Nov. 18, 2002
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
After sweeping its two exhibition games, California opens the 2002-03 regular season against Rutgers Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. This is the first of three consecutive games against Big East opponents (4-5 all-time). Fans may attend the Rutgers game for free by presenting their ticket stubs from this Saturday's football Big Game vs. Stanford. The Golden Bears look to claim their 23rd straight home opening win. In 2000, Cal suffered a 66-47 season opening loss at Rutgers in the teams' only other meeting.
Cal looks to reap the benefits of being in the Bay Area for the first nine games of the season. This includes eight games at Haas Pavilion and a short road trip to Moraga to play Saint Mary's on Dec. 21. The Bears first road contest is Jan. 2 at Mercer.
Cal is coming off a 69-57 exhibition win over Team Concept on Nov. 1 and a 70-61 triumph vs. a Slovakian club team from Banska Bystrica on Nov. 16. Center Timea Ivanyi, a junior who transferred to Cal from Jefferson College (Mo.), led the Bears at 12.5 ppg in the exhibitions. Junior guard LaTasha O'Keith held top honors against Slovakia, scoring 14 points off the bench.
Rutgers split its two exhibition games, defeating the New York Gazelles, 81-43, on Nov. 13 and falling to the Houston Jaguars, 72-62, on Nov. 6
The Bears return 11 letterwinners and four starters from last year's young team, which struggled to a 7-21 overall record and placed ninth in the Pac-10 with a
2-16 mark. O'Keith, a 2002 honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection is the Bears' top returning scorer at 9.2 ppg. The other returning starters are senior forward Amber White (5.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg), sophomore forward Leigh Gregory (8.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and sophomore point guard Kristin Iwanaga (7.1 pgg, 2.9 apg). The Bears must replace Ami Forney, last year's leading scorer and rebounder (11.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg), who graduated in May.
With the depth on this year's Cal team, there is healthy competition for starting spots each week. Ivanyi is expected to hold down starting center duties. But look for junior guard Nihan Anaz and redshirt sophomore forward Kiki Williams to be among those to challenge for starting spots. Unfortunately, the Bears learned that Anaz will miss the first five games of the season due to previous ties to a professional team abroad.