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Basketball: Syracuse pulls away from Cal, but Golden Bears earn respect of Boeheim

UPDATED

Ultimately, short-handed Cal could not hold off No. 8 Syracuse, which took charge in the second half and claimed a 92-81 win in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.

The Bears (5-1) will play in Wednesday’s third-place game against Dayton (5-1), which lost 67-66 to Baylor in the other semifinal.

No one was more impressed by the Bears than Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose club beat Cal 66-60 in the NCAA tournament at San Jose last March.

“First of all, we saw just a different team. I thought watching Cal yesterday that their team this year is much better than last year’s team,” Boeheim said.

“I thought they battled their tails off, and it took a long time for us to get a solid run out of the offensive end. They were unbelievable today.

“I didn’t even know how good until I looked at the stat sheet. I knew they were pretty good, but they were better. It was a really good battle.”

The Bears played without senior forward Richard Solomon, sidelined by a corneal abrasion to his right eye that he suffered the day before in Cal’s win over Arkansas.

Cal forward David Kravish, who had 15 points before fouling out in the final 3 minutes, came away feeling just as impressed by his team as Boeheim was.

“Yeah, I agree a hundred percent. We’ve got a fire and tenacity in us this year,” he said. “As opposed to last year where we were taking a couple games for granted where we had a few in a row.

“I think we are ready and focused on each individual game and where is this bringing in all of our energy and all of our heart.”

No argument from senior point guard Justin Cobbs, who had 18 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals.

“I’d just like to say I’m proud of my team. I like the way we fought without our big guy, Richard Solomon,” Cobbs said. “I think we played hard and gave them everything we wanted. Just couldn’t pull it out at the end.

“All credit to them. They played hard. I’m just proud of these guys and we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

Cal and Syracuse were even at 41-all at halftime, but the Orange (6-0) surged into control when Kravish went to the bench with his fourth foul midway through the second half.

Cal’s freshmen delivered big performances, starting with Jabari Bird, who scored 17 points.

“I just think Bird is one of the better freshmen composure-wise that I’ve seen,” Boeheim said. “And he gives them a really steady guy. It’s just such a different team.”

Freshman Jordan Mathews came off the bench to score 12 points and seldom-used Kameron Rooks added five points.

“It’s really encouraging today because we had some freshmen who plays who haven’t normally played,” Kravish said. “So when you’re going up against No. 8 in the country and you’re playing some freshmen who haven’t been playing, you might expect them to really step up and play great. So it’s super encouraging and really looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Cobbs also was pleased with the rookies.

“They came in and stepped up, weren’t afraid, and played with a lot of heart and confidence,” he said.

Coach Mike Montgomery said there were some lapses, especially on defense, but was willing to look at the big picture, too.

“I’m proud of our guys. There are some things that I really like about this group in terms of their fight,” he said. “We just have to understand that you have to be better than a team like this.”

Cal shot 52 percent from the field but just 6 for 21 against Syracuse’s rangy 2-3 zone defense and had 13 turnovers. The Bears had their best success scoring in transition before the Orange was able to set up its defense.

Syracuse shot 53 percent from the field and made 23 of 24 free throws.

Cal is 0-3 all-time vs. Syracuse, including a 66-60 loss in the NCAA tournament last year at San Jose.

Jeff Faraudo

  • Eric

    Solid effort with an undermanned team. Game turned on Kravish’s third foul call. But the effort against a very strong, tall, and deep team bodes well for league play. We need a second guard who can slash.

  • SteveNTexas

    We kept it pretty close- Syracuse is a good team. had we won we would have been ranked.

    I don’t usually buy injuries as an excuse (cept in Green Bay’s case this year) but its clear Soloman would have helped.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    It wasn’t quite the Syracuse of the past few years, but WE COULD FINALLY SCORE AGAINST THEIR ZONE! It took 3 matches in 3 years, but that is something to be very pleased about. Cal will not face a better zone D scheme