It’s been six days since the Bears (6-4) gave it their best shot at Kansas and five more until they face Stanford in their Pac-10 opener.
Today and Tuesday they host the 17th annual Golden Bear Classic, and the event has neither the panache nor the urgency of the above mentioned games.
So, what will the Bears’ goals be when they face Utah Valley tonight and either UC Santa Barbara or Furman in Tuesday’s championship game?
Let’s consider a few possibilities:
1) A couple more chances for Theo Robertson to sharpen up for the Pac-10. The senior from De La Salle HS has played twice — Dec. 9 and 22 — since missing six games with a foot injury. He was better against Kansas than against Pacific, but scored just one second-half point. Figure Robertson to play as many minutes as he needs to find his rhythm.
2) Tighten the bolts at both ends of the floor — a final tuneup before Saturday. No wholesale changes coming, but the Bears want to continue honing their game.
3) Try to give the key subs playing time and, hopefully, avoid having to play the starters 38 minutes two nights in a row.
4) Stay healthy.
5) Win twice, play well and develop some momentum headed into conference play.
GOLDEN BEAR SCHEDULE: Today — UC Santa Barbara (4-4) vs. Furman (5-5), 5 p.m.; Cal (6-4) vs. Utah Valley (6-5), 7:30 p.m. Tuesday — Games at 5 and 7:30 p.m. (Cal will play late game regardless of Monday results).
GOLDEN BEAR HISTORY: Cal has won 11 of the first 16 Golden Bear tournament titles, including the past two. The Bears beat Portland 81-61 in last year’s title game, and have made the championship game every year. Overall, Cal has a record of 27-5 in the event. All three of this year’s visiting teams are making their first appearance in the Golden Bear Classic.
CAL VS. THE FIELD: The Bears are 1-0 against Utah Valley — a 60-47 win during the 2006-07 season. Cal is 7-0 vs. UC Santa Barbara and never has played Furman.
UTAH VALLEY SCOUT: The Wolverines are 6-5, but four of their victories came against non-Division I opponents. Their two DI wins were against North Dakota State (4-7) and Alcorn State (0-12). Utah Valley, which plays in the Great West Conference, is led by junior wing Jordan Swarbrick, who averages 14.5 ppg and has scored 20 points or more four times. He had 30 vs. San Jose State. Point guard Corey Claitt had 22 points in a loss at Utah State and junior forward Justin Baker scored 20 points in a win over William Jessup.
HUNSAKER SPEAKS: “We have a big challenge in the Cal-Berkeley tournament,” Utah Valley coach Dick Hunsaker was quoted saying on the school’s athletic Web site. “It’s one of the best – if not the best – traditional on-campus, in-season tournaments this year.
“We certainly have our hands full in competing with the Golden Bears in the first round. We also have a lot of respect for Furman and Santa Barbara as well because we have played each of them in the past.”
MISCELLANY: Jerome Randle (1,390 points) needs nine points to move into the No. 10 spot on Cal’s career scoring chart. Keith Smith (1987-90) is 10th with 1,398 points . . . Patrick Christopher (1,315 points) is 15th all-time . . . Theo Robertson (963 points) needs 37 more to become the 37th Cal player to reach 1,000 . . . John Montgomery, Cal’s director of basketball, spent the 2007-08 season as an assistant at Furman before his father hired him at Cal last season . . . The Bears open Pac-10 play Saturday at home against Stanford.
GOLDEN BEAR CLASSIC
TIPOFF: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Haas Pavilion, Berkeley.
Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Theo Robertson 6-6 Sr. 14.3 3.5
PF Jamal Boykin 6-8 Sr. 12.7 7.7
C Max Zhang 7-2 So. 4.0 3.4
SG Patrick Christopher 6-5 Sr. 16.1 5.5
PG Jerome Randle 5-10 Sr. 19.2 5.0*
S Jorge Gutierrez 6-2 So. 6.1 3.1
F Omondi Amoke 6-7 So. 5.5 6.7
C Markhuri Sanders-Frison 6-8 Jr. 2.7 3.9
UTAH VALLEY (6-5)
Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Justin Baker 6-7 Jr. 12.3 4.5
PF Jourdan Scoubes 6-7 Sr. 7.1 6.5
SG Jordan Swarbrick 6-6 Sr. 14.5 5.9
SG Tyray Petty 6-3 Sr. 7.4 5.7
PG Corey Claitt 6-1 Jr. 13.8 3.8*
G Shawn Deadwiler 6-3 Jr. 7.8 1.7
G Aaron England 6-5 Jr. 7.4 2.5
G Eric Dearden 6-2 Sr. 3.7 0.9
* – Assists