Nov. 5, 2007
Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks at California Golden Bears
Thursday, Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Video: Watch it live online at Cal All-Access
California meets Alaska Fairbanks at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Golden Bears' lone exhibition game in preparation for the 2007-08 season. Cal officially starts the campaign on Wednesday, Nov. 14 when Southern Mississippi visits Haas Pavilion.
Alaska competes at the NCAA Division II level and annually hosts the eight-team Top of the World Classic. In 1999, the Bears were runner-up to Oklahoma in the tournament after defeating TCU and Houston in the opening rounds.
This year, Cal returns seven lettermen - including three starters - and welcomes four newcomers plus six non-scholarship players to the roster.
Leading the way are expected to be senior C DeVon Hardin and sophomore F Ryan Anderson, two of the best players in college basketball at their respective positions. Hardin is considered the No. 6 post player in the country by Athlon magazine, while Anderson is rated the nation's No. 4 power forward by Lindy's and The Sporting News.
In a competitive Pac-10 Conference that has six teams in the preseason Top 25 Associated Press poll, Cal has been picked to finish seventh in a vote of media who regularly cover the league. Still, the Bears are ranked 24th in SLAM magazine's Top 25 preseason ratings, while the team is 33rd according to Rivals.com.
Hardin, Anderson on Preseason Watch Lists
Senior C DeVon Hardin and sophomore F Ryan Anderson form one of the top frontcourts in the country 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. Hardin, also on the Naismith preseason roster, tops all returning Pac-10 players with 95 career blocks despite missing 22 games last year with a stress fracture in his left foot.
After Flirting with NBA Draft, Hardin Back for Bears
After going through the pre-NBA Draft process without hiring an agent, senior C DeVon Hardin has returned for his final season in Berkeley as the anchor at the post position. Bulked up to 250 pounds for the campaign, the 6-11 Hardin leads all returning Pac-10 players with 95 career blocks. Hardin, who was limited to the first 11 games last year due to a stress fracture in his left foot, still paced the Bears in blocks for the season with 21 swats. Based on last year's numbers, his presence in the middle should greatly benefit the Bears, who struggled without him in the lineup. Cal posted an 8-3 mark and held opponents to 61.4 ppg and 40.6 percent field goal shooting with Hardin, while the Bears were 8-14 and gave up 73.0 ppg and 49.7 percent shooting without him. Among the preseason honors bestowed on Hardin: preseason watch list for the Naismith Award, preseason first-team All-Pac-10 (Athlon), No. 6 post in the country (Athlon) and No. 7 center in the country (Rivals.com).
Seven Bears Undergo Surgery Last 15 Months
Beginning with an arthroscopic surgery to the knee of G Nikola Knezevic in June 2006, seven Cal players have been operated on over the past 17 months. Knezevic missed all of 2006-07, as did C Jordan Wilkes, who had knee surgery in November of '07. C DeVon Hardin then had foot surgery in mid-December due to a stress fracture and sat out the rest of the year. In April, both C Taylor Harrison (knee) and F Theo Robertson (hip) had surgery. Robertson is still rehabbing and may not be ready to go until late December. During the current fall, freshman F Omondi Amoke had a vascular abnormality removed from a calf, while sophomore PG Jerome Randle had a biopsy on his kidney Oct. 29. Amoke has yet to be cleared to play, and Randle is expected to be out another 2-3 weeks. Results from the biopsy showed that Randle had mild inflammation in his kidney that can be treated with medication.
Cal Sports Two 7-Footers for First Time Ever
After having its frontline depleted with injuries to centers Jordan Wilkes and DeVon Hardin last year, Cal enters 2007-08 with its tallest lineup ever. With Wilkes standing 7-0 and freshman Max Zhang a full 7-2, the Bears sport two seven-footers for the first time. In fact, Zhang, a summer signee from Yantai City, China, is the tallest player in school history. In addition to Wilkes and Zhang, Cal's roster includes one player at 6-11 (DeVon Hardin) and two more at 6-10 (Ryan Anderson, Taylor Harrison).
Anderson Hopes to Build on Strong Freshman Year
Ryan Anderson, a 6-10 sophomore forward, hopes to build on an outstanding freshman campaign that saw him earn a wide array of accolades - MVP of the Great Alaska Shootout, Pac-10 All-Freshman, All-Pac-10 Tournament and second-team Freshman All-America (Basketball Times). Not only does he possess skills to play close to the basket, but he can also step outside, connecting on 58 three-pointers (38.2%) a year ago - just two shy of the Cal freshman record. Anderson scored in double figures 30 times in 33 games and collected a team-high eight double-doubles.
Ben Braun 10th in Wins among Active Coaches
With 535 victories entering the season, Cal's Ben Braun ranks 10th in wins among active Division I coaches. In Golden Bear annals, he is second in both victories (202) 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 ESPN/USA Today preseason Top 25.
Golden Bear Notes ...
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) ... senior F Eric Vierneisel enters 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.