Basketball: Five things I look forward to seeing as Bears open season with UC San Diego exhibition

The Bears make their 2011-12 debut on Tuesday when they take on UC San Diego in an exhibition game at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.

The Tritons lost 74-42 at Utah State last Friday, shooting 31 percent from the field and committing 21 turnovers. They feature one local player making a return trip home: junior forward Justin Brue, a Bishop O’Dowd HS grad who averaged 9.2 ppg last season.

We pretty much know what Jorge Gutierrez, Harper Kamp, Allen Crabbe and Brandon Smith bring to the equation. But there are questions.

Here are five things I am most eager to see tonight:

1) How will freshmen forwards David Kravish and Christian Behrens look? Are they players who can make a contribution to this team and provide some much-needed front-court depth?

2) Can walkon center Robert Thurman’s surprising contributions to the Bears’ Euro trip translate back here in the States? Cal has a place for Thurman if he can execute the things they need from him: Rebounding, post defense, finishing at the rim.

3) How will transfer guard Justin Cobbs fit in?  A combo guard who began his college career at Minnesota, Cobbs brings an aggressive, physical element that complements Smith at the point, but I want to get a glimpse of his decision making with the ball in his hands.

4) What improvement will we see from sophomore forward Richard Solomon? Does he have the beginnings of a low-post game? Has he streamlined his game? Will he play like a guy who has been there before? A key man for the Bears, if he has made strides from his rookie season.

5) What kind of reception will coach Mike Montgomery get at Haas four days after his announcement last Friday that he had bladder cancer? My guess: Fans will show the man some love when he comes onto the court pregame.



Jeff Faraudo

  • Rollonubears

    Jeff, the schedule says there was a blue and gold
    Game yesterday. Did that happen? If so, how’d it go?

  • Juancho

    Excited for the season. I think the main thing I’m looking forward to is how Crabbe has improved. Guy was great as a freshman. Hope he can be that type of guard that can take games over down the stretch and close out wins.

  • David

    The blue and gold game indeed happened, and there’s a recap floating around the internet somewhere. Look for the CalMensBBall twitter feed.

    Jeff, what’s taking Alex Rossi so long to heal?!?!

  • SteveNTEXAS

    I think its almost irrelevant how they look vs a school that was almost doubled by another mediocre team.

    This is what gets us into trouble- I bet our football team looked super against Presbyterian. We were full of Heisman Candidates that day…

  • Rollonubears

    Thanks David. Holy cow! Crabbe 5-5 from 3pt land? Good stuff.

  • Bears

    I’ll be there tomorrow night.
    Excited to get a first look at this team.
    What is the news on Rossi? Will he play this year?

  • BearFan

    Crabbe should have a great year; I am looking for him to win Pac 12 POY! I’m hoping for Cobbs to take the starting point guard job from Smith very soon…otherwise, that position becomes a significant weakness if the goal is to win the conference. I expect big things from the basketball Bears this year!

  • milo

    I think Crabbe goes off this season (I hope any way). Since every team will have to double team him, it creates mismatches that a “good” Cal team will exploit and an average team will not. I think Cal can exploit it.

    Curious to see how Thurman and Solomon develop as well. If they play well and contribute, it gives Cal a decent/serviceable front court, not a liability.

  • Jeff Faraudo

    Rossi’s injury is taking a long time to heal. He’s doing the work, but I’m not sure when he will be fully healthy. Montgomery described it to me a couple weeks ago as Rossi making some progress, then having minor setbacks. I casually asked Rossi about it last week and he said he’s working at it. Not sure if he’ll play Tuesday and how much.

  • GoldenTrailsDave

    Thurman/Solomon will be the difference in determining whether we’ll be good or very good (borderline great) team.

    Looking forward to the game tonight!

  • @Bearfan:

    You think Smith is a liability at the point? Did you watch last season at all? Did you realize that Smith was the best 3 pt shooter we had in pac-10 play, 19-for-37 after the @USC game. I don’t remember many crucial turnovers or bad decisions. Have you watched Mike Montgomery’s pgs over the years? Smith seems to be ideal for what Monty likes to do. Do you remember that bastard Chris Hernandez at lsju a few years ago? I think BSmith is better than him, certainly a better athlete. Cobbs may be good too, but I have full faith, and I am sure Monty does too, in the little guard from the East Bay. If he improves his FT% he becomes a top 5 pg in the league, despite his stature (or lack thereof) imho. That is how good of a coach Monty is, he takes a player like Smith (or Hernandez), undersized and not heavily recruited, and he turns him into a quality player essential to the team’s success. Go Bears!

  • Wyoming Bear

    Blakey Bear is on POINT! Pac 12 Hoops is Bear Territory. God bless Monty and his health. Go Bears!

  • Takeoffthatredshirt

    Who is Hernandez?

  • BearFan

    Blake…I attended 11 Cal Pac 10 games last year. I will give you that Smith improved considerably over his freshman year. But there was still a lot of ugly shots, poor decisions with the ball in traffic, poor free throw shooting for a guard, and obviously limited scoring/athletic ability. I commend Monty for getting the most out of his players’ talent. But please do not compare Smith to Chris Hernandez. That dude was All Pac 10 first team THREE times, and shot free throws at around a .900 clip, among other things! Listen, I have nothing against Smith, and I am sure Monty will maximize his talent, but IMHO, teams typically don’t win the Pac 10 with a starting PG like Smith. You need some spark at that position, think Randle.

  • jim crow


    When I think Randle, in addition to his spark, which I acknowledge, I think also of a shoot-first, poor defensive point guard. Jerome never did learn how to stay in front of his man and to me that was an attidunal problem, given his foot speed and ability to get around people when he had the ball.

    While Smith will not likely ever be the scorer that Jerome was, he also will play defense with all he has all the time. He also will not turn the ball over. And he will make his teammates better by delivering the ball to them and generally moving the ball around.

    He is just entering his junior year. Jerome certainly improved a lot his last two years. Let’s see how much improvement Smith makes over last year, remembering what a tremendous improvement he made last year over his first year and also during last year from early on through the end of the season.

    Yes, Smith is not flashy, but that does not make him of little value to the team.

    Maybe there is a little relevance in evaluating Brandon, in remembering the story of the tortoise and the hare.