth in 2006. 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.

Arizona Scouting Report

A Look at Arizona
Arizona (#9 AP/#9 ESPN/USA Today) has won nine consecutive games after an opening 93-90 loss at Virginia. All five starters are averaging double figures for the Wildcats, led by Ivan Radenovic's 17.5 ppg on 58.2 percent field goal shooting. Arizona is outrebounding opponents by a 41.0 - 32.4 margin and is outscoring them by 15.0 ppg (85.9 - 70.9). UA is 6-0 at home this season, including a Dec. 20 victory over Memphis, 79-71.

Cal-Arizona Series History
Arizona holds a 47-25 all-time record against Cal and has won 11 straight over the Bears in Tucson. Last season, the teams split their two meetings, with Arizona holding on for a 60-55 victory at home, and Cal prevailing, 75-66, in Berkeley behind Leon Powe's 30 points.

Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson
Lute Olson is 578-178 in his 24th season at Arizona and 770-270 in his 34th year overall. Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, he has directed UA to the 1997 NCAA title, four Final Fours and 11 Pac-10 titles. He also guided Iowa to the 1980 Final Four and is a nine-time conference Coach of the Year.

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Arizona State Scouting Report

A Look at Arizona State
Arizona State, which hosts Stanford Thursday before playing Cal, is off to a 6-5 start under first-year head coach Herb Sendek. The Sun Devils are 6-3 in Tempe, which includes a 67-64 victory over Iowa. Freshman G Christian Polk leads the squad in scoring with 14.7 ppg, while sophomore F Jeff Pendergraph is nearly averaging a double-double with 11.6 ppg and 9.5 rpg.

Cal-Arizona State Series History
Arizona State owns a 32-29 series lead after the teams each won on the road last season. Cal finished with a 24-2 run to take an 88-58 decision in Tempe, while ASU hung on for a 65-64 victory in double OT in Berkeley. The Bears have won five of their past six on ASU's home floor after a 10-game losing streak in Tempe from 1991-2000.

ASU Head Coach Herb Sendek
Herb Sendek is in his first year at Arizona State and his 14th season as a collegiate head coach. He led North Carolina State to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2002-06 and was 191-132 with the Wolfpack. In addition to his 10 years at NC State, he was head coach for three seasons at Miami (Ohio) from 1994-96.

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Golden Bear Notes

Last Time Out: Big Second Half Leads DePaul over Cal, 90-62
After trailing by three-points at the break, DePaul scored 57 points in the second half on 70.0 percent shooting from the floor to defeat Cal, 90-62, last Saturday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. The Bears, who were playing their first game without injured C DeVon Hardin (foot), built as much as a nine-point lead early in the game at 33-24. But DePaul opened the second half on a 16-3 run and never looked back. Freshman F Ryan Anderson had 17 points and 11 rebounds at the half, and finished with 24 points and 16 boards. Junior F Eric Vierneisel also came off the bench of 11 points, sinking 3-of-4 from three-point range.

Back on the Road for Pac-10 Opener
For the third consecutive year, California opens its Pac-10 slate on the road, visiting Arizona in Tucson and Arizona State in Tempe this week. Last season, the Bears began conference action in Los Angeles, where they swept USC (62-58) and UCLA (68-61). In 2004-05, Cal traveled to Washington and split a pair of games, falling 81-67 at UW, but beating Washington State, 59-47. Combined with their Jan. 3 visit to Stanford, the Bears start league competition with three straight away from home for the first time since 1997-98 when they played at Oregon (loss), Oregon State (win) and Stanford (loss).

Bears See Familiar Early Foe in Arizona
For the fifth time in the last 12 years, Cal begins Pac-10 action against Arizona, with the Bears going 1-3 in the previous four meetings. Cal upended the Wildcats, 99-75, to begin the 1995-96 campaign (later forfeited for use of an ineligible player) at the Oakland Arena. The following year, Arizona survived a last-season shot by Prentice McGruder that bounced off the back of the rim in an 81-80 victory in Tucson. On Jan. 6, 2000, the Wildcats took a 65-61 decision in Haas Pavilion, while they prevailed, 78-75, in Tucson on Jan. 4, 2001 - the last time the two schools started league play against each other.

