Here’s a fun story from Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic, with Arizona State guard Jamelle McMillan — the son of Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan — giving his top 10 picks for Thursday’s NBA draft.
Just received word that the home game against Eastern Washington on Sept. 12 will begin at 2:30 p.m. and air on Comcast SportsNet California. Cal also announced that CSN California will televise the season-finale at Washington on Dec. 5. That game’s start time had already been set at 3:30 p.m. for Washington’s local telecast.
The Big Ten announced today that Cal’s game at Minnesota on Sept. 19 will begin at 11 a.m. CDT and air on either ESPN or ESPN2. That means Cal will have a 9 a.m. PDT start for the second year in a row.
We all know how last year’s early start time worked out. The Bears seemed a step slow in a loss to Maryland. As I’ve said before, I believe some of the reason for Cal’s shortcomings in that game was due to the early start time, but it was augmented by the searing heat and humidity. But had the Bears been better rested, perhaps they would have coped with the heat better?
This year will be a little different. The most significant difference is the Bears are only changing two time zones, not three. And, of course, it is a shorter plane ride.
For the record, according to weather.com, the average high in Minneapolis on Sept. 19 is 70 degrees.
There was a lot of discussion last year whether Cal should have left on Thursday for Maryland to get acclimated to the time change. Because of the economy, I can’t imagine the Bears would consider doing that this season. But again, since the time change isn’t as severe and the weather probably won’t be as much of a factor, travel shouldn’t have quite as much of an impact as it did for the Maryland game.
The game against Eastern Washington on Sept. 12 is now the only one that remains to be decided before the season begins. We know the season-opener against Maryland begins at 7 p.m. (ESPN2), Sept. 19 at Minnesota at 9 a.m. (ESPN or ESPN2), Sept. 26 at Oregon at 12:30 p.m. (ABC), Oct. 3 against USC at 5 p.m. (ABC) and Dec. 5 at Washington at 3:30 p.m. (TV TBA). All of Cal’s remaining games are subject to the Pac-10’s 6 and 12-day window, meaning they could appear on ABC, Fox Sports Net, Versus, a local production or not at all.
In the 82 days since a Pac-10 team most recently played a basketball game, three schools have changed coaches and seven underclassmen entered the NBA draft. No question, the league will have a different look in 2009-10.
With the dust beginning to settle on a busy spring — except perhaps at USC, where new coach Kevin O’Neill awaits the outcome of an NCAA investigation — enough is in place to make an early projection of next season’s Pac-10 race.
Here goes (with last year’s record/finish):
1. WASHINGTON (26-9, 14-4/1st): A peaceful offseason so far in Seattle, where senior Quincy Pondexter, who made huge late-season strides last year, earned a spot on the U.S. team playing in the World University Games. Incoming freshman guard Abdul Gaddy will team with returnees Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton to give UW a terrific perimeter. A key will be whether junior post Matthew Bryan-Amaning can give the Huskies consistent interior punch.
Projected starting lineup:
C Matthew Bryan-Amaning, 6-9 Jr.
SF Quincy Pondexter, 6-6 Sr.
SG Venoy Overton, 5-11 Jr.
SG Isaiah Thomas, 5-8 So.
PG Abdul Gaddy, 6-3 Fr.
2. CAL (22-11, 11-7/tied 3rd): In senior guards Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher, the Bears have the only two players returning from the 10-man all-conference team. They need a lift in the post from JC transfer Markhuri Sanders-Frison. Cal’s chances of challenging for the top spot depend in part on the recovery of three key players who underwent offseason surgery _ Theo Robertson (hip), Harper Kamp (knee) and Jorge Gutierrez (knee). Kamp’s situation is the most uncertain.
Projected starting lineup:
C Markhuri Sanders-Frison, 6-8 Jr.
PF Jamal Boykin, 6-8 Sr.
SF Theo Robertson, 6-6 Sr.
SG Patrick Christopher, 6-5 Sr.
PG Jerome Randle, 5-10 Sr.
Thursday’s live chat with Jahvid Best begins at 1:30 p.m., not at 1 p.m.
Cal actually got another commitment for this upcoming season over the weekend. Chris Moncrease, a defensive back from Laney College, gave his commitment to the Bears and will have three years to play three seasons.
Alex Rossi, who chose Cal today over Stanford, Notre Dame and Virginia, said everything seems right for him in Berkeley, adding that his commitment is firm.
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it,” Rossi said. “I’ve always wanted to go out West. The location was awesome. Coach (Mike) Montgomery’s system fits me perfectly at the 2 spot. All my final schools were great schools. It just came down to where I felt most comfortable. I decided Cal was the perfect place for me.”
Rossi is a 6-foot-5 1/2 wing from New Trier High in Winnetka, Ill. He is the second member of the high school class of 2010 to commit to the Bears, joining shooting guard Allen Crabbe of Price High in Los Angeles, and will arrive on campus in the fall a year from now.
Rossi made an unofficial visit to Berkeley this spring, and met with players, coaches and a few professors.
“It was a beautiful day,” he said. “Everything felt good.”
Rossi, who said he will make an official campus recruiting visit either during football or basketball seasons, gave Montgomery his decision in a Monday morning phone call.
“He was excited,” Rossi said. “He thinks I’m perfect for his system.”
Rossi attends the same high school that spawned former Cal coach Ben Braun. New Trier also is the alma mater of Matt Lottich, who played under Montgomery at Stanford from 2001 through ’04, during which time the Cardinal posted a record of 105-24.
“I know Matt really well. We work out a lot together,” Rossi said. “He was 100 percent behind coach Montgomery and he thinks he’s a perfect coach for me.
“We’re different,” he said, when asked to compare himself as a player to Lottich. “He was a big-time competitor. I’m a little bit longer, a little bit more athletic. I think I shoot the ball better than he does, he handles it a little better.”
–Several well-regarded prospects attended Cal’s team camp over the weekend and the Bears received a couple of significant oral commitments in the process. Most notable is the commitment of linebacker NIck Forbes of Frederick, MD. Forbes is rated as the No. 7 outside linebacker in the country by scout.com and rivals.com. Cal also picked up offensive tackle Alex Crosthwaite from San Diego, regarded as the 22nd-best prospect at his position by scout.com.
Cal now has eight commitments for 2010, not counting defensive tackle Cassius Marsh, who earlier committed to Cal but then re-opened his recruitment. He still says Cal is No. 1 on his list.
Just got off the phone with Alex Rossi, a 6-5 1/2 wing from New Trier High in Winnetka, Ill., who told me he was about to call Cal coach Mike Montgomery and commit to the Bears.
Rossi, who will begin his high school senior season in the fall, spent the weekend in Virginia at the NBA Players Association Top-100 Camp, where he made a campus visit to Virginia. He also had been considering Stanford and Notre Dame, but his coach, Scott Fricke, told me Rossi feels like Montgomery’s system is a good fit for him.
“Montgomery runs a lot of set plays for shooters. I think he thinks he fits in very well with that,” Fricke said. “He is an excellent shooter. He comes off screen very well looking to shoot. He’s gotten a lot better with the ball. Just an unbelievable kid.”
Rossi, who would become Cal’s second commitment to the freshman class of 2010, averaged 18 ponts per game last season. He is rated as the nation’s No. 70 overall prospect by the recruiting service Scout.com, and No. 120 overall by Rivals.com. Scout.com slots him as the No. 15 small forward in the class of 2010.