OK, here’s an argument-starter for your New Year’s Eve party . . . actually, I hope you’re having such a good time there’s no need to drag this topic into it.
But just in case . . .
My 2000-09 Cal Bears Team of the Decade:
– LEON POWE, forward: A beast with a huge heart. Powe’s passion for the game was a kick to watch, and he’s one of the great guys to ever play at Cal. When he got the ball on the low post, you could not budge him. The last Cal player to score 40 in a game, and the last to grab 20 rebounds . . . that one may stand a while. Two inches taller and with cooperative knees, he’d be an all-NBA player.
– RYAN ANDERSON, forward: As skilled an inside-outside player as Cal has had. Better range than Shareef Abdur-Rahim. A better rebounder than it looked like he’d be. If he had played four seasons, would have obliterated Ca’s career scoring record.
– SEAN LAMPLEY, forward: One of Ben Braun’s better coaching efforts — turned Lampley into a versatile scorer-rebounder-creator and finally even convinced him to try to play defense. A little, anyway. And no small thing: Cal’s career scoring leader.
– JOE SHIPP, guard: What a beautiful shot. When he learned how to put the ball on the floor and drive his 220-pound body to the hole, he was a fairly complete offensive player for the college level. He is No. 3 on Cal’s all-time scoring chart. Would have enjoyed watching a long-distance shooting contest between Shipp and . . .
– JEROME RANDLE, point guard: There are still “Jerome Randle moments” now and then, but at 5-8 he is a force with the ball in his hands. Shooting range to Telegraph Ave., has learned how to use his quickness and a fiercely competitive guy.
– DeVON HARDIN, center: Spectacular guy in pregame warmups. And yes, we all wondered why he couldn’t transform that magnificent body into a more productive player. My theory, too nice a guy, which isn’t the worst thing you can say about someone. Never consistent, but at his best, Hardin was an impressive player.
– AMIT TAMIR, forward: Maybe this pick surprises you, but Tamir was a skilled and versatile offensive player. Anyone else remember that 39-point performance in the double-OT vs. Oregon in 2002? Seemed like he could not miss.
– PATRICK CHRISTOPHER, guard: Best-dressed player in Cal history? Is becoming an excellent all-around player, but you’ve got to love two parts of his offensive repertoire: The step-back jumper that barely ruffles the net, and the alley-oop dunks he delivers with such joy.
– BRIAN WETHERS, guard: Shipp’s sidekick on the teams of the early part of the decade, Wethers became a hard-nosed perimeter player who still ranks among the top-20 scorers in Cal history.
– AYINDE UBAKA, point guard: I remember the first time I saw Ubaka play — I had driven out to Modesto Christian to see Richard Midgley and David Paris, and this junior guard from Oakland HS completely dominated the game. He didn’t really become that player at Cal, I think, because he never could get his confidence in the right place. Until that night he performed a self-cleansing with 29 points in a win over UCLA at the 2007 Pac-10 tournament.
– RICHARD MIDGLEY, guard: Who can forget Midgley twice scored 96 points in an age-group game growing up in the UK. OK, so you forgot that. But I bet you remember that game-winning shot he made in OT against N.C. State as a freshman in the 2003 NCAAs at Oklahoma City. Cal’s most recent NCAA victory.
– THEO ROBERTSON, forward: Robertson earns a spot here based on his versatility — the guy has played power forward at 6-5 — his professionalism and perseverence through injury and the dignity with which he’s always conducted himself. Plus, he’s now just 17 points shy of 1,000 for his career.