Cal Hosts New Mexico in NIT First Round Wednesday

March 17, 2008

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MasterCard National Invitation Tournament
New Mexico Lobos (24-8) at California Golden Bears (16-15)
Wednesday, March 19, 8 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYOU (1550 AM)

California has accepted a bid to the 2008 MasterCard National Invitation Tournament and will host New Mexico in a first-round game at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Haas Pavilion.

The Golden Bears are seeded fourth in their region of the bracket, while the Lobos are the fifth seed. The winner of the Cal-New Mexico game will play the Ohio State-North Carolina Asheville winner in the second round March 20, 21, 22 or 24 at a site TBA.

The Bears, who captured the NIT title in 1999, are participating in the event for the sixth time and first since reaching the quarterfinals in 2000. Overall, Cal owns a 10-4 mark in NIT action.

Since Haas Pavilion opened in the fall of 1999, the Bears are 59-8 (.881) vs. non-conference competition, including 8-1 this season. Among the wins are two victories in the 2000 NIT over Long Beach State and Georgetown and a November 2001 triumph over New Mexico.

This year's Golden Bear squad is led by sophomore F Ryan Anderson, a first-team All-Pac-10 choice and second-team All-American (The Sporting News). Anderson leads the conference in scoring with 21.3 ppg and is third in the league in rebounding with 10.0 rpg. With 1,199 career points, he is already 17th on Cal's all-time scoring list, and his 660 points this year is the second-highest season total in school history.

Sophomore G Patrick Christopher, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 choice, contributes 15.8 ppg and has 11 20-point games on the year, including a 25-point outburst vs. Washington in the Pac-10 Tournament last week.Up front, senior C DeVon Hardin paces the squad with 36 blocked shots and his second on the Bears with 7.5 rpg. Hardin ranks No. 2 in career blocks with 131 and 13th with 638 rebounds on the Cal charts.

As a team, the Bears lead the conference in scoring with 77.3 ppg and could pace the Pac-10 for the first time. Cal has averaged 80.5 ppg vs. non-conference games this year, with highs of 117 points vs. Jackson State and 102 points against Long Beach State.

In addition, the Bears are second in the country in free throw shooting at 78.0 percent. Cal set a school record last year when it ranked third nationally at 76.9 percent, and the Bears are ahead of that pace this season. Anderson, the Pac-10's free throw leader at 87.6 percent, owns the school's highest career rate of 84.4 percent.

Probable StartersPOS  NO   NAME                  HT    WT   YR   PPG   RPGF    10   Jamal Boykin          6-8   235  So   7.7   4.0Started 11 games; tied career high w/18 points at UCLA (8-12 FG) F    14   Eric Vierneisel       6-7   210  Sr   5.3   2.6Career-high 20 points & 7 boards vs. UW 3/1; 15 points vs. USC 1/3F    34   Ryan Anderson         6-10  240  So   21.3  10.01st team All-Pac-10; 2nd-team All-American; Wooden Award finalistG     3   Jerome Randle         5-10  165  So   11.7  3.9 apg17 points at Arizona; Golden Bear Classic MVP; team-high 22 stealsG    23   Patrick Christopher   6-5   215  So   15.8  3.625 pts. vs. Washington in Pac-10 tourney; 24 points at USC

Cal Head Coach Ben Braun
Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75), the second-winningest coach in Cal history and No. 8 among NCAA Division I active coaches, is in his 12th year in Berkeley and 31st season as a collegiate head coach. His record at Cal stands at 218-153, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 551-388. 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. 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.

New Mexico Scouting Report

A Look at New Mexico
New Mexico is led by Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Year J.R. Giddens, who averages 16.0 ppg and 8.7 rpg. The Lobos lead the nation in three-point percentage at 42.5 percent and are paced by Chad Toppert, who has connected on 84 shots and is making 48.3 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.

Cal-New Mexico Series History
Cal owns a 3-1 series lead over New Mexico, having won both ends of a home-and-home series in 2001 and '02. The Bears prevailed, 71-62, on Nov. 28, 2001, in Berkeley and, 76-68, in Albuquerque on Nov. 23, 2002, in the team's season-opener. Cal claimed the first meeting, 83-79, during the 1969-70 campaign, while UNM won, 82-62, at home a year later.

