Bears Begin Defense Of NIT Title
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  03/13/2000

March 13, 2000

Game No. 31 Long Beach State 49ers (24-5, 15-1)
at California Golden Bears (16-14, 7-11)

Wednesday, March 15, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion

With almost a completely different team and a vastly different motivation for playing, California returns to the National Invitation Tournament this March out to defend its 1999 title.

Last year, the Bears sported four senior starters and rode that experience to five NIT wins, including a 61-60 victory over Clemson in the championship game in Madison Square Garden. The title was Cal's first national postseason crown since capturing the 1959 NCAA Tournament.

The Bears were also coming off a probation year in 1998 when Cal was barred from participating in the postseason. From head coach Ben Braun's perspective, reaching and then winning the NIT last year was an important step toward re-establishing the Golden Bear program on the national stage.

This season, Cal is taking another approach to the NIT. With a freshman-dominated lineup, the Bears look at the postseason as an opportunity to give their young squad a chance to learn how to play under pressure and use that experience to build toward the future.

Five of Cal's top six scorers are freshmen and nine of the 12 players in the rotation are underclassmen this year. Only 1999 NIT Most Valuable Player Sean Lampley, a junior forward, is back from last season's starting group.

Over the course of the year, the Bears have had their share of highs and lows that can come with so many youngsters playing key roles. Cal jumped out to a 9-3 start, which included a second-place finish in the Top of the World Classic in November and wins over America East champion Hofstra and WCC champion Gonzaga. In addition, the Bears swept UCLA and USC in Los Angeles for the first time since 1995.

On the flip side, Cal also lost six of nine Pac-10 games at home and fell to Washington State in Pullman for the Cougars only conference win.

Still, the promise that the Bears possess has Cal fans excited about what can still come this year and what the future is almost certain to hold. Playing its first season in the new Walter A. Haas Jr. Pavilion, the Bears set a school record for home attendance during the regular season, averaging 11,112 fans per game. Every crowd was at least 10,000 and there were five sellouts in the 12,172-seat facility, including the final three games of the year.

The major link to Cal's past, present and future is Lampley, a 6-7 forward who was voted All-Pac-10 and first team NABC All-District. The Bears leading scorer (16.3 ppg) and rebounder (7.1 rpg) and team captain, he also rates second on the team in assists (95) and blocks (17). Lampley had seven double-doubles on the season and postsed highs of 29 points at Oregon, 15 rebounds against Hofstra and 12 assists vs. Davidson.

During the '99 NIT, Lampley played some of the best basketball of his career, starting with 28 points and 14 rebounds in the first round win over Fresno State. He followed that up with another 14 boards at DePaul and the MVP honors in New York when he had 16 points in the semifinals against Oregon and 15 points vs. Clemson.

The players surrounding Lampley had a total of just nine collegiate starts among them entering the season. But the newcomers and returning veterans have molded together to help Cal to its seventh postseason berth in the last 11 years.

After Lampley, the next five leading scorers for the Bears are all freshmen. Each of the freshmen have accumulated at least 12 starts and Cal has started four rookies in a game six different times.

Among those to watch are guard Shantay Legans, who has moved up to second on the team in scoring. But his all-around game also finds him as the team-leader in three-pointers (43), assists (106) and steals (46). He scored a high of 28 points against Arizona State in January.

Center Nick Vander Laan is the leading freshman rebounder in the Pac-10 with an average of 7.0 per game. He has five double-doubles on the year and scored a high of 23 points against Oklahoma on his way to earning all-tournament honors at the Top of the World Classic. Both Vander Laan and Legans were voted honorable mention Pac-10 All-Freshman.

In addition, guard Donte Smith has made 27 three-pointers this year, while forward Joe Shipp has 37 treys and guard Brian Wethers has 18 starts.

One player who has been a pleasant addition to the lineup is sophomore forward Ryan Forehan-Kelly, a walk-on who played a total of just 19 minutes last year. This season, though, he has eight starts and is shooting 47.7 perecent from three-point range (21-44). Forehan-Kelly is also coming off the best game of his career when he finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists at Arizona.

Including Cal's remaining veteran scholarhip players - guards Raymond King, Robbie Jones and Dennis Gates and centers Solomon Hughes and Shahar Gordon - the Bears have a lineup that has allowed Braun to go 12 deep in most games this year.