Ayinde Ubaka Picking Up the Assists
As an All-Pac-10 performer last year and preseason candidate for both the Wooden (best player) and Cousy (best point guard) awards, senior Ayinde Ubaka has been recognized as one of the top point guards in the county. And so far, he has been more than living up to his notice, especially when it comes to dishing out assists. Ubaka is averaging a career-best 5.5 apg to date, well above his career 3.6 apg entering the season. He had a personal-high 11 assists (0 turnovers) vs. Furman Dec. 19, and he had eight assists (0 turnovers) vs. Kansas State Nov. 29. Since an uncharacteristic six-turnover outing vs. Marshall Nov. 23, Ubaka has 53 assists (6.63 apg) and just 12 turnovers (1.5 topg) over his past eight games. He also leads the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.14 and is on pace to become the first Bear to average at least five assists since Prentice McGruder in 1997 (6.4 apg).

Cal Career Assist Leaders5. Shantay Legans (2000-02)   3866. Gene Ransom (1976-78)      3567. Ayinde Ubaka (2004- )      341

Anderson Has Big Rebound Day at DePaul
When freshman F Ryan Anderson pulled down 16 rebounds at DePaul last Saturday, he grabbed more boards than any Cal freshman since Jamal Sampson had 17 against Washington on Jan. 17, 2002. Anderson, who has a team-high four double-doubles this season, is averaging 9.3 rpg, fifth in the Pac-10. He has paced the Bears on the glass in each of the team's last four outings and in eight of 12 games overall. Leon Powe, who snared 9.5 rpg in 2003-04, owns the Cal freshman rebound record, a mark Anderson could overtake by season's end.

Cal Freshman Rebound Leaders1. Leon Powe (2004)             9.5 rpg2. Ryan Anderson (2007)         9.3 rpg3. Bob McKeen (1952)            8.6 rpg4. Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1996)   8.4 rpg

Cal Keeps Turnovers to a Minimum
Cal, which led the Pac-10 in fewest turnovers last season (12.4 per game), is committing just 12.08 topg this year. The Bears have had fewer turnovers than their opponents in eight of 12 games, and have committed more than 15 just once (17 vs. San Diego). In the Bears' win over Kansas State Nov. 29, Cal had just two turnovers at halftime and finished the game with only eight - the Bears' lowest figure since a four-turnover performance vs. Stanford last Feb. 9. Cal also committed 10 total turnovers vs. Utah Valley State, Chicago State and Furman.

Bears No. 1 in NCAA in Free Throw Shooting
Through the first 12 games of the season, California leads the nation in free throw shooting, having connected on 79.8 percent of its tries from the charity stripe. Eight players are shooting higher than 76 percent and seven are at 80 percent or better. The Bears were 42-for-44 (95.5%) in three games at the Great Alaska Shootout in November, including a perfect 11-for-11 performance in the title game vs. Loyola Marymount - tying the school record for most attempts without a miss (also at DePaul in 1999). Freshman G Jerome Randle sank his first 12 shots of the year before missing (now 24-for-28, 85.7%), senior G Ayinde Ubaka is 32-for-38 (84.2%). Even junior C DeVon Hardin, a career 53.1 percent shooter entering the season, was 32-for-40 this year (80.0%) before sustaining a foot injury. The school record for free throw percentage is 73.5 percent set during the 1986-87 campaign.

