Basketball: Imagine, a break from football

 In the wake of their first defeat of the season — an 81-56 thrashing at the hands of host Wisconsin — coach Mike Montgomery is expecting more from his team.

Not just Sunday, when the Bears face No. 21 UNLV at Haas Pavilion.

But all week in practice.

“It’s one game,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve got some underlying issues weve got to solve. We’ve got to play harder in practice. We’ve got hold ourselves accountable. We’ve got to want to try to improve and find ways to do that.

“We didn’t have a good week of practice. Guys didn’t push themselves. I knew that we were going to be in for it there.”

Wisconsin has lost just 16 games at home since the start of the 2001-02 season, and Montgomery understands that winning in Madison was going to be difficult under any circumstances.

“We go back to Wisconsin at our best, doesn’t mean we’re going to win there,” he said. “There were 17,000 people there. Then the (Big Ten champion) football team showed up — that changed the energy level in the building a little bit.”

The game started poorly for the Bears, then got worse.

“As time went on we kind of fell apart,” Montgomery said. “We weren’t catching balls. We lost a little bit of our energy.”

Allen Crabbe scored 25 points, and no one else did much at all.

Especially the Bears’ two big men. Richard Solomon and David Kravish combined for nine points and eight rebounds.

“We could have been up 8-2 if we had just caught some balls and been a little more attentive to finishing plays,” Montgomery said. “We don’t expect any of our guys to just take it 1-on-1 and make all the plays.

“In trying to run the offense we’ve got to be aware of when the ball’s going to be passed, we’ve got to go get it with two hands, and we’ve got to find a way to finish.”

Montgomery said everyone is responsible for making the offense function properly. Point guard Justin Cobbs, perhaps Cal’s best player the first six games, had seven turnovers and no assists at Wisconsin.

“Some of them were not really his fault, balls that should have been caught,” Montgomery said. “Nonethesss, he has to stay within himself and we have to understand what each of our teammates can do and where they need the ball and it’s his job to get it to them in that position.

“There’s some growth that has to take place. You can’t trick your bigs. The bigs got to see the ball and know there’s a chance it’s coming. Make it easy for them and let them use their size to finish plays.”

So, we asked Montgomery, will his players respond to the defeat with a better effort this week?

“Depends how mature they are,” he said. “It’s not an automatic. There’s always lessons to be learned.”




Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/CalBearsBANG.

Jeff Faraudo

  • ConcordBear

    Want to see more poise from our Bears
    Particularly Cobbs and Solomon.
    Need those guys!
    Get well soon Ricky.
    Go Bears

  • rollonubears

    We need to beat unlv and all will be fine. I had a feeling things would crazy in wisconsin after that big10 championship.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    This team will improve ALL season. I don’t expect us to beat unlv and creighton, even at home, unless Kreklow can play at full speed. If/when this team is fully healthy and they have had some more time to gel, I expect great things. But, this team is not there yet, obviously, as most teams aren’t at this point of the season.

    It’s really too bad that Kreklow’s injury is lingering as he needs to be playing with these guys NOW, to get the feel etc.

    I will be there Sunday…can’t wait!

  • Juancho

    Jeff – if it’s alright with you I might take a couple of days off. The past few weeks have been hectic.

    In Kline’s name, amen.

  • Eric

    We need to win one of these two games. This three game stretch was the most difficult run for us, and losing all three will hurt the RPI down the road when it matters tournament time.

  • SteveNTexas

    Losing all three would mean we basically suck.

  • SteveNTexas

    But here CBS picks us to win:
    “I like UNLV and love Anthony Bennett, but road games against quality opponents are difficult in college basketball, especially early for teams that rely on first-year players. Kentucky learned this when it visited Notre Dame. I suspect the 21st-ranked Rebels will learn the same when they visit unranked California in what will be Sunday’s most interesting matchup outside of whatever NFL game features players who are members of your primary fantasy football team”