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Basketball: Kamp likely to red-shirt

Coach Mike Montgomery said during his weekly press conference today that junior power forward Harper Kamp probably will be red-shirted because his surgically repaired right knee still isn’t allowing him to play.

Asked if the decision has been made, Montgomery said, “Not yet, we’re close. I think he’s leaning toward not playing. He had a pretty tough year last year and I think he’s a little bit leery of having that same experience again.”

Kamp, who figured to compete for a starting job this season, underwent a lateral release procedure on his right knee last April 1 to correct a kneecap tilt that caused painful grinding and cartilage damage. He had surgery on the same knee the year before.

On other health issues:

– Monty said senior wing Theo Robertson, who has missed the past four games with a right foot injury, will stay home from the Bears’ trip to play at New Mexico on Wednesday, with the hope he can get in two strong workouts. If things go well, the Bears hope to have Robertson back on the floor either Saturday against Iowa State or next Wednesday at Pacific.

– Guard Jorge Gutierrez, who played just seven minutes Sunday against Princeton while recovering from the flu, sat out practice Monday but is expected to play at New Mexico. Center Markhuri Sanders-Frison, who missed the Princeton game with the flu, will make the trip and probably will play, although Montgomery said he lost close to 10 pounds while ill.

– Reserve forward Omondi Amoke, who has totaled 31 rebounds the past three games, also is fighting the flu but figures to play Wednesday.

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Basketball: What the top-25 polls are worth

Here’s all you need to know about the top-25 polls: Cal won twice last week by a combined margin of 53 points and dropped in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls.

After losing twice in New York, the Bears had fallen from No. 13 out of the AP top-25, finishing 29th. This week they are 37th.

Cal maintained a No. 23 ranking in the coaches poll, even after its Madison Square Garden defeats, then dropped two spots to 25th this week.

Certainly a 32-point win over Jacksonville and a 21-point conquest of Princeton aren’t cause to shoot Cal far up the ladder. But should they be reason to drop a team?

My guess is coach Mike Montgomery’s only interest in this week’s rankings involves his former player/assistant coach Eric Reveno, whose Portland team reached No. 25 in the AP poll, its first appearace in the rankings in 50 years.

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Basketball: Tough stretch awaits Bears

With a challenging four-game stretch in front of the Bears, here is my story on the Princeton game from this morning’s editions.

Here’s what Cal faces between now and Christmas, including a 12-day break (Dec. 10-21) for final exams:

   – at New Mexico, Wednesday: The Lobos are 6-0 and are extremely difficult to beat at The Pit in Albuquerque. They’ve won their four home games this season by an average margin of 20.3 ppg and were 16-2 on their own floor a year ago.

   — vs. Iowa State, Saturday: The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series matchup in Berkeley against the Cyclones features 6-foot-10 forward Craig Brackins, projected as the No. 15 pick in the 2010 draft by NBAdraft.net. Iowa State is 6-1.

   – at Pacific, Wednesday, Dec. 9: The game is being billed by UOP as the “Stockton Showcase” and will be played at the city’s new downtown Stockton Arena, which seats 10,500. The Tigers are 4-1, and will be motivated to score just their third win over Cal in a series that dates back to the 1908-09 season.

   – At Kansas, Tuesday, Dec. 22: The Jayhawks are 5-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation. The feature All-Americans Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins, along with Xavier Henry, a 6-foot-6 freshman guard who is outscoring both of them.

Do the math: the Bears’ next four opponents are a combined 21-2, and Cal must play three of them on the road. The roster’s health status will be a critical factor.

How will the Bears fare over the next four and what would that mean?