NCAA Free Throw Leaders (through games of Dec. 25)1. California               162-203   79.8%2. Butler                   223-281   79.4%3. Villanova                198-253   78.3%4. Southeastern Louisiana   127-163   77.9%5. Navy                     174-224   77.7%

Ryan Anderson Leading as a Freshman
Freshman F Ryan Anderson kicked off his college career by scoring at least 20 points in each of his first three games, then earning MVP honors while leading Cal to the Great Alaska Shootout championship. In addition, he has paced the Bears on the boards eight times in 12 games, reaching double figures on five occasions. As a result, the rookie paces the Bears in both scoring (17.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg), ranking in the Top 5 of the Pac-10 in both categories. Anderson tallied a high of 25 points vs. Santa Clara, and has also tossed in 24 points at DePaul, 23 points vs. Furman and 21 at San Diego State. He is shooting 53.2 percent from the floor (second on the team) and paces Cal from three-point distance (26-57, 45.6%) and in free throw attempts (36-47, 76.6%).

Injury Hits Post Position for Third Straight Season
For the third consecutive season, Cal will be missing at least one of its primary post players for most, if not all, of the year. The Bears played the 2004-05 campaign without F Leon Powe, who sat out the entire year due to preseason knee surgery. Powe, who earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors in 2003-04, returned to claim second-team All-America status in 2005-06. Last year, C Rod Benson, who started for Powe during his medical-redshirt campaign, missed 11 games and was limited in several others due to a stress fracture in a foot, then a torn meniscus in his right knee. Now, two Bear centers have been sidelined for 2006-07. Center Jordan Wilkes, a 7-0 sophomore, was diagnosed with a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee and underwent season-ending surgery on Nov. 21. Junior C DeVon Hardin then suffered a stress fracture to his left mid-foot late in the first half vs. Furman Dec. 19 and is expected to be out 8-12 weeks. He underwent surgery Dec. 22. With Wilkes, Hardin and sophomore G Nikola Knezevic (knee) all sidelined, the Bears now dress just nine healthy scholarship players.

Bears' Defense Key in Victories
In its eight wins this season, Cal is limiting opponent to 36.5 percent shooting from the floor and 55.0 ppg. Five of the six teams to venture into Haas Pavilion have managed 51 or fewer points, and the 47 points scored by Utah Valley State Nov. 15 was the lowest for a Cal opponent in a season opener since the Bears defeated Saint Mary's, 62-44, on Dec. 5, 1964. Only Hawaii, at 40.7 percent, has managed to shoot higher than 40 percent from the floor among the eight victims. On the flip side, the Bears are allowing 81.2 ppg and 52.3 percent shooting in their four losses.

Theo Robertson Raising the Bar Last Seven Games
During a six-game stretch from Nov. 25 through Dec. 19, sophomore F Theo Robertson increased his scoring output each time out. After chipping in just three points vs. Hawaii Nov. 24, he contributed point totals of 4, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 16 in succession. Despite a nine-point effort at DePaul last Saturday, he is averaging 10.4 ppg on 58.6 percent shooting his last seven games. In the first five games of the year prior to his recent run, Robertson averaged 4.2 ppg, shooting just 25.8 percent from the field.

Cal Takes More FT than Opponents Attempt ... Again
Last season, Cal made more free throws (525) than its opponents attempted (505) for the first time in school history. And the Bears have kept up the trend this season, having made 162 free throws to their opponents' 143 attempts. The advantage was built in the opener vs. Utah Valley State when Cal was Cal was 25-of-32 from the line, while UVSC was just 4-of-5. The Bears have held teams to single-figure attempts five times. Overall, Cal is outscoring opponents at the stripe by a 162-97 margin, or by 5.4 ppg.

Opponents Shooting Less Than 44 Percent for 11th Straight Year
Since his arrival at Cal in September 1996, head coach Ben Braun has placed heavy emphasis on defense, and the results have shown in field goal percentage defense allowed. By holding opponents to just 41.8 percent from the floor so far this year, Cal is on pace to limit foes to 44.0 percent shooting or less for the 11th consecutive season - each year of Braun's tenure in Berkeley. In the 25 seasons before Braun's arrival, opponents shot under 44.0 percent only twice - in 1994 and 1972.

DeVon Hardin's Loss Felt in the Paint
With his 6-11, 235-pound frame, junior C DeVon Hardin offers an intimidating presence on the court. He leads the Bears with 21 blocked shots this year (1.91 per game), including a career-best five against Santa Clara and four more vs. Loyola Marymount. For his career, Hardin leads all active Pac-10 players and ranks fifth on Cal's career chart with 95 blocks. Now sidelined with a stress fracture in his left foot, Hardin's ability to alter shots will most certainly be missed.

