Basketball: Mike Montgomery on Bears’ recruiting gem Jabari Bird — `He’s a winner’

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Cal officially announced its three-man basketball recruiting class Thursday, headed by Salesian High five-star prospect Jabari Bird.

“We have watched Jabari grow as a player for a long time,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “He is a legit-size guy that can play both wing positions. He is a scorer. He is a winner.”

The highest-rated player signed by Montgomery at Cal, Bird led Salesian to the Division IV state championship last year, scoring 24 points in a win over Price-Los Angeles.

“When the game is on the line, he makes a play,” Montgomery said. “Jabari is one of the top prospects in America and he is coming to Cal, we couldn’t be happier.”

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Football: Poor results on the field leading to poor recruiting year for Golden Bears

Cal’s worst football season in more than a decade could impact more than coach Jeff Tedford’s future and the financial well-being of the Golden Bears’ athletic department.

The Bears also are taking a beating on the recruiting front, where for years they have been one of the leaders in the Pac-12 Conference.

Two major online sites that track recruiting project Cal’s 2013 signing class will rank among the lower half in the Pac-12. Scout.com has Cal at No. 8 in the conference, No. 47 nationally. Rivals.com envisions a No. 9 Pac-12 rank, No. 53 nationally.

Asked how much the Bears’ 3-8 record is impacting recruiting efforts, Tedford conceded, “That’s always a concern.”

It may get worse by signing day on Feb. 6.

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Here’s a year-by-year look at how Tedford’s recruiting classes rank nationally.


Basketball: It’s official — Jabari Bird signs

Salesian High’s Jabari Bird on Wednesday became the highest-rated recruit Mike Montgomery has signed at Cal.

Bird, who announced the news on Twitter, headlines a Cal class that is expected to also include guard Jordan Mathews of Santa Monica High and Sam Singer of Ransom Everglades School in Miami, Fla. Cal still had not announced the signing of Mathews or Singer as of 6:30 p.m., but tweeted the word on Bird.

Bird, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard and the son of former Cal standout Carl Bird, is rated by Scout.com as the No. 16 prospect in the country while Rivals.com ranks him No. 23. He is considered a five-star prospect on both lists.

Consider that current Cal junior Allen Crabbe, who was the California high school player of the year in 2009-10 and was an all-Pac-12 pick last season, was rated just No. 69 by Rivals.

Scout placed Montgomery’s class as the 19th-best in the country, behind only UCLA (No. 15) and Arizona (No. 17) in the Pac-12. Mathews, a 6-3 shooting guard, is a four-star prospect, rated No. 88 nationally by Rivals.



Football: Barbour, Tedford likely to talk Sunday

Had a busy evening at Haas Pavilion. I talked with Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour during halftime of the Bears’ basketball win over Pepperdine, and she gave me the news that her post-season evaluation meeting with football coach Jeff Tedford won’t wait until Monday.

The two probably will meet Sunday.

Click here for my updated Cal football notebook.

And here’s a transcript of my interview with Barbour:

Talk about what your process will be in determining what Jeff Tedford’s future is:

“This hasn’t gone the way any of us want. The key is going to be what are the solutions to getting it back on track. In college football, there’s not a lot of time to sit around and say, `We’ll get to that tomorrow.’

“We’ve got a football game to play Saturday. We owe it to the young men in this program to concentrate fully on that. As soon as that’s over, I know Jeff will shift his attention to the future, to recruiting and to what are the solutions to get this thing back on track and that’s what he and I will be discussing.”

Do you already have an idea what you will do or do you enter these discussions still with an open mind?

Football to this university is really important. It’s a huge emotional driver, a huge financial driver and in seeking solutions to how to get us back on track, we’ll be really thoughtful. At the same time, again because of recruiting, because of everything, we have to decide what that solution set is very quickly and let’s move in that direction.”

How much more complicated is the decision because of the Memorial Stadium financing situation?

“It’s an important decision, how to put us on the right track for success that the student-athletes in this program deserve, that our community deserves, that Jeff Tedford deserves, that’s important no matter what. Certainly the different economic ramifications around it have always been important.”

Aren’t those considerations even bigger now?

