Men's Hoops Opens Season At Top Of The World Classic
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/16/1999

Nov. 16, 1999

BERKELEY, Calif. - California opens the 1999-2000 season against TCU in the first round of the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, Thursday night. After a day off Friday, the Bears will meet either Houston or host Alaska-Fairbanks Saturday. The eight-team tournament, which also includes Oklahoma, George Washington, Montana State and Indiana State, concludes on Sunday.

Last year, Cal finished 22-11 and tied for fifth in the Pac-10 with an 8-10 mark. In the postseason, the Bears went on a 5-0 run to capture the National Invitation Tournament title with a 61-60 victory over Clemson in the championship game at Madison Square Garden - Cal's first postseason crown since winning the 1959 NCAA title.

Only one starter returns from that team - junior forward Sean Lampley - but he was the MVP of the NIT and is clearly Cal's most experienced player entering this season. As a sophomore, he averaged 12.4 ppg and 8.8 rpg, including 10 double-doubles. In the NIT, he set a career high with 28 points in the first round against Fresno State and also had 14 rebounds vs. both Fresno and DePaul.

So far this year, Lampley is proving to be just as valuable. He had 22 points and 12 rebounds in Cal's first exhibition game against EA Sports, then totaled 31 points and 12 boards vs. the California West All-Stars.

Outside of Lampley, the remainder of Cal's returning players combined for just nine starts last year. And with only two seniors and one junior on the scholarship roster, this year's Bear squad is the youngest in school history. In fact, Cal's projected starting lineup includes a junior (Lampley), two sophomores (Dennis Gates and Solomon Hughes) and two freshmen (Donte Smith and Brian Wethers).

With so much youth on the team, head coach Ben Braun scheduled 18 home games in Cal's new 12,300-seat Haas Pavilion this year. In addition to the Top of the World Classic, the Bears will make only one other road trip - to Colorado Dec. 4 - prior to the start of the Pac-10 schedule in early January.

Probable Starters & Key Reserves
('98-99 Averages)

F21Sean Lampley6-7225Jr12.48.8MVP of 1999 NIT, 26.5 ppg & 12.0 rpg in exhibition games
F25Brian Wethers6-5205Fr0.00.0Averaged 27 ppg & 10 rpg as high school senior last year
C14Solomon Hughes6-11230So3.32.4Led Cal in FG shooting (52.4%) last year, 25 blocks in '98-99
G3Donte Smith6-2195FrR0.00.0Washington, D.C., Player of the Year in 1998
G15Dennis Gates6-3190So2.50.9Had 28 steals as a freshman
G10Raymond King5-10170Sr2.61.1Leads returning players with 107 assists in Cal career
G12Shantay Legans5-10165Fr0.00.0Set HS records for scoring, assists and steals
F34Joe Shipp6-5215Fr0.00.07-13 3FG in exhibition games, hit game-winner vs. EA Sports
C40Shahar Gordon6-10250So1.21.2Played for Israeli Under-20 National team over the summer
Head Coach: Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75) - 57-35 at Cal (4th year) & 390-270 overall (23rd year)

Top of the World Classic, Fairbanks, AK
California Golden Bears (0-0) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (0-0)
Thursday, Nov. 18, 7:00 p.m. AT/8:00 p.m. PT

California vs. Houston or Alaska Fairbanks
Saturday, Nov. 20, 5:45 p.m. AT/6:45 p.m. PT or 12:00 noon AT/1:00 p.m. PT

California vs. Indiana State, George Washington, Oklahoma or Montana State
Sunday, Nov. 21, TBA

Cal on the Radio
All California games will be broadcast on KABL Radio (960 AM) in San Francisco and KATD Radio (990 AM) in Concord with Roxy Bernstein calling the action. Each broadcast begins 20 minutes prior to tip-off with the Cal Basketball Pregame Show. After the game, head coach Ben Braun will recap the action on the Cal Basketball Postgame Show. In addition to the radio, broadcasts can be heard on the Internet at
All Cal releases, results, statistics, box scores, schedules and coach and player information, as well as historical data, is available on the Internet at Game recaps and statistics are updated after each contest. The site also includes information on all 27 of Cal's teams.

Cal Radio on Telephone
All Cal basketball radio broadcasts during the 1999-2000 season are available nationwide via telephone through TRZ Telephone Broadcast Services. Fans may access the Cal games from anywhere in the country by dialing 800-846-4700, extension 5918. The cost is 50 cents for the first minute, with decreasing rates for each addition minute.

Haas Pavilion
Cal returned to campus this season with the opening of the new 12,300-seat Walter A. Haas Jr. Pavilion. The $57.5 million facility is a renovated and expanded version of old Harmon Gym. In addition to the basketball court, the building features coaching and administrative office space, locker rooms, a spacious weight room and athletic training facilities, as well as media work and interview rooms. While Haas Pavilion was under construction, Cal played the last two seasons at the New Arena in Oakland.

Cal Coach Ben Braun
Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75), who was named the 14th head coach in Cal history on Sept. 15, 1996, is in his fourth year in Berkeley and 23rd season as collegiate head coach. His record at Cal stands at 57-35, while his career mark, which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College, is 390-270. The 1997 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and a finalist for '97 National Coach of the Year honors, Braun led the Bears to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1997 and to the NIT championship in 1999. In October 1997, he agreed to a new eight-year contract that extends through the 2004-05 season. 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 played one year of basketball at Wisconsin-LaCrosse before transferring to Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a teaching degree in English with a minor in African-American studies in 1975. He received his master's degree in guidance and counseling from Siena Heights.

TCU Scouting Report

A Look at TCU (21-11 in '98-99)
TCU was 21-11 last year, tying for fourth in the WAC. The Horned Frogs reached the quarterfinals of the NIT before losing to Oregon, 77-68. TCU returns two starters from 1998-99, led by senior forward Marquise Gainous, who averaged 18.3 ppg and 8.7 rpg last season.

Cal-TCU Series History
In the only previous meeting between the schools, Cal edged TCU, 76-74, on Dec. 28, 1971 in the first round of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, HI.

TCU Head Coach Billy Tubbs
Billy Tubbs is in his sixth season at TCU, where he has compiled a 101-56 record. Prior to moving to TCU, he was 31-22 in two years at Southwestern, 75-46 in four seasons at Lamar and 333-132 in 14 years at Oklahoma, leading the Sooners to 13 postseason appearances.

Probable Starters
('98-99 Averages)

F33Marquise Gainous6-9216Sr18.38.7
F44Robert Paulk6-10233Fr0.00.0
G3Thomas McTyer5-11156Jr2.10.5
G24Estell Laster6-2185Jr17.84.8
G25Ryan Carroll6-4190Jr14.05.2

Golden Bear Notes

Cal Splits Two Exhibition Games
Cal went 1-1 in its two exhibition games this year, defeating EA Sports, 76-74, but falling to the California West All-Stars, 94-89. In the EA Sports game, freshman Joe Shipp hit a three-pointer with five seconds left to lift the Bears to the victory. Shipp went 4-for-6 from three-point range and finished with 14 points. Junior forward Sean Lampley led all scorers with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Against the All-Stars, Lampley again had a big night with 31 points and 12 boards, while freshman guard Donte Smith added 18 points. However, the All-Stars, led by former UCLA star Charles O'Bannon's 21 points, surged ahead in the final minutes.

Cal Had Third-Best Non-Conference Record in '98-99
Cal's non-conference winning percentage of .929 (13-1 record) was the third best in college basketball last season, topped only by NCAA champion Connecticut (1.000, 15-0) and Auburn (.933, 14-1). In addition, the Bears were 15-3 at home in '98-99, tying for third in home victories (St. John's was 17-4 and UCLA was 16-1).

Freshman Class to Provide Depth for Bears
Cal's freshman class is one of its deepest in several years with five recruits in the group. Guard Donte Smith, who redshirted last season, was the Washington, D.C., Player of the Year at Anacostia HS in 1998, guard Shantay Legans set school records for points, assists and steals at Dos Pueblos HS in Goleta, forward Joe Shipp (Fairfax HS/Los Angeles) and guard/forward Brian Wethers (Murietta Valley HS/Murietta) were both first team all-state players, and Nick Vander Laan was rated one of the Top 10 center prospects in the country coming out of St. Thomas More Academy in Connecticut.

Golden Bear Breakdown

By Class
Senior (2) - Robbie Jones, Raymond King
Junior (1) - Sean Lampley
Sophomore (3) - Dennis Gates, Shahar Gordon, Solomon Hughes
Freshman (5) - Shantay Legans, Joe Shipp, Donte Smith, Nick Vander Laan, Brian Wethers

By Height
6-11 - Solomon Hughes
6-10 - Shahar Gordon, Nick Vander Laan
6-7 - Sean Lampley
6-5 - Joe Shipp, Brian Wethers
6-3 - Dennis Gates, Robbie Jones
6-2 - Donte Smith
5-10 - Raymond King, Shantay Legans


Sean Lampley5936
Raymond King*5614
Robbie Jones3510
Solomon Hughes292
Dennis Gates282
Shahar Gordon283
Shantay Legans00
Joe Shipp00
Donte Smith00
Nick Vander Laan00
Brian Wethers00


Sean Lampley62210.5
Raymond King*2494.4
Solomon Hughes973.3
Dennis Gates692.5
Robbie Jones671.9
Shahar Gordon331.2
Shantay Legans00.0
Joe Shipp00.0
Donte Smith00.0
Nick Vander Laan00.0
Brian Wethers00.0


Sean Lampley4217.1
Raymond King*1071.9
Solomon Hughes712.4
Robbie Jones521.5
Shahar Gordon351.2
Dennis Gates260.9
Shantay Legans00.0
Joe Shipp00.0
Donte Smith00.0
Nick Vander Laan00.0
Brian Wethers00.0


Raymond King*1072.4
Sean Lampley901.5
Shahar Gordon170.6
Robbie Jones160.5
Dennis Gates150.5
Solomon Hughes30.1
Shantay Legans00.0
Joe Shipp00.0
Donte Smith00.0
Nick Vander Laan00.0
Brian Wethers00.0

*Cal statistics only

Lampley Lights the Way for Bears
Stopping junior Sean Lampley is certain to be the focus of opponent defenses this season. The 6-7 forward averaged 12.4 ppg and 8.8 rpg last season, posting 10 double-doubles along the way. He earned Most Valuable Player honors in the NIT last March. In addition, he was voted honorable mention All-Pac-10 and MVP of the 1998 Golden Bear Classic. In his last 32 games, Lampley has paced the Bears on the glass 24 times, with a career-best 18 rebounds against Houston last Dec. 3. He also had 14 rebounds in back-to-back NIT games vs. Fresno State and DePaul. During this year's exhibition games, Lampley averaged 26.5 ppg and 12.0 rpg, including a high of 31 points vs. the California West All-Stars (12-17 FG, 7-8 FT).

Bear Squad Youngest in School History
With only three upperclassmen among its 11 scholarship players, this year's Cal team is the youngest in school history. The Bears lost four starters and their sixth man following their NIT championship run last spring, leaving them with just two seniors and one junior for the upcoming campaign. A look at past rosters shows that every previous Cal squad had at least four upperclassmen. Below is a look at several of the youngest squads to play for the Bears:


Another way to look at Cal's youth factor is in number of starts. Sean Lampley started 24 times last season, but the rest of the returning players accumulated a total of just nine starts: Shahar Gordon 3, Solomon Hughes 2, Raymond King 2 and Dennis Gates 2.

Cal Enters Season with 2 Winning Streaks on Line
Cal enters this year with an 18-game on-campus winning streak, the second longest in school history. The Bears were 7-0 on Harmon Gym's Newell Court in 1995-96 and 11-0 there in 1996-97. (They played at the New Arena in Oakland the last two seasons.) The only longer streak lasted from Dec. 27, 1958 to Dec. 16, 1960 when Cal won 26 consecutive games at home. In addition, Cal ended last year on a 5-0 run en route to the National Invitation Tournament title. On their way to the championship, the Bears beat Fresno State (79-71), DePaul (58-57), Colorado State (71-62), Oregon (85-69) and Clemson (61-60).

Bears Picked to Finish Sixth in Pac-10
The Cal men's basketball team has been picked to finish sixth in the 1999-2000 Pacific-10 Conference race in a vote of 36 sportswriters who regularly cover the league. The poll lists Arizona as the overwhelming favorite, with the Wildcats garnering 32 first-place votes. UCLA was picked third, followed by Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, USC, Arizona State, Washington and Washington State.

1999-2000 Pac-10 Men's Basketball Media Poll

1. Arizona (32) 356
2. UCLA (3) 307
3. Stanford (1) 296
4. Oregon 246
5. Oregon State 174
6. California 152
7. USC151
8. Arizona State129
9. Washington 117
10. Washington State44

First-place votes in parentheses

Golden Bear Notes

  • In Cal's only other trip to the State of Alaska, the Bears were 1-2 at the 1988 Great Alaska Shootout, defeating Florida (73-58), but losing to Kansas (86-71) and Kentucky (89-71)
  • picked guard Donte Smith on its preseason Pac-10 All-Freshman team
  • Cal is starting the year on the road for the fourth consecutive season: 1996 - beat Iowa, 75-59, at Maui Invitational, 1997 - lost at North Carolina, 71-47, 1998 - beat Hawaii, 71-60
  • Cal has won 11 of its last 13 season openers.