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Bears earn #8 seed in tourney

By Ralph Gaston Daily Planet Correspondent
Monday March 12, 2001

Cal to face Fresno St. 


The tension of anticipation could be felt through the Haas Pavilion Club room on Sunday afternoon. Players, press, and fans of Cal basketball had waited patiently as the brackets for the East, West, and Midwest regions were announced. Finally, the South region was announced and the Bears learned their fate: they were going to Memphis.  

“I’m very excited,” said senior forward Sean Lampley. For Morgan (Lingle) and I, being our last year here, we’ll leave with great memories.” 

Cal, the eighth seed in the 2001 NCAA Tournament, will face Fresno State in a South region first-round matchup on Friday. Jerry Tarkanian’s Bulldogs finished 25-6 on the season, and were the regular season champions of the Western Athletic Conference.  

“I’ve seen Fresno State on TV; they’re a very explosive, very talented, competitive group,” Cal head coach Ben Braun said. “It’s the best team Tarkanian’s had since he’s been there.”  

Other teams playing in Memphis include Virginia, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, and defending national champions Michigan State, whom the Bears would likely face if they get by the Bulldogs. 

More important to the Bears is their reappearance on the national scene. Cal’s last NCAA appearance came in 1997. Braun was a new coach, adapting to a program on probation. The program was trying to right itself, and Braun credits his team for their fortitude.  

“(These players) came here to Cal when lots of other players wouldn’t because of probation, because we weren’t going to postseason tournaments,” said Braun.  

Now, Braun looks to use their appearance in the tournament to help recruit new talent to the program.  

“This will be great for recruiting,” said sophomore guard Shantay Legans. “This will put the school back on the map.” 

Cal enters the tournament with a 20-10 overall record and 11-7 in the Pac-10, good enough for a fourth place tie with USC. As expected, the Pac-10 sent five teams to the tournament; Stanford was the top seed in the West, while UCLA and USC ended up the fourth and sixth seeds in the East, respectively. Arizona is the second seeded team in the Midwest.  

Though some thought the Bears deserved a higher seed, Braun refused to argue.  

“A lot is made of seeding; it’s about going and competing,” explained Braun. “If you go deep into the tournament, you have to beat some very good teams eventually. It’s about proving yourselves.”  

The start time of Cal’s game will not be announced until Monday.