Basketball: Jay John provides an update

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.

Jeff Faraudo

  • rollonubears

    Wow. Sounds like he’s backtracking on all the praise following their opening shootaround where one guy “didn’t miss a shot all day.”

  • bigdruid

    Excellent writeup, Jeff. Thanks for sharing all these details. I’m looking forward to this season, although I’m sure we’ll take our lumps with a young team like this.

  • GoldenBV

    Well I’m sure it’s ramping up in terms of the amount they have to absorb and the practice regimen is new to them as well. That will take a toll on their performance. Nothing really surprising to hear, especially with regard to the physical aspect. None of the new players are known for being physical players — competitive yes, scrappy yes, but guys who thrive on contact no. That’s where they’ll really miss Amoke this year. Kamp, Jorge, and MSF are really good guys to set an example for intensity and effort.

  • uh oh.

    Monty probably took John to the woodshed and told him to shut up about raising expectations. Keep expectations low and you can often surprise to the upside. Let them run high, and you can often only disappoint.

  • CalBear91

    Excellent write up Jeff. Really great stuff. Not to knock your colleague here but it is really nice to get an interesting and insightful story about a coach and the players. Would love to see JG do a regular series of coach check ins like this.

    Can’t wait for basketball, and history tells me that Monty will have this youthful group kicking more bottom than anyone expects at the outset. Can’t wait to see Kamp in action again, and a slimmer Markuri.

  • Boaltblue

    Max Zhang will not return to Cal as he signed with a professional Chinese BB team.


  • Bear Fan

    I wonder if Zhang had a choice in the matter?

  • Juancho

    Glad Zhang is gone. Probably better for him and better for our program. We just won the Pac-10 last year. We need to stop using scholarships on projects like him and Bak Bak. If I read about one more guy that can only do 10 pull ups I’m going to flip out.

    We’re an elite school, in a great place, with a great coach, from now on I sure hope we stop getting the yearly project guy that never pans out. A scholarship to Cal is too valuable to just risk on someone. Use a walk on or two.

  • uh oh.


    I really don’t understand many of your posts. In this post you say our program is better for Max being gone? Two points:

    1) With him being gone this year, we are 1 scholarship player short – it’s not like Monty can suddenly replace him with another player. So, it’s only a subtraction there. Next year, yes, you could add, but learning this NOW only means subtraction. At least with the departure of Amoke we were able to add Emerson Murray for this season.

    2) 7’3″. Have you seen our roster lately? Max would have got a lot of playing time this season, and he would have been a BIG help.

    I, for one, am NOT glad Max is gone!

  • Meep.

    Zhang was planning on playing for the Chinese national team, so he was going to miss the fall semester anyway. I’m pretty sure he already took his redshirt season and since it was his choice, he wouldn’t get an additional season from the NCAA. If he left and came back Senior year, he probably wouldn’t get much playing time anyway, so he probably just opted to save everyone the trouble and go pro.