Nov. 26, 2007
California Golden Bears (3-0) at Nevada Wolf Pack (2-2)
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 7 p.m., Lawlor Events Center, Reno, NV
Radio: KYOU (1550 AM)
Fresh off a 3-0 homestand to begin the season, California takes to the road for the first time with a Wednesday visit to Nevada. The game tips off at 7 p.m. in Reno.
The Golden Bears are 3-0 for the first time since 2002-03, and with a win against the Wolf Pack, they would match the 2001-02 team for the best four-game start under head coach Ben Braun.
Cal has run out to its undefeated record with a defense that is limiting opponents to 37.2 percent shooting from the floor and 63.3 ppg. In their most recent game, a 77-69 victory over San Diego State this past Saturday, the Bears held the Aztecs to just three points the final 6:17 of the contest and to only 28.6 percent shooting the final 20 minutes.
Averaging 14.0 rpg - third-best in the country - and 2.7 bpg, senior C DeVon Hardin has been Cal's primary force in the paint. Over the past 14 games he has played (the first 11 last year and the first three this season), opponents have shot higher than 40 percent just four times.
The Bears also received a spark in the backcourt with the return of sophomore G Jerome Randle to the lineup vs. San Diego State. Out the first two contests while he recovered from a kidney biopsy, he came off the bench for a career-high 21 points, two assists and two steals.
Cal sports two other players averaging more than 20 ppg in sophomore G Patrick Christopher (21.3 ppg) and sophomore F Ryan Anderson (20.3 ppg), who are both shooting 50 percent from the floor. Christopher has scored at least 19 points each time out, including a career-high-tying 24 points in a Nov. 19 victory win over Nicholls State.
Anderson, who also matched his personal best with 27 points against Nicholls State, added 23 points and 13 rebounds vs. San Diego State. He is rated the No. 4 power forward in the country by The Sporting News and is a preseason candidate for both the Wooden and Naismith awards.
After Wednesday's game at Nevada, Cal returns home to host Missouri Saturday at 8 p.m. in Haas Pavilion as part of the inaugural Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. The Bears will pay a return visit to Missouri during the 2008-09 season.
Probable Starters POS NO NAME HT WT YR PPG RPG F 14 Eric Vierneisel 6-7 210 Sr 2.5 3.0 Set career highs with 6 rebounds and 5 assists vs. Southern Miss F 34 Ryan Anderson 6-10 240 So 20.3 8.7 Rated #4 PF in country by Sporting News; 27 points vs. Nicholls State C 35 DeVon Hardin 6-11 250 Sr 8.7 14.0 14 boards in all 3 games this season; 103 career blocks G 13 Nikola Knezevic 6-2 185 So 5.0 3.7 apg Back in action after missing 2006-07 with knee injury G 23 Patrick Christopher 6-5 215 So 21.3 4.3 Tied career high with 24 points vs. Nicholls State
Cal Head Coach Ben Braun
Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75), the second-winningest coach in Cal history, is in his 12th year in Berkeley and 31st season as a collegiate head coach. His record at Cal stands at 205-138, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 538-373. 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.
Nevada Scouting Report
A Look at Nevada
Nevada is off to a 2-2 start after last Saturday's 79-67 loss at UNLV. Marcelus Kemp leads four players averaging in double figures with 16.3 ppg. In its only home game to day, the Wolf Pack defeated Santa Clara, 67-54, on Nov. 17. Nevada has won at least a share of the last four WAC regular-season titles, and last year set a school record with 29 victories (29-5) and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Cal-Nevada Series History
Cal leads the all-time series, 18-8, although the Wolf Pack won last year's meeting, 77-71, at the Pete Newell Challenge on Dec. 3 in San Jose. The Bears are making their first visit to Reno since a 74-60 loss on Nov. 29, 1986. Cal hasn't won on Nevada's home court since a 28-21 victory during the 1930-31 season, having lost five straight on the road.
Nevada Head Coach Mark Fox
Mark Fox is 83-20 in his fourth season at Nevada. He has guided the Wolf Pack to at least 25 wins each season, as well as three straight NCAA Tournament berths. Prior to being named head coach in 2004, he was an assistant at Washington, Kansas State and Nevada.
Probable Starters Pos No Name Ht Wt Yr Ppg Rpg F 4 Demarshay Johnson 6-9 220 Sr 8.5 6.5 F 34 JaVale McGee 7-0 237 So 13.3 7.0 G 0 Brandon Fields 6-4 185 So 10.3 4.0 apg G 3 Armon Johnson 6-3 190 Fr 12.0 5.0 G 21 Marcelus Kemp 6-5 210 Sr 16.3 5.5
For more information: www.nevadawolfpack.com
Golden Bear Notes
Cal Comes Back to Defeat San Diego State, 77-69
Ryan Anderson scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Jerome Randle ignited the Bears' offense with 21 points off the bench as Cal battled back to defeat San Diego State, 77-69. Randle, in his first game this season after an Oct. 29 kidney biopsy, set a career scoring high and added two assists and two steals in 34 minutes. Cal turned the ball over six times in its first eight possessions and fell behind by as many as 14 points in the first half. The Bears took their first lead at 60-58 on a Randle three-pointer as part of a 13-0 run, and DeVon Hardin's putback with 2:53 left gave Cal the lead for good at 68-66.