New Mexico Head Coach Steve Alford
Steve Alford, who is in his first season at New Mexico, has a career mark of 332-191, which includes a 152-106 record at Iowa and previous stints at Manchester College and Southwest Missouri State. He guided the Hawkeyes to the postseason six times and to two Big Ten titles.

Probable StartersPos  No   Name             Ht   Wt   Yr   Ppg   RpgF    30   Roman Martinez   6-6  185  So   7.0   3.9C    53   Daniel Faris     6-9  245  Jr   9.3   4.5G     2   Jonathan Wills   6-5  185  Fr   3.3   1.0G     5   Dairese Gary     6-1  205  Fr   7.9   2.3G    15   J.R. Giddens     6-5  215  Sr   16.0  8.7

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Golden Bear Notes

A Look at Cal's History in the NIT
Cal is participating in the NIT for the sixth time and owns a 10-4 record in the event. The Bears won the championship in 1999 and reached the quarterfinals in both 1987 and 2000. Cal's NIT berth in 1986 marked the school's first postseason appearance since the NCAA runner-up squad of 1960, although the Bears made a first-round exit. Cal also advanced to the second round in 1989.

In 1999, Cal reached the semifinals with a home win over Fresno State (79-71) at the Oakland Arena, a 17-point comeback at DePaul (58-57) and another victory in Oakland over Colorado State (71-62). The Bears met a familiar foe in Oregon in the semis in New York. Although Cal lost both regular-season games to the Ducks, it prevailed, 85-69, behind 22 points from Mike Gill. The Bears then edged Clemson, 61-60, for the title, going ahead when Geno Carlisle hit a free throw to complete a three-point play with 4.7 seconds left. Lampley, who had 16 points vs. Clemson, was named the NIT's MVP.

Cal against the 2008 NIT Field
Cal has played only two of the other 31 teams that earned berths in the NIT this season. The Bears defeated San Diego State, 77-69, on Nov. 24 in Berkeley behind 23 points and 13 rebounds from Ryan Anderson and 14 rebounds from DeVon Hardin. Cal also split its series vs. Arizona State, falling to the Sun Devils, 99-90, in double overtime at home Jan. 17 and winning, 76-73, in Tempe Feb. 16. Looking ahead in the Bears' quarter of the bracket, their next game would be against either Ohio State or UNC Asheville. Cal is 9-7 all-time vs. OSU, but the teams haven't met since the Buckeyes, with John Havlicek and Bob Knight on the roster, downed Cal, 75-55, in the 1960 NCAA championship game in San Francisco, which served as Pete Newell's final game as head coach of the Bears. Cal is also 0-1 vs. UNC Asheville, having lost, 58-53, in Berkeley during the 1987-88 season.

Ryan Anderson First Bear to 600-300 Club
With 660 points and 311 rebounds this season, sophomore F Ryan Anderson has become the first player in school history to register at least 600 points and 400 boards in one year. Anderson's point total is the second highest ever at Cal, trailing only the 729 points scored by Lamond Murray in 1994. He is also the first Bear since Mark McNamara in 1982 to grab 300 or more rebounds. In addition to being the sole member of the 600-300 club, Anderson is also the first Cal player to go for 500-250 twice after finishing with 539 points and 269 boards as a freshman. In school history, only four others Bears have managed to pull off the feat once: Leonard Taylor in 1987 (649 points, 270 rebounds), Mark McNamara in 1982 (593-341), Ansley Truitt in 1972 (544-382) and Leon Powe in 2006 (553-273).

Cal Posting Highest Rebound Margin since 1993
With a +3.4 rebound margin this season, Cal has its highest differential since the 1992-93 squad owned a +4.6 per game advantage on the boards. The Bears have posted double-digit advantages seven times, most recently vs. Oregon State Feb. 7 when they held a 44-32 edge. The largest margin came against Missouri Dec. 1 when Cal won the board battle, 41-20. In the Feb. 24 game at Stanford, the Bears became the first Pac-10 team to outrebound the Cardinal, finishing with a 39-33 count, while Cal out-boarded UCLA, 30-29, in the Pac-10 Tournament. Individually, Ryan Anderson ranks third in the conference with 10.0 per game, while DeVon Hardin is seventh in the league with 7.5 rpg. Hardin opened the year with three straight games of 14, followed by a 16-rebound effort at Nevada, to become the first Bear to grab 14 or more in four consecutive contests since Darrall Imhoff in 1959-60.