All Cal games are broadcast on KABL Radio (960 AM) in San Francisco and KATD Radio (990 AM) in Concord with Roxy Bernstein calling the action. Each broadcast begins 20 minutes prior to tip-off with the Cal Basketball Pregame Show. After the game, head coach Ben Braun will recap the action on the Cal Basketball Postgame Show. In addition to the radio, broadcasts can be heard on the Internet at

All Cal releases, results, statistics, box scores, schedules and coach and player information, as well as historical data, is available on the Internet at Game recaps and statistics are updated after each contest. The site also includes information on all 27 of Cal's teams.

All Cal basketball radio broadcasts during the 1999-2000 season are available nationwide via telephone through TRZ Telephone Broadcast Services. Fans may access the Cal games from anywhere in the country by dialing 800-846-4700, extension 5918. The cost is 50 cents for the first minute, with decreasing rates for each addition minute.

Cal returned to campus this season with the opening of the new 12,172-seat Walter A. Haas Jr. Pavilion. The $57.5 million facility is a renovated and expanded version of old Harmon Gym. In addition to the basketball court, the building features coaching and administrative office space, locker rooms, a spacious weight room and athletic training facilities, as well as media work and interview rooms. While Haas Pavilion was under construction, Cal played the last two seasons at the New Arena in Oakland.

Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75), who was named the 14th head coach in Cal history on Sept. 15, 1996, is in his fourth year in Berkeley and 23rd season as collegiate head coach. His record at Cal stands at 73-49, while his career mark, which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College, is 406-284. The 1997 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and a finalist for '97 National Coach of the Year honors, Braun led the Bears to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1997 and to the NIT championship in 1999. In October 1997, he agreed to a new eight-year contract that extends through the 2004-05 season. 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 played one year of basketball at Wisconsin-LaCrosse before transferring to Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a teaching degree in English with a minor in African-American studies in 1975. He received his master's degree in guidance and counseling from Siena Heights.


F21Sean Lampley6-7225Jr16.37.1All-Pac-10 & first team NABC All-District, 95 assists
F42Ryan Forehan-Kelly6-5195So3.72.6Walk-on has started 8 games, 20 points at Arizona
C14Solomon Hughes6-11230So5.33.4Career-high 16 points vs. USC (8-11 FG), 33 blocks
G12Shantay Legans5-10165Fr9.43.5 apg43 three-pointers (43.9%), 46 steals
G30Robbie Jones6-3200Sr1.70.9Started last 3 games, averages 6.0 ppg as a starter
G10Raymond King5-10170Sr1.91.1 apg14 points vs. USC 3/4, 10 points vs. Arizona State 1/8
G3Donte Smith6-2195Fr6.51.927 three-pointers (35.1%), can play point or off guard
G15Dennis Gates6-3190So4.01.1Set career high with 13 points at UCLA
F25Brian Wethers6-5205Fr6.03.2Double-double vs. ASU Jan. 8: 16 points, 10 boards
C32Nick Vander Laan6-10250Fr9.07.0Led Cal in rebounding during Pac-10 play (7.6 rpg)
F34Joe Shipp6-5215Fr9.43.0Tied career high with 22 points vs. WSU 1/27
C40Shahar Gordon6-10250So1.71.5Started vs. Stanford and USC at home, 80.0 FT%
Head Coach: Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75) - 73-49 at Cal (4th year) & 406-284 overall (23rd year)

Long Beach State travels to California for its fifth National Invitation Tournament appearance and its second under fourth-year head coach Wayne Morgan. The 49ers are coming off an 89-84 overtime loss to New Mexico State in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament and enter the NIT with a 24-5 record, winning 22 of their last 24 games. During the regular season, Long Beach State finished first in the Big West Conference West Division with a 15-1 mark.

In 1999-2000, Long Beach State finished first amongst Big West teams in scoring offense (81.0 ppg), scoring margin (+13.8), field goal percentage (49.6%), blocked shots (4.07 bpg), assists (15.63 apg), steals (9.41 spg) and turnover margin (+3.59), and finished second in three-point field goal percentage (37.0%).

Senior center Mate Milisa was named the 2000 Big West Conference Player of the Year after leading the 49ers with 18.2 ppg, shooting 59.5 percent from the field and 82.6 percent from the free throw line. Milisa, who was named the Big West Player of the Week three times this season, was a second team all-league pick in 1999.

Also earning Big West honors for Long Beach State were junior guard Ramel Lloyd (second team), junior forward James Williams (second team) and senior forward Antrone Lee. Lloyd averaged 14.8 ppg this season (16.2 ppg in Big West games), while Williams averaged 12.2 points and a team-high 7.5 rpg and Lee contributed 9.9 ppg and 4.9 rpg.

