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Basketball: Bears doomed by historically wretched first half vs. Notre Dame

Well, that was fairly horrendous.

First half: Five points. Game over.

Who could have seen this coming? Perhaps we should have.

Well, not a 21-5 halftime deficit against Notre Dame in the second round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. But a completely-out-of-sync performance by a young team playing an opponent with four senior starters, plus a fourth-year junior.

The final score — 57-44 — was irrelevant, other than to provide evidence the Bears did not throw in the towel.

“If somebody picked up the paper they’d say, ‘Ah, they lost to Notre Dame by 13,”  Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “But if you watched it, you’d have a little different impression.”

One night after upsetting No. 21 Temple, the Bears looked like the inexperienced club they are, playing with four new starters, two of them freshmen.

Even so, the first half was hard to believe. According to the NCAA online record book, the teams set an NCAA record for fewest combined points in the shot-clock era (beginning 1986), breaking the mark of 27 set the day before at the Old Spice Classic by Wisconsin and Manhattan.

The Associated Press reported that the record actually is 18, in a game played between Savannah State and North Carolina Central, according to STATS LLC. The AP story did not indicate what year that took place.

Cal (3-1) shot 2 for 25 in the half, missed all eight of its 3-point attempts, got no points from its guards and did not score in the final 9:16 of the period.

The Bears avoided the modern NCAA record for fewest points in a half, an ignominious total of four points scored by Savannah State in a 2008 loss to Kansas State. Talk about your hollow consolation.

Montgomery was so angry about the performance he emphatically scolded his team at halftime. “It was like the bully at lunchtime out on the playground,” he said.

It could have been much worse except that the Irish (6-0) missed all 13 of their 3-pointers in the half .

The Bears managed to avoid their lowest point total for a game since losing 59-37 to Washington State back on Jan. 14, 1988.

A variety of factors contributed to the collapse. Cal played impatiently on offense, making poor decisions with its passes and shots.

By game’s end, the Bears improved their shooting percentage from 8 percent at halftime to a still feeble 26.2 percent. They committed 15 turnovers. They were outscored 26-6 at the free throw line. They totaled assists assists as a team.

Freshman guard Allen Crabbe led the Bears with 10 points and 10 rebounds — his first collegiate double-double – and junior forward Harper Kamp had nine points and seven rebounds, although he battled foul trouble. Junior point guard Jorge Gutierrez had his second straight off-night on offense, totaling seven points on 3 for 13 shooting, with four turnovers. He averaged 19 points through Cal’s first two games.

Freshman Gary Franklin Jr. made three 3-pointers — all in the second half — but missed his other 11 shots. Senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison had nine rebounds, but shot 1 for 6 and fouled out with 11:45 left.

Again, the Bears got little from their bench, aside from freshman forward Richard Solomon, who contributed four points and six rebounds.

WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays Boston College (3-2) on Sunday at 10 a.m. PST in the Old Spice third-place game. (No games on Saturday). The Eagles lost 65-55 to Wisconsin in Friday’s semifinal. Sunday’s game will be telecast on ESPNU. 

For those of you who don’t get ESPNU, word is ex-Cal center Michael “Yogi” Stewart may be doing radio commentary with Roxy Bernstein on 1550-AM.

Jeff Faraudo

  • Uh Oh

    One development which is fairly disturbing is that Monty is playing with such a short bench already, so early in the season.

    Look at the Box Score minutes the past 2 games. Are you serious???

    That’s a sign that players like Bak and Murray are simply nowhere near being mentally ready to play big time ball. If they were, I think the coach would put them on the court so that they could develop and grow. But from what I’ve seen so far, coach has already somewhat given up on the idea of them being close to productive at this point in time. What’s he going to do when we get into serious games and he has to yank Smith and shorten the bench. Ooops. There is none?

    Smith was unimpressive again in his sparce 13 minutes.

    On most teams, an incoming freshman like Franklin would be yanked so fast for jacking up those unconscionable shots. Instead, Monty can (apparently) only hope he finds his rhythm. It’s like he’s forced to leave him in there b/c he knows he’s got nothing else behind him.

    I like Franklin and think he can become a deadly player, but it is funny to watch Monty. I think his normal pattern would be to force discipline, but he can’t. Pull him out and who’s going to score?

    This is why the UNM game will remain so thoroughly pleasing for such a long time to come.

    Is there any chance that Rossi heals up fast and soaks up the minutes that Bak, Smith, Emerson, etc, can’t fill??

    Crabbe’s gonna be pretty darn good, dontcha think? Got the smooth shooting stroke, the length and ability to rebound, and the patience needed to grow into it all with time.

    Poor Smith. This is his chance to prove he belongs….

  • K1W

    It’s an inexperienced team, so preparation and practice time (both physical and mental) are VERY important. After winning late yesterday evening and probably eating Thanksgiving dinner after the game, I doubt they had more than a few hours to get ready to play Notre Dame today (and they probably expected to play Georgia). In comparison, they knew that the first game would be against Temple, so they had the last week to prepare for it.

    The first half was a disaster on offense, but they also held Notre Dame to 21 points. Defense has been strong in every game so far. And in the end, it was not the blowout it could have been after only 5 points in the first half, and the Bears even had a small chance to make an improbable comeback with about 8 minutes left and the Irish lead cut to 10.

    Now they have a whole day to prepare for Boston College, not just a few hours. The coaches have time to do some coaching…

    Also, this young team has better-quality non-conference wins after the first four games than last years Pac-10 champs had through December.

  • Mitchie V

    Finally got to see the New Bears.

    Biggest surprise was Solomon. Like the way he plays defense. Has size and savvy to stay away from from cheap fouls. He also exploded to the rim a couple times on offense. When those go down it will amp the house.

    I love Gut, but he just isn’t a pretty finisher.

    Crabbe and Franklin were as advertised. Great fun to watch.

    See ya Sunday!

  • Dan

    What a stupid, selfish bunch of players in the 1st half today. I don’t care how young and inexperienced they are, no one taught them to play basketball like that.

    Frankin has balls. Does he think he’s back in high school? In fact, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be allowed to play that way at Mater Dei. Maybe AAU. ‘

    I’m glad to hear Monty went ballistic on them in the locker room. I wouldn’t have minded seeing him light into them on the court. Pathetic, very disappointing from Jorge and Harper.

  • Yoda

    I only saw the second half, but Crabbe looked like a smart player who probably should get more shots while Franklin looked like he has a star complex and should take far fewer shots, or at least radically alter his selection. I liked Solomon a lot, and the vets are fine. The kids need to learn that they have to get the ball inside to get better shots outside.

    It’s a learning year. If they bounce back and get another win in this tourney it will be a great trip.

  • Bears

    There was no flow on offense.
    The guys did not play with poise offensively and looked to have no idea. They need to start to gel offensively and get good shots and not turn the ball over.
    If they do that we’ll be all right.
    If they can’t figure it out offensively the young promising Bears team will not do well.
    Kamp and Jorge have to step up and provide the structure and poise to our offense. They did not do that vs ND.

  • Jan K Oski

    The announcer on ESPN kept on saying during the Temple Game, coaches wanted Franklin to take more shots. I guess the coaches got what they wanted.

    That 1st half had all of the indication of being a letdown game. Temple was a hard fought ordeal. I doubt many teams with Cal’s short bench could recover in a day. Jeez, even the NBA elites crash and burn from time to time. Let’s see how this kids are playing after a half season before we write them off.

  • Dave

    Jorge or Smith have no real shot at looking like an impressive PG. Speaking from experience, you can not run an offense with a 2 guard who just jacks up any shot that looks close to being open. Smith particularly will have trouble seeing he is a pure 1. Jorge can at least be a slasher, which if you notice, is when he shines….he does not and will not shine as a PG if Franklin is allowed to continue disrupting the offense with these CRAZY shots. I think Franklin will be great for us, but he needs to be more judicial with his shot selection.