Cal's Top Rebounding Margins Last 20 YearsYear      Cal Reb   Opp Reb   Margin1992-93   37.9      33.3      +4.62007-08   36.1      32.7      +3.41988-89   33.2      30.6      +2.61996-97   38.0      35.5      +2.5

Anderson Could Be Cal's 7th Pac-10 Scoring Champ since '94
Now contributing 21.3 ppg (19th NCAA) and owner of four 30-point games this year, sophomore F Ryan Anderson is on his way to becoming the Bears' seventh conference scoring champion in the past 15 years. Anderson set a career best with 36 points at Nevada and later tossed in 32 vs. Arizona State, 30 against Arizona and 33 at Washington. Only two players at Cal have had more 30-point games in one year - Ed Gray had six in 1996-97 and Lamond Murray had five in 1993-94. Anderson enters Wednesday's New Mexico game having reached double figures in 34 straight contests, and he has scored 20 or more points 17 times this year, including nine games with at least 27 points. The school record for consecutive games scoring at least 10 points is 51 in a row by Lamond Murray (1993-94).

Recent Cal Pac-10 Scoring ChampionsLamond Murray         1993-94   24.3 ppgShareef Abdur-Rahim   1995-96   21.1 ppgEd Gray               1996-97   24.8 ppgSean Lampley          2000-01   19.5 ppgJoe Shipp             2002-03   20.4 ppgLeon Powe             2005-06   20.5 ppgRyan Anderson         2007-08   21.3 ppg (leads Pac-10)

Cal Among NCAA Free Throw Leaders Again, Now No. 2
From 1997 through 2005, Cal never once managed to make 70 percent of its attempts from the free throw line. But over the last three years, the Bears have proven to be one of the most accurate teams in the country. After connecting on 73.3 percent of its tries in 2006 - Cal's highest rate since 1989 - the Bears ranked third in the country in 2007 with a school-record 76.9 percent. Now, Cal is ahead of that pace, having drained 78.0 percent from the stripe, a figure that is second best in the NCAA entering this week's play. The Bears were perfect from the line at Washington State (6-6) and have been 80 percent or higher 15 times. Individually, Ryan Anderson is 20th in the country at 87.6 percent, while Jerome Randle is connecting on 86.5 percent of his attempts. Perhaps more importantly, Cal is getting to the line with significantly more frequency than last season, averaging 21.0 trips per game compared to 15.8 visits in 2006-07.

Top Free Throw Rates in School HistoryYear         FT-FTA    Pct1. 2007-08   507-650   .7802. 2006-07   400-520   .7693. 1986-87   513-698   .7354. 2005-06   525-716   .733

NCAA Free Throw Leaders (as of 3/17/08)1. Utah State 523-660 .7922. California 507-650 .7803. UC Davis 401-515 .7794. IUPUI 498-642 .7765. Florida State 519-674 .770

Bears Pouring in the Points, Could Lead Pac-10 for 1st Time
Now averaging 77.3 ppg, Cal leads the Pac-10 and has its highest scoring rate since the 1994-95 squad poured in 79.9 ppg. This year's output also represents a 7.8 ppg increase over last season, when the Bears averaged 69.5 ppg. Cal has scored at least 90 points four times, including a pair of games over 100, and 80 or more on nine occasions. In fact, Cal's 117-74 win over Jackson State Dec. 5 represented the third-highest single-game total in school history. The Bears also defeated Long Beach State, 102-65, on Dec. 28 in the first round of the Golden Bear Classic, and topped USC, 92-82, in their Pac-10 opener. Cal has never led the Pac-10 in scoring for a full season.

Hardin, Vierneisel Shine on Senior Day
In their final game in Haas Pavilion, senior DeVon Hardin and Eric Vierneisel came through with the best combined outing of their careers vs. Washington March 1. Hardin matched his season best with 18 points (including 16 in the first half) and grabbed 13 rebounds - his highest total since snaring 16 at Nevada on Nov. 28. Vierneisel, meanwhile, established personal bests for both points (20) and rebounds (7). He shot 5-for-5 from behind the arc, tying the school record for most three-pointers made without a miss (also Amit Tamir vs. Arizona State, March 3, 2003). Since beginning the year 3-for-25 from the floor and 1-for-16 from three-point range, Vierneisel has gone 45-for-103 (43.7%), including 24-for-63 on treys (38.1%). In Pac-10 games, he paced the Bears from behind the arc at 41.2 percent (19-46).