  • 0-4: Cannot imagine it, but it would spell serious trouble.
  • 1-3: Still quite unlikely, but probably would mean a home loss to Iowa State or an upset loss to a Pacific team to whom the Bears haven’t lost in 55 seasons.
  • 2-2: Not hard to envision this scenario, especially given their current manpower state.
  • 3-1: This would be an ideal outcome, and likely would require winning the next three. Not easy, but do-able.
  • 4-0: A parade down Telegraph Ave. would ensue.
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Football: Sunday night update

The Bears reconvened Sunday night after taking three days off for the Thanksgiving break and bye week. Usually, Sundays are reserved for conditioning practices the day after a game. But since there was no game this week, Cal held a more conventional practice, albeit a shorter one than usual (they practiced for 1 hour, 15 minutes; practices during the week go either 2 1/2 or 2 hours).

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Basketball: An 0-for-2 Sunday for L.A.

 Stanford is over .500 again, but no good news for the Bruins and Trojans . . .

AROUND THE PAC-10

– Another day, another historic loss for UCLA (3-4), which dropped its third straight game, falling 79-68 to Long Beach State in the seventh-place game of the 76 Classic in Anaheim. It was the Bruins’ first-ever defeat to the 49ers after 11 straight victories dating back to 1970. Senior Michael Roll scored a season-high 23 points for UCLA, which shot 3-for-20 from 3-point range.

–  Marcus Johnson air-balled a would-be, game-tying 3-pointer just before the buzzer and USC (2-2) dropped a 51-48 decision to Nebraska at the Galen Center. Alex Stepheson had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Trojans.

Stanford (4-3) got 25 points from Landry Fields and used a 10-0 second-half run to post an 83-64 win over Portland State. Jeremy Green added 19 points for the Cardinal. It was the sixth 20-point performance of the season for Fields, who is averaging 23.3 ppg.

– No. 14 Washington (5-0) stayed at home and stayed unbeaten, beating Montana 63-59 at Bank of America Arena. The Huskies, who haven’t yet strayed from Seattle, got two free throws with 14.5 seconds left from Venoy Overton, who then blocked a shot to clinch the victory.  Isaiah Thomas scored 14 points for UW, but senior Quincy Pondexter struggled through a 2-for-10 shooting night.

 THE NATIONAL SCENE

 No. 3 Texas (5-0) got 23 points from Dexter Pittman and gradually pulled away from ex-Cal coach Ben Braun’s Rice squad (4-2) . . . No. 11 North Carolina (6-1) used a career-high 23 points by Deon Thompson to earn coach Roy Williams his 600th career victor in an 80-73 win over Nevada. Sophomore Ed Davis contributed 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Tar Heels . . . Demontez Stitt scored 19 points including the game-winning free throws  and No. 19 Clemson beat No. 12 Butler (4-2) 70-69 in the 76 Classic . . . Portland’s (5-1)  magical run at the 76 Classic ended in an 84-66  loss to No. 8 West Virginia (5-0) in the tournament title game. DaSean Butler had 26 points for the Mountaineers.

LOCAL HEROES

Former Berkeley HS star Dior Lowhorn scored 21 points in USF’s 91-75 double-overtime loss at Colorado State. It was Lowhorn’s 40th career game of 20 points or more . . . Freshman guard Will Cherry, formerly of Oakland’s McClymonds HS, scored a career-high 15 points in Montana’s 63-59 loss at Washington.

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Basketball: Princeton game thread

POSTGAME UPDATE: Montgomery said Sanders-Frison is unlikely to be ready to play Wednesday at New Mexico. Gutierrez, who played just seven minutes, should be OK. Theo Robertson is making progress, but the Bears won’t rush his return from a foot injury. No timetable still on Harper Kamp, who is yet to play this season after offseason knee surgery.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 81, Princeton 60. The Bears improve to 4-2. Zhang had seven points and five rebounds and D.J. Seeley scored a career-high seven points off the bench. The Bears’ next game is Wednesday night at New Mexico (6-0).

3:49 2nd H: Cal leads 71-50. Randle (22 points, 9 assists) and Boykin (22 points, 7 rebounds) both are on the bench. The Bears are shooting 53.7 percent, Princeton 41.3 percent.

