Basketball: Bears long road to possible NCAA tournament bid starts with duel vs. UCLA

The RPI computer gave Cal’s basketball team a nice digital bump after its 77-69 upset of then No. 7 Arizona, elevating the Bears from No. 75 to 59 nationally. “I don’t understand all that,” said Cal’s Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12 scoring leader.

By any measure, the Bears (14-9, 6-5 Pac-12) have a steep climb ahead to reach the NCAA tournament. The work starts Thursday at 6 p.m. with a home game against UCLA (18-6, 8-3), which began the week tied for first in the Pac-12.

“We know what we have to do,” point guard Justin Cobbs said. “We go 5-0 at home and see what we can do on the road. We’re pretty confident we can get two on the road: 7-0 and we’re in.”

Perhaps so. And although the Bears have lost four times at Haas Pavilion this season, they do have a favorable schedule to close the regular season, with five home dates and a trip to Oregon next week.

 The real question is, short of winning the Pac-12 tournament and the league’s automatic berth, what must Cal do to reach the NCAAs for the fourth time in five seasons under coach Mike Montgomery?

Click here to read the rest of my story.

Allen Crabbe #23 and David Kravish #45 of the California Golden Bears celebrate after defeating the Arizona Wildcats 77-69 in the college basketball game at McKale Center on February 10, 2013 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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ABOUT THE BRUINS: UCLA features one of the nation’s most productive freshmen classes, led by wing player Shabazz Muhammad, who ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring at 18.5 ppg. Along with Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, the three UCLA rookies have combined to average 42.6 points, 17.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists. … This is just the fifth true road game for the Bruins, who did not play a nonconference game on an opponent’s floor. … Senior Larry Drew II ranks fourth nationally in assists per game at 7.9. … The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in scoring (76.0 ppg) and turnover margin (plus-3.3), but rank 11th in scoring defense (68.4) and last in rebound margin (minus-0.2) .

THE SERIES: UCLA leads 133-100. The Bruins won 79-65 in Los Angeles on Jan. 3, led by 19 points and 12 rebounds from freshman Kyle Anderson and 16 points from freshman Shabazz Muhammad. Allen Crabbe scored 21 for Cal. The Bears have won three of the pasts four meetings and five of the past seven.

ETC: Thursday night’s game is designated the third annual Pete Newell Classic, and former Golden Bears star Andy Wolfe (1946-48) will be honored during halftime ceremonies as recipient of the Pete Newell Career Achievement Award. … Junior Allen Crabbe has moved to No. 13 on Cal’s career scoring list with 1,385 points. Next up: Keith Smith (1987-90) with 1,398. … Coach Mike Montgomery’s next victory will be No. 650 in his 31-year collegiate career. He is eighth among active Division I coaches. … David Kravish, just a sophomore, needs one blocked shot to move even with Lamond Murray for sixth on Cal’s career list. 

WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays USC on Sunday at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Cal (14-9, 6-5 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SG Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 19.8 5.6
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 8.0 6.4
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 7.9 6.7
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 14.6 4.3*
SG Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 7.2 4.7
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 2.9 2.2*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 5.0 3.7
F Bak Bak 6-9 Sr. 1.9 1.0

UCLA (18-6, 8-3 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Shabazz Muhammad 6-6 Fr. 18.5 5.0
PF Travis Wear 6-10 Jr. 11.8 5.7
SG Jordan Adams 6-5 Fr. 14.7 3.7
SG Kyle Anderson 6-9 Fr. 9.4 8.8
PG Larry Drew II 6-2 Sr. 6.5 7.9*
Key reserves
F David Wear 6-10 Jr. 7.0 4.8
G Norman Powell 6-4 So. 6.8 2.3
C Tony Parker 6-9 Fr. 2.5 1.2


Jeff Faraudo

  • gobears49

    What I think should be the starting lineup if Crabbe returns next year. A little taller lineup than this year’s starters and almost the same size as UCLA has now.

    PG — Cobbs – 6’3″
    SG/SF — Crabbe – 6’6″
    SG/SF — Bird – 6’6″
    PF — Kravish – 6’9″
    Center/PF — Soloman – 6’10″

    Reserves –

    PG — Wallace – 6’4″
    SF — Kreklow – 6’6″
    SF — Powers – 6’7″
    PF — Behrens – 6’9″

    Other candidates for possible playing time, and we specifically need more subs in the front court.

    1. Possibly Rooks, Sean’s son, who is 7’1″. I would be nice to also have a seven footer who is productive, like other teams in the league have. He better be a runner as I think we will fast break more next year with Bird.
    2. Our two freshman forwards who hopefully sat out the whole year, which means they redshirted — Rodriquez, 6’9″, and Johnson, 6’7″
    3. The other freshman we have this year, also redshirting who I don’t know anything about, who are Frid, 7’1″ and Galvin, a 6’4″ guard. From the little I’ve read, I think Rooks will play above Frid, but that could always change.
    4. I believe three guys coming in as freshman next year in addition to Bird, who are somewhat highly touted, though I really know nothing much about them.

    I think Monty needs to come up with an offense that spreads the ball around to the three guards so we won’t have a situation like we have this year, where they focus on locking down one player, Crabbe. A potential problem could be too much competition to shoot early, when the guards get their hands on the ball, resulting in bad shots being taken. Anyone reading these blogs knows that I believe in trying to always take open shots and not forced ones, as open look shots should normally result in a much higher shooting percentage than forced ones, which we obviously want.

    BTW, good to see Crabbe thinking Cal can sweep the rest of its league games. But I hope Coach emphasizes you have to win them one game at a time, as the “big picture” will collapse if we lose tomorrow night. Beating UCLA should be tough.