Ryan Anderson: Cal's First 1,000-Point Sophomore
With 22 points vs. Oregon State Feb. 7, F Ryan Anderson became the first sophomore in school history to score 1,000. He is the 36th Cal player ever to attain the 1,000-point level and enters Wednesday's action 17th all-time with 1,199 points. Only two other Bears scored 1,000 points in their first two years with the program, and both of them transferred in. Mark McNamara, who began his career at Santa Clara, had 1,041 points in 1981 and '82, while Ed Gray finished with 1,082 points in 1996 and '97 after entering Cal from the College of Southern Idaho. Anderson's total of 1,199 points is the second-highest two-season figure in Cal history when considering all years played.

Most Points Freshman-Sophomore Seasons at CalName                          Frosh   Soph   Total1. Ryan Anderson (2007-08)    539     660    11992. Brian Hendrick (1990-91)   478     492    9703. Leon Powe (2004, 06)       409     553    962

Most Points in Back-to-Back Seasons at CalName Best 2 Years 1st Year 2nd Year Total1. Lamond Murray 1993-94 572 729 13012. Ryan Anderson 2007-08 539 660 11993. Sean Lampley 2000-01 549 605 1154

Year of the Sophomore for Golden Bears
In many circles around the country, the 2007-08 season has been deemed the Year of the Freshman for the number of quality newcomers on college rosters. But at Cal, the campaign can easily be called the Year of the Sophomore. The Bears' second-year players are combining to average 59.6 ppg, or 77.1 percent of Cal's total. The team's top three scorers are all sophomores, led by Ryan Anderson's 21.3 ppg. He is followed by Patrick Christopher with 15.8 ppg and Jerome Randle with 11.7 ppg. Each player has already set a career high, as well. Anderson poured in 36 points at Nevada, Christopher had 26 vs. Jackson State, and Randle came through with 26 points against North Dakota State. Including Cal's freshmen, the Bears are getting 83.0 percent of their points and 71.8 percent of their rebounds from underclassmen.

Cal Production by Class            Points (Avg.)   Rebounds (Avg.)   Assists (Avg.)Senior      427 (13.8)      292 (9.4)         83 (2.7)Junior      0 (0.0)         0 (0.0)           0 (0.0)Sophomore   1847 (59.6)     663 (21.4)        352 (11.3)Freshman    143 (4.6)       80 (2.6)          34 (1.1)

DeVon Hardin Holds Down No. 2 Block Spot
With 131 blocks during his Cal career, senior C DeVon Hardin has cemented his place as the No. 2 shot-blocker in school history. Michael Stewart, who played from 1994-97, is the all-time leader with 207. Hardin has swatted 34 shots this year and is well on his way to leading the team for the third consecutive season. He had a high of 48 as a sophomore in 2006, and although he was limited to just 11 games due to a foot stress fracture last year, he still had a team-best 21. On the offensive end, Hardin is shooting a career-high 55.4 percent from the floor, which ranks eighth in the Pac-10, tossing in 9.5 ppg.

Anderson Reaps Pac-10, National Honors for WSU, UW Effort
Sophomore F Ryan Anderson, who averaged 30.0 ppg and 13.0 rpg in wins at Washington State and Washington Jan. 31-Feb.2, was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week, as well as the, The Sporting News and National Player of the Week. Dick Vitale also selected him Co-Player of the Week. Anderson made 20-of-32 shots from the floor (62.5%), 9-of-14 from three-point range (64.3%) and all 11 of his free throw tries. He had 27 points and nine rebounds at WSU, including the go-ahead layup with 42 seconds left, and 33 points and a career-high-tying 17 boards at UW.

Patrick Christopher One of Most Improved In Pac-10
After averaging 5.2 ppg and reaching double figures just four times as a freshman last year, G Patrick Christopher has shown off a new-found scoring ability this season, reaching double digits in 25 games, including 21 games of 15 or more. Now tossing in 15.8 ppg, he is scoring 10.6 ppg more than he did last year - the highest increase for any Pac-10 player this year. Christopher tied his high from his freshman campaign with 24 points against Nicholls State Nov. 19, then set a personal best with 26 points vs. Jackson State Dec. 5. He also scored 24 points in both games vs. USC this year. And in Cal's win over Washington in the Pac-10 Tournament, Christopher finished with 25 points and two steals, playing all 40 minutes. In addition, he is grabbing 3.6 rpg, has dished out 63 assists (2.1 apg) and is shooting 79.6 percent from the free throw line.

