THIS BEING the 100th season of Cal basketball, we were curious to unearth what we could about the single game the Golden Bears are known to have played back in their inaugural season of 1907-08.
In the Cal media guide — for years now — the sum of information on that first game is that Cal defeated Nevada 41-9. No date. No names. No details.
With the help of the university's sports information office, we were provided a write-up from the 1909 Blue and Gold Yearbook, which reports that the game took place in Reno on March 7, 1908.
"The varsity men outclassed the Nevada players in team work and swift playing, winning by a score of 41 to 9," the two-paragraph article reads. "The extremely slippery floor of the gym made it necessary for the men to keep wet towels on the side lines and constantly wet their feet.
"But it was this very slipperiness that made possible some spectacular plays. In the second half, Schwartz, coming down the court at full speed, took a swift pass from Hart, slid twenty-five feet to the basket and threw a goal."
Those Nevada refs, apparently, were fairly liberal about blowing the whistle for traveling.
We wanted more about this game and Cal's first season, so we checked out the newspaper microfilm at UC's library.
First stop was the March 7 edition of the Oakland Tribune, where we learned that sports sections a century ago cared about baseball, boxing, horse racing, and little else.
But we did locate a short item that suggests the history of Cal's first season has not been fully reported:
"The Blue and Gold five have defeated nearly all the teams in the state," the Tribune wrote. "The only defeat that the men have sustained was at the hands of the Muscatine, Iowa, world's champions."
In other words: The Nevada game was not the Bears' first or only game in 1907-08.
We found evidence of at least three or four earlier games, including the aforementioned game against the barnstorming team from Iowa, which beat Cal 33-27 at old Harmon Gym on Feb. 24, 1908.
So, was that Jan. 24 game against Santa Cruz the first in Cal history? Maybe.
Or maybe the lesson learned is we don't really know for sure.
TWO MISSING YEARS: Cal has no record in its media guide of games being played in either the 1909-10 or 1910-11 seasons, which explains how this adds up to being the Bears' 100th season after they began in 1907-08.
But that conflicts with the St. Mary's guide, which lists two games between the schools in 1909-10, with each team winning once. If the Gaels' information is correct, this becomes the Bears' 101st season.
FAST STARTS: North Carolina senior Tyler Hansbrough was everyone's preseason choice to win National Player of the Year honors. A shin injury that kept him out of the Tar Heels' first two games may have put him behind in the race, but not so much as superb performances by two rivals for the honor.
Contact Jeff Faraudo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The best performances during the past week by Bay Area products playing Division I basketball elsewhere around the country:
n KYLE SPAIN: The San Diego State senior forward, a graduate of Newark Memorial, equaled his career high with 22 points and had 11 rebounds in a win over Fresno State.
n JESSE BYRD: A junior forward from Bishop O'Dowd, Byrd scored 12 points in UC Santa Barbara's loss to top-ranked North Carolina, then was held to a single point but grabbed eight rebounds in a loss to USF, his previous school.