The Bears are in the middle of Week 2 of practice and, predictably, there have been a few bumps in the road.
“Everyone is all over the map,” assistant coach Jay John said tonight. “We’ve practiced 10 times in 12 days and it’s a shock to a lot of young kids because we’re out there for three hours and it’s a lot. You’re throwing a lot at them and they’re not used to it.”
John said the coaching staff is neither surprised nor discouraged. The Bears are starting over without four departed senior starters, and with five freshmen on the roster.
“It’s not like it gets boring out there or drags or you’re wondering, `Are these guys ever going to get it?’ It’s just taking time and it will take time,” he said. “Any coach who’s been with a team with that much turnover . . . that’s what it’s going to be.
“We can’t speed it up. We can only teach it and reinforce and trust that over time smart kids with good intentions will figure it out.”
– MURRAY IS BACK: John said freshman guard Emerson Murray, who was sick and missed some early workouts, is trying to catch up.
“He’s one of the guys that’s all over the place right now. He missed out on a week,” John said. “It’s good to have him out there. He’s going to be a very good player. He’s an outstanding athlete, a competitive and committed kid, and he can shoot.
“He just doesn’t know where he’s going right now, which is to be expected.”
– THE PHYSICAL ASPECT: The biggest challenge right now for the freshmen?
“Everything’s hard for them right now. At the end of the day, the physical nature of the game is where this team will run into problems because we’re not a physical team,” he said, referring to the rookies. “We’re going to execute stuff, but there are going to be times when a real physical team is going to make life unbearable for these guys. It’s part of the learning curve.”
– POINT GUARD PUZZLE: How is Jorge Gutierrez playing and how is the point guard position playing out?
“Jorge’s doing fine,” John said. “We’re playing three guys there. However it works out it works out.”
Gutierrez, sophomore Brandon Smith and freshman Gary Franklin Jr. are all working at the point. Murray is strictly playing the 2 guard and is likely to remain there, John said.
– WHAT TO EXPECT: Cal fans who attend Wednesday night’s open practice (5 to 6:30 p.m.) won’t see a finished product.
“Just the promise of the future,” John said. “I don’t know if we’ll make shots tomorrow. If we don’t make shots, people are going to look at us and think, `Oh man, it’ll be a long year.’ For those who have a keen eye, they’ll see promise in every one of those guys.”
– A WORLD SERIES PREDICTION: “The Giants are going to win,” John said, “and for the first time in my life, I will be able to witness the Giants winning a World Series.”
John grew up Tucson, Ariz., and in the mid-1960s had a choice of following the Giants, Dodgers or Angels.
“When I was a kid I liked going to bed with the radio, listening to a game,” he recalled. “The Giants’ games came on at 8. The Dodgers and Angels came on at 7. I knew I had a better chance of falling asleep with the Giants.”
He became a fan of Mays, McCovey and Marichal . . . but the Giants merely rewarded him with a string of second-place finishes.