Wrapping up his fourth year at Long Beach State, Wayne Morgan has led the 49ers to a 24-5 overall mark this season, improving his coaching record to 60-53 (.531) as an NCAA Division I head coach. Morgan's squads have advanced to the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals two years in a row. Last season, Morgan led the 49ers to a 13-15 record.

In his initial campaign at Long Beach, Morgan's 1996-97 team finished second in the Big West Conference West Division, with the 49ers winning six of their last eight games. In 1997-98, the 49ers went 10-19 with victories over USC, Tulane and New Mexico State.

Morgan arrived at Long Beach State for the 1996-97 season after 12 years as an assistant to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse from 1984-96. While there, the Orangemen compiled a 316-108 record (.745). With Morgan on staff, Syracuse won five Big East regular season titles, three Big East Tournament crowns and made two NCAA Final Four appearances, including the 1996 national championship game.

Prior to Syracuse, Morgan coached for five years at Xavier (1979-84) and four years at Dartmouth (1975-79). He spent one year as head coach at Dutchess CC in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., after beginning his career as an assistant at his alma mater, St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.

The Bears and the 49ers shared three common opponents in 1999-2000: USC, UC Irvine, and Pacific. The 49ers went a combined 5-0 against the three schools, defeating USC, 76-66, at home on Dec. 16 and sweeping their conference series with the Anteaters and the Tigers.

California was also perfect against the trio, defeating Pacific at home, 76-72, UC Irvine at home, 88-61, and capturing the season sweep of USC, first on the road, 66-62, and later at home, 86-73.

Wednesday's game marks the first meeting between California and Long Beach State.

The 49ers will be making their fifth appearance in the NIT, bringing with them a 2-4 record in NIT games. Most recently, Long Beach State lost to TCU in Fort Worth, 73-61, in 1997.

Long Beach State has also made seven NCAA Tournament appearances, posting a 7-8 record over 15 games. The 49ers lost to Utah, 76-64, in Boise, Idaho, in 1995, their most recent trip to NCAAs.


G00Ron Johnson6-1190So5.52.3
G1Antrone Lee6-7195Sr9.94.9
C13Mate Milisa6-11225Sr18.87.1
F22Ramel Lloyd6-4225Jr15.03.0
F50James Williams6-9225Jr12.17.2

With its invitation to the NIT this March, Cal is making its seventh postseason appearance in the last 11 years. Since 1990, the Bears have been to five NCAA Tournaments and two NITs. In the 80 previous seasons of Cal basketball (1908-89), the Bears were invited to the postseason a total of eight times. Still, Cal boasts an impressive 24-13 postseason record. The Bears won the NCAA championship in 1959 under head coach Pete Newell, and captured the NIT crown under Ben Braun last March. In addition, Cal went to the NCAA Final Four in both 1946 and '60 and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1993 and '97. Below is a look at Cal's postseason appearances by decade:

1940s1946 (NCAA, 4th)
1950s1957 (NCAA, 2nd round), 1958 (NCAA, 2nd round), 1959 (NCAA, 1st)
1960s1960 (NCAA, 2nd)
1980s1986 (NIT, 1st round), 1987 (NIT, Quarterfinals), 1989 (NIT, 2nd round)
1990s1990 (NCAA, 2nd round), 1993 (NCAA, Sweet 16), 1994 (NCAA, 1st round), 1996 (NCAA, 1st round), 1997 (NCAA, Sweet 16), 1999 (NIT, 1st)

With only three upperclassmen among its 11 scholarship players, this year's Cal team is the youngest in school history. The Bears lost four starters and their sixth man following their NIT championship run last spring, leaving them with just two seniors and one junior for the current campaign. Add in sophomore walk-on Ryan Forehan-Kelly and his presence means that nine of the 12 Bears who see action on a regular basis are either freshmen or sophomores. Below is a look at several of the youngest squads to play for Cal (scholarship players only):

*scholarship players only

After spending the last two seasons at the New Arena in Oakland, Cal moved back on campus this past fall to play in the new Walter A. Haas Jr. Pavilion. The $57.5 million facility is a renovated and expanded version of old Harmon Gym, which closed at the end of the 1997 season after serving as the Bears home for 64 years. Haas Pavilion features almost twice as many seats as Harmon (12,172 to 6,578) yet still maintains the intimacy of its predecessor as no seat is more than 88 feet from the court.

In this inaugural season in Haas, Cal set a record for average attendance - 11,112 fans per game. Every crowd was at least 10,000 strong and the Bears had five sellouts - Arizona, Stanford, Oregon, UCLA and USC. As a result, Cal ranked second to Arizona in the Pac-10 in average attendance in 1999-2000.