Bears Learning to Win the Close Ones
Entering the NIT, Cal owns a 5-7 record in games decided by five points or less or in overtime this year. The Bears lost their first four close games, won their next for, then lost three in a row before edging Washington, 84-81, in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament. With a young team that often features four sophomore starters and includes just two senior and no juniors on the roster, Cal is 1-5 in such games at home and 4-2 outside of Berkeley, including victories at then-No. 9 Washington State (69-64) and at Washington (79-75). The two road losses were at USC (93-89 in OT) and at UCLA (81-80).

Cal's Schedule Rated as High as Nation's Fifth Toughest
According to the Sagarin Ratings, Cal's 2007-08 schedule is ranked as the fifth strongest in the country, behind three other Pac-10 teams - Arizona (1), USC (3) and Oregon (4) - and Georgia Tech (2). The Bears' schedule strength is also rated 28th by and 30th by's Inside RPI.

Anderson's Game Not Just about Points
Although Ryan Anderson has been piling up the points all season, scoring is not the only area where he excels. The 6-10 forward is pulling down 10.0 rpg, which rates third in the Pac-10 and 22nd in the NCAA. He has 15 double-doubles and paced the Bears on the glass 13 straight games from Jan. 5 (UCLA) through Feb. 24 (at Stanford). When he grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds at Oregon State Jan. 12 and followed it up with 15 more boards against Arizona State Jan. 17, Anderson became the first Cal player to have at least 15 rebounds in back-to-back contests since Brian Hendrick had 15 at Washington State and 17 vs. ASU on Feb. 1-6, 1992. Anderson later matched his personal best with 17 boards at Washington Feb. 2. His career sum of 580 rebounds is the fifth-highest two-year total at Cal, and the four ahead of him all did it in their junior and senior seasons. In addition, Anderson leads the Pac-10 in free throw shooting (87.6%, 20th in NCAA), is seventh in three-point accuracy (41.2%) and eighth in three-pointers per game (1.97).

Most Rebounds in Back-to-Back Seasons at CalName                Best 2 Years   1st Year   2nd Year   Total1. Ansley Truitt    1971-72        306        382        6882. Bob Presley      1968-69        347        282        6293. Darrall Imhoff   1959-60        318        371        6894. Mark McNamara    1981-82        272        341        6135. Ryan Anderson    2007-08        269        311        580

Bears Get Big Win in the Palouse
Cal's 69-64 win against then-No. 9 Washington State Jan. 31 represented the Bears' first over a Top 10 team in a true road game since topping then-No. 9 Arizona, 74-72, on Feb. 12, 1995, in Tucson. Cal did beat then-No. 4 UCLA, 76-69, in O in last year's Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals, but the game was played in a neutral site at the Staples Center.

Charles Johnson Inducted into Pac-10 Hall of Honor
Charles Johnson, a 6-0 guard who served as team captain for three seasons from 1969-71, was inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor during ceremonies at the Pac-10 Tournament in March. Known as 'C.J.' he finished his Cal career with 1,025 points and pulled down more than 500 rebounds. He later played seven seasons in the NBA and won titles with the Washington Bullets and Golden State Warriors. Also inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996, Johnson passed away after a battle with cancer on June 1, 2007. Previous Cal inductees into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor are Pete Newell, Kevin Johnson, Jason Kidd, Darrall Imhoff, Andy Wolfe and Russ Critchfield.

Cal Ranked No. 1 in Directors' Cup
Cal was ranked as the No. 1 athletic program in the country in the final fall Directors' Cup standings, marking the second year in a row the Bears have stood atop the rankings at the end of the fall seasons. Cal accumulated a total of 370 points in six sports, led by a national championship in men's water polo and an NCAA semifinal appearance in volleyball. In addition, the Bears earned points in football, men's cross country, and men's and women's soccer. The Directors' Cup measures the best overall collegiate athletics programs in the country and awards points based on final national standings in a maximum of 10 NCAA-sponsored sports for both men and women. Last year, Cal also led the nation after the fall and finished ninth in the final standings. The Bears have placed in the top 10 four of the last five years, including a program-best seventh in 2006.

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