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Basketball: Cal-CSUN postgame

The Bears’ three most experienced players did what they’re supposed to do in an 80-63 season-opening win over Cal State Northridge.

Jorge Gutierrez, Markhuri Sanders-Frison and Harper Kamp combined for 45 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists, and came off the bench with just over 8 minutes left to trigger a 10-2 Cal run that staved off any ideas the Matadors had about rallying.

Coach Mike Montgomery had the kind of mixed feelings he’s likely to feel often this season while trying to blend five freshmen with his veterans.

“We’ve got to allow these young kids to learn,” Montgomery said. “But I’ve got to figure out some rotations where I have maybe two of those (older) guys on the floor at any given time.”

On Tuesday night, Montgomery was happy to have his three-headed security blanket:

   — Gutierrez, the junior point guard, had took just four shots from the field, but had 18 points and eight assists — both career highs — and made 13 of 15 FTs. He had two turnovers, both in the first half, and two steals.

   — Sanders-Frison, the senior forward, had career highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds, adding up to his first double-double. He was 7 for 10 from the FT line, a big improvement from a year ago.

   — Kamp, a junior forward, contributed 12 points and seven rebounds.

KAMP’S RETURN: “I was pretty nervous today,” said Kamp, anxious to play in his first official game since the end of the 2008-09 season. He sat out last season while rehabbing a knee injury.  ”My stomach was hurting all day. As soon as I get out on the court, starting warming up with the guys, I was thankful to be out there. It’s the best feeling in the world for me.”

Montgomery noticed that early in the game Kamp seemed to be trying to out-quick his opponents around the basket. In the second half, the 6-8, 250-pounder played a more aggressive, physical game. “He’s critical for us, without question,” Monty said.

FREE THROWS: Cal took advantage of 37 Northridge fouls to shoot 50 free throws. The Bears made their first 10, then converted just 21 of their next 40.

“That’s discouraging. I really kind of scolded these guys,” Montgomery said. “I was a little shocked we missed free throws like we did. . . . We did enough things to get to the basket to get 50 free throws, but we’ve got to convert more than that.”

THE FRESHMEN: Six nights after lighting up Division II Sonoma State for 58 points, the Bears’ freshmen totaled a more modest 23 against Northridge. There were good things and bad.

Allen Crabbe, starting at one wing, shot 3 for 5 from the field and totaled eight points and four rebounds. He also had three turnovers. Gary Franklin Jr., starting opposite Crabbe, had seven points and two assists, but shot 1 for 5 from 3-point range and missed all three of his FTs.

Richard Solomon had six points, four rebounds, a steal and an assist in 14 minutes. But he missed three of four FTs. Emerson Murray contibuted two points and three rebounds, missing his only two FTs. Alex Rossi, a little banged up, did not play.

Jeff Faraudo

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Been out of the loop.

    What’s up with no Max?

  • rollonubears

    Nice win. I really wish these kids would learn to shoot free throws and play defense though, in high school. i learned that in 6th grade. i guess i was just lucky, and had good coaches. too many recruits are just allowed to do whatever on the court. they play street ball for 4 years, and they’re so good, compared to their competition, that they don’t think they have to play defense or shoot free throws. and part of it might be that when they play pick up games, you don’t shoot free throws at all, but simple fundamentals should not be the responsibility of a college basketball coach. kinda sad.

  • rollonubears

    max is in china, probably forever. the motherland asked him to play for their national team, and then he decided just to blow off college and play pro ball out there. i doubt it’s really what he wanted to do, but it’s a lot better than having your family killed or being thrown in prison. it is very honorable.

  • rollonubears

    i’d also like to add that the attendance last night was an absolute joke. i know bball isn’t as big as football here, but last night’s showing was ridiculous. give the kids free tickets or something, but get some bodies in the seats.

  • Uh Oh

    Max signed with a pro team in China and will never play NCAA hoops again. Ineligible.

  • jeh

    A good win, though it did expose the inexperience of key members of this year’s team. Crabbe has to and will get better on defense. His attitude is just fine and his upside is huge. Before he leaves Cal–assuming no untoward slips, a al Amoke–he will be considered one of, if not the greatest wing players ever to play for the Bears. Franklin has yet to shoot as well as advertised, and hearing Montgomery refer to him as an “excellent” shooter, we can be confident that he eventually will. All the members of this freshman class who played looked extremely promising, if pretty raw.

