Another weekend, another round of CGB Hall of Fame voting. Today we have an interesting match-up between two fairly lesser known Golden Bears. Former football running back Joe Igber comes in as a 5 seed to take on Women's Basketballer Milica Vukadinovic.
Igber may be overlooked in terms of name recognition, but he should not be unknown when it comes to his place in the Cal Football record books. He maintains a lofty place there but what really stands out is the fact that he went on to a successful career afterwards. He truly embodies the Cal ethos and is what all of the student-athletes ought to be striving for in both their athletic and professional careers.
Opposing Joe is Vukadinovic. I confess I had not heard of her before this post, but she was a tremendous player for the Women's Basketball team and is easily considered one of the best women's players to ever suit up for the Golden Bears.
I suspect that this will be a close vote and it would not be a complete surprise if we see a 5/12 upset (as we all know one happens every year). This matchup is in the Pete Newell Region and the winner will move on to face Nathan Adrian in the next round. Full bracket here. Full write ups after the jump. Voting ends on Friday. GO BEARS!
(5) Joe Igber
I'll let BearStage talk about Igber here:
Joe Igber. My all-time favorite Cal running back. Often overlooked, his name litters the pages of Cal's record books.
- His 3,124 career rushing yards are the third most in Cal history. Only Russell White and Marshawn Lynch can claim more.
-His 2002 rushing total of 1,130 yards was the 3rd highest single-season total in Cal history (at that time)
His greatest performance: a 226-yard, one-touchdown performance in the 2002 Big Game, which Cal won 30-7. Not only did he set the record for most rushing yards in the history of the Big Game (which still stands), he helped bring the Axe back to its rightful home after a painful 7-year drought.
These accomplishments alone should be enough to garner him consideration. And while these are all great reasons to appreciate Joe Igber, I'm most impressed with him because his career typified what we strive for Cal to be. You see, Igber somehow managed to balance the workload of a star Pac-10 running back with the workload of becoming a civil engineer.
Now, most people can barely handle one of those challenges. We all know how time consuming and stress inducing engineering majors are - between physics/math/engineering courses, labs, projects, research (if you're ambitious) - it's more than enough for most of us. UC Berkeley is one of the best (and toughest) places in the world to study engineering. People come from all over the world to study engineering at Cal, and that reputation is well-deserved, and it was the main reason that Joe Igber decided to come to Cal in the first place.
Also, we've all heard about how much time, sacrifice, dedication it takes to play Pac-10 football, let alone be a starter - the practice, the training, and weight rooms, the film, the travel. Add to the that the pressure of being the star running back, and you've got yourself a full plate that very few have the patience and focus to handle.
On top of even that - to perform at the level that Joe Igber did, to set records and do things on the field no Golden Bear has ever done, while handling that academic workload - it's just ridiculous.
Joe Igber is that rare combination, the very best of both of Cal's worlds - an amazing athlete and an impressive scholar. As such, I nominate him for the CGB Hall of Fame.
(12) Milica Vukadinovic
I nominated her last year. And I'll do it again this year. Until Boyle's Bears came to Cal (Ashley Walker, etc.) best Cal women's basketball player ever. Tall rangy point guard with an uncanny ability to get into the lane and overpower smaller guards with court vision for days.
Here's the official Cal Athletic Hall of Fame bio:
One of Cal's only first team Kodak All-American (1993) in women's basketball history...Vukadinovic propelled the Golden Bears to NCAA postseason berths in each of her two seasons with the program...two-time first team All-Pac-10 choice led Cal to the 1992 and 1993 NCAA playoffs...a member of the Yugoslavian National Team, she would have competed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics if her country had not been banned...Vukadinovic, also a GTE Academic All-American and two-time first team Pac-10 All-Academic choice, ranked as high as fourth in scoring average (15.7 ppg), sixth in assists (358) and third in three-point shooting percentage (.389) among Cal's career leaders...voted the school's women's basketball Player of the Decade for 1986-96.
More than just the stats - she was amazing to watch. Being on the Cal campus in 1992 and 1993 was heaven for point guard fans. With Kidd (and KJ Roberts) leading the men's team and Milica running the woman's team. A tall point guard, she could see over her defenders - she was fond of the creative pass - with a bit of flair. The rest of her offensive game wasn't as pretty but she would just get into the lane and shoot over short guards or go around posts.
Ohio Bear chips in:
Tara Vanderveer used to call her the "Magic Johnson of women's basketball" during Milica's playing days. "Meets" (as her teammates nicknamed her) was a magician with the ball. She had a flair for the no look pass and a great fake pass and drive to the basket move that would freeze a defender. She was big for a women's basketball point guard (she went about 6-1 or 6-2), but she was quick.
Assist to Vlade Divac for bringing Meets to Cal. Story goes that when Meets had the opportunity to come to the US to play college basketball, her major schollie offers were from Cal and UNLV. Divac (her countryman) advised her to go to Cal for the academics because "UNLV is just a basketball school." Thanks, Vlade. (NOTE: My source for this anecdote was either Milica herself or then-Coach Gooch Foster; I have forgotten which due to the passage of time. I'm old, ya know.)
But I think we're still not doing her justice. She was a 6'1"woman's point guard - rare now, but completely unheard of then. And with her size, it really was like watching Lady Magic - she would dominate smaller point guards physically and throw the nicest passes to teammates. With her and Jason Kidd on campus at the same time, Cal had the best point guards in the country in college basketball.