The Cal basketball team makes it debut Thursday night with a 7 p.m. exhibition game against Humboldt State.
Coach Mike Montgomery welcomes back four starters from last year’s 21-win team that reached the third round of the NCAA tournament. The Bears also feature a five-man freshman class, headed by local standout Jabari Bird.
“We scrimmaged Saturday and I wasn’t very pleased. We didn’t play hard enough,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got a lot of new people and some of them were nervous, playing against somebody else. There’s just an adjustment.”
Montgomery said that senior point guard Justin Cobbs, the second-team all-Pac-12 pick who had foot surgery during the summer, is feeling good.
“He’s been going fulltime, been getting better every day,” Montgomery said. “We’ve kind of forgotten that he missed about four months. I don’t think his timing is as good, but he’s getting better every day.”
Bird, a 6-foot-5 wing high school All-American from Salesian-Richmond,
“We need him to be good — he’s got talent. But he’s confused with all the offensive stuff we’re doing,” Montgomery said. “I tell him, `You’ve got to play hard, take good shots and start to figure out what those are for you.’ I think he will do that.”
Montgomery is encouraged by the team’s backcourt depth, but a little less confident about big men off the bench. He said freshman 7-footer Kameron Rooks is progressing, but not ready to make a significant contribution.
In the meantime, he said Ricky Kreklow and freshman Richard Moute a Bidias could slide inside from their wing positions in what would become a small lineup.
Humboldt State, a member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association, finished 11-15 overall last season. Two of the Lumberjacks’ top returning guards — Austin Bryan and Ethan Dillard — sustained season-ending injuries earlier this month.
The Cal women, ranked No. 9 in the preseason USA Today coaches poll, plays an exhibition game Friday night at Haas Pavilion against NAIA powerhouse Vanguard.
Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m., following the Cal women’s volleyball team facing off against Pac-12 rival USC.
The Cal women’s hoops team also will hold an open practice Sunday, beginning with team introductions at 11 a.m.
The Bears open their regular season on Friday, Nov. 8 against Long Beach State in the first game of a doubleheader capped by the men’s team playing Coppin State.