Basketball: Bears climb to fifth place

This was one the Bears could have lost. Maybe should have lost.

Instead, they rallied from a 16-point first-half  hole and zoomed to an 81-71 victory over Oregon at Matthew Knight Arena, bumping them into sole possession of fifth place in the Pac-10 standings.

“We were lucky to be down 11 at the half,” coach Mike Montgomery said. “I hate to say that, but we were. It could have been a lot worse.”

Cal (15-13, 8-8) can clinch an overall winning record by beating Oregon State on Saturday in Corvallis.  The Bears routed OSU 85-57 last month in Berkeley.

The Beavers (10-16, 5-10) beat Stanford 87-80 on Thursday night, snapping their four-game losing streak.

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Basketball: No game thread tonight

Sorry to report I am not in snowy Oregon tonight and won’t be able to provide my usual game thread on Cal-Oregon.

Just got a text, however, informing me that during warmups Allen Crabbe swished an underhand shot from nearly halfcourt. Wonder if that’s part of tonight’s game plan?

Word is everyone’s healthy and on board for the game and the Bears will use their normal lineup: Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Harper Kamp, Crabbe, Jorge Gutierrez and Brandon Smith.

I will try to post some quotes and notes tonight — depending on what I receive — and can tell you I will be at the Pac-10 tournament, covering all the action.


Basketball: Oregon scouting report

Here’s what we can expect Thursday night when the Bears face Oregon in Eugene: A close game.

Well, there’s a bold statement, right?

Eleven of the 15 games Cal has played in the Pac-10 have been decided by single digits, including the first matchup against the Ducks. Cal won that 85-77 last month in Berkeley.

One of the four decided by more 10 points or more — the only one of those the Bears have won — was an 85-57 rout of Oregon State, which Cal will visit on Saturday.

The Bears are actually 6-5 in games settled by single digits, but they had lost three close ones during the four-game skid prior to beating UCLA 76-72 in overtime on Sunday.

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Basketball: Radio remarks earn Monty reprimand

Pac-10 Conference commissioner Larry Scott announced that Cal coach Mike Montgomery has been reprimanded for comments he made about officiating during his postgame radio show after the Bears  played Thursday, Feb. 10 at Washington and Saturday, Feb. 12 at Washington State.

During his visit to Roxie Bernstein and Todd McKim after the WSU game, Montgomery said, “I’m about ready to jump off the bridge on this officiating.”

Here’s the official statement from the Pac-10 website.

An athletic department spokesman said Montgomery will have no comment on the reprimand.

The Bears were traveling today for Thursday’s game at Oregon.


Basketball: Winning at least two of next three games is Bears’ immediate goal

Mike Montgomery has given his team a road map to the postseason:

“Coach says we need to win two out of these next three games,” senior Markhuri Sanders-Frison said.

At 14-13, two more regular-season wins would guarantee Cal a winning record. Even with a first-round loss in the Pac-10 tournament, the Bears could do no worse than 16-15, and that would make them eligible for the NIT.

“I just said that if you want to play postseason, you’ve got to win two out of these last three games,” Montgomery said. “Our goal is to win all three of them. The reality of it is to play postseason and have a winning record, you’ve got to win two out of three.”

Sanders-Frison said he can’t spend any time focusing on the NIT.

“We just want to keep on playing,” he said. “We want to aim for the stars and land on the clouds.

“We’d love to be in that March Madness. If it’s the NIT, as long as we’re playing, I think this group of guys will be satisfied with that.”

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Basketball: 20 Questions with Bak Bak

Today we visit with . . .

Position: Forward
Height: 6-9
Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya

If you could play 1-on-1 with any player in basketball history, who would you choose? Kevin Garnett. He’s my favorite player right now.

Hypothetically, I have $10 to bet on who wins. Tell me why I should consider you: The only way for me to score is probably not on the block but maybe outside because I may be a little quicker than him.

What’s your basketball career highlight so far? Probably when I was in high school (at Sun Valley High outside Los Angeles). It was a playoff game and I had a lot of points. For some reason it didn’t feel like a really good game, but at the end of it I felt like I had a lot of fun. I had like 31 points and 16 rebounds and we won.

Who’s the best dunker on the Cal team? Robert Thurman. He can jump and he’s tall. He can do any kind of dunks.

Give me one word that describes coach Mike Montgomery: Competitive. During the practice or during the games, he really hates to lose. It really makes him mad or, I don’t know, sad.

When you’re not playing, do you prefer to watch college basketball or the NBA? It depends what teams are playing. In the NBA, I watch the Lakers, Celtics, Miami Heat. But I would prefer to watch college because it might be teams we’re going to meet.

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Basketball: Cal makes offer to Washington prep

The high school coach of Tahoma HS (Wash.) senior Christian Behrens said Cal made a scholarship offer to the 6-foot-8 forward during his recruiting visit to Berkeley last weekend and he is considering his options while on a trip this week to visit his mother’s family in London.

“He said he had a good time,” coach Rob Morrow said. “He went to class with a couple guys, had the pre-game meal with the team (Thursday) and went out with a couple guys on Friday.

“They did offer him. He’ll decide when he gets back.”

Morrow declined to speak for Behrens, but said his other offers are to Seattle U, Eastern Washington and Portland State. Unless Washington steps forward with an offer in the meantime, sounds like Behrens could be headed to Berkeley.