A year ago, Harper Kamp averaged 14.2 points per game and scored 33 points in the Bears’ triple-overtime loss to Arizona.
Entering Thursday night’s home game against Colorado, Kamp is averaging 8.8 points. He has totaled 33 points the past four games.
The difference is primarily a role change, a position change this season, coach Mike Montgomery explained. As a junior, Kamp played facing the basket and had the luxury of 6-foot-7, 265-pound Markhuri Sanders-Frison as a low-post, back-to-the-basket complement. Now Kamp is needed to play MSF’s old spot.
Is he happy in the different role?
“Probably not,” Montgomery said, “but he’s such a team guy, such a quality guy. Everybody wants to be the leading scorer.”
The team’s No. 2 scorer a year ago, Kamp is the fourth option this season, with point guard Justin Cobbs providing more of an offensive threat than Brandon Smith did a year ago.
“But,” Montgomery stressed, “his value to our team can’t be measured in anything statistically.”
So what does he give the team?
“Leadership — he takes two charges late (at Oregon),” Montgomery said. “Defensively, I can count him him . . . I don’t really have to explain anything to Harper in terms of, `OK, you’ve got this guy and he does this,’ and he nods his head and that’s pretty much that.
“That’s invaluable to have guys who can do that. To have the kind of the guy who understands what’s going on and what needs to be done is really, really important.”
No one appreciates Kamp’s value more than the guy currently playing his old spot — freshman David Kravish.
“Harper is probably the smartest player I’ve ever played with. He’s always there to pick up one of my mistakes,” Kravish said. “I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten beat and Harper will come up and there will be a charge. Or Harper will come over and the guy will have to pass it out. Little things like that.
“He’s just always doing the right thing, always helping out the rest of the team. He just keeps it flowing. Coach says he’s like the brains of the operation. It’s really valuable having him on the court.”
Scoring aside, Montgomery said the Bears need Kamp to do other things.
“He was upset after the Oregon game, feeling like he didn’t play very well,” Montgomery said, referring to Kamp’s four-point, zero-rebound performance on Sunday. “It’s probably our responsibility to get him more involved (in the offense). At the same time, rebounding-wise, that’s something he can do on his own. He knows that.”
ABOUT THE BUFFALOES: Montgomery said he’s not surprised by the success Colorado has had, despite losing four starters and most of its scoring from last year’s team. “No reason to be surprised. Tad’s done a very nice job. He’s got a veteran job. He’s got three senior starters that have been around,” Montgomery said. “They’re very solid. They probably have spread their scoring out a little bit more. They’re running the same stuff basically, they’re tough, they know what they’re trying to do, they’ve got point guard leadership.” Defensively, the Buffaloes play primarily man-to-man. “Good help-side defense. and they’re pretty physical,” Montgomery said. “Again, they’re veteran so they know what they’re doing.”
Senior Carlon Brown,who began his career at Utah, is the second-leading scorer in conference play at 18.7 points per game. Sophomore Andre Roberson has nine double-doubles, 14 for his career. And guard Spencer Dinwiddie is the third-highest scoring freshman in the Pac-12 at 11.1 ppg and is shooting 48.8 percent from 3-point range.
THE SERIES: Cal leads 9-8. Colorado has won the past three meetings, including a 89-72 last season in the second round of the NIT in Boulder. Cal returns every player who scored in that game; Colorado lost 66 of 89 points to graduation or departure to the NBA.
MISCELLANY: Allen Crabbe ranks 11th in the NCAA in 3-point accuracy at 47.6 percent . . . Cal is sixth nationally from beyond the arc at 42.8 percent . . . Colorado is second in the Pac-12 in 3-point FG defense at 32.5 percent . . . Colorado freshman guard Askia Booker attended Price HS in Los Angeles, the same school that produced Crabbe and Richard Solomon . . . Colorado’s Brown is the Pac-12’s active career scoring leader with 1,066 points. Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez is third with 1,041 points, and now 36th on Cal’s career list.
TIPOFF: 8 p.m. Thursday at Haas Pavilion. TV: CSNCA. Radio: 910-AM.
Cal (13-4, 3-1 Pac-12)
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||So.||16.5||6.1|
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Sr.||8.8||4.9|
|PF David Kravish||6-9||Fr.||5.9||5.8|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Sr.||14.9||5.1|
|PG Justin Cobbs||6-2||So.||12.9||4.7*|
|G Brandon Smith||5-11||Jr.||4.1||3.2*|
|F Richard Solomon||6-10||So.||6.4||6.6|
|C Robert Thurman||6-10||Jr.||2.3||1.2|
Colorado (11-4, 3-0 Pac-12)
|PF Austin Dufault||6-9||Sr.||10.9||4.7|
|SF Andre Roberson||6-7||So.||11.3||11.7|
|SG Spencer Dinwiddie||6-5||Fr.||11.1||3.7|
|SG Carlon Brown||6-5||Sr.||14.1||3.3|
|PG Nate Tomlinson||6-3||Sr.||6.3||3.4*|
|G Askia Booker||6-1||Fr.||8.8||3.0|
|C Shane Harris-Tunks||6-11||So.||2.9||2.6|
|G Sabatino Chen||6-4||Jr.||2.5||1.2|