Cal freshman Richard Solomon acknowledges there have been adjustments he’s had to make in his first season of college basketball.
The physical nature of the game . . . the aggression required to compete . . . dealing with that glare he’ll sometimes get from Mike Montgomery on the sideline.
“When he gives me that look, two months ago I wouldn’t be able to focus on the next play,” the 6-foot-9 forward said. “I’ll do something and he’ll give me that stare and I’ll already know what I did. I know I messed up.”
Solomon isn’t complaining. In fact, the topic makes his chuckle. He understands a bit of yelling comes with the territory. And even a coach who occasionally stomps his feet when frustrated.
“I remember the first time I saw it, we were playing against UC Davis and I went up for a dunk and missed it,” Solomon said. “I looked. `Richard!’ OK, don’t miss dunks. That’s what pushes his buttons.”
Junior Harper Kamp hopes the rookies accept criticism for what it is.
“He gets on them because he wants it done the right way,” Kamp said. “If you don’t get on guys early, that creates bad habits.”
Solomon seems like he can take it.
“When you’re making the right plays and into the zone, it’s like a whole different feeling for me,” Solomon said. “I’m having fun, getting back to where I was in high school. When we’re winning, it feels good.”
The Golden Bears begin the second round of Pac-10 play tonight at home against Arizona State, and Montgomery is looking for more from Solomon and all of his reserve players.
“Richard and (Bak) Bak, have both had nice moments where they go in and make some plays,” Montgomery said. “You’re just not sure what you’re going to get. It’s a little bit of a wild card.
“But they’re getting a little more confident.”
Kamp has seen clear progress from Solomon, who is averaging 8.0 points over the past six games. Solomon actually has played some of his best ball against the Pac-10′s better teams, averaging 11.7 ppg against Washington, Arizona and UCLA.
“Richard’s done a great job, especially the last few games we’ve played,” Kamp said. “He’s got a long way to go, just like any freshman. He’s definitely more comfortable out there.
“If he can just keep his confidence up and play hard on every possession, he’s got a lot of ability and he can definitely help us out.”
Solomon said he feels like he’s improving game by game, and sees similar progress by the team as a whole.
“At this point,” he said, “I feel like all we can do is get better.”
ASU SCOUT: The Sun Devils have dropped seven straight games, their longest drought since losing their first 14 Pac-10 games in 2006-07. ASU has been a strong finisher over the past three seasons, going a combined 14-13 in the first round of Pac-10 play, but 18-9 over the second round. Cal pounded the Sun Devils on the boards in their first meeting, outrebounding them 43-27, including 18 offensive rebounds the Bears transformed into 19 second-chance points. ASU relies on its matchup zone defense and 3-point shooting, and over the past three games has converted 49 percent (25 of 51) attempts from beyond the arc . . . Seniors Rihards Kuksiks (263) and Ty Abbott (256) rank third and fourth on ASU’s all-time 3-point list . . . Abbott has scored 1,248 career points and it only seems like all of them have come against Cal. He had games of 30 and 25 against the Bears as a freshman in 2008, scored 20 against Cal a year ago and had 18 in the team’s first meeting this season . . . Senior PG Jamelle McMillan missed the game last month with an injury.
THE SERIES: The all-time series is tied at 35-35. Cal has won the past three, including a 65-61 victory at Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 8, in which Jorge Gutierrez scored 21 points and Allen Crabbe added 17. The Bears’ 62-46 win over ASU at Haas Pavilion last season clinched their first Pac-10 title in 50 years. It was 11 years ago that former Hayward HS star Eddie House tied Lew Alcindor’s conference record with 61 points in the Sun Devils’ double-overtime win in Berkeley.
ETCETERA: Since the start of the 2007-08 season through now, ASU is 21-14 in games decided by six points or less, second-best mark in the Pac-10. Cal is 17-19 in such games, but won the only two head-to-head matchups with the Sun Devils in games settled by that margin . . . A victory vs. the Sun Devils would extend Cal’s win streak to four games, its longest of the season.
TIPOFF: 8 p.m. Thursday at Haas Pavilion. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 910-AM.
Cal (12-9, 5-4)
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Jr.||14.5||5.4|
|C Markhuri Sanders-Frison||6-7||Sr.||10.9||7.9|
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||Fr.||11.8||5.6|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Jr.||12.4||4.4*|
|PG Brandon Smith||5-11||So.||5.6||3.5*|
|F Richard Solomon||6-9||Fr.||5.6||4.2|
|F Bak Bak||6-9||So.||2.7||2.6|
|G Emerson Murray||6-3||Fr.||0.6||0.6|
Arizona State (9-12, 1-8)
|PF Kyle Cain||6-7||Fr.||6.0||5.8|
|SF Rihards Kuksiks||6-6||Sr.||10.4||2.7|
|SG Trent Lockett||6-4||So.||13.8||5.5|
|SG Ty Abbott||6-3||Sr.||13.9||3.9|
|PG Jamelle McMillan||6-2||Sr.||6.0||4.1*|
|C Ruslan Pateev||7-0||So.||2.7||2.0|
|F Carrick Felix||6-6||So.||5.3||1.6|
|G Brandon Dunson||6-1||Fr.||2.7||0.9|