    Jorge is a joy to watch, on both ends of the court. He brings a selflessness and a court vision to the point guard position that Jerome never did. His defensvie intensity is second to none, and his overall defensive ability is second in Cal history (or at least in the 30 plus years that I have been watching) only to Jason Kidd.

    Brandon Smith got little experience last year, and my guess is that he will play increasingly better over time. He will be a good defensive player and ball distributor.

    It was encouraging that we outrebounded our opponent by such a large margin, 44 to 27.

    The freshmen all appear intelligent and team oriented. If this is not a first rate Pac 10 team this year, it definitely will be in the future (meaning as early as next year).

  • rollonubears

    if we’re somehow able to make the tournament this year, we’ll be a lot better at that point, than we are today. i agree, we have the makings of a great team. i just hope we don’t lose so many games, early, that we’re forced to win the pac10 tourney to go to the dance. i think we’re probably nit bound this year, and that’s fine with me. i’m really excited about next year.

  • Dan

    Was looking forward to getting out there last night, but I mostly came away with … it’s going to be a looooooong year. But oh well, it is what it is. Some observations-

    TERRIBLY small crowd, it was pathetic, little life in the building. It felt like a poorly attended scrimmage. I couldn’t help thinking about how many of the top programs would have had a huge, rocking crowd against that same team at this point of the season- not Cal- that’s depressing, and probably a turn off to recruits when you go play before huge, loud sell out crowds elsewhere every game.

    No doubt Ben Braun sucked the life out of the building several seasons ago, and this year’s team isn’t going to cause fans to rush out to games. But I would have hoped that last’s year’s Pac 10 championship (that sure feels good to type) would have created more enthusiasm and bring more fans out. Nope.

    We looked bad much of the game, sloppy, out of control, a lot of bad basketball. Jorge, Harper and the super-slimmed down Markuri (nice work there) are solid, super hard working players, but all are limited. I did like their leadership in the 2nd half when the Bear took control of the game, and what they do well they really do well. Also, they are all true basketball players, high IQ, selfless and A= effort.

    But you watch the entire team and you think … who is our star (or two), who is/are the go to players (there aren’t any), who is going to take that big shot at the end of the game (gulp), who is going to take command of the team and lead by performance??? I don’t see many satisfying answers to these questions.

    We have inexperienced backcourt and wing guys, and a terribly thin and under-sized front line- not a good combo. We will experience matchup issues in MANY games this season.

    Why was Gary Franklin Jr. wearing Al Grigsby’s retired #4 on his jersey? Aren’t numbers retired never to be worn again? Odd.

    BAD free throw shooting. We have been spoiled the past few years, and literally were able to win games down the stretch because the free throw shooting was so superior. Saw the polar opposite last night.

    Could REALLY have used both Amoke and Max last night and this season … sigh….

    Maybe most depressing is the inability to bring in a top prospect or two for next year. Wiltjer and or Brown would have been program makers, and you can already project to next year what a better team we would have with those two studs. That would have delivered a lot of hope.

    I knew when Montgomery was hired that he could still coach like crazy- and he proved he could last season. The guy is a GREAT coach, and what a pleasant change and upgrade over Ben Braun. My only reservation was if he could still recruit and if he could recruit at Cal. The verdict is still out on that one- pretty decent freshman class (though a LONG way to go for that to come to fruition), next’s year’s class not looking so good.

    I hope many reading this will get out and support the Bears. They’ll need as much of a home court advantage as possible. Last night’s game was a morgue.

    Hopefully the steep learning curve will scaled quickly and this team can get many more fans excited and out to loudly support the Bears. I have a ton of faith in Montgomery, and I think that he has some potential pieces in the program via this freshman class. I want to be optimistic that he can create ongoing improvement, build some excitement and enthusiasm and use that to build recruiting buzz and results, and pack Haas at some point.

    One other thing- did anybody see the SDSU-Gonzaga game last night. I recorded and watched when I got home last night. The Aztecs … WOW. They are the real deal, and they come to Haas in a few weeks. That will be very interesting, a real tough test and a benchmark of where the Bears are then. Should be fun.

  • Bob49

    I haven’t seen a game yet, but will in December. From what I’ve read about Cal, it doesn’t have enough big guys, particularly those that like to bang the boards. This has been the recent history of Cal — lots of very good players in the 6’5″ to 6’6″ area (i.e. Leon Powe, Patrick Christopher, Robertson, Boykin) but not the real big guys who like to go to the rim.

    Cal always seems to be undersized against the really good teams. When Kansas comes to town, we’ll probably see them have the really big guys I’m talking about. I’m hoping that this year’s freshman, Soloman, could be an exception to that trend — he looked like he’s an inside guy from the video I watched.

    It is surprising to hear that Montgomery is not a good recruiter. He seems to be very personable. Perhaps, at Stanford, he relied on others to do that, including the former Stanford coach that is now the coach at LSU (I forget his name). At least Tedford seems to be a good recruiter, though others may disagree with me (lots of recent complaints from commentators about recruiting for offensive lineman, though this year’s offensive line seems to be very solid — running game is good and so is pass protection, even though teams gear up for the running game since they know Cal is not a good passing team).

  • Dan

    Bob49-

    My guess is Solomon is a legit 6’7″. He’s thin right now, not a banger, like we would hope and we need. He’s definitely no the big, thick front line guy that we never seem to have.

    Also, I don’t think we know yet how well Monty can recruit. He brought in a pretty decent class in his first attempt with this year’s freshman clas. He did that with the down program that Bruan left. That was a very good accomplishment, and a solid, very good start given the state of the program that Monty inherited.

    It’s this next class that’s a bit troubling (and a bit depressing), where he has not been able to bring in any of the top guys. Top recruits like Kyle Wiltjer and Jabari Brown had had Cal on their short list but chose elsewhere. I would have thought (hoped) that given last year’s Pac 10 Championship, that Monty could have leveraged that success and excitement to bring in a great class for next season. Though he got close on some top guys, they are going elsewhere and next year’s class looks like it won’t be nearly as well rated as this year’s class.

    But with all that said, I am confident that he will get every ounce of success out of whatever team he has, as he’s such a terrific coach.

  • jeh

    CAN MONTY RECRUIT? WHERE ARE THE COUPLE OF GO-TO GUYS AT THE END OF THE GAME?

    Knowing that the future is pretty unpredictable, I would say that this freshman class is extremely impressive and should dispell any doubts about Montgomery’s recruiting. I would venture to say that this will be the best recruiting class that I have seen at Cal since I started attending all home games in 1978. Crabbe likely will be the best big guard/small forward in that period, Franklin will be a big time scorer, Solomon an explosive big, Murray (who may turn out to be quite athletically spectacular) and Rossi important contributors to very successful teams. Moreover, I think we have to appreciate Monty’s way of recruiting, where he apparently does not bring in the one-and-done crowd, the truly precocious and talented who would go straight to the NBA, were it not for the restraint of trade rule that requires a year out of high school before NBA entry. Having his guys (probably) for four years enables him to teach and to build cohesive, smart teams. This is what he did at Stanford and it looks to me that that is what he is doing at Cal. Who would mind going to the NCAA virtually every year, making it to the Elite 8 and the Final 4, as happened in his last 10 years or so at the farm? His way is to do that, without constantly having lottery picks for a year or two. Let’s give him a couple more years to put his plan into practice. He is certainly the best thing that has happened to Cal basketball since Newell.

    AS for go-to guys at the end of the game: There has been no need for any in the two games to date, so let’s be patient to see this team develop. Franklin has been described by Monty as an “excellent shooter,” who has not shown this yet. Given Monty’s aversion to hyperbole, I would bet that Franklin will do a whole lot better, as he settles into the college game. Crabbe has already shot extremely well, has athleticism that he is only beginning to exploit, and will become more assertive over time. Let’s give both of these guys a chance to develop into the guy to take the shot that needs to be made. Also, do not underestimate Jorge’s ability, as a true point guard to make the quick pass at the right time and to drive and dish when it is needed.

    Before wringing one’s hands about who will take the shot at the end of the game, let’s watch this young and promising group develop. There may be answers that none of us could predict.

  • Meep.

    Max wanted to play for Cal, but playing for China made him ineligible for the Fall semester. If he played only in the second half of the season, he probably wouldn’t really get much playing time and team would move on without him. Monty never seemed too high on Max, so I think it’s all for the better. I had high hopes for Max, but now he’s getting paid for what he loves.