Basketball: Monty on freshmen, Max in China, veteran big men and Bak Bak’s pullups

I visited with Mike Montgomery for a few minutes this morning, and he’s happy with the state of all his players, and encouraged by what he’s seen so far from his five freshmen.

“Their attitude’s terrific,” Montgomery said. “They had a great summer, really worked hard and look good physically. They’re freshmen making an adjustment both academically and on the basketball floor. They’re just freshmen and they’re going to be freshmen ’til they’re not. There’s a learning curve, but I like their talent level, like their attitude.”

Cal currently has just 10 available scholarship players, so the freshmen — Allen Crabbe, Gary Franklin Jr., Richard Solomon, Alex Rossi and Emerson (not Cameron!) Murray — all will get the chance to make substantial contributions.

Here’s what Monty had to say on various other topics:

— Junior forward Harper Kamp (knee) and senior center/forward Markhuri Sanders-Frison (back) both are healthy and in excellent condition. I talked to both earlier this week for a story that should run next week, and I was impressed by how good MSF looks. He said he weighed 293 when he arrived at Cal barely 14 months ago, and he weighs 264 now. He looks trimmer than that.

— There is no clear picture as to if and when junior center Max Zhang could return from China. After playing (very little) for his national team at the FIBA World Championships early this fall, he was asked to remain with the team for the Asian Games, which run Nov. 12-27 in Guangzhou, China.  The Bears knew Max would be playing in the Worlds, but Monty admitted “we were caught totally off-guard” when Zhang was invited to remain at home for the Asian Games.

The two issues related to that are 1) Can Zhang get a waiver to become immediately eligible to play in the second semester (without passing the requisite six units in the fall) because he was participating in an international sporting event, and 2) Will the Chinese national team allow him to return to Cal in December, or will they want him to remain with the national team for further training/events?

As to the first issue, athletes in sports such as swimming sometimes are allowed to take a semester off to train and compete in specified international competitions (usually related to the Olympics), but Cal isn’t clear on whether the Asian Games fits that criteria. The 2011 Asian Games is listed as an Olympic qualifying event, but the 2010 competition does not appear to have that status. On the second question, Montgomery said he has no real idea what the Chinese program may ask of Zhang after the Asian Games, and he admitted, “It’s difficult to communicate with Max when he’s’ there.”

 — Montgomery said sophomore forward Bak Bak, who missed the second half of last season after becoming academically ineligible, is in good shape physically and in the classroom. “He has put on weight and he’s not the same guy,” said Montgomery, noting that Bak recently did 18 pullups. When he arrived at Cal, he could not do any.

— Sophomore Brandon Smith, who will be competing for time at point guard, missed most of spring workouts because of a bad ankle sprain. That’s better now and Montgomery said Smith is in better condition than anyone on the team.

Jeff Faraudo

  • Juancho

    18 pullups? That’s pretty sad for a division 1 athlete. I can do more than that. And I sit in an office.

  • rollonubears

    with hands forward, as in chin-ups? that’d be solid. with hands toward you, that’s embarrassing. i used to do 50 in high school. i guess that’s better than 0, though.

  • SteveNtexas

    Well if he hadn’t gone to the press conference, we could have guessed exactly what Monty would say “The freshmen are coming along well” so basically its no information. He can’t say they suck nor can he say they will bring us to the NCAA’s.

    He doesn’t know Zhang’s status- neither do we. Is he improved enough to be a factor? He didn’t say– I can’t say either lol

  • SteveNtexas

    ^we” not hI we hadn’t gone

  • rollonubears

    at least we know msf isn’t as fat. that’s progress.

  • CalBearEnthu

    do you mean “Emerson Murray”, not Cameron Murray…right?
    That guy might be the best of the bunch this year.

  • CalBear91

    Something we know, for a fact, and hated it for years when Monty wore red, is that he gets the absolute best from his players. Between his schemes, and his individual player development, he is among the best in the country. He is a coach that fits the old adage that great coaches beat you with their team, and then take your team and beat his old team. We may not win the Pac10 this year, but they will play hard and win games they shouldn’t. Go Monty and Go Bears!

  • Bears

    Thanks for the report, good stuff.
    Hope Max returns to Cal.
    If not his loss, use that scholarship for someone better!

  • Shajee

    Kevin Durant couldn’t bench 160 lbs at NBA workouts. Strength is not necessary if you have finesse and length.

  • charlie

    18 pull up (palms facing away from the body) are a lot…especially if one goes down all the way and up all the way.

  • Juancho, I’d love to see the video of you doing more than 18 pull ups while weighing just a little more than 300lbs. Please post it!

  • Dan

    18 pull ups are solid- whoever said they could do 50 is seriously delirious, unless they were a gymnast. I have never seen anybody do 50 pullups with correct form, and I played D1 football and have spent time in NFL training facilities. And don’t forget, he could do zero a year ago… Way to go Bak Bak, you go study study and workout workout!

  • Dan

    Juancho- I have to agree with LeaderofthePac … Please direct us to youtube where we can see you doing more than 18 pullups.

  • Rocko

    I think he meant 50 sit-ups!

  • Jeff Faraudo

    My apologies — Emerson Murray, not Cameron. Obviously.

  • CalBear91

    Since I love Canada, I have special hope for Emerson. He could be another Steve Nash. Under the radar out of high school because of Canadian residency, but a stud.

  • MikeD

    I too am awaiting with eager anticipation the youtube video of Juancho doing 18+ pullups. Please to be posting it soon!

  • Steve Nguyen

    Why would it be difficult to communicate with anyone such as is the case with Max Zhang. Come on now! We’re in the 21st Century, and it’s not like China is Antarctica.

    And yeah, a division 1 athlete who started not being able to do any pullups is just pathetic. What’s up with that?!!