Nov. 25, 2002
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
After seeing its 22-game home opener winning streak come to an end against Rutgers on Nov. 24, California (0-1) looks for its first win of the 2002-03 season against Syracuse (0-2) on Friday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears continue their six-game homestand Sunday, Dec. 1 against Seton Hall (2-0) at 2 p.m.
This weekend's games wrap up a three-game stretch against Big East Conference schools. Overall, the Bears open the season with nine straight games in the Bay Area, including eight home games at Haas Pavilion.
Cal lost its season opener to Rutgers, 56-49, in a typical Golden Bear defensive battle. The Bears stayed close to the Scarlet Knights throughout, tying the game several times in the second half, including 37-37 with 11 minutes remaining. Neither team led by more than nine points. Newcomer Timea Ivanyi paced Cal with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor.
With the addition of Ivanyi at center, Cal looks to showcase a dominating post game this season. Sophomore power forward Leigh Gregory added 14 points against Rutgers, including a game-high 10 in the first half.
Cal's perimeter game will receive a boost with the return of junior guard Nihan Anaz from a five-game NCAA suspension on Dec. 8. Anaz, who averaged 21.1 ppg last season at Weatherford College (Tex.), was penalized for playing on a foreign team with professional players.
However, the Bears are fortunately a deep team this season. Against Rutgers, Cal played 10 players and were able to feature quick and tall lineups depending on the game situation. Fifteen of the 17 players on the Cal roster are currently available. Senior guard Michelle Wald's status is questionable due to on-going back problems.
Cal looks for its offense to match its historically strong defense this year. While the Bears ranked third in the Pac-10 in scoring defense in 2001-02 at 63.2 ppg, they stood ninth in scoring offense at 56.8 ppg. Junior guard LaTasha O'Keith is the team's top returning scorer at 9.2 ppg. Overall, the Bears return six of their top seven scorers from a year ago. Senior forward Amber White is Cal's top returning defender with 46 steals last year. She led Cal with three thefts against Rutgers last Sunday.