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Bears Host Nicholls State Monday Night
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/16/2007

Nov. 16, 2007

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Nicholls State Colonels (1-1, at Tulane 11/16) at California Golden Bears (1-0)
Monday, Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYOU (1550 AM)
TV: CalBears.com webcast CLICK HERE (PC: IE Explorer | Mac: Safari)

California continues with its season-opening three-game homestand when the Golden Bears host Nicholls State at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Haas Pavilion.

Cal, which has won 14 of its last 15 contests vs. non-conference competition in Berkeley, will be playing a team from the Southland Conference for the first time.

The Bears are off to a 1-0 start after dispatching Southern Miss, 67-59, last Wednesday. Sophomore G Patrick Christopher paced the attack with 19 points, 15 of which came in the first half, while senior C DeVon Hardin came through with 18 points, a career-high-tying 14 rebounds and four blocks.

Hardin, who played his first regular-season game since suffering a stress fracture in his left foot last Dec. 11, helped the Cal defense limit Southern Miss to just 38.9 percent shooting from the floor. With Hardin in the lineup in 2006-07, the Bears allowed opponents to shoot 40.6 percent, compared to 49.7 percent when he was sidelined.

The Southern Miss contest also marked the first career start for sophomore PG Nikola Knezevic. He shot just 1-for-6, but did sink a key three-pointer during a late 12-0 run that gave Cal the lead for good, and dished out a personal-best five assists.

Sophomore F Ryan Anderson, Cal's leading scorer and rebounder a year ago, missed about 10 minutes of the second half of the game with blurred vision. However, he experienced no symptoms a day later and tests performed on his eye also came back normal. Doctors believe he had a form of a migraine. Anderson finished with 11 points, with six coming after he re-entered the game with 7:40 to go.

Just seven scholarship players saw action against the Golden Eagles, as three of the 10 Bear players to get onto the court were walk-ons, each of whom played at least seven minutes. Cal hopes to get sophomore PG Jerome Randle back from a kidney biopsy by the Nov. 24 San Diego State game to provide more depth in the backcourt.

Other players who were in street clothes include C Taylor Harrison (knee), F Theo Robertson (hip) and F Omondi Amoke (calf). In addition, F Jamal Boykin, a mid-year transfer last season from Duke, will not become eligible until the Dec. 22 Utah game.

Probable Starters

POS  NO  NAME                 HT    WT   YR  PPG   RPG
F    14  Eric Vierneisel      6-7   210  Sr  5.0   6.0
Set career highs with 6 rebounds and 5 assists vs. Southern Miss 
F    34  Ryan Anderson        6-10  240  So  11.0  5.0
2007 Pac-10 All-Freshman rated #4 PF in country by Sporting News
C    35  DeVon Hardin         6-11  250  Sr  18.0  14.0
Tied career high with 14 boards vs. Southern Miss; 99 career blocks
G    13  Nikola Knezevic      6-2   185  So  4.0   5.0 apg
Back in action after missing 2006-07 with knee injury
G    23  Patrick Christopher  6-5   215  Fr  19.0  2.0
Scored 32 points in exhibition win over Alaska Fairbanks

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 203-138, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 536-373. 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.

Nicholls State Scouting Report A Look at Nicholls State
Nicholls State, which opened the season 1-1 before a Friday visit to Tulane, plays the second game of a seven-game road trip when the Colonels visit Cal. They have two other contests in Northern California - at UC Davis Nov. 21 and at Saint Mary's Nov. 24 - then conclude the swing at LSU, New Orleans and Alabama. Nicholls State is led by guards Adonis Gray and Michael Czepil, who are averaging 13.5 ppg. The Colonels were 8-22 last season.

Cal-Nicholls State Series History
This marks the first meeting between Cal and Nicholls State.

Nicholls State Head Coach J.P. Piper
J.P. Piper is in his fourth season as head coach at Nicholls State after serving the previous two years as an assistant coach at the school. Before moving to the collegiate ranks, he led The Dunham School in Baton Rouge, La., to the Louisiana Class A high school championship.

