Coach Mike Montgomery used 11 players in the first half Saturday night against Florida State, determined to give his starters some rest in Game 2 of a back-to-back at the Global Sports Classic.
He wants to develop depth on this team, but the result of trying to do that against the Seminoles put the Bears in a hole.
“Unfortunately, at the end of the first half when we went from close to not close, it was when we had to substitute,” he said. “We didn’t play the last 3 minutes very well.”
With three starters off the floor at the end of the half — each saddled with two fouls — FSU scored the final eight points of the half, extending a 24-23 lead to 32-23. Cal fouled four times during that span — with the Seminoles hitting 5-for-7 from the line — and was 0-for-5 with three turnovers on its final eight possessions of the period.
Cal wound up suffering its first defeat of the season, falling 80-77 after a ferocious rally in the final 2 minutes.
“We’re going to have to develop our depth, but at the same time some of these games – maybe most of them, if not all of them – we know we’ve got to have certain people on the floor for us to win,” Monty said Monday at his weekly press conference.
As a result, he said it may be time soon to tighen up his substitution pattern, likely going to an eight-man rotation.
Expect to see a more steady diet of starters Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, Jamal Boykin and Jordan Wilkes, with reserves Harper Kamp, Jorge Gutierrez and Omondi Amoke. Monty said he feels the need to begin working in Gutierrez as the backup at point guard, where no one else has emerged as dependable relief to Randle.
“The problem I’ve got is I like these kids. I’m sensitive to playing time, always have been, although you’d never get anybody to admit that who’d played for me,” Monty said. “I do feel for them and I’d love for everyone to have an opportunity. But it seems apparent we have to have certain people on the floor. I’ve got to be aware of that.
“It’d be great to get (ahead) and get some guys some experience, and it’d be great to get some guys some experience in nut-crunch time when you’re playing for the win. But you still have the responsibility, kids want to win, we want to win.”