8:15 2nd H: Christopher, saddled by foul trouble and 0-for-6 from the field, just connected on a 3-pointer and Cal has its biggest lead, 66-45. Randle and Boykin each have 22. Amoke has eight rebounds off the bench, giving him in 31 in his past three games.

11:20 2nd H: Boykin has matched his career-high of 22 points and Cal leads 57-40. Randle has 20 and six assists. Patrick Saunders has 14 points, including three 3-pointers, for the Tigers.

15:35 2nd H: Cal’s lead reached 20 points and now stands at 48-29 after a looooong 3-pointer by Randle, who has 20 points and five assists. Boykin has 18 points, a season-high.

HALFTIME: Cal 39, Princeton 25.  Randle is controlling the game — he has 15 points and four assists. Boykin is shooting 7-for-10 and has 14 points to go with five rebounds. Cal is shooting 56.7 percent, Princeton 42.9, after a wretched start. The Tigers have 10 turnovers. Serra HS product Dan Mavraides has five points for Princeton and De La Salle HS grad Marcus Schroeder is scoreless. 

3:00 1st H: The Bears are up 33-21. Princeton is kind of hanging around, but there’s no sense the Tigers are a threat. Still don’t have a backdoor backet against the Cal defense. Randle with 13 and Boykin with 12 to lead Cal. Christopher hasn’t gotten into the flow as a scorer — zero points on 0-for-2 — but has a couple assists.

7:37 1st H: Cal’s lead is 27-13. Randle has 13 points. Princeton is shooting 3-for-5 from 3-point, and 1-for-8 from inside the arc. The
Bears are accomplishing much of this with just one starter — Randle — on the floor. Christopher has not returned since picking up his second foul, and Gutierrez will join him now after getting No. 2. But PC is returning, along with Boykin. Randle taking a seat in favor of freshman Brandon Smith.

9:11 1st H: Cal leads 22-7. Princeton just got its first tow-point field goal — with 10:23 left in the half. The Tigers are shooting 2-for-11 and have five turnovers. Cal has not allowed a successful backdoor play. Randle has eight points and three assists, and Boykin has eight points. Bak Bak is in for Zhang.

12:24 1st H: The lead is up to 15-5 after an alley-oop dunk by Zhang and a baseline drive by Knezevic. Princeton is shooting 1-for-9 and has a pair of turnovers. The Tigers haven’t scored in 3 minutes, 50 seconds. 

15:22 1st H: Cal leads 11-5 after a 3-pointer by Randle. Christopher is on the bench after picking up his second foul with 16:14 left. Zhang blocked a shot early, but gave way to Omondi Amoke, who also just blocked a shot and is going to the FT line for two shots. Boykin has six points and three rebounds. Princeton is shooting 1-for-7.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Jorge Gutierrez is starting, after all. Must be feeling better. Knezevic will come off the bench.

THIS SCORE JUST IN: UCLA has lost again – its third straight – this time 79-68 to Long Beach State in the seventh-place game of the 76 Classic at Anaheim. The Bruins (2-4) got 23 points from senior Michael Roll, but allowed Long Beach to score 47 second-half points.

WELCOME TO HAAS: It’s Sunday afternoon and the Bears (3-2) are preparing to take on Princeton (2-2).

STARTING LINEUPS: A couple changes for the Bears, who have been hit by the flu bug. Center Markhuri Sanders-Frison is out and apparently not even in the building. Guard Jorge Gutierrez also has the flu and won’t start, but reportedly is available to play. Instead, Cal will start Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Nikola Knezevic, Jamal Boykin and, in his first career star, Max Zhang. Princeton will go with Dan Mavraides, Marcus Schroeder, Doug Davis, Patrick Saunders and Pawel Buczak. Cal’s Theo Robertson (foot) and Harper Kamp (knee) remain sidelined and are in street clothes on the bench.