*Includes games played at the Oakland Arena

With so many underclassmen on the roster, including five freshmen, head coach Ben Braun has found it difficult to stick with one lineup for very long. This season, Cal has used 12 players in 15 different lineups, with no group staying together for more than four consecutive games. Six times during the year, Braun went with four freshmen at the start of a game. Only junior forward Sean Lampley, Cal's only returning starter from last year, has been a regular with 29 starts in the Bears 30 games.


PlayersRecordGame #
Hughes, Lampley, Shipp, Smith, Wethers2-11-3
Lampley, Shipp, Smith, Vander Laan, Wethers2-14-6
Gates, Hughes, Lampley, Legans, Shipp3-17, 9-11
Gates, Hughes, Lampley, Legans, Wethers1-08
Lampley, Legans, Shipp, Vander Laan, Wethers1-112-13
Gates, Lampley, Legans, Vander Laan, Wethers2-414-15, 21-24
Hughes, Lampley, Legans, Smith, Wethers1-016
Forehan-Kelly, Gordon, King, Vander Laan, Wethers0-117
Forehan-Kelly, Lampley, Legans, Smith, Vander Laan1-118-19
Forehan-Kelly, Gates, Lampley, Legans, Vander Laan1-020
Forehan-Kelly, Gates, Hughes, Lampley, Smith1-125-26
Lampley, Legans, Smith, Vander Laan Wethers0-127
Gordon, Jones, King, Lampley, Smith1-028
Forehan-Kelly, Hughes, Jones, Lampley, Smith0-129
Forehan-Kelly, Hughes, Jones, Lampley, Legans1-030

As the MVP of the 1999 NIT and Cal's only returning starter from last season, Sean Lampley understood that there would be a large load placed upon his shoulders this year. And the 6-7 junior has certainly lived up to expectations this year. Not only does he lead the team in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg), but he also is second on the team in assists (95) and blocks (17) and is shooting a career-best 50.3 percent from the floor. Voted All-Pac-10 and first team NABC All-District, Lampley has paced Cal in scoring 14 times with a personal high of 29 points at Oregon in January. He also had 26 points early in the year against Houston and 28 points in a key victory at Washington last month. For the season, Lampley has seven double-doubles, including one game against Davidson when he finished with 14 points and 12 assists - a record for a Cal forward and the most for any Cal player since 1995. Named to the all-tournament teams at both the Top of the World Classic and the Golden Bear Classic this year, Lampley has also become just the 11th player in school history (and first since Brian Hendrick in 1993) to accumulate at least 1,000 points and 600 rebounds. He enters the NIT in 20th place in scoring with 1,111 points and 12th in rebounding with 635 boards. And by this time next season, it's very possible that Lampley could be challenging Lamond Murray's career scoring record of 1,688 points.


16.Chris Washington (1984-87)1,179
17.Michael Chavez (1980-83)1,162
18.Butch Hays (1981-84)1,145
19.Andy Wolfe (1946-48)1,112
20.Sean Lampley (1998- )1,078


8.Darrall Imhoff (1958-60)712
9.Roy Fisher (1988-91)697
10.John Coughran (1971-73)672
11.Jackie Ridgle (1969-71)660
12.Sean Lampley (1998- )635

Before the start of the season, head coach Ben Braun knew that he would have to rely on his five-player freshman class to help carry the Bears this season. With so much experience missing from last year's NIT championship squad, the newcomers would have to fill in right from the start. And now that Cal is heading to the postseason again, much of the credit for that success goes to the freshman group. Outside of junior Sean Lampley, the next five highest scorers for the Bears are freshmen, with three of them averaging at least nine points a game. From the first game of the season - when the quintet combined for 66 points in a 91-83 win over TCU - the rookies have played a major role. Each has accumulated at least 12 starts, and six times this year, four have started a game together. Point guard Shantay Legans is on the verge of setting Cal freshman marks for three-point and free throw accuracy, and he ranks among the Pac-10 leaders in three-point shooting, free throw shooting, steals and assists. Center Nick Vander Laan is leading freshman rebounder in the conference, ranking in the league's Top 10 overall. Forward Joe Shipp is developing into an outstanding three-point shooter, while Donte Smith and Brian Wethers have provided solid play in the backcourt all year. Next is a look at how the freshmen have altered Cal's freshman record charts.


