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Basketball: Oregon St. game preview

TIPOFF: 7 p.m. Thursday at Haas Pavilion, Berkeley. TV/Radio: ESPNU/910-AM.

Mike Montgomery didn’t exactly say this week that his team — tied for seventh place and four games out of first place — no longer is playing for the Pac-12 regular-season championship. But he sort of accepted that likely reality.

Asked about a remark by senior Brandon Smith that the Bears need to approach each game with a sense of desperation, Montgomery declined to go with the flow.

“I don’t know why there’s a sense of desperation. We are who we are,” he said at his Tuesday press conference. “We’ve got to finish in the top four. I guess if you’re thinking we’re going to win (the title), maybe there’s desperation.”

Finishing in the top four, of course, lands a team a bye into the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas. Teams that finish fifth or below must play a first-round game, meaning they would need to win four straight to capture the event and the league’s automatic NCAA tournament bid.

“We’ve got to get better,” Montgomery said. “Hopefully that sense of urgency’s there. When you’ve got a chance to win a game, you’ve got to win it.”

Thursday night provides the Bears one of those chances.

Oregon State, after a promising 10-3 run through its nonconference schedule, is 1-6 and alone in 11th place.

The Beavers have played a tough schedule (with games against the top five teams in the league standings) and they have played close games (twice losing by three points or fewer). They played three games without suspended forward Eric Moreland, who averages a double-double.

They also have lost at USC and at home against Washington State.

If the Bears have any designs on making something of the remainder of their season, they need to start with a win over the Beavers.

“Guys on our team are tired of losing. I know I’m tired of losing,” Smith said. “I’m fed up. Our backs are kind of against the wall. We need to start winning some games and winning at home.

“Our next game is very important. That’s a must-win for us against Oregon State.”

Certainly the Bears ought to take OSU — and everyone else — seriously. The Beavers were good enough to beat Washington, and they lost by just six points at Kansas, where most visitors are devoured.

Asked if OSU is better than its record, Smith suggested, “I think that’s the case with most of the Pac-12. Most of the teams are better than they appear. They’re going to be a solid challenge. We’ve got to come out ready and prepared.”

Pac-12 scoring leader Allen Crabbe agreed the Bears are anxious to get on a roll.

“It’s just frustrating: winning and losing, winning and losing,” he said after the loss at Colorado on Sunday. “Get on a winning streak. It’s frustrating playing like this. We’ve got more basketball left.

“Hopefully, we can make the (NCAA) tournament. It’s not like we can’t beat these teams. We have the people to beat these teams, we’re just not coming up with the wins.”

ABOUT THE BEAVERS: Don’t think OSU doesn’t have Montgomery’s attention. ”They’re a good team,” he said. Certainly, they have some good parts, starting with size in the front court and two scorers in Roberto Nelson and Ahmad Starks at the guard spots. “They can cause problems with shot-blocking, they can cause problems on the offensive glass, they can cause problems with their length,” Montgomery said. “They’re a dangerous team.” … Moreland, who missed the Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA games while on team suspension, averages 10.2 points and 10.6 rebounds off the bench, although he plays starter minutes (29.8 per game). At 6-10 with a lively body, Moreland already is No. 2 all-time at OSU with 115 career blocked shots. … Nelson, who has had an up and down career, is averaging 17.4 ppg over the past five. … Freshman wing Jarmal Reid, who has defended Washington State PF Brock Motum and Arizona State PG Jahii Carson, may draw the assignment of chasing Cal’s top scorer, Allen Crabbe. … 6-9 freshman Olaf Schaftenaar, whose older brother Roeland played for the Beavers, has attempted 69 3-point shots and just 14 from inside the arc. Beavers coach Craig Robinson believes his team still can make a late-season push. “I think we’re capable. It gets harder and harder the later you start it,” Robinson said. “You put some of this adversity behind us and start playing well, anything ‘s possible.”

THE SERIES: Cal leads 78-60. The teams split games a year ago, but Cal has won three of the past four meetings.

ETC: At Colorado on Sunday, Justin Cobbs (22) and Allen Crabbe (21) both topped 20 points in the same game for the first time since Nov. 25. Cobbs scored 20 or more four times in the Bears first six games, but hadn’t so again until the Colorado game. That was the first time in four games that the Bears’ two leading scorers both had 20 and the team lost.  … Crabbe now ranks No. 17 on Cal’s career list with 1,310 points. Next up at 1,315 points is Theo Robertson, serving this season as a graduate manager. … OSU freshman Langston Morris-Walker, formerly of Berkeley HS, is coming off a career-best nine points against Washington State, hitting 3 of 4 shots from the 3-point line. He was 1 for 15 from beyond arc prior to the game.

WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays No. 10 Oregon on Saturday at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 1:30 p.m.

Cal (11-8, 3-4 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SG Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 20.0 5.5
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 7.9 6.3
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 7.7 7.1
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 14.7 4.2*
SG Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 6.8 4.9
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 3.3 2.4*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 5.2 3.8
F Bak Bak 6-9 Sr. 1.6 1.3

Oregon State (11-9, 1-6 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
PF Devon Collier 6-8 Jr. 14.5 6.6
C Joe Burton 6-7 Sr. 10.8 6.0
SF Jarmal Reid 6-7 Fr. 2.2 2.1
SG Roberto Nelson 6-3 Jr. 16.0 3.0
PG Ahmad Starks 5-9 Jr. 12.1 2.4*
Key reserves
F Eric Moreland 6-10 So. 10.2 10.6
F Olaf Schaftenaar 6-9 Fr. 4.2 1.1
G Langston Morris-Walker 6-5 Fr. 1.8 0.9

*Assists

Jeff Faraudo

  • Juancho

    Those comments are tedfordian. Cantankerous. And accepting mediocrity.

    I see michigan. Top in basketball. Top recruiting class on football. And tied with us for best public school.

    But the expectations at michigan and cal are 360 degree opposites to quote jason kidd.

    The basketball program is flat. Monty isnt the guy to build Cal into a sweet 16 contender. I want the sane type of energy the michelin man and co are bringing to football for basketball.

    Bird is montys kline.

    But monty is not the guy to lead Cal into the new ncaa bball landscape.

  • Juancho

    Montgomery is a great coach. But recruiting is way more important than that bc guys cant go straight to the nba.

    If basketball was socialist and everyone got the same to start with, mo ty would be excellent bc hed coach guys up.

    But its not.

    The talent teams recruit is more important.

  • SteveNTexas

    Monty sounds like he’s on Valium – he would probably make the same sedated comments when he gets fired – LEts find out soon.

    Juancho we will see who the best team in the country is Saturday when Mich and Indiana battle it out. MI won big tonight but IU gave Purdue its worst loss ever on its home floor 97-60.

  • Gobears49

    Was just thinking the other day of when was the last time Cal had a very good to excellent big man (6’9″ or taller) who primarily played inside. Powe did very well inside, but he wasn’t BIG (heard he was 6’6″ though listed as 6’8. Anderson was something like 6’9″ but wasn’t a full time inside player, playing mostly outside. Kamp probably comes the closest, but he was 6’8″. As far back as I remember, we’ve always been a guard/small forward type of team. Please point out where I am wrong about this.

    BTW, note that the other day Monty was harping on getting better ball movement and good shot selection (which I take to mean getting good looks at the basket). I think he also recently said making sure the players taking shots they can make (but maybe that was an unusual dream). Those items are what I’ve been harping on for a month and a half. Here’s a recent quote he made — “I thought our shot selection was random, thought we panic-shot a little bit,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “The ball was not moving — that’s as simple as I can put it.”

  • David Swartz

    Get real. Cal isn’t going to fire Montgomery. Ever.

  • Mitchie V

    UCLA goes to McHale and beats Arizona. Then loses to ASU and USC.

    It’s a crazy world we live in.

  • rollonubears

    This team is pretty hard to watch. Even with Braun’s teams, we had a chance to beat some of the top teams. This year, we have zero chance at an upset. The games against top teams are unwatchable. Monty will be back next year for sure. If we fail to make the tournament again, I think they’ll have to let him go if he doesn’t retire on his own. Things have regressed, but it’d take 5 more years of this to be “tedfordesque.”

  • Juancho

    Good Cal big men, in addition to Leon Powe:

    Shareef Abdur Rahim
    Solomon Hughes
    Jamaal Sampson
    Amit Tamir
    David Paris
    Sean Marks
    Michael Stewart
    Devon Hardin

  • SteveNTexas

    Mitchie -yes every team has a few upsets each year- except for Cal who hasn’t beaten any top 50 team probably no top 75 team, so the only upset for us is our fans.

    Stanford fans (they beat Oregon last night) are laughing their ass off at us for taking this washed up coach and bragging about it.

