Cal coach Mike Montgomery liked the way his reserves finished Tuesday night better than the way his starters started.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter much in an 88-53 exhibition win over UC San Diego, but there were plenty of positives and enough that still needs work.
While watching his 24th-ranked Bears stagger out to a 22-15 deficit after a Division II opponent, Montgomery was reminded of a recent practice scrimmage.
“Each time the group of guys who weren’t supposed to be our better players won,” he said. “It was basically the same reason for what you saw the first 12 minutes tonight: We settled for the first shot after the first pass. We didn’t have anybody in the paint.
“As a result, we didn’t get any continuity. One of the things we have to figure out is how to get each other good shots. We were 7 for 23 from the floor at one point. We’ve got to figure that out.”
A few more points of interest:
– Sophomore transfer guard Justin Cobbs scored 17 points, including 16 in the final 7 1/2 minutes of the first half to help the Bears take charge.
“It was exciting,” said Cobbs, who sat out last season after arriving from the University of Minnesota. “I was a little anxious at first. I just had to make sure I put out the effort.”
“Justin’s good,” Montgomery said. “When he focuses and concentrates, he’s a good player.”
– Freshman forward David Kravish had four points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots in 16 minutes off the bench.
“That’s kind of what David does,” Montgomery said. “One thing that’s really impressed us is he’s a guy who gets his hands on a lot of balls. He has a tendency to be in the right place at the right time.”
Can he be a contributor this season? “I don’t think there’s any question,” Montgomery said. He has a pretty good knack of blocking shots. He’s a smart player and he’ll get better and better.”
Kravish seemed content with his first outing. “I thought I played pretty well on defense and rebounding,” he said. “I just put a lot of effort into that. Two things I can control are my attitude and effort. On offense I have to slow down a little bit.”
He also would like to put on some more weight. At 6-foot-9 with long arms, he weighs about 210 right now, up from 195 when he arrived on campus last summer, he said. “I’ve had trouble with it my whole life,” he said of adding weight. In a year or two he’d like to be 230.
– Montgomery wants sophomore guard Allen Crabbe to get the ball in the flow of the offense more often. He shot 6 for 11 and scored 14 points against the Tritons.
“We’ve got to work to get Allen Crabbe shots,” Monty said. “Once he gets going, he’s pretty good.”
– Montgomery was happy with the contributions of junior center Robert Thurman (8 points, 3 rebounds) and sophomore wing Jeff Powers (12 points). Both are walkons with the chance to see some playing time.”
– The Bears used 14 players, but obviously that won’t happen often. How deep a bench would Montgomery like to use? “I don’t have any expectation one way or the other. It seems to me the guys who are contributing on a given night need to play more minutes,” he said.
“I can’t play people that can’t defend. If you go in and you give up eight points because you can’t defend, you’re not going to give up eight and score 20. They’re in charge of their own destiny, really.”
– Freshman forward Christian Behrens played five minutes late in the game before coming out in the final seconds after twisting his knee. “He had torn ACL in high school,” Montgomery noted. “I don’t think it’s that or anything related to that, but it scared him for sure.”
– Redshirt freshman wing, who sat out all last season with lower abdominal issues, was in street clothes at the end of the bench. Montgomery declined to project when he might be able to play.
“Alex is having a tough time,” Monty said. “He has not been able to get physically where he can practice every day. His No. 1 goal is to get healthy.”
– As for his own health, 13 days after undergoing surgery for bladder cancer, Montgomery said he must remember to take things slow for a while.
“I’ve got to be careful. I got a little warning in L.A. that you can’t do too much, too fast,” he said, referring to his trip to Los Angeles for Pac-12 media day last Friday.
“Someone threw a ball yesterday in practice and I kind of naturally leaned down to pick it up. Oh boy, that wasn’t too smart. I don’t know how many stitches I have, but there’s a lot. I won’t be taking any charges during charge drills.”
– The Bears open their regular season Nov. 11 at home against UC Irvine. In the meantime, they should get a serious challenge Saturday when face Saint Mary’s in a closed scrimmage.