1.Ryan Drew601988
2.Shantay Legans432000
3.Bryant Walton381987
4.Joe Shipp372000
5.K.J. Roberts361992


1.Shantay Legans43-98.4392000
2.Bryant Walton38-94.4041987
3.Ryan Drew60-152.3951988
4.K.J. Roberts36-93.3871992
5.Donte Smith27-77.3512000


1.Bob McKeen2491952
2.Brian Hendrick2421990
3.Shareef Abdur-Rahim2361996
4.Nick Vander Laan2102000
5.Michael Pitts1981980


1.Shantay Legans60-70.8572000
2.Donte Smith50-61.8202000
2.Michael Chavez50-61.8201980
4.Roy Fisher49-61.8031988
5.Jerod Haase56-71.7891993


1.Jason Kidd1101993
2.Shareef Abdur-Rahim521996
3.Shantay Legans462000
4.Butch Hays421981
4.Michael Chavez421980


1.Jason Kidd2221993
2.Jelani Gardner1751995
3.K.J. Roberts1271992
4.Shantay Legans1062000
5.Michael Chavez881980

Led by sophomore forward Ryan Forehan-Kelly, Cal's five walk-ons have provided key support to the Bears this season. Two of the walk-ons - guards J.T. Stephens and Cassidy Raher - are completing their fourth season with the team, while junior guard Morgan Lingle and senior forward Ryan Meyers are in their third year. Those four comprise most of Cal's "Gold Team," a unit whose specialty is to practice against the starters every day, running opposing team offenses and defenses and generally getting the Bears ready for the next game. The one walk-on not among that group is Forehan-Kelly, who has appeared in all but three games this season and earned six starts. He had a break-out game at Oregon State when he came off the bench for 17 points (6-7 FG, 4-5 3P, 1-2 FT). Forehan-Kelly completed the regular season with an even better game: 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals at Arizona. For the season, he his averaging 3.7 ppg and 2.6 rpg. He is shooting better than 50 percent from the floor (52.9%) and has made 47.7 percent of his three-point attempts (21-44).

Sophomore centers Solomon Hughes and Shahar Gordon and freshman pivotman Nick Vander Laan have given the Bears a stronger presence in the middle this year than they've had in recent seasons. Hughes, who has started 13 games, is averaging 5.3 ppg on 54.7 percent shooting from the floor. He has broken his career high in scoring three times during the season, most recently with a 16-point outing vs. USC March 4 (8-11 FT). Hughes also leads Cal with 33 blocks. Gordon, who will return to his native Israel after the season to fulfill his military obligation, got his first start of the year against Stanford Jan.22 and he came through with a career-high-tying seven points and three rebounds. Vander Laan has 16 starts and averages 9.0 ppg and 7.0 rpg. He has five double-doubles - all coming in Pac-10 play - and tallied a best of 23 points against Oklahoma in the Top of the World Classic.


1999-00Shahar Gordon, Solomon Hughes, Nick Vander Laan15.711.2
1998-99Francisco Elson, Shahar Gordon, Solomon Hughes9.48.1
1997-98Francisco Elson, Kenyon Jones10.88.2
1996-97Kenyon Jones, Michael Stewart11.27.6

After ranking last in the Pac-10 in both three-point accuracy (31.0%) and three-pointers made per game (3.5) last year, Cal's new crop of freshman has helped bring the long-range bomb back into the offense. This year, the Bears are shooting 34.8 percent from behind the arc and are making 5.5 treys per game. Freshman Shantay Legans is shooting 43.7 percent (43-98), a figure that is the best by any rookie in school history. In addition, freshman Joe Shipp has made 37 three-pointers, freshman Donte Smith is shooting at a 35.1 percent clip (27-77) and sophomore Ryan Forehan-Kelly has sunk 21of 44 (47.7%). Forehan-Kelly had a high of six threes (8 attempts) at Arizona, just one shy of the Cal record. As a team, the Bears have made at least five three-pointers in a game 16 times after reaching that total on just seven occasions in 33 games last year.

Head coach Ben Braun picked up the 400th win of his career with a 71-65 victory at Oregon State Jan. 15 . Cal made 10 three-pointers (19 attempts) against San Jose State Dec. 7, the most for the Bears since they had 11 at Stanford on Jan. 31, 1996, Cal later had 10 treys vs. Washington State Jan. 27 . with losses to both Arizona State (2 OT) and Washington State (1 OT), Cal has lost is last four overtime games, last winning a double-overtime thriller against WSU on Jan. 23, 1997 . the Bears are 4-6 in games decided by three points or less this year . Cal's 74-71 loss to Ivy League champion Penn Dec. 29 snapped the Bears 23-game on-campus winning streak (Harmon Gym & Haas Pavilion) ... Cal played 12 games against NCAA Tournament teams in '99-00 ... Sean Lampley is the first Cal player to earn All-Pac-10 honors since Ed Gray was named Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1997.