Former Santa Clara coach Carroll Williams, a member of the National Invitation Tournament selection committee, said Cal is “certainly in the picture” for a spot in the 32-team NIT.
Williams said he has watched the Bears play 14 times on TV or in person, including Thursday’s come-from-behind win at Oregon.
“I thought Oregon had ’em on the ropes, but they came back,” he said. “(Jorge) Gutierrez is a strong-minded guy and they follow him. I think their younger kids are coming on.”
Williams said the Bears’ No. 71 RPI computer ranking will help, as will their No. 14 strength-of-schedule rating. “You bet,” he said. “We always look at that.”
Cal will get “strong consideration,” Williams said.
The NIT, now owned by the NCAA, is not the New York City-based good ‘ol boys event it was for years, although the tournament semifinals and finals remain at Madison Square Garden. The 32 teams are chosen the same way the NCAA selection committee fills out its 68-team field.
Regular-season conference champions who lose in their league tournament get automatic berths, but otherwise Williams said, “We’re trying to get the 32 best teams.”
Williams said there is no written rule disqualifying teams with non-winning records, but acknowledged that a team with a losing record has virtually no shot at being chosen.
USC and Washington State also are on the NIT committee’s radar, he confirmed.
Hosting an NIT game no longer comes after a bidding process where schools make a guarantee of ticket sales in order to secure a game. Williams said the higher-seeded teams typically get a home game and suggested it’s possible Cal could secure a first-round game.
OREGON STATE SCOUT: The Beavers had lost four in a row and seven of eight before beating Stanford 87-80 in front of an announced crowd of 4,696 fans. OSU has been wretched at times (1-10 on the road), but owns home victories over Arizona and Washington. “They”ve been very capable,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery. “They’ve had some great games . . . They’ve got some guys who can really score the ball. If they get off to a good start and things start working for them, I think they’d be more effective. They’re a dangerous team.” . . . OSU coach Craig Robinson has juggled his lineup throughout the seson, using nine different starting groups.
ROBINSON RANT: OSU coach Robinson said on this week’s Pac-10 coaches teleconference that he had not checked out the the ultra-critical 1,200-word blog written by Sports Illustrated staffer and Pulitzer Prize winner George Dohrmann.
“I have not read it,” Robinson said, “and the way everybody’s talking about it, I don’t think I am (going to).”
Dorhmann authored “Play Their Hearts Out,” an expose’ of the seamy side of youth basketball, which featured current OSU sophomore guard Roberto Nelson. Here’s a link to Dohrmann’s harsh take on the state of the Beavers’ program.
MARKHURI GOES HOME: Cal senior Markhuri Sanders-Frison grew up in Portland and attended Jefferson High, where he was teammates with OSU senior Lathen Wallace. He expects to have upwards of 50 family and friends at today’s game.
“I’m very excited. I’ve had to hit a lot of people up to have enough tickets. I have a lot of support up there,” said Sanders-Frison, who wasn’t recruited out of high school by either OSU or Oregon. “It’s a blessing. I love it. My little sisters and brothers get to see me. My grandmother gets to watch me. It’s going to an emotional trip.”
THE SERIES: Cal leads 76-59 after beating the Beavers 85-57 in Berkeley last month. OSU has won the past two matchups in Corvallis.
ETCETERA: Cal and OSU are tied for last in the Pac-10 in scoring defense, each allowing 72.1 points per game.
TIPOFF: 3 p.m. Saturday at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore. TV: CSNCA. Radio: 910-AM.
Cal (15-13, 8-8)
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Jr.||14.5||5.8|
|C Markhuri Sanders-Frison||6-7||Sr.||11.0||7.3|
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||Fr.||12.1||5.5|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Jr.||14.9||4.4*|
|PG Brandon Smith||5-11||So.||6.1||3.9*|
|F Richard Solomon||6-9||Fr.||5.3||4.1|
|F Bak Bak||6-9||So.||2.5||2.5|
|G Jeff Powers||6-7||Fr.||4.8||1.2|
Oregon State (10-16, 5-10)
|PF Omari Johnson||6-9||Sr.||7.0||6.0|
|C Angus Brandt||6-10||So.||4.4||2.5|
|SF Devon Collier||6-7||Fr.||6.3||4.1|
|SG Ahmad Starks||5-8||Fr.||6.8||1.4*|
|PG Jared Cunningham||6-4||So.||13.8||2.9|
|G Calvin Haynes||6-3||Sr.||9.9||3.4|
|G Lathen Wallace||6-3||Sr.||7.4||2.2|
|C/F Joe Burton||6-7||So.||7.2||5.3|