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Basketball: Denver game preview

TIPOFF: 5:05 p.m. Friday at Magness Arena, Denver. TV/Radio: Root/910 AM.

This would not be Mike Montgomery’s preference, but against Pepperdine on Tuesday he went stretches in the second half with four out, one in. In other words, he was not happy with his big men.

“Our bigs are not producing at a level that’s satisfactory,” he said after tinkering with four perimeter players on the floor together at times. “That’s  something we’re going have to look at.

“Whether it’s nervousness or whatever, we’ve got to get our bigs finishing around the basket better.”

The Bears (2-0), who face Denver (1-1) on Friday night, got a combined six points from Richard Solomon and David Kravish against the Waves. Solomon shot 3 for 6 and scored six points, but also had three turnovers. Kravish was 0 for 7 from the floor and scoreless. He’s made one of nine shots in two games.

Don’t expect a knee-jerk reaction from Montgomery. Figure the lineup to be the same against the Pioneers.

Asked about Kravish’s early struggles, Montgomery said, “It’s an extremely small sample size. I don’t think he knows exactly where he’s going to get the ball. And he has a tendency to want to rush things. I’m not worried.”

Montgomery believes Solomon still may be rusty after sitting out the second half of last season when he was declared academically ineligible.

“He’s sort of starting from scratch. I expect him to get better,” Montgomery said. “He needs to identify where he’s going to get ball and what to do with it.”

A GOOD START: Sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow, a transfer from Missouri, made good first impression in his debut against Pepperdine. Five weeks after undergoing foot surgery to repair a stress fracture, he provided four points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals in 17 minutes.

“He just gives you a dimension that really helps us because he’s so active,” Montgomery said. “He created a lot of possessions for us. I don’t think anybody on the team didn’t notice that. I saw some smiles.”

Certainly Allen Crabbe was beaming about his new teammate.

“I knew I was always going to be happy playing with Ricky. After tonight, I think it’s going to be pretty exciting after he gets in a rhythm and starts making shots.”

THE SERIES: Cal leads 3-0 all-time, including an 80-59 win at Berkeley last season when Justin Cobbs scored 22 points and Allen Crabbe had 15 for the Bears.

ON THE PIONEERS: Denver has moved from the Sun Belt to the WAC this season after posting a school-record 22 Division I victories a year ago. The Pioneers start two juniors and three sophomores, and have no seniors in their rotation. Gone from last season is Walnut Creek native Brian Stafford, who scored 1,586 career points.

Junior F Chris Udofia, the team’s top player, averaged 14.2 points a year ago but had just nine in the Pioneers’ loss at Cal. … The Pioneers are led by sixth-year coach Joe Scott, who also has coached at Air Force and his alma mater of Princeton. Scott was MVP of the Tigers as a senior in 1987 and later served as an assistant to legendary coach Pete Carril.

ETC: Allen Crabbe needs 10 points to become the 42nd Cal player to score 1,000 for his career . . .  Crabbe is the first Cal player since Shareef Abdur-Rahim in 1995-96 to score 60 points in the first two games of the season. Abdur-Rahim totaled 62 points in the first two games of his freshman and only college season.

WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays Drake in first round of DirecTV Classic in Anaheim, Thursday, Nov. 22. Tipoff is 8:30 p.m. PST.

 Cal (2-0)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 30.0 4.5
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 7.0 7.5
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 2.0 8.0
SG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 22.5 4.0*
PG Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 3.5 3.5*
Key reserves
G Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 4.0 2.5*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 5.0 4.0
G Ricky Kreklow 6-6 So. 3.0 4.0

*Assists

Denver (1-1)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
F Chris Udofia 6-6 Jr. 18.5 6.5
F Blake Foeman 6-7 Jr. 3.0 2.5
SF Royce O’Neale 6-5 So. 7.5 4.0*
SG Brett Olson 6-5 So. 11.5 1.0
PG Chase Hallam 6-3 So. 10.0 5.0
Key reserves
G Nate Engesser 6-3 Fr. 6.0 3.0
G Jalen Love 6-2 Fr. 3.5 1.5
G Cam Griffin 6-3 So. 4.0 2.0

*Assists

Jeff Faraudo

  • rollonubears

    Really sick of solomon and his mopey look after he gets burned, or fouls someone, or gives away a turnover on our own end. He hasn’t improved a bit, and that’s a big problem, especially for someone who doesn’t give 100%.

  • ken1w

    Well, it’s nice having the inside size and strength advantage… :)