Jan. 28, 2000
BERKELEY, CA - Dennis Gates, Cal's 6-3 sophomore guard known for his tough defensive play, is returning to the hardwood against Washington State and Washington after having to sit out games against Oregon State and Stanford due to injury. Nicknamed the "Sheriff" for his defensive prowess, Gates is also one of the Bears top three-point shooters and his return will definitely inspire the young Cal squad in its quest for victories over the Washington State Cougars and the Washington Huskies this week at Haas Pavilion.
You are from the Chicago area and from the Midwest. What were the circumstances of you coming to Cal and the West Coast? Has school been what you expected?
"When I was thinking of what college to go to it was between Cal and Northeastern. Both represented strong academic schools. The only thing Northeastern lacked was a strong basketball program and Cal provided both strong academics and a strong basketball program. I also wanted to play basketball on the West Coast. School-wise, I thought Cal would be harder than it is, but I purposely went to Cal to help prepare me for my future and to thrive basketball-wise as well. When I first came here I didn't know what to expect, I just played it by ear and the only thing that really surprised me was Telegraph Avenue, but I've grown to love the place."
Have you enjoyed West Coast basketball?
"A big factor in me coming here was being able to play West Coast basketball. I knew that a lot of good guards have come out of the Pac-10 and the Pac-10 has an up-tempo type of game. The Big-10 plays more of a half-court game, whereas the Pac-10 runs up and down the court and has a fast-paced, open-court style of game."
You have suffered some injuries this season. How did you hurt your knee against Oregon (which caused Gates to miss the Oregon State and Stanford games)? And earlier in the season you had your right shin heavily taped.
"I hurt my right knee against Oregon when I ran back and tried to block a shot and landed on it funny. I hurt the same knee that I had surgery on this past summer. It was a nagging injury that I had surgery on in the summer to repair some cartilage, but I'm ready to play again, definitely. Earlier, I had my right shin tape heavily because I had a bad bone bruise from taking charges. I had to have a pad on put on my shin and have it heavily taped because I couldn't keep having it hit and getting worse."
How does it feel to be only a sophomore, yet be considered one of the older members of a team that has so many freshmen?
"The freshman class, they all keep everyone young. They are a great bunch of guys and they keep me young. We all love each other and even after we all graduate we will continue to be friends. This is our home away from home."
What has been a highlight for you at Cal?
"Besides winning the NIT, having a Division I scholarship is one thing that sticks out in my mind as being a highlight. My intended major is sociology and after I graduate I would like go to graduate school and get my masters in education. I wouldn't mind going to graduate school at Cal and maybe become a teacher someday when basketball is over. Solomon Hughes (the Bears sophomore center) and I are trying to see who can be the first one to graduate."
Anything else you want to talk about?
"Yes, I just want to say that Dennis Gates will miss Shahar Gordon whenever it is that he has to leave (to go back to the army in Israel). And that his (Gordon's) nickname is 'Silk' and we'll all miss 'Silk'."