With Hardin in Middle, Defense Returns to Form
In Cal's first three games of the season, the Bears have limited their opponents to just 63.3 ppg and 37.2 percent shooting from the floor, and much of the reason for those low figures can be traced to the return of DeVon Hardin to the lineup. Not only does the 6-11 senior center have a team-leading eight blocks so far, but he has also tied his career high with 14 rebounds in each contest. During the Bears' first 11 games last year before Hardin injured his foot, Cal limited opponents to an average of 61.4 ppg and 40.6 percent shooting. But in the Bears' final 22 games of 2006-07 without Hardin's presence in the middle, Cal surrendered 73.0 ppg and 49.7 percent shooting.
Last 2 seasons ... With Hardin (14 games) Without Hardin (22 games) PPG Allowed 61.7 ppg 73.0 ppg FG% Allowed 39.9% (332-833) 49.7% (579-1166) More than 70 Points Allowed 3 12
Jerome Randle Sparkles in Return to Court
Sophomore G Jerome Randle underwent a kidney biopsy Oct. 29, and although the results revealed a mild inflammation that can be treated with medication, he was kept off the court for almost four weeks to allow the procedure to heal. But in his first game back - last Saturday's 77-69 win over San Diego State - he proved to be the difference with his quickness and scoring ability. Randle entered the contest six minutes into the game and played 32 of the final 34 minutes. After scoring five points in the first half, he came through with 16 after intermission to finish with a career-best 21, topping the 19 he had at home vs. Stanford last season. Randle sank 8-of-12 from the floor, including all three of his three-point attempts.
Patrick Christopher Raises Scoring Production
After averaging 5.2 ppg and reaching double figures just four times as a freshman last year, sophomore G Patrick Christopher has shown off a new-found scoring ability so far this season. He scorched the nets for 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting in the exhibition game vs. Alaska Fairbanks, then totaled a game-high 19 points in the opener vs. Southern Miss, matched his regular-season career best with 24 points against Nicholls State and tossed in 21 more against San Diego State, including 16 in the second half. For the year, he is averaging a team-best 21.3 ppg on 50.0 percent shooting from the floor (25-50). Christopher also had 24 at home against Oregon State last Feb. 17.
Hardin Joins Triple-Digit Blocks Club
With eight blocks so far this season, senior C DeVon Hardin has moved into fourth place on the Bears' all-time list with 103, needing just two more to tie Tom Schneiderjohn (1976-79) for the third spot. The 6-11 Hardin has led Cal in blocks each of the past two seasons. He totaled 48 as a sophomore in 2006 - No. 5 on the Bear charts - and had a team-best 21 last year despite being limited to just 11 games due to injury. Hardin's individual game high is five, a mark he set against Santa Clara last Nov. 20, and he has had at least three 13 times.
Cal Career Blocked Shot Leaders 1. Michael Stewart (1994-97) 207 2. Solomon Hughes (1999-02) 122 3. Tom Schneiderjohn (1976-79) 105 4. DeVon Hardin (2004- ) 103 5. Brian Hendrick (1990-93) 98
With Clear Vision, Anderson Ties Career Scoring Mark
Sophomore F Ryan Anderson, who led Cal in both scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg) last season, soared to a career-high-tying 27 points vs. Nicholls State this past Wednesday, one game after being limited due to blurred vision in his left eye. Anderson missed about 10 minutes of the second half of Cal's opener against Southern Miss until his eyesight returned and he finished with 11 points on the night. Doctors believe he suffered from a form of a migraine and all tests taken since the occurrence have returned normal. Then against Nicholls State, Anderson came through with a balanced effort, totaling 14 points in the first half and another 13 in the second. Last year, he also had 27 points against Oregon State in the opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament and scored at least 20 points eight times.
Thin Bench Puts Young Team on Court
Cal fans should be forgiven if they don't recognize many of the players on the floor. Of the 11 players who have seen action, three are walk-ons (Nican Robinson, David Liss, Eddie Miller) and three others did not play last year - freshman Harper Kamp, and sophomores Nikola Knezevic and Jordan Wilkes, who both sat out 2006-07 with knee injuries.