“I think a positive is we have an incredible facility. Do we have to pay for it? Yeah, absolutely. I can’t escape that, and wouldn’t want to.”

There are people who believe you will be reluctant to dismiss Tedford because you extended his contract and might feel like making a change there would reflect badly on you. Your reaction to that:

“My first and foremost driver in any decision that I will make is what’s right for Cal.”

So, can you be clear about your timetable for meeting with Jeff?

“Actually, we’ll probably get together on Sunday and we’ll go from there, however long it takes us. We need to resolve quickly what are the solutions to getting Cal football moving in the right direction.”


Basketball: Pepperdine game thread

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FINAL SCORE: Cal 79, Pepperdine 62. Crabbe scored 24 of his career-high 33 points in the second half and is averaging 30.0 after two games. Cobbs added 23 points and is averaging 22.5. Cal improves to 2-0. Pepperdine falls to 0-2. Bears play Friday at Denver.

10:30 2nd H: Crabbe has 15 second-half points, giving him 22 for the game, and the Bears now lead 60-49. Bak going to the FT line to try to complete a 3-point play. Crabbe sandwiched 3-pointers around one by Cobbs for a 9-0 run that made it 51-39.

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Football: `The first place I will look is in the mirror’ — Tedford on Bears’ 2011 shortcomings

Even before he sits down with Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour next week to discuss his future, Jeff Tedford said he will dissect what’s gone wrong in his 11th season as coach of the Golden Bears.

“The first place I will look is in the mirror. … How can I be better as a coach?,” Tedford said Tuesday as his team prepared for its season finale Saturday night at Oregon State.

Asked if he’s received any assurances from Barbour, Tedford said he anticipates meeting with her early next week. The Bears (3-8, 2-6 Pac-12) will miss playing in a bowl game for the second time in three seasons, so their game vs. the Beavers (7-2, 5-2) is their final chance to make a statement.

Click here to read the rest of my Cal football notebook.


Basketball: Pepperdine preview

TIPOFF: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Haas Pavilion. TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/910 AM.

The Bears take on another non-conference opponent that likely will be a bit overmatched. Cal has more size and experience than the Waves, not to mention a different level of talent.

But there are issues coach Mike Montgomery needs his team to address during the early portion of its schedule. The Bears allowed 19 offensive rebounds in their 78-65 season-opening win over Cal State Bakersfield, after giving up 17 in an exhibition win over San Francisco State.

“Somehow, someway we’ve got to shore that up, got to get people involved,” Montgomery said after the Bakersfield win. “We’ve got some big guys who just stand, do not react well off the floor. David Kravish worked pretty hard, but he was pretty much by himself. That’s a concern.”

The Bears also coughed up 18 turnovers against a Bakersfield lineup that is similar in size to what they will see Tuesday night. “That’s obviously too many,” Montgomery said.

It’s early and this is what these games are for, but Montgomery wants to begin to see some of the sore spots addressed.

“We know we have a long ways to go. We know we have to get better,” he said. “Defensive rebounding allows us to get out on the break. Getting our depth situation solved, so in tough games we have 7-8-9 guys we can win with.”

He may have one more option beginning Tuesday night. Sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow, a transfer from Missouri who was projected as a starter, could see his first action of the season.

Kreklow had foot surgery in early October and is practicing without pain or limitations, Montgomery said. He expects to use the 6-foot-6 wing in a limited role against the Waves.

There were good things in the opener. Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs combined for 49 points on 19-for-28 shooting. Crabbe made all four of his 3-pointers in the first half, when the offense produced 45 points.

“There were some bright spots,” Montgomery said. “The ball was moving, we were finding the open guy.”

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Basketball: Cal State Bakersfield game thread

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FINAL SCORE: Cal 78, Cal State Bakersfield 65. Cal wins its season opener behind 27 points from Crabbe and 22 from Cobbs. Solomon finishes with eight points, nine rebounds. Smith, who injured his shoulder last Tuesday in the exhibition win over S.F. State, started and contributed five points and five rebounds. Freshman Tyrone Wallace had six points, five rebounds and three assists in his college debut against him his hometown school.

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