Anderson Could Be Third Freshman to Lead Cal in Scoring since '96
In contributing a team-high 17.7 ppg to date (No. 2 in the Pac-10), F Ryan Anderson is aiming to become the third freshman to pace Cal in scoring since 1996. Leon Powe was the last Cal rookie to accomplish the feat when he averaged 15.1 ppg in 2004 and was voted Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Back in 1996, Shareef Abdur-Rahim not only led the Bears, but he paced the Pac-10 with 21.1 ppg and was named both Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and Pac-10 Player of the Year. Earlier this season, Anderson matched Abdur-Rahim as the only two Cal freshmen to score at least 20 points in each of their first three games. Anderson fell just short of a fourth consecutive 20-point outing when he finished with 19 points against Marshall, totaling 17 second-half points after a two-point first half.

Cal Freshman Scoring Leaders1. Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1996)   21.1 ppg2. Ryan Anderson (2007)         17.7 ppg3. Leon Powe (2004)             15.1 ppg4. Brian Hendrick (1990)        14.9 ppg5. Rickie Hawthorne (1973)      14.2 ppg

Pete Newell Statue Installed in Haas Pavilion Club Room
As a fitting tribute to Pete Newell's lifetime accomplishments in basketball as a coach, mentor and leader, a statue of the Hall of Famer and former Golden Bear head coach has been installed inside the Club Room at Haas Pavilion. Created by renowned sculptor Eino, the statue stands approximately seven feet high and weighs nearly 1,200 pounds. The work originated through the vision of the late Brian Maxwell and received additional financial assistance from players, coaches and managers who were part of Newell's teams in Berkeley. As a coach, Newell directed Cal to the 1959 NCAA championship and to a runner-up finish in 1960, when he was voted National Coach of the Year. He later guided the U.S. team to an Olympic gold medal at the 1960 Games in Rome. Newell, who turned 91 in August, served as head coach of the Bears from 1954-60 and compiled a 119-44 record that included four conference titles and four trips to the NCAA Tournament. He then worked as Cal's athletic director from 1960-68. He is a member of both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame.

Golden Bear Notes ...
With an 8-4 non-league record, Cal has its highest pre-Pac-10 victory total since going 9-1 heading into conference play in 2001-02 ... freshman Ryan Anderson was voted MVP of the Great Alaska Shootout; he was joined on the all-tournament team by Ayinde Ubaka and DeVon Hardin ... Cal has added four walk-ons to the roster: sophomore G Nican Robinson (5-10, 180, Oakland, CA/Oakland Tech HS), freshman F Thomas Fang (6-5, 200, San Jose, CA/Archbishop Mitty HS), freshman G David Liss (6-0, 165, San Francisco, CA/Branson School) and senior G Patrick Armstrong (6-0, 175, San Jose, CA/Bellarmine Prep) ... Ubaka is on the preseason watch lists for both the Wooden All-America team and the Bob Cousy Award ... for the second consecutive year, Cal has been picked fifth in the Pac-10 in a preseason vote of media who cover the conference; last year, the Bears finished third during the regular season with a 12-6 mark and reached the final of the Pac-10 Tournament ... Ubaka is averaging 33.5 minutes per game, down from 37.3 mpg last year when he set a school record with 1,156 minutes played ... of its 12 pre-Pac-10 games this season, Cal played six at home and six on the road ... junior G Omar Wilkes tied his career high with 18 points vs. Loyola Marymount and tops the Bears in field goal shooting at 54.5 percent ... Cal's championship in the Great Alaska Shootout was the first in-season tournament victory for the Bears, other than the Golden Bear Classic, since taking the Lobo Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., in December 1975 ... sophomore G Nikola Knezevic, who was expected to be a primary contributor in the backcourt this season, has yet to play as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery to clean up loose cartilage in his right knee.

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