Nov. 21, 2007
San Diego State Aztecs (5-0) at California Golden Bears (2-0)
Saturday, Nov. 24, 3 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYOU (1550 AM)
TV: CalBears.com webcast
Victorious in its first two games of the season, California seeks its first 3-0 start since 2002-03 when the Golden Bears host San Diego State Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. in Haas Pavilion.
Cal, which has won 15 of its past 16 non-conference home games, will be facing the Aztecs for the fourth straight season. The Bears won in both 2004-05 (60-57) and 2005-06 (82-64), before falling on the road last year (86-97).
The contest will provide a reunion of sorts for two members of the Cal program. Senior C DeVon Hardin and SDSU junior F Kyle Spain were teammates as Newark Memorial HS, while first-year Cal assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb spent the previous eight seasons on the Aztecs' staff.
On Saturday, the Bears hope to welcome back a pair of players who have been on the sidelines. Senior F Eric Vierneisel, a starter in the opener vs. Southern Miss, sat out last Wednesday's Nicholls State contest with a sprained right ankle and is questionable for the SDSU game.
Meanwhile, sophomore G Jerome Randle will likely make his 2007-08 debut after undergoing a kidney biopsy Oct. 29. Randle's return will provide needed depth in a backcourt that includes just two other scholarship players.
In posting wins over Southern Miss and Nicholls State, Cal has allowed just 39.3 percent shooting from the floor and 60.5 ppg, while outrebounding the opposition by 5.5 per game. Senior C DeVon Hardin tied his career high with 14 rebounds in both contests and owns a team-best six blocked shots. His 101 career blocks lead all active Pac-10 players, and he needs just five more to move into sole possession of third place on Cal's all-time list.
Sophomore F Ryan Anderson, a second-team freshman All-American in '06-07, matched his personal high with 27 points against Nicholls State, while sophomore G/F Patrick Christopher also tied a career best with 24 points in the contest. Christopher, who averaged 5.2 ppg as a freshman, is contributing 25.0 ppg including the exhibition game vs. Alaska Fairbanks (32 points) and two regular-season outings.
Probable Starters POS NO NAME HT WT YR PPG RPG F 23 Patrick Christopher 6-5 215 Fr 21.5 5.0 Tied career high with 24 points vs. Nicholls State F 34 Ryan Anderson 6-10 240 So 19.0 6.5 Rated #4 PF in country by Sporting News; 27 points vs. Nicholls State C 35 DeVon Hardin 6-11 250 Sr 10.5 14.0 14 boards in both games this season; 101 career blocks G 13 Nikola Knezevic 6-2 185 So 6.0 5.0 apg Back in action after missing 2006-07 with knee injury G 15 David Liss 5-11 170 So 5.0 2.5 apg Second-year walk-on started for injured Vierneisel 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 204-138, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 537-373. 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.
San Diego State Scouting Report
A Look at San Diego State
San Diego State is off to a 5-0 after defeating San Diego, 69-64, last Monday. Six players average at least 9.4 ppg, and Kyle Spain, a teammate of DeVon Hardin at Newark Memorial HS, leads the way with 14.2 ppg. He's made 10-of-19 three-pointers (52.6%) and taken 31 free throws, almost triple anyone else on the roster. Last year, the Aztecs began 8-0 and earned a berth in the National Invitation Tournament, finishing with a 22-11 mark.
Cal-San Diego State Series History
The series between Cal and San Diego State, who are meeting for the fourth consecutive season, is tied at 3-3. Since the schools resumed playing each other for the first time since 1941-42, the Bears have taken two of three. Cal won, 60-57, on Dec. 11, 2004, at the San Diego SLAM, and prevailed, 82-64, the following season in Berkeley. Last year, the Aztecs came out on top, 86-79, in San Diego.
San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher
Steve Fisher is 132-117 in his ninth season at San Diego State. He has taken the Aztecs to two NCAA and two NIT tournaments. Fisher also led Michigan to a 184-82 mark from 1989-97, winning an NCAA title in 1989 and an NIT championship in '97.
Probable Starters Pos No Name Ht Wt Yr Ppg Rpg F 15 Kyle Spain 6-5 209 Jr 14.2 5.0 F 31 Lorrenzo Wade 6-6 226 Jr 13.6 2.8 F 32 Billy White 6-8 212 Fr 9.4 5.4 F 43 Ryan Amoroso 6-8 257 Jr 10.4 4.8 G 23 D.J. Gay 6-0 156 Fr 5.8 3.0 apg
For more information: www.goaztecs.com
Golden Bear Notes
Anderson, Christopher Lead Cal over Nicholls State, 74-62
Sophomore Ryan Anderson scored 27 points and sophomore Patrick Christopher added 24 - both tying career highs - to lead Cal over Nicholls State, 74-62, last Monday in Haas Pavilion. Due to a sprained ankle that kept senior F Eric Vierneisel out of the lineup, the Bears played only six scholarship players on the night, with walk-on David Liss gaining his first start. He finished with eight points and four assists in 37 minutes. Cal began the game with a 12-0 run, and after coming out of the break on a 10-3, led by double digits virtually the rest of the night.
With Hardin in Middle, Defense Returns to Form
In Cal's first two games of the season, the Bears have limited Southern Miss and Nicholls State to just 60.5 ppg and 39.1 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 six blocks so far, but he has also tied his career high with 14 rebounds in both contests. 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 (13 games) Without Hardin (22 games) PPG Allowed 61.2 ppg 73.0 ppg FG% Allowed 40.4% (308-763) 49.7% (579-1166) >70 Points Allowed 3 12
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 and matched his regular-season career best with 24 points against Nicholls State. He also had 24 at home against Oregon State last Feb. 17. So far in 2006-07, Christopher paces the Bears in three-pointers with five (38.5%) and is adding 5.0 rpg, including eight against Nicholls State.
Hardin Joins Triple-Digit Blocks Club
With four blocks in Cal's opening 67-59 win over Southern Miss and two more against Nicholls State, senior C DeVon Hardin has moved into fourth place on the Bears' all-time list with 101. He needs just four more blocks to tie Tom Schneiderjohn (1976-79) for third place. 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- ) 101 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 10 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 combined for 33 minutes in two games. 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.
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 537 victories, Ben Braun ranks 10th in wins among active Division I coaches. At Cal, he is second in both victories (204) and years of service (starting his 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).
Braun Tree Reaches 7 Head Coaches
When assistant coach Joe Pasternack was named head coach at New Orleans over the summer, he became the seventh former Ben Braun assistant or player to currently hold a head position. The full list of head coaches with ties to Braun:
Keith Dambrot - Head Coach, Akron Assistant under Braun at Eastern Michigan from 1986-89 Stan Heath - Head Coach, South Florida Played for Braun at Eastern Michigan from 1985-87 George Nessman - Head Coach, San Jose State Assistant under Braun at Cal in 2005 Joe Pasternack - Head Coach, New Orleans Assistant under Braun at Cal from 2002-07 Charles E. Ramsey - Head Coach, Eastern Michigan Assistant under Braun at EMU from 1990-03; at Cal from 1997-2001 Al Sandifer - Head Coach, Siena Heights Assistant under Braun at Siena Heights from 1983-85 Gary Waters - Head Coach, Cleveland State Assistant under Braun at Eastern Michigan from 1989-93
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.