McNeese State pays a visit to Haas Pavilion on Monday night, and the outcome shouldn’t be much different than Saturday, when the Bears breezed past Denver. The teams and their styles will be different, but don’t expect the Cowboys to provide the Bears much more of a challenge than the Pioneers did in an 80-59 Cal win.
This is about the Bears continuing to hone what they do and preparing for their next real test: Sunday at San Diego State.
The Aztecs won’t trot out the kind of talent and quickness Cal saw in its 39-point loss to Missouri, but they are a high-level team with a 7-1 record. Also looming larger on the nonconference docket is a Dec. 23 matchup at UNLV, which is unbeaten and coming off a 10-point win over No. 1 North Carolina.
There are some serious games remaining on the Bears’ preconference schedule, and that’s a good thing. Much of the Pac-12 will fatten up in December on schedules that will not challenge them much. Coach Mike Montgomery and his Bears will have a pretty good idea how they measure up by their Dec. 29 conference opener vs. USC.
The Bears patched up their psyche a bit at the expense of Denver, and are feeling better about themselves a week after the loss to Mizzou.
“We just took it as it’s early in the season. We took it as we’ve got a lot of things to work on still,” sophomore Allen Crabbe said after the Denver win. “I’m pretty sure we’re OK now. We’ve just put it behind us.”
Sophomore guard Justin Cobbs, who scored a career-high 22 against Denver, said it took a couple days to shake off the Missouri hangover.
“It’s funny, because me and Allen happened to be roomates in Kansas City. After the game, we really didn’t even talk. He went with his mom and I went to the room and that’s not usual,” Cobbs said. “We were all just frustrated and we couldn’t believe it happened. The next day, it felt like something was wrong.
“Just thinking about it, we lost, we kind of got embarrassed out there. It just wasn’t a good feeling.”
Cobbs said the team was on the right road again by Thursday when it gathered for a Thanksgiving meal.
Montgomery said he could have left his starters on the floor against Missouri to make the final score less one-sided, but that wouldn’t achieved much.
“As I said, Missouri’s good. I felt bad a little bit in that the final score looked so horrible,” he said. “I’m sure it did rattle our confidence a little bit in terms of we didn’t make shots. We were getting shots, we just weren’t making them.”
ABOUT THE COWBOYS: McNeese was 21-12 last year, the school’s first 20-win season in nine years. The Cowboys were regular-season champs in the Southland Conference and played in the NIT. They’re expected to be among the better teams this season in the Southland, aided by transfers Will Brown from New Mexico and Rudy Turner from Louisiana-Monroe. The team’s top player is senior wing Patrick Richard, named the preseason conference player of the year by Athlon and Lindy’s magazines . . . Two of the Cowboys’ three wins so far came against non-Division I opponents and the third was a five-point road win over Sacramento State on Saturday . . . McNeese is not shooting the ball well yet this season, converting just 24.5 percent from 3-point range and 63 percent from the foul line . . . They have decent size and are forcing opponents into 16.2 turnovers per game.
THE SERIES: First meeting.
MISCELLANY: Sophomore post Richarad Solomon had his right eye scratchd in the win over Denver, but said he expects to play Monday. It’s the same eye that was poked during the Bears’ summer trip to northern Europe. Montgomery said Solomon would try to see a doctor on Sunday . . . Freshman David Kravish played limited minutes against Denver, unfamiliar with the Pioneers’ complex offense . . . McNeese State coach Dave Simmons is a member of the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame, having scored 1,563 career points at Louisiana Tech. He also helped coach Karl Malone during his time as an assistant at La Tech.
TIPOFF: 7:30 p.m. Monday at Haas Pavilion, Berkeley. Radio: 910-AM.
Cal (5-1, 0-0 Pac-12)
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||So.||13.3||5.5|
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Sr.||10.0||6.0|
|PF Richard Solomon||6-10||So.||6.2||6.8|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Sr.||12.7||5.2|
|PG Brandon Smith||5-11||Jr.||7.5||3.0*|
|G Justin Cobbs||6-2||So.||11.5||3.7*|
|F David Kravish||6-9||Fr.||5.5||5.7|
|G Emerson Murray||6-3||So.||2.0||0.7|
McNeese St. (3-2, 0-0 Southland)
|PF Will Brown||6-9||Jr.||3.6||4.6|
|SF Patrick Richard||6-4||Sr.||15.2||6.0|
|C Rudy Turner||6-9||Sr.||9.0||8.0|
|SG Jeremie Mitchell||6-3||Jr.||13.4||2.8|
|PG Dontae Cannon||6-1||Jr.||9.0||3.4*|
|F Adrian Fields||6-5||So.||5.4||2.4|
|F Craig McFerrin||6-7||Fr.||4.3||2.8|
|C Daniel Richard||6-9||Sr.||3.2||3.0|