March 15, 2002
NCAA South Regional
California Golden Bears (23-8) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (28-5)
Sunday, March 17, Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Radio: KABL (960 AM)
A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
Cal Improves to 9-3 in NCAA First Round Games
With its 82-75 victory over Penn Friday, Cal improved its record in NCAA Tournament first round games to 9-3. The Bears are 2-1 in the first round under head coach Ben Braun. In 1997, Cal defeated Princeton, 55-52, in an East Regional first round contest, and the Bears lost to Fresno State, 82-70, last year.
Braun Ties Newell on Cal Postseason List
Head coach Ben Braun improved his postseason record at Cal to 10-3 Friday, tying legendary coach Pete Newell for the best postseason mark in school history. Braun went 2-1 in the 1997 NCAA Tournament, leading the Bears to the Sweet 16. In 1997, he guided Cal to the NIT title with a 5-0 mark, and the Bears were 2-1 in the 2000 NIT on their way to the quarterfinals. Last season, Cal lost to Fresno State in the NCAA Tournament, and Friday, the Bears beat Penn. Newell was 10-3 in four NCAA Tournaments from 1957-60. The Hall of Famer took Cal to the '59 national championship and to a runner-up finish in 1960.
Bears Reach 23 Wins for 7th Time
Cal has won 23 games in a season for just the seventh time in school history, last reaching the total during Ben Braun's first season at the helm when the Bears were 23-9. If Cal defeats Pitt Sunday, the Bears would reach the 24-victory plateau for the sixth time.
Current Tourney Parallels 1997 NCAAs for Bears
Something about this NCAA Tournament seems awfully familiar to the Bears. In 2002, Cal traveled to the East Coast (Pittsburgh), opened with the Ivy League champion (Penn) and will face a Big East team in the second round (Pitt). Back in 1997, the Bears also traveled East (Winston-Salem, NC), played Ivy champ Princeton in the first round and met a Big East school (Villanova) in the round of 32. That year, Cal beat the Wildcats, 75-68, to advance to the Sweet 16. However, the Bears lost in the regional semifinals to top-seeded North Carolina, 63-57. Coincidentally, the No. 1 seed in the South Region this season is also from the ACC (Duke).
Cal Leads Pitt, 2-0, in All-Time Series
Cal leads the all-time series with Pittsburgh, 2-0, but the schools haven't played in more than 50 years. Both prior meetings took place on the West Coast. On Jan. 28, 1949, the Bears claimed a 66-49 decision at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Then on Dec. 26, 1950, Cal won, 70-58, at Berkeley's Harmon Gym.
Cal-Penn First Round Recap
Junior forward Joe Shipp scored 20 points and junior guard Brian Wethers added 19 points to lead Cal to an 82-75 victory over Penn Friday afternoon. The Bears shot 52.0 percent from the floor and made 7-of-15 three-point tries (46.7%). Defensively, Solomon Hughes and Jamal Sampson had three blocks apiece and Cal limited the Quakers to 42.1 percent from the field, holding Penn's Koko Archibong to just 5-for-17 shooting. After Penn took a 17-13 lead on a Jeff Schiffner three-pointer, Cal went on a 10-0 run to go ahead for good. The Bears were up, 40-32, at the break, getting their final points on a steal and layup by A.J. Diggs in the closing seconds. After the break, Cal led by as many as 13 points, although Penn got within four at one point and was down by six on several occasions. The Bears scored their final 12 points from the free throw line.
Shantay Legans Set School Free Throw Record
Junior guard Shantay Legans shot 4-for-4 from the free throw line to increase his streak to 34 consecutive free throws made. The string breaks the old Cal record of 31 set by Dan Lufkin from Dec. 5, 1962 to Jan. 12, 1963. Legans missed his first free throw attempt at Stanford, but he has been perfect since. His best night came at Arizona State Feb. 28 when he was 8-for-8 from the stripe. Legans also made all seven of his tries in a double OT victory over Oregon Feb. 9. For the season, Legans is shooting 89.09 percent (49-55), just behind Lufkin's season mark of 89.13 percent (41-46). Legans is also second on Cal's career chart at 83.6 percent (188-225), trailing only Michael Chavez, who was 198-for-235 (84.3%) from 1980-83.
Sampson Breaks 50 with 3 Blocks vs. Penn
Freshman forward Jamal Sampson increased his season total to 52 blocks with three swats vs. Penn Friday. The 6-11 rookie is just the second player in school history to block at least 50 shots in a season, joining Michael Stewart (now of the Toronto Raptors), who had 59 blocks as a freshman in 1993-94.
Shipp, Wethers Pour in the Points during Postseason
Since the start of the Pac-10 Tournament last week, juniors Joe Shipp and Brian Wethers have greatly increased their scoring outputs. Shipp is averaging 21.0 ppg in the three games against UCLA (18 points), Arizona (25) and Penn (20) and is shooting 60.6 percent from the floor (20-for-33) during that span. Wethers is pumping in 17.3 ppg over the three contests, with a high of 22 against Arizona and another 19 vs. Penn. In addition, his accuracy level has risen to 67.7 percent from the field (21-for-31) in that time.
Cal to Play Top 10 Team for First Time This Season
Cal has already played 10 games against ranked teams this season, but in No. 9 Pittsburgh, the Bears will face a Top 10 school for the first time. So far, Cal is 5-5 vs. teams ranked in the Associated Press poll this year. The highest rated squad to fall to the Bears was Stanford, which was 12th when Cal won, 68-54, on Jan. 6 in Berkeley. The Bears have also topped Oregon (13th at the time), UCLA (25th) and USC twice (23rd & 20th). Cal's last victory over a Top 10 team was an 89-75 win over Arizona on Feb. 25, 1999 at the Arena in Oakland.
Braun One Win from Newell on Cal List
Head coach Ben Braun enters Sunday's game vs. Pitt with a 118-69 record with the Bears. With one more win, he will tie Pete Newell for third on Cal's all-time victory list. Newell was 119-44 in six seasons from 1955-60. The only Cal coaches with more wins are Nibs Price, who was 449-294 in 30 seasons from 1925-54, and Lou Campanelli, who finished his eight seasons from 1986-93 with a 123-108 mark.
Season Block Record within Reach for 2002 Bears
So far this season, Cal has blocked 127 shots as a team, good for second on the school's all-time list. The record is 135, which was set in 1996-97. This year, freshman Jamal Sampson leads the way with 52 blocks. In addition, senior Solomon Hughes has 29 rejections, junior Joe Shipp owns 18 and sophomore Gabriel Hughes has 10. Solomon Hughes is No. 2 on the Cal career chart with 120.
Shipp Moving Up Cal Career Scoring List
With 20 points vs. Penn Friday, junior forward Joe Shipp continued his climb up the Cal career scoring chart. Now with 1,023 points, Shipp is 30th all-time for the Bears and needs just three points for the 29th spot. He became the 31st player to reach 1,000 points after scoring 25 points vs. Arizona in the Pac-10 Tournament last week.
Bears Taking Care of Ball, Boast +4.26 Turnover Ratio
For the 24th time in 31 games this season, Cal had fewer turnovers than its opponent vs. Penn. Against the Quakers, Cal had just nine turnovers to Penn's 13. The Bears are 19-5 when they force more turnovers than they commit. For the season, Cal has had 10 or fewer turnovers eight times, with a low of eight vs. Penn State and at Washington State. Overall, the Bears average just 13.1 turnovers per game and force 17.4 per outing.