Dec. 4, 2001
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
After suffering a six-point loss (54-48) to 13th-ranked Georgia in the championship game of the Oakland Tribune Classic last Sunday, Cal (4-1) looks to regroup this week against two Bay Area teams. The Golden Bears host San Francisco (2-3) Wednesday and Saint Mary's (3-3) Saturday. Both games are at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.
After playing the Dons and the Gaels, the Bears take a 13-day break for final exams and don't return to action until the start of the Pac-10 season, Dec. 21, at Arizona.
Cal is off to its best start since opening the 1994-95 campaign with a 5-1 record. The only loss in that stretch came at the hands of USF (91-69) on the road.
Defense has continued to be the hallmark of Bear basketball this year, but the intensity has risen to another level. Cal leads the Pac-10 in scoring defense at 55.2 ppg after finishing fourth in that category a year ago at 66.9 ppg.
The Bears defense was solid overall against Central Connecticut State and Georgia, yielding an average of 46.0 ppg. The one area Cal needs to work on to assure it doesn't lose another game where it yields under 55 points to an opponent is free throw shooting. Cal lost to Georgia by only six points and missed 18 critical free throws (18-of-35) that could have helped secure the win.
Another key to the Bears success this year has been rebounding. They have out-rebounded all five of their opponents this year and are third in the conference for rebounding margin at +6.4. It has been a team effort as no one is averaging over 5.2 rebounds per game.
Senior center Ami Forney leads the Bears in scoring at 13.0 ppg. She was named to the Oakland Tribune Classic all-tournament team, along with LaTasha O'Keith. Forney tallied her first double-double (22 points, 10 rebounds) of the season and eighth of her career against Georgia. O'Keith matched her career-high of 13 points against Central Connecticut State. Freshman forward Leigh Gregory is second on the team in scoring at 10.4 ppg.