Probable Starters
Pos  No  Name            Ht    Yr  Ppg   Rpg
F    11  Dominic Friend  6-7   Fr  8.0   4.0
F    21  Ryan Bathie     6-6   Jr  12.0  7.0
G     3  Michael Czepil  6-2   So  13.5  3.0
G     5  Justin Payne    5-11  Jr  0.0   0.5
G    20  Adonis Gray     6-4   Sr  13.5  5.5

For more information: www.geauxcolonels.com

Golden Bear Notes

Hardin's Double-Double Leads Cal over Southern Miss, 67-59
In his first regular-season game since suffering a stress fracture to his left foot last Dec. 11, senior C DeVon Hardin had 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks to lead Cal to an opening 67-59 victory over Southern Miss Wednesday in Haas Pavilion. The Bears led by as many as 12 points in the first half behind 15 points from sophomore G Patrick Christopher, before going into the break up, 33-28. After Southern Miss grabbed a 54-48 lead with 5:39 left, Cal went on a 12-0 run sparked by five points from Hardin. Christopher paced the Bears with 19 points, while sophomore F Ryan Anderson added 11 points and five boards.

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. Christopher shot 6-for-10 with a pair of three-pointers on his way to 15 points in the first half, scoring nine straight points during a 2:01 stretch midway through the period. His 19-point outburst is the second highest of his brief career, topped only by a 24-point outing against Oregon State last Feb. 17.

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, with a best of 27 points vs. Oregon State in the Pac-10 Tournament, and collected a team-high eight double-doubles.

Hardin Heading toward Triple-Digit Blocks
With four blocks in Cal's opening 67-59 win over Southern Miss, senior C DeVon Hardin moved up to fourth place on the Bears' all-time list with 99 blocks, needing just one more to become the fourth player in school history with 100 or more. 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- )         99
5. Brian Hendrick (1990-93)      98

Thin Bench Puts Young Team on Court
Cal fans should be forgiven if they didn't recognize most of the players on the floor during the Bears' season opener. Of the 10 players who saw action, three were walk-ons (Nican Robinson, David Liss, Eddie Miller), one was a scholarship freshman (Harper Kamp) and two didn't play last season due to injury (Nikola Knezevic, knee; Jordan Wilkes, knee). During one short stretch of the game, Robinson, Liss, Miller and Kamp were all on the court at the same time.

With Hardin in Middle, Defense Returns to Form
In Cal's season-opening victory, the Bears limited Southern Miss to just 59 points and 38.9 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. 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. Over the past 30 games with Hardin (dating back to 2005-06), the Bears have allowed more than 70 points just six times in 30 games. But in the 22 games he missed last year, Cal gave up over 70 on 12 occasions.

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).

Walk-ons Continue Tradition of Filling Significant Roles
With sophomore PG Jerome Randle sidelined for at least the first two games of the year as he recovers from a kidney biopsy, Cal will rely on a pair of non-scholarship players - sophomores Nican Robinson and David Liss - to fill the primary back-up spot behind starter Nicola Knezevic. The pair combined for four assists against just two turnovers in 26 minutes vs. Alaska last week. Under head coach Ben Braun, utilizing walk-ons in significant roles is nothing new. Alex Pribble 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.

Seven Bears Undergo Surgery since June 2006
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, and Harrison sat out the Alaska exhibition game. During the current fall, freshman F Omondi Amoke had a vascular abnormality removed from a calf, while sophomore PG Jerome Randle had a kidney biopsy Oct. 29. Amoke has yet to be cleared to play, and Randle hopes to return vs. San Diego State Nov. 24. Results from the biopsy showed that Randle had mild inflammation in his kidney that can be treated with medication.

Ben Braun 10th in Wins among Active Coaches
With 536 victories, Ben Braun ranks 10th in wins among active Division I coaches. At Cal, he is second in both victories (203) 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 last Wednesday ... 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.


Cal Bears Men's Basketball


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