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Basketball: Stanford scouting report

TIPOFF: 6 p.m. Thursday at Staples Center, Los Angeles. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 910-AM. 

Mike Montgomery won’t come right out and say the Bears need a win over Stanford to avoid bad news on Selection Sunday.

But he might sleep better if his team can end its two-game skid with a victory in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals.

“I think another win would help. I don’t know if there’s a sense that it revolves on that,” he said this week. “But I think it would help to get another win, for sure, get 24, get into the semifinals. I would feel a lot better about it.

“We’re just going to go do the best we can. That’s all we can do.”

The Bears will return to the court for the first time since losing 75-70 to the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion on Sunday. That game came on the heels of a 70-57 loss at Colorado the previous Sunday.

Combined, the two defeats left Cal in a tie for second place in the final conference standings.

Asked about his team’s mental state following its first two-game losing streak of the season, Montgomery said, “I don’t know that they’re pleased with the way that they played. We’re just having a hard time playing the way we should in a situation with that much riding on it.

“You look at the tape and there’s just things that you go, `What?’ Just not characteristic of us.”

Three issues are causing the Bears trouble right now:

– PHYSICAL PLAY: Stanford played aggressively from the start against Cal, aware that its numbers would allow them to survive foul trouble. If one guy picked up a couple fouls, he’d be replaced by another.

“They backed us off a little bit,” Montgomery said. “They were very physical early. You knew you weren’t going to get much for free.

“(Andrew) Zimmerman said it best, when he said, `We have nothing to lose.’ They kind of played like that.”

The antidote?

“You have to be very fundamentally sound,” Montgomery said. “You’re hoping that the officials will balance it out a little bit so you can run cuts and do what you’re supposed to be able to do. They’re not going to call very much, but you’re hoping they at least give you a chance.

“You’re just going to have to be sharper in your cuts, your screens are going to have to be better and you’re going to have to finish plays under duress, knowing you’re probably going to get hit. And you’re going to have to be mentally tough.”

– GUTIERREZ’S STRUGGLES: Pac-12 Player of the Year Jorge Gutierrez has made just 7 of 26 shots over the past three games, including a scoreless performance at Colorado. He clearly was frustrated at Stanford, where he had three first-half fouls and more turnovers (4) than baskets (3).

Gutierrez doesn’t have to score big for Cal to excel, but he must return to his aggressive, decisive style that impacts the game at both ends of the floor. He is Cal’s facilitator and when he’s off his game, the Bears are out of step, too.

“He got taken out of the game Sunday, which is too bad,” Montgomery said. “He was ready to go. He would have influenced the game defensively for sure, and probably would have been able to do more offensively. But he was taken out.

“If you have (Gutierrez) and (Allen) Crabbe both shooting the ball and Justin (Cobbs) getting to the basket it makes you a better team.”

Montgomery said Gutierrez’s recent shooting slump is “in his head a little bit.”

Bottom line: “For him, if he plays hard good things are going to happen. If you take him out early like he was, it’s pretty hard to get into a rhythm.”

– FATIGUE: Montgomery talked Sunday at Stanford with Cardinal women’s coach Tara VanDerveer.

“It was interesting. Tara came up to me before the game and said, `I’m being criticized because I’m only playing seven players, but I only have seven players who know how to win,’ ” Montgomery said. “And she’s got a team that’s (No.) 2 in the country. Point is she has other players who are clearly good players, but they’re not capable of playing in that context.”

The Bears have fought depth issues all season, and suddenly they appear to have  just five players they can count on.  Backup point guard Brandon Smith has been inconsistent and the team’s first post player off the bench is Robert Thurman, a walk-on.

Montgomery got so little from his reserves at Stanford he simply couldn’t play them. That put more stress on the starters.

“If it’s fatigue — and it looked like we were tired on Sunday — I’m just going to have to find ways to get guys some rest,” Montgomery said. “Then they’re going to know they’ll get rest so they can play harder when they’re in there.”

MISCELLANY: Cal and Stanford are meeting for just the second time in the conference tournament. In the 1990 quarterfinals, the sixth-seeded Cardinal beat the No. 3 Bears 77-61 at Tempe, Ariz. . . . Stanford is shooting 27 for 55 from the 3-point arc in its past three victories . . . As of Wednesday night, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi still had just two Pac-12 teams — Cal and Washington — projected to make the NCAA tournament field. He listed Oregon as one of the “first four out.”

Cal (23-8, 13-5 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Allen Crabbe 6-6 So. 15.4 5.6
PF Harper Kamp 6-8 Sr. 11.3 5.1
PF David Kravish 6-9 Fr. 7.0 5.7
SG Jorge Gutierrez 6-3 Sr. 12.9 5.3
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 So. 12.8 5.1*
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Jr. 3.1 2.4*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Jr. 3.8 1.8
F Bak Bak 6-8 Jr. 1.9 1.4

*Assists

Stanford (21-10, 10-8 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
PF Josh Owens 6-8 Sr. 11.8 5.7
PF Andrew Zimmerman 6-8 Sr. 3.5 2.2
SG Anthony Brown 6-6 So. 7.6 3.6
SG Jarrett Mann 6-4 Sr. 3.5 3.0
PG Chasson Randle 6-1 Fr. 13.6 3.2
Key reserves
G Aaron Bright 5-11 So. 11.0 3.6*
F Dwight Powell 6-9 So. 5.2 4.5
F Josh Huestis 6-7 So. 5.3 5.0

*Assists

Jeff Faraudo

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Whether Montgomery says so or not we do need a win or Stanford will have the satisfaction of totally ruining our season.

    Rival or not -they stink and are not a top 100 team. Takeoff can get his panties all riled but this is plain and simple if we win a couple of games in the tourney -we should go to the NCAAs -if Stanford beats us again we shouldn’t.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Is this a repeat of a weeka go? Another beatdown from your rival? Will your all Pac 12 DPOY and POY get exposed as a fraud again?

    Looks like its’ Deja vu

  • SteveNTEXAS

    We definitely won’t be getting a beatdown from USC -that’s for sure.

    As for Takeoff the shirt and his negative comments about Jason Kidd- the first line of todays CBS story about Kidd blasting refs (Joey would love this) says “Everyone agrees Kidd would make a great NBA Coach” but take off likes to point to Kidd’s SATs as evidence of something.
    http://eye-on-basketball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22748484/35129194

  • Takeoffthatredshirt

    It’s the Steve and Moren Show. Enjoy the witty banter and insightful in-depth analysis!

    Really, Cal has to win today? Where would I be without that info from your post? Stanford’s RPI is low? How do you possess such insider knowledge? Teach me everything you know Steve.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    What are you blabbering about? Who is “Takeoff”? Daddy knows a PI who told him some interesting things about Kidd.

  • Will

    26 losses on the year LOLOLOL

  • Yoda

    LOL at a USC troll talking hoops. No one associated with that institution should ever discuss basketball. Their coaches are just not good enough at paying players secretly to get anything done.

  • ConcordBear

    Cal has to start playing well tonight no matter what it takes to get in the NCAA’s. It’s march and teams and players have a shot to do something special but only by playing well.
    The game tonight probably will be tight, stanford is deep and has talent. No idea what the Bears will bring tonight. Hoping for the best.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Moren talking about her basketball team in relation to Cal is like Takeoff ( who can’t read links) talking about his relative intelligence vs a real Cal Grad. I like getting him angry – Moren doesn’t take the bait as well.

  • H8sRed

    I like Cal’s chances tonight, provided Greenstein is nowhere near the Staples Center.

  • http://thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    It’s only fair that Stanfurd (or at least the refs) throw this game for us, to get the league a 2nd NCAA bid, just as we (and the refs) threw the big game so the Pac would have a 2nd BCS bowl.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Inspector Clousseau

    Only UCB football players throw in the towel.

    @007 – The Greatest Collapse in College Football History

  • BlueNGold

    You mean the sleazy cheaters men’s team did not throw in the towel this season? How else do you explain their record setting (perhaps the greatest one in College Basketball history) total collapse for the entire season? Was it because they could not cheat and had to play by the rules?

  • http://thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    For the vast majority of us, the end is not instantaneous. It is slow and painful. For many, it will contain moments of panic, as they have never learned to live, and facing death, are unable to embrace the inevitable.

    Sometimes, when I’ve had a tough couple of weeks, when one shoulder or the other is always partially out of socket (as the knot between the two does not allow them enough space to coexist in their correct positions), when sleep has been minimal at best, when the Internet is the sole means of distracting myself, . . . , sometimes during these stretches, a certain troll has the audacity to spew crap in my direction, even though it knows I am already enduring a rather miserable existence.

    I have learned to enjoy these moments, rather than allow them to create negativity within my all too often pessimistic mind. It is simple. I relax my facial muscles and allow my mind (my third eye, if you prefer) to envision the troll’s end, in great fear and unrelenting pain, scared and filled with an emptiness. In those lingering moments of desperation, it will realize what a truly pathetic life it has wasted, it will know how few people care it.

    . . . and after having thrown a fit while reading this comment, having burned a synaptic link to this concept, it will remember me, and know that I am smiling as it suffers.

    Go Bears!

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    For real Clousseau? HAHAHAHA

  • Will

    MoreNCS_are_ignored and sanctioned! troll post blocked

    I still have no idea what nonsense moren keeps posting, but I know he sees this:

    TWENTY-SIX LOSSES. Oh, and no life. LOL!

  • Will

    Did the troll predict a Stanford win? Because if so…OWNED. And now he’ll go crawl into his daddy’s bed and hide.