  • Gobears49

    Juancho,

    Thanks for the list. I forgot about Devon Hardin, who was the only person from your list who was a good big guy who played primarily inside and played fairly recently. As long as you mention them, I should comment on the rest of your list.

    1. Shareef — played ages ago and did not rely that much on an inside game. Not sure he was 6’9″ or taller but he could have been.
    2. Soloman Hughes — a decent player inside, though his game was defense (i.e. blocked shots). Amazingly, since I think he rarely started for Cal, he had a long NBA career.
    3. Jamaal Sampson — highly touted since, I believe, he was closely related to Ralph Sampson, but I think he only played a year for Cal and did not live up to his reputation.
    4. Amit Tamir — definitely 6’9″ but did not seem to want to play inside and was accused by some, because of it, for playing “soft.” But he could be my favorite Cal payer, perhaps after Jackie Ridgle. When Tamir hit a three, which he did quite often, it was exciting.
    5. David Paris — I think he was the son of Bubba. He wasn’t very good and I doubt he was 6’9″ or taller
    6. Sean Marks — I think he was 6’9″ and his game was inside Not a star player at Cal, but a good one. Had an amazingly long NBA career, like Hughes, considering he was not a star at Cal.
    7. Michael Stewart — very good player, who was probably 6’9″, but played so long ago I don’t remember what type of game he had.

    If this is the entire list of Cal big men who were 6’9″ and relied upon an inside game, it is extremely weak. Of course, we could also add Darrell Imhoff to the list, but he played so long ago you have to be either old to remember him or just know a lot about Cal basketball.

  • clonedoc

    Juancho, don’t forget Al Grigsby although the lack of a better big man was the reason we lost to Greg Ostertag and Kansas in the sweet 16 in ’93 right after we beat Duke.

    I’m all for letting Monty go for all the reasons mentioned above but since it took a few years or so for SB to finally fire Tedford, I’m also not expecting it any time soon. Especially w/ Bird coming next year.

  • Gobears49

    I think we should keep Monty as long as his record is decent for a number of years. Expectations were pretty high for this year, but I think we will, at least, end up with a winning record. If we do, I consider that to be a decent year, especially since we don’t seem to match up well inside, overall.

    Major items I am encouraged about Monty and a bit discouraged about with him:

    1. Encouraged — seems to bringing in one of the best freshman classes next year, maybe the best since the Kidd days. We’re even bringing in, heaven forbid, a decent and legitimate big man (see my comment above about this subject).

    2. Discouraged — I don’t think he disciplines his players enough when they don’t play the way he wants them to. They should know, from his prior actions, that if they don’t do what he says he doesn’t want, they will be immediately benched. Perfect examples of when players should be pulled is when Soloman shoots a three pointer or when Cobbs dribbles the ball around, for a long time, contrary to Monty’s claim that he wants ball movement.

  • Juancho

    Best recruiting class was leon powes.

  • DaveintheHills

    I agree, this year’s team is hard to watch. Not enjoying the inconsistent lack of effort and immaturity at all.

    BUT

    This is the first year under Monty that the team is playing below pre-season expectations. Monty coached us to the first conference championship since the 50s. Chill

  • Gobears49

    Juancho,

    Maybe you could tell us who was in the freshman recruiting class with Leon Powe and that of Jason Kidd. If Lamond Murray and Monte Buckley (or even without Buckley) were in Kidd’s class, Kidd’s class wins hands down.

    Cal’s recruiting class with Patrick Christopher was also very good, maybe comparable, overall, with next year’s class.

  • Gobears49

    Came across this YouTube video while searching for the spelling of Monte Buckley. Ah, the good old days of Cal basketball! A hell of a team — Jason Kidd, Lamond Murray, Randy Duck, and Monte Buckley, plus probably other good players (Anwar McQueen was just OK).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqhYQpalEAg

  • SteveNTexas

    Monty also choked last year with all the talent he could pick. Its not just one horrific year. We lost a bunch of games down the stretch and then played out of the playin game against South Florida. This year we sank further but even last year we had few wins vs top 50 teams.

  • Gobears49

    SteveNTexas,

    Overall, Monty has done a very good job and the future looks a lot brighter, especially if Crabbe stays and we essentially go to a three guard offense. It would be totally foolish to let Monty go. Cal probably is at least in the top three or four in the conference in terms of its overall record versus others during the time Monty has been here (Juancho, it would be great if you filled in here with some stats). You don’t fire a coach like that. Especially with such a great recruiting class coming in next year.