Walk-ons Continue Tradition of Filling Significant Roles
With Cal down to six available scholarship players for last Wednesday's contest vs. Nicholls State, the Bears were forced to rely on their stable of walk-ons to fill significant roles. Sophomore G David Liss earned his first career start and came through with eight points (3-5 FG, 2-4 3P), four assists and a block in 37 minutes. For all of last season, he played in 12 games and saw a total of 18 minutes of action. In addition, sophomore Nican Robinson and freshman Eddie Miller have played in all three contests to date. Under head coach Ben Braun, utilizing walk-ons in significant roles is nothing new. Alex Pribble, now a student assistant coach, started Cal's final five games at a wing spot last year, while Ryan Forehan-Kelly finished his career in 2002 ranked fourth on the school's all-time three-point shooting list (40.7 percent) and A.J. Diggs (2001-04) picked off 158 steals, good for third all-time in Bear annals.
DeVon Hardin 3rd Nationally in Rebounds per Game
Having grabbed 14 rebounds in each of Cal's first three games this season, C DeVon Hardin enters the week ranked third nationally in rebounds per game, averaging 14.0. He is the first Bear player to snare at least 14 boards in three straight games since Brian Hendrick in February 1992. That season, Hendrick had 15 rebounds at Washington State, 17 vs. Arizona State and 14 against Arizona. Hardin's 14 boards ties his personal best, which was initially set against Northeastern on Nov. 26, 2005.
NCAA Rebound Leaders (as of 11/26/07) Name, School G Reb Avg 1. Michael Beasley, Kansas State 6 93 15.5 2. Richard Hendrix, Alabama 4 58 14.5 3. DeVon Hardin, California 3 42 14.0 4. Junior Hairston, Towson 4 52 13.0 5. Earl Clark, Louisville 5 60 12.0 5. Arturas Valeika, Weber State 4 48 12.0
Hardin, Anderson on Preseason Watch Lists
Senior C DeVon Hardin and sophomore F Ryan Anderson form one of the top frontcourts in the country (No. 8 according to Luke Win of SportsIllustrated.com) and both have received recognition on preseason watch lists. Anderson, the leading returning scorer in the Pac-10 and the only player to rank among the top five in both scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg) in the conference last season, is on the top-50 lists for the Wooden Award and Naismith Award and has been tabbed the No. 4 power forward in the country by Sporting News. Hardin, also on the Naismith preseason roster, tops all returning Pac-10 players with 99 career blocks. Among his other preseason honors: first-team All-Pac-10 (Athlon), No. 6 post in the country (Athlon) and No. 7 center in the country (Rivals.com).
Ben Braun 10th in Wins among Active Coaches
With 538 victories, Ben Braun ranks 10th in wins among active Division I coaches. At Cal, he is second in both victories (205) and years of service (12th) to Nibs Price, who was 449-294 in 30 seasons from 1925-54. No other Cal coach has more than 10 seasons at the helm or 125 wins with the program. Braun holds school records for most NCAA Tournament berths (5), most postseason wins (11) and most 20-win seasons (6).
Cal Faces Difficult Schedule Again
After having its schedule rated as high as the sixth-toughest in the country last season (Sagarin), California faces another difficult task again this year. Among the Bears' non-conference opponents are eight teams that won at least 20 games in 2006-07, including six that played in the postseason. Three of Cal's non-conference foes advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2007 - Nevada, Jackson State and Long Beach State - while three others appeared in the National Invitation Tournament - San Diego State, Kansas State and Delaware State. And, of course, the Pac-10 slate features six teams ranked in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason Top 25.
Golden Bear Notes ...
Sophomore C Jordan Wilkes connected on the second three-pointer of his career vs. Southern Miss; he also had one against Arizona State on Feb. 18, 2006 ... senior F Eric Vierneisel set career highs in both rebounding (6) and assists (5) in the opener vs. Southern Miss ... Cal is 10-2 in home openers under head coach Ben Braun ... Cal has added six non-scholarship players to the roster, four of whom return from last year (Nican Robinson, Thomas Fang, David Liss, Patrick Armstrong) and two who are new to the team (Jordan Fillmore, Eddie Miller) ... Vierneisel entered the year with more games-played experience (78) than any other member of the squad ... sophomore F Jamal Boykin, a mid-year transfer from Duke who was the California state Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior at Los Angeles' Fairfax HS in 2005, will become eligible to play when the Bears host Utah Dec. 22 after the completion of fall final exams ... 2007-08 marks the 99th season of Cal basketball ... the Bears feature two 7-footers on the roster for the first time ever in 7-0 Jordon Wilkes and 7-2 Max Zhang - the tallest player in school history ... Cal had three players score at least 20 points vs. San Diego State (Ryan Anderson 23, Jerome Randle 21, Patrick Christopher 21) for the first time since an 84-80 OT win over Oregon State on Feb. 17, 2007 (Christopher 24, Anderson 21, Theo Robertson 21).