Should be a revealing weekend for the Golden Bears, who will play three games over four days at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.
Cal opens Thursday night against No. 21 Temple, then will play either Notre Dame or Georgia on Friday, with Boston College, Texas A&M, Wisconsin and Manhattan sitting in the opposite bracket, awaiting a Sunday matchup.
Here are five things we could learn this weekend:
1) How will their four freshmen fare in their first college road experience? Haas Pavilion was a comfortable setting for the rookies in their first two games. They practice there every day, and there’s a comfort zone. These will be neutral-site games, without loud home crowds, but they still involve travel, sleeping in a new bed, different locker rooms, floor, rims — and entirely new routine.
2) How will the Bears match up against size? Temple starts 6-9 and 6-11 up front — bigger than either Cal State Northridge or New Mexico. Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison both are playing well, but they will be giving up a couple inches or more each, and their backups have no experience. MSF was limited by fouls to 17 minutes against New New Mexico, and still managed to grab nine rebounds. In the Pac-10, Washington, UCLA and Stanford will challenge the Bears with tall post players.
3) Can Mike Montgomery’s point guard mix continue to yield positive results? The combination of starter Jorge Gutierrez and backup Brandon Smith is producing 27.0 ppg and 10.0 apg through two games — beyond the expectations of pretty much anyone. Gutierrez has emerged as a leader who can fill the boxscore and Smith’s solid play has allowed Montgomery to either rest Gutierrez and slide him to the wing.
4) Is anyone else ready to step forward and create some depth? Aside from Smith, Montgomery comes off the bench with two freshmen — Richard Solomon and Emerson Murray — and walkon Nigel Carter. Monty needs to get something from Bak Bak, who seemed a little out of his element in the first two games.
5) How good was the victory over New Mexco? The Lobos, winners of 30 games a year ago, arrived at Berkeley having beaten Arizona State at Albuquerque. Discounting Manhattan, who the Bears likely won’t play unless they lose Thursday and Friday, every team in the Old Spice field is a legitimate challenge. If Cal returns home with two wins in Orlando, a good weekend.
TEMPLE SCOUT: The Owls of the Atlantic 10 Conference won 29 games a year ago and were 16-5 on the road or in neutral-site games. They opened this season with home wins over Seton Hall and Toledo. Temple returns three starters, led by senior PF Lavoy Allen, who last season averaged 11.5 ppg and 10.7 rpg to become the program’s first player since 1970-71 to average a double-double. Allen, a 1,000-point career scorer and member of the A-10 All-Defensive team, entered his name in the NBA draft last spring, then withdrew. Junior PG Juan Fernandez of Argentina made 73 3-point baskets last season and was Most Outstanding Player at the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. Fifth-year coach Fran Dunphy is 86-49 at Temple, with three straight 20-victory seasons. The Owls have won three straight A-10 crowns and are favored to win again this season.
THE SERIES: Cal and Temple have not played since 1973, when the Owls beat the Bears 51-42 in the finals of the Quaker City Classic at the Palestra in Philadelphia. Temple leads the series 3-1, with Cal’s only win coming in 1935.
THE FIELD: The Bears will play either Notre Dame (4-0) or Georgia (3-0) in a second-round game Friday. The Irish have won their first four games by an average of 30 points, led by senior guard Ben Hansbrough (18.0 ppg, 5.8 apg) and senior forward Tim Abromatis (17.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg). Georgia features a three-pronged attack with junior guard Travis Leslie (18.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg), 6-8, 264-pound senior forward Jeremy Price (17.7 ppg) and junior PG Gerald Robinson (16.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 57-percent 3-PT).
In the opposite bracket: Boston College (1-1) vs. Texas A&M (3-0), and Wisconsin ( 2-1) vs. Manhattan (2-1).
Teams have Saturday off and the tournament ends Sunday.
TIPOFF: 6 p.m. Thursday at HP Field House, Orlando, Fla. TV: ESPN2. Radio: 910-AM.
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Jr.||18.5||6.5|
|C Markhuri Sanders-Frison||6-7||Sr.||8.5||9.5|
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||Fr.||6.0||4.5|
|SG Gary Franklin Jr.||6-2||Fr.||11.5||3.0*|
|PG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Jr.||19.0||5.5*|
|F Richard Solomon||6-9||Fr.||7.0||4.0|
|G Brandon Smith||5-11||So.||8.0||4.5*|
|G Emerson Murray||6-3||Fr.||2.0||2.0|
|C Michael Eric||6-11||Jr.||11.0||7.5|
|PF Lavoy Allen||6-9||Sr.||10.5||6.0|
|SF Scootie Randall||6-6||Jr.||7.5||5.5|
|SG Ramone Moore||6-4||Jr.||13.0||3.5|
|PG Juan Fernandez||6-4||Jr.||11.0||5.0*|
|F Rahlir Jefferson||6-8||So.||8.5||5.5|
|G Khalif Wyatt||6-4||So.||4.5||2.0|
|G Aaron Brown||6-6||Fr.||5.0||2.0|