The 2005-06 California men's basketball season did not turn out how the Golden Bears had hoped. A night that started with the induction of current Cal coach Ben Braun into the Eastern Michigan Hall-of-Fame turned into an opening night trap at Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Former Cal assistant Charles Ramsey, coaching his first game at the Div. 1 level, knocked off his mentor 67-65 in back and forth affair.
Senior EMU power forward John Bowler scored 19 points and had 12 rebounds Friday to lead Eastern Michigan past California 67-65 in the season opener for each team. Gino Smith added 16 points in his first game. Combined, the duo combined to hit 15 of 20 shots and proved nearly unstoppable for the Cal defense.
The loss spoiled the homecoming of Braun, who led Eastern Michigan to three NCAA tournament berths during his 11-year tenure. Ramsey was an assistant under Braun at EMU and Cal. After helping restore the Michigan program as an assistant, Ramsey returned to his native Ypsilanti during the summer, is now 1-0 lifetime.
Ayinde Ubaka had 17 points to lead the Bears, including a 3-pointer with 38.6 seconds to play that got them to within a point. The Eagles' Craig Cashen made a free throw with 16.7 seconds to play, and Ubaka missed a running jump shot from the top of the key as time expired. A put-back by Cal sophomore center DeVon Hardin rolled off the rim to end the game.
Cal's talented freshmen duo of Theo Robertson, who started in the absence of injured Leon Powe, had 12 and Jordan Wilkes added 11 for Cal.
Eastern Michigan led 34-33 at halftime and built a 10-point lead six minutes into the second half, but Cal outscored its hosts 14-2 in the next six minutes to get back into the game.
Bears senior forward Rod Benson (heel), last season's leading scorer and rebounder, senior reserve point guard Martin Smith (pelvis), and Powe (foot) all missed Friday's opener with stress fractures.
A.W Prince is the senior writer and publisher of BearTerritory.net. He pens a west coast basketball article entitled "The Weekly Spin" for all Bay Area basketball programs, plus numerous other recruiting features on some of the most talented and highly sought after student-athletes in the country. Along with the "The Weekly Spin", Prince has made radio appearances with Rivals Radio and Bay Area college basketball pre-game, halftime, and post-game in-season shows.