When Mike Montgomery talked earlier in the week about his 1991 Stanford team bonding as if they were a band of gypsys crossing the country together during their trek to the NIT title, this probably wasn’t meant.
Here’s a review of the Bears’ challenging and unusual week:
— Tuesday: Senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison dislocates his right shoulder in practice, ending his season and two-year Cal career.
— Wednesday morning: Junior forward Harper Kamp is up early, vomiting so often that he requires IV fluids.
— Wednesday evening: The Bears defeat Ole Miss 77-74 in the opening round of the NIT and learn they will play their second-round game Friday night vs. Colorado at Boulder, Colo.
— Thursday morning: The team jets to Denver, practices (even Harper Kamp) and turns in for the night.
— Friday: Tipoff vs. the Buffaloes is at 6:30 p.m. PDT.
“This is worse is than the Seattle to Pullman deal, just because of the distance,” Montgomery said Wednesday night. “I would have been much more comfortable with a Saturday or Sunday game.”
Hey, welcome to the Pac-12 a year early.
Colorado is the favorite tonight, and deservedly so. “They’re good,” Montgomery said.
They’re also 16-2 at home, losing only to Kansas by four points and Texas A&M in overtime. They beat Missouri, Kansas State and Texas at the Coors Event Center. No wonder they were so miffed Sunday when the NCAA selection committee bypassed them.
But it’s hard to sell the Bears short at this point in the season. From the unexpected return home to China of 7-foot-2 Max Zhang last fall, to freshman guard Alex Rossi’s season-ending injury before the season opener, to freshman guard Gary Franklin’s bizzaro-world transfer to Baylor, Cal has faced a series of unexpected obstacles.
And on March 18, the Bears are still playing.
COLORADO SCOUT: The Buffaloes, led by first-year coach Tad Boyle, utilize essentially a four-out, one-in alignment featuring 6-6 sophomore G Alec Burks and 6-5 senior G Cory Higgins.”They spread the floor with Higgins and Burks, who are really good players,” Montgomery said. Burks is a top-20 finalist for the John R. Wooden Award given to the nation’s best player. He is just a 29-percent 3-point shooter, but is averaging 24.7 ppg over the past seven games. He became the first CU player in the 15-year history of the Big-12 tournament to be named to the all-tournament team after averaging 25.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists in three games. Burks has scored 709 points this season, just 20 points shy of CU’s single-season record . . . Higgins, the son of ex-Warriors forward and current Charlotte Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins, needs 49 points to become Colorado’s career scoring leader. He has 1,953 points . . . Without any doubt, the Buffs have more depth than the Bears, especially now. Senior guard Levi Knutson, who averages 11.9 points, was voted Big 12 Co-Sixth Man of the Year.
THE SERIES: Cal leads 9-7, but is 1-5 in Boulder.
ETCETERA: Cal and Colorado will meet twice next year in the new Pac-12 Conference. They will play Jan. 12 at Berkeley, then Feb. 25 Boulder . . . Cory Higgins, the former Monte Vista HS star now a senior G at Colorado, has played a school-record 4,382 minutes for the Buffaloes, equivalent to just over 73 hours on the court . . . . Colorado is 9-7 all-time in the NIT, Cal is 12-5. The Buffs won the NIT title in 1939-40, Cal in 1998-99 . . . Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez, a native of Mexico, spent his first year in the U.S. in high school in Denver . . . Finally, no, CU freshman Shannon Sharpe is not related to the former Denver Broncos star receiver of the same name.
TIPOFF: 6:30 p.m. PDT Friday at Coors Event Center, Boulder, Colo. TV: ESPNU. Radio: 910-AM.
Cal (18-14, 10-8 Pac-10)
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Jr.||14.2||5.6|
|PF Richard Solomon||6-9||Fr.||5.6||4.4|
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||Fr.||13.5||5.5|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Jr.||14.6||4.6*|
|PG Brandon Smith||5-11||So.||6.3||3.9*|
|G Emerson Murray||6-3||Fr.||0.9||0.5|
|F Bak Bak||6-9||So.||2.4||2.3|
|G Jeff Powers||6-7||Fr.||3.9||1.0|
Colorado (22-13, 8-8 Big 12)
|PF Austin Dufault||6-9||Jr.||6.8||4.1|
|SF Marcus Relphorde||6-7||Sr.||11.4||4.3|
|SG Cory Higgins||6-5||Sr.||16.1||3.5|
|SG Alec Burks||6-6||So.||20.3||6.4|
|PG Nate Tomlinson||6-3||Jr.||3.1||2.5*|
|G Levi Knutson||6-4||Sr.||11.9||2.9|
|G Andre Roberson||6-7||Fr.||6.6||7.8|
|G Shannon Sharpe||6-1||Fr.||2.0||1.3|