Not quite a month after undergoing surgery for a broken right foot, Cal senior point guard Justin Cobbs said he is running on a treadmill with no pain and perhaps ahead of schedule in his recovery.
“Everything’s feeling good,” Cobbs said. “Just taking my time.”
Practice begins Sept. 27 and Cobbs wouldn’t speculate on how extensively he will be able to participate at first. But he’s been assured the foot will be stronger than ever after having a screw put in to stabilize the metatarsal bone.
“I feel really good about it. I’m not worried,” he said. “Just stay healthy and stay focused. I should be back 100 percent.”
Cal’s season opens Nov. 8 against Coppin State.
The Bears’ top returning scorer at 15.1 points per game last season, Cobbs injured his foot while coming down with a rebound on Aug. 12 in a San Francisco Summer Pro-Am League game. He had surgery a week later.
He said he first felt discomfort in the foot before Cal’s season-ending NCAA tournament game against Syracuse in March. Doctors examined him and reported he had a minor stress reaction.
But the pain subsided and Cobbs resumed playing in the spring and summer, convinced he was healthy.
“I probably should have paid more attention to the signs, but at the time I had no pain in it for a period of time,” he said.
The injury left Cobbs initially depressed, but he said talking to other players who have experienced the same break convinced him he would come through it.
“I expect to have a big season, improving my game, becoming a leader, and just trying to lead this team as far as possible,” he said.
Cobbs said he broke the same bone in his foot that sidelined guard Ricky Kreklow for most of last season, but that the injuries were different. Cobbs suffered a straight-line fracture which should be secured by the screw, he said.
Kreklow, penciled in as a starter before last season, also is doing well, Cobbs said.
“People are going to finally see Ricky Kreklow for the type of player he is because he’s not going to have to worry about that foot,” Cobbs said. “He’s Jorge (Gutierrez) with a little jumper.”
Gutierrez, who won Pac-12 Player of the Year honors two seasons ago, gave the Bears a high-energy defender.
“Ricky very active. He loves physicality, diving on the floor, getting under people’s skin on defense,” Cobbs said. “That’s what we need.”
Here’s more from Cobbs:
— On sophomore guard Tyrone Wallace: “Tyrone’s looking good. He’s grown a little bit. He’s about 6-5 now. He’s filling out. He’s been working on his jump shot, changed his mechanics a little. I do see an improvement. A lot of it was just confidence. It’s tough during the season to kind of get your confidence going when teams are backing off you. It messes with you mentally. Now, if he’s open, he’s going to shoot it and knock it down with confidence.”
— On post players Richard Solomon and David Kravish: “Richard’s looking really good. He’s still got that big frame, a 40-inch vertical. He’s crazy athletic. He’s got a jump hook, been working on his post moves. David’s put on a lot of weight. His mid-range shot is automatic. His touch is amazing. Those two big guys are going to have breakout years.”
— On freshman Jabari Bird: “Me and Jabari played on the same summer league team. He’s a scorer. He just scores at will. He can get any shot he wants. He’s a knock-down shooter. If you leave him open, it’s going in. He’s very athletic also.”
— On freshman Jordan Mathews: “Jordan plays with a lot of confidence. He can also shoot the ball and has a strong body. He’s kind of like myself in the body, how he can get to the basket. I think he’s going to be effective for us this year.”
— On where the Bears will fit into the Pac-12 race: “I think always at the top, with the talent we have. We’re missing Allen (Crabbe), but it’s not too much of a dropoff with the (five-man freshmen) class we have coming in and Ricky coming back. Depth is a big factor in the improvement this year, having guys that can come off the bench without dropoff.”