Harper Kamp and his Cal teammates know what they’re up against Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion.
They’re facing a Kansas team that hasn’t played a true road game all season.
Actually, that doesn’t exactly tell the story. The third-ranked Jayhawks are 10-0 and won the only game they have ever played in Berkeley. That was 54 years ago with Wilt Chamberlain on their side.
Cal’s most recent victory over KU in the Bay Area? It was Jan. 4, 1929 — before the stock market crash — and it came against a rare bad Kansas team. The Jayhawks were 3-15 that season.
“Anyone who grew up wanting to play college basketball knows about Kansas. They’re a real good team, obviously,” Kamp said. “They don’t have a lot of weaknesses. We’re just going to have to go out there and play good basketball. We’ve definitely got our hands full.”
The Jayhawks already hold the unofficial top spot in the Pac-10 this season, with home victories over UCLA and USC and a neutral-site win over Arizona.
Kamp watched portions of the UCLA and USC games and said he was “definitely impressed.” The Jayhawks, best as he can tell, have few weaknesses.
But . . .
“We have as good a chance as anybody of coming in here and playing our game and playing solid defense and good basketball,” Kamp said. “I think we can win the ballgame if we play that way.”
The Bears anticipate their biggest crowd of the season, having sold 10,300 tickets by Tuesday afternoon.
“It definitely would be good for everyone to see what this place can be if we can fill it up,” Kamp said. “I’ve been in a few games where it’s pretty crazy in there. It’s real fun. That’ll just give us more juice. I’m hoping it will get a little loud in there, get a little rowdy.”
Kamp said the young Bears don’t seem overwhelmed or over-excited about the assignment. But he also hopes the chance to play one of college basketball’s traditional super powers will motivate the Bears to play at a higher level.
“Anything that would put something extra in our step would be more than welcome,” Kamp said. “It’s easy to get up for games like this.”
KANSAS SCOUT: The Jayhawks figure to be the best team Cal will play all season, a potential Final Four squad, according to coach Mike Montgomery. “They’re big, they’re athletic. They don’t do a lot of stuff. They don’t try to be real complex with what they do. But they’re very organized and disciplined in what they do,” Montgomery said. “They pound you at the post, they play a lot of high-low, there’s a lot of on-balls screens. They’re talented as usual and they’ve got everyone back from last year, plus they’ve got the addition of the freshman point guard, who got off to a fairly good start. They’re third in the country — probably what you’d expect from a team of that quality.”
The new kid is freshman guard Josh Selby, a native of Baltimore, who was rated by Rivals.com as the nation’s top high school prospect a year ago. Selby was suspended by the NCAA for the first nine games for accepting extra benefits. He scored 21 points in his debut against USC on Sunday, scoring 10 points in his first five minutes on the floor, then hitting the game-winning 3-pointer. “He obviously shoots the ball. The first shot I saw him take was pure from deep — looked awfully good,” Montgomery said. “He’s an athletic, very highly rated guard. That’s only going to make them better.”
The Jayhawks’ attack starts with twin power forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris. But there is talent everywhere on the roster, including those coming off the bench. “I think probably depth-wise it’s going to difficult for us because they probably run nine guys at you,” Montgomery said. “They’ll continue to run quality players at you. They all play hard, they all know what they’re doing, they defend pretty well. It could be difficult from a standpoint of attrition in terms of wearing us down. They’ve been able to do that.”
Montgomery said there is no particular trick to staying with the Jayhawks. “They don’t have any glaring weaknesses where you say, `OK, if you take this away from them, they’re going to be able to not do that,’ ” he said. “They’re a well-rounded team, good across the board. It’ll be a challenge for us. They’re traditionally just a strong basketball team.”
Coach Bill Self, in his eighth season at Kansas, has the team off to a 10-0 start for the fourth time. Self is 212-43 with the Jayhawks, an impressive .813 winning percentage.
ON THE KU TRADITION: Last year was the first time Montgomery took a team to Lawrence, Kan., and he admits, “I was notably impressed with the history and tradition that is Kansas basketball. It’s just everywhere you turn. You look at the retired jerseys and the Hall of Famers and the NBA guys and you’re kind of, `Whoa!’ Basketball’s a huge deal there, probably one of the few schools in the country where basketball takes precedence over any other sport.”
THE 600 CLUB: One more victory and Montgomery becomes just the seventh active coach to have won 600 Division I games. Here’s the updated list after North Carolina’s victory Tuesday night:
1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke 879
2. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse 841
3. Jim Calhoun, Connecticut 832
4. Gary Williams, Maryland 656
5. Roy Williams, North Carolina 622
6. Bob Huggins, West Virginia 607
7. Mike Montgomery, Cal 599
THE SERIES: The Jayhawks lead the all-time series 15-3, and have won the past nine meetings by an average margin of 14 points. This is the first matchup at Berkeley (and only the second ever) since Wilt Chamberlain had 23 points and 14 rebounds in a 66-56 KU win in 1956. Cal played the Jayhawks twice during the Jason Kidd era, and lost both times — 93-76 at St. Louis in the Sweet 16 round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament, and 76-56 the next season in Lawrence. The schools squared off again in Allen Fieldhouse last season, with the Jayhawks posting an 84-69 win over the eventual Pac-10 champion Bears.
Cal’s most recent win in the series was a 65-62 win at Kansas City in 1954-55 — Pete Newell’s first season as the Bears’ coach, and Phog Allen’s second-to-last season at KU. In their first two meetings, the Bears beat Kansas on consecutive nights, Jan. 3 and 4, 1929, at the Oakland Auditorium.
ETCETERA: Cal freshman guard Alex Rossi got an injection recently to help him deal with pain from a groin injury, but still isn’t even able to begin rehab work. “That’s been the problem: He can’t even do anything to get stronger in that area because it hurts so much,” Montgomery said, when asked if Rossi might recover sufficiently to play this season. “If he gets to that point and starts rehabbing, then we’ll see.” . . . Whatever transpires at Haas Pavilion, possibly the least-likely scenario involves Cal scoring 100 points. The Jayhawks have held 306 consecutive opponents under the century mark . . . Despite having two freshmen among four new starters, the Bears have allowed just 63.5 points per game so far, compared to 69.6 through 10 games a year ago.
TIPOFF: 8 p.m. Wednesday at Haas Pavilion, Berkeley. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 910-AM.
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Jr.||13.1||5.8|
|C Markhuri Sanders-Frison||6-7||Sr.||9.1||7.8|
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||Fr.||7.4||4.7|
|SG Gary Franklin Jr.||6-2||Fr.||8.3||1.9*|
|PG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Jr.||12.6||3.8*|
|F Richard Solomon||6-9||Fr.||4.6||4.6|
|G Brandon Smith||5-11||So.||3.7||3.0*|
|G Nigel Carter||6-3||Jr.||3.1||1.1|
|PR Marcus Morris||6-8||Jr.||16.3||6.3|
|PF Markieff Morris||6-9||Jr.||12.2||9.0|
|SG Tyrel Reed||6-3||Sr.||9.4||2.1|
|SG Brady Morningstar||6-3||Sr.||5.6||2.4*|
|PG Tyshawn Taylor||6-3||Jr.||10.5||5.8*|
|G Josh Selby||6-2||Fr.||21.0||5.0|
|F Thomas Robinson||6-9||So.||9.3||6.6|
|G Travis Releford||6-5||So.||6.1||2.2|