Basketball: Coming soon — a challenge

The Golden Bears are 3-0 against teams everyone knew they would beat: UC Irvine, George Washington and Austin Peay.

In each case, the Bears” intensity and experience was too much.

“We’ve come out with some energy and been pretty good defensively,” coach Mike Montgomery said, alluding to the fact that Cal’s three opponents have shot 38.1 percent. “In fairness, I think we’ve been a little bit better than our opponents and our energy has allowed us to take them out.”

It will be tougher beginning Monday, when the 23rd-ranked Bears face Georgia in the CBE Classic semifinals at Kansas City, Mo. The next night, the Bears will play either Notre Dame or Missouri. Every team in the event is unbeaten at this point.

“You’re going to be playing against bigger, stronger athletes. It’ll be a bigger challenge for us, no question,” Montgomery said. “It will be quite a challenge.”

A challenge the Bears want. They understand they need to validate what they’ve done so far, and prove they’re ready to stand toe-to-toe with the big kids.

“We’re definitely looking forward to the opportunity,” point guard Brandon Smith said. “We get to play some top teams. We look forward to kind of showing the nation what we’ve got.”

Cal took cross-country trips the past two seasons to play high-end opponents, and neither went well. 

In 2009-10, the eventual Pac-10 champion Bears went to the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden and lost 95-73 to Syracuse, then 76-70 to Ohio State.

Last season, with a less-experienced team, the Bears beat Temple to open the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.  But they scored just five first-half points in a 57-44 loss to Notre Dame, then lost 68-46 to Boston College.

“When we went to Florida, Notre Dame handled us pretty good. Georgia was there,” Montgomery said. “We know what we’re up against. We’re going to have to be better, longer.”



Jeff Faraudo

  • rollonubears

    the teams in the top 25, except for us, almost all have 220+lb 6’5”+ height players. they all look like nba teams. i’m interested to see how this plays out, too, but when you consider the beefiest guy we’ve had in awhile was msf, and before that, leon powe, to go up against teams with 5 guys all that big makes it pretty tough. we’re going to have to get open shots, and make them. last night the shooting was really bad. other than kravish and jorge, we were bricking everything in sight. a few slam dunks and layups skewed the FG percentage. that’s gotta change. i loved the defensive intensity, though, from top to bottom. and solomon played a lot better last night, too, overall. good luck bears! starting 5-0 would put is at about #15 in the nation, and really set the stage for a great season. splitting out there would be acceptable, too, but we gotta get one win.

  • Yoda

    Nobody plays five guys that big. Most NBA teams don’t play five guys that big at a time.

  • GoldenTrailsDave

    We should beat Georgia on a neutral court if we’re any good. Mizzou would be an altogether different challenge.

    I’m very curious to see how we do next week. The fact that we have trouble defending down low has not mattered thus far.

    Having gone to all four games, I was glad to observe that the team has been improving every single game. Let’s hope this trend continues…

    Go Bears!

  • milo

    Mizzou in K.C. looks really tough. They’re ranked right behind Cal but will be playing essentially a home game. However if Cal pulls that out…gonna be great.

  • covinared

    kravish and Cobbs are looking to be very good additions tp the team.