Basketball: UC Irvine scouting report

 The 24th-ranked Golden Bears begin their fourth season under coach Mike Montgomery with a home opener Friday night against a UC Irvine team that is young and picked to finish near the bottom of the Big West Conference. Cal, in fact, plays nine non-conference games at home and should be a prohibitive favorite in all of them.

Still, there are questions about the Bears. We may not get answers right away, but here are a few issues worth following:

   — Do the Bears have a fourth scoring option, beyond Jorge Gutierrez, Harper Kamp and Allen Crabbe?  Can guard Justin Cobbs, the sophomore transfer from Minnesota, become that player?

   — Can the Bears show Montgomery they will rebound and play defense well enough to compete with the big kids?

   — Can Cal create an inside presence to replace departed senior Markhuri Sanders-Frison? Montgomery notes that MSF was critical to Kamp’s ability to manuever effectively around the basket. He also was a tough rebounder and fierce competitor.

   — Is freshman forward David Kravish ready to make a contribution now?

   — What can the Bears get from junior walk-on center Robert Thurman, the revelation of their trip to northern Europe?

   — Can sophomore Emerson Murray become the Bears’ fourth guard?

ABOUT THE ANTEATERS: Irvine is in its second season under coach Russell Turner, who coached under Montgomery at Stanford from 2000-04, then with him at Golden State in the NBA. The Anteaters were 13-19 last season and have not had a winning season since 2005-06. The team lost five seniors from last year, including their starting backcourt, then saw all-conference forward Eric Wise (16.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg) transfer to USC in the spring . . . Freshmen Collins Woods, Will Davis II and Aaron Wright combined to score 33 points in UCI’s 84-63 exhibition win over San Diego Christian. Irvine also beat Cal Baptist 66-54 in an exhibition.

THE SERIES:  Cal leads 4-2. The Bears won the most recent matchup, 65-57, in Berkeley during the 2003-04 season. Cal is 4-0 against the Anteaters in Berkeley.

MISCELLANY: Coach Mike Montgomery is 3-0 in openers at Cal . . . The Bears have won their past five season openers . . . Cal is 81-5 all-time vs. teams from the Big West Conference . . . Yes, it’s early, but ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi is projecting the Bears as a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament.

TIPOFF: Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. TV: None. Radio: 910-AM.

Cal (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Allen Crabbe 6-6 So. 13.4 5.3
PF Harper Kamp 6-8 Sr. 14.2 5.6
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 So. 5.6 4.4
SG Jorge Gutierrez 6-3 Sr. 14.6 4.5*
PG Brandon Smith 5-11 Jr. 6.4 3.9*
Key reserves
G Justin Cobbs 6-2 So. 2.1** 1.3**
C Robert Thurman 6-10 So. 0.3 0.9
F David Kravish 6-9 Fr. 0.0 0.0

**2009-10 stats at Minnesota

UC Irvine (0-0, 0-0 Big West)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Michael Wilder 6-2 Jr. 9.5 5.7
C Mike Best 6-10 Fr. 0.0 0.0
SG Chris McNealy 6-4 So. 5.0 2.2
PF Will Davis II 6-8 Fr. 0.0 0.0
G Damon Starring 6-3 Jr. 7.4 3.3
Key reserves
G Collin Woods 6-1 Fr. 0.0 0.0
G Aaron Wright 6-3 Fr. 0.0 0.0
C Adam Folker 6-9 Jr. 0.0 0.0


Jeff Faraudo

  • rob bear

    1. It depends on what you mean by 4th scoring option. If Cal wants this guy to score in double digits on certain nights, I think the answer is yes. If you want him to average double digits, I would say no, for there is only one ball and Crabbe, Gutierrez, Solomon and Kamp will get the majority of touches.

    2. Rebounding is a team effort. Defense is a team effort. Crabbe and Solomon are the keys. Everyone else has shown they can play D. It really is up to the sophomores and how much they have developed this aspect of their game. We will know by January.

    3. The Cal inside game will depend on Thurman spelling Solomon and forcing teams to play D in the paint, which will allow Kamp to do his thing. Moreover, it will open up Gutierrez slashing style and Crabbe to bomb from Bancroft Ave.

    4 As far as Kravish and Murray, I would say no at this point but that is okay if Thurman and Cobbs can develop and spell people ahead of them.


  • calfanz

    Any word on Rossi? I have been waiting 24 months! I was so excited to see him excel as a Bear!

  • Jeff Faraudo

    Believe or it not, Rossi is still trying to get healthy. He will not be in uniform tonight and there is no timetable on when he might play.

  • jim crow

    Is it not more judicious to say we are not sure about Murray and Kravish right now?

    Either or both may make valuable contributions.

    I would bet on both.

  • milo

    If Cobbs can average 10-12 ppg that would be huge. Agree that Solomon and Kamp will need some backup. If the front court depth evolves with Thurman and Kavish, Cal can be very good.