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Basketball: Randle-Wise duel looms

I’ve got a story running in Friday’s papers on Cal point guard Jerome Randle, but here’s a subplot involving his relationship with Arizona counterpart Nic Wise.

Randle and Wise, who will square off Friday evening at Haas Pavilion in the Pac-10 opener for both teams, exchanged cell numbers last season and have swapped text messages in recent months.

“He texted me after a couple games and told me I’m doing a great job,” Randle said this week. “I said the same to him, but he said he’s really not playing well. He’s waiting to play us.”

Randle doesn’t think it’s gamesmanship. “He can’t get in my head,” Randle assured. “He’s a pretty good guy.”

But Randle understands that respect from an opponent means he won’t sneak up on anyone.

“That just means you have to step your game up to the next level,” Randle said. “You have someone scouting what you do, you know you have to change it up a little, you have to bring your `A’ game. It’s going to make it harder, I know that. I know he’s up for the challenge, and I am, too. I just love the challenge.”

While Randle ranks second in the Pac-10 in scoring at 19.5 ppg, Wise is part of Arizona’s three-headed attack, contributing 14.6 points and 5.5 assists per game.

“He’s strong. He’s a solid point guard,” Randle said of the 5-foot-10, 177-pound sophomore. “He looks to pass, but he can definitely knock down open shots.”

Arizona forward Jamelle Horne knows the Cats will see an excellent point guard in Randle Friday night.

“He’s definitely a great scoring point guard so it’s going to be a battle with him and Wise,” Horne said. “But you know I’m going to have to go with Wise.”

Jeff Faraudo

  • Will

    I think Monty’s biggest accomplishment so far this year has been his development of Randle. He’s done a remarkable job in grooming a clutch, consistent point guard. Randle always showed potential but this year he’s taken the extra step. Monty’s not afraid to show tough love and put him on the bench when he doesn’t play defense or surrenders bad turnovers, and I think Randle is a better player because of it. Can’t wait for this weekend!

  • Will

    And Jeff, I’ve been meaning to ask since you had a post a while back about this…what’s the deal with Harrison? The post was kind of vague, so I wasn’t able to tell if he’s expected to return this year. Having him back would be huge for our front court depth.

  • Jeff Faraudo

    Will,

    I wouldn’t expect Taylor Harrison back this season. Certainly no time soon. As you know, he had a second surgery on his left knee back in late June, and his rehab has taken a long time. Mike Montgomery said this week he suffered a bit of a setback recently, and didn’t sound optimistic that we’d see Taylor in the near future. I think the bigger question is whether he ever plays again. It’s been almost two years since he was on the court in a game for Cal.

  • Joey

    Don’t give coach M too much credit for Randle. I think Jerome worked really hard in the offseason and has shooting shows this. I think he has also matured a lot emotionally and with his game IQ.

  • Will

    You may be right Joey, I don’t want to take anything away from Jerome. I’m sure he put in a lot of time and effort into becoming the player that he is today, and he’ll continue to get better because of his commitment and raw talent.

    But just watching how Montgomery handles him during games has really impressed me, and has led me to believe that he’s been instrumental in Randle’s development.

  • BadBill

    Disagree Joey. Braun was awful in guiding Jerome on how to become a better player. Yes, Jerome deserves a lot of credit for his hard work, but clearly Monty had a huge hand in guiding him.