Basketball: Hartford game thread

FINAL SCORE: Cal 74, Hartford 56. Montgomery wins his 600th game and delivers high-fives in the grandstands to his wife and daughter before heading to the dressing room. Kamp had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Bears (7-5) in their final pre-conference game. Allen Crabbe had 17 points and nine rebounds, Richard Solomon 10 and 10, and Brandon Smith scored 15. The Bears open Pac-10 play Sunday at Stanford.

3:00 2nd H: Cal leads 68-46. Bak has 10 rebounds, Kamp, Solomon and Crabbe each have nine. Can the Bears finish with four players in double-digit rebounds?  No, because Kamp and Crabbe are on the bench, probably for good. Brandon Smith has achieved a career-high with 10 points.

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Basketball: Hartford scouting report

Richard Solomon has completed his first set of final exams at Cal.

“I’m just glad they’re over with,” the freshman forward said. “It’s a big adjustment coming from high school to college.”

As the Bears prepare to face Hartford on Tuesday night in their final pre-conference, the adjustments continue for Solomon.

“I think as the season goes on, I’m picking something up every game — how to get through screens, how to set screens, just the little things that help you to win,” he said.

“In high school, you don’t really have to do anything — just show your talent. I feel like I’m getting better every game.”

Junior Harper Kamp sees daily progress from the Bears’ sixth man.

“He’s picking up a little bit more every game, every practice. That’s what you have to do as a freshman,” Kamp said. “I remember my freshman year, and things are never quite what you expect. You have to be able to adjust. He’s really done a great job with it.”

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Basketball: Cougars fall in Hawaii

A lump of coal in their Diamond Head Classic finale . . .

— Butler 84, Washington State 68: The Bulldogs (9-4) ran off 15 straight points to open the second half, blowing open a close game against the Cougars (10-2) in the championship game at Hawaii. Klay Thompson had 31 points in 1o of 18 shooting for WSU, but the rest of the team converted just 14 of 41 attempts. Thomson set a tournament record with 79 points in three games. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak by the Cougars that included victories over Gonzaga, Mississippi State and Baylor.


Football: Happy Holidays

Whatever holiday you celebrate this season, may it be filled with joy and peace.

Haven’t been on here much in the last week or so as I’ve had some other assignments and been out sick. After that recruiting flurry a couple weeks ago, things have died down a bit. There’s just over a month left to the recruiting season so the next six weeks or so will be interesting to watch.

Of course, Jeff Tedford also has some coaching vacancies to fill, and I anticipate hearing about those after the first of the year, if not sooner.

Also, Shane Vereen has until Jan. 15 to decide whether to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.

Once again, best wishes to everyone this holiday season.


Basketball: Pac-10 writers roundtable

A holiday extra for you: Our first Pac-10 writers roundtable.

Five writers who regularly cover Pac-10 basketball — including myself — provide their opinions on five topics as we prepare to enter conference play.

Other participants are Percy Allen of the Seattle Times (who covers Washington), Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (UCLA), Bob Clark of the Register-Guard in Eugene (Oregon) and Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic (Arizona State).

Our thanks to Haller for organizing the roundtable and compiling the answers.


1. At this point in the non-conference season, what’s surprised you most?

PERCY ALLEN: Regardless of what the coaches may say, I’m surprised the
conference hasn’t improved from last season. The scarcity of meaningful
nonconference wins is alarming and suggests we’re looking at another year when
the Pac-10 sends just two teams – if that – to the NCAA tournament. At this time
(Dec. 14), there’s not a Pac-10 team that’s ranked and I don’t know when that
will change. I wouldn’t be surprised if we went through the Pac-10 season
without a team in the polls.

BEN BOLCH: Oregon’s not-so-terrible start. Having been picked by the media to
finish last in the Pac-10, the Ducks didn’t figure to have much to showcase when
they opened Matthew Knight Arena next month. But Oregon has won pretty much
every game it should have won and nearly upset ninth-ranked Missouri. Senior
forward Joevan Catron has blossomed into one of the better big men in the
conference and sophomore forward E.J. Singler has stepped up as a formidable
rebounder. Coach Dana Altman appears to have the Ducks poised for a run at the
middle of the Pac-10, and that’s saying something in the wake of the mess left
by predecessor Ernie Kent.

BOB CLARK: Faisel Aden. I thought he was supposed to be a backup for Klay
Thompson. He’s the third-leading scorer in the league. He’s making 43 percent of
his threes. His addition has me wondering if the Cougars can go from last in the
league to contending for first. Next up might be Cal’s competitiveness, ignoring
that five-point first half. I didn’t see how the Bears would score points, but
maybe that was discounting the coaching of Mike Montgomery. On the other end, I
thought  both Oregon State and Arizona State would be better than they’ve shown.
I know they’re both counting on a lot of new players, but some of those results
have been mystifying. And disappointing.

JEFF FARAUDO: Probably the fact that Oregon is better than I expected, and
Oregon State is worse. Not sure why, especially with regards to the Beavers. But
they have been awful against an awful schedule.

DOUG HALLER: Washington State. I picked them sixth in the preseason media poll,
partly because of how it finished last season (last in the Pac-10) and also
because I didn’t know what junior-college transfer Faisal Aden would bring. As
it turns out, the Cougars are much improved, especially on defense, and Aden is
one of the Pac-10’s top scorers. Add in Klay Thompson, who’s playing at an
All-American level, and Reggie Moore, possibly the conference’s top point guard,
and the Cougars are a conference contender.

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Basketball: Surprising Wazzu tops Baylor; Bruins’ Honeycutt not seriously injured

Washington State turns more heads in Hawaii . . .

— Washington State 77, Baylor 71: The Cougars (10-1) won their fifth straight, holding off the No. 15 Bears (8-2) in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. Klay Thompson scored 20 points, leading five players in double figures. WSU shot 57 percent and overcame Baylor grabbing 18 offensive rebounds. LaceDarius Dunn scored 29 for Baylor, but had just four points in the first half when WSU opened a 20-point lead and was 3 for 15 from the 3-point arc. “I think this game shows everybody in the country how good we can be,” Thompson said. “So if we carry this momentum into the Pac-10, we’re going to be good.”

— USC 76, Lehigh 49: The Trojans (8-5) rode 21 points from Jio Fontan to beat the Mountain Hawks. Fontan, the transfer PG from Fordham, was 4 for 4 from the 3-point line and had four assists and four steals. Nikola Vucevic had 16  points, 10 rebounds and six blocks and Alex Stepheson contributed 11 points and 14 rebounds.

— Arizona State 56, North Carolina A&T 50: The Sun Devils (7-4) had to rally from six points down at halftime to beat the Aggies of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Rihards Kuksiks scored 15 points for ASU and freshman Kyle Cain had the unlikely combination of zero points and 14 rebounds. ASU shot just 35 percent, including 8 for 27 from 3-point range. Still, hardly an impressive result for the Devils against an opponent that lost by 50 to Florida and by 42 to Ohio State.

— UCLA 74, UC Irvine 73: The Bruins (8-4), playing without sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt, held off the Anteaters, thanks to 20 points apiece from guards Malcolm Lee and Lazeric Jones, who had a career-high. Freshman center Joshua Smith had 14 points and nine rebounds. Honeycutt sat out with a sprained right shoulder, but x-rays indicated nothing more serious and the club’s leading scorer and rebounder is expected to be ready for the start of Pac-10 play.


Basketball: Depth, execution Cal’s biggest failings

Cal coach Mike Montgomery warned early in the week that Kansas’ biggest advantage Wednesday night might be its depth. The roots of Jayhawks’ 78-63 victory proved he was right.

The Jayhawks’ bench outproduced its Cal counterpart by a whopping 46 points to 11, and 23 rebounds to 10.

That’s a little misleading because Markieff Morris (21 points, 10 rebounds) was a starter the first nine games, but has come off the bench the past two, and freshman guard Josh Selby (18 points, 4 assists) remained a reserve in just his second college game but will be a starter someday . . . in the NBA.

The game was lost in a second-half span of just under 3 minutes when fouls forced both Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp to the bench. During that stretch, KU transformed a shaky 50-47 lead to 61-49. The 11-2 run took the last wind out of the Bears’ sails.

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Basketball: Self calls team’s behavior `ridiculous’

Cal players stopped short of accusing Kansas of playing dirty Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion.

“We were ready to play physical,” senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison said. “It was two teams just going real hard. That was it.”

Kansas coach Bill Self didn’t see it that way. He was not happy about how things unraveled. And his third-ranked Jayhawks (11-0) posted a 78-63 win over Cal (6-5).

Star forward Marcus Morris was ejected for a flagrant foul when he elbowed Cal’s Harper Kamp in the face with 17:23 left. Thomas Robinson and Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez each earned technical fouls after nearly coming to blows following a first-half pileup for a loose ball. In the first half, Robinson was hit with a flagrant foul on Gutierrez.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” KU coach Bill Self said of  his players’ behavior. “We obviously contributed greatly to it. Cal was chippy also. We didn’t handle it well.”

Self said he was “really disappointed in Marcus,” who Self said “got what he deserved.” He also promised, “Marcus is going to get punished big-time.”


Basketball: Four Pac-10 winners

A good day for everyone outside Berkeley . . .

— Arizona 82, Robert Morris 56: The Wildcats (11-2) won their third in a row and sixth in seven games to close out their non-conference schedule. Derrick Williams had 17 points and nine rebounds and had 16 points in 19 minutes.

— Washington 90, Nevada 60: Isaiah Thomas scored 24 points and the Huskies (8-3) remained perfect in seven home games. Matthew Bryan-Amaning added 16 points and 11 rebounds. UW outrebounded the Wolf Pack 55-40 and made 11 3-point baskets.

— Washington State 83, Mississippi State 57: The Cougars (9-1) rode 28 points from Klay Thompson to an easy first-round win in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. Faisal Aden came off the bench to score 20 points. WSU held the Bulldogs to 34 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers. The Cougars outscored MSU 44-17 in the second half.

— Oregon State 74, Illinois-Chicago 54: Jared Cunningham (San Leandro HS) scored 22 points and Roberto Nelson had 14 off the bench for the Beavers (5-6) in their final non-conference game. Cunningham has scored 43 points in the past two games, shooting 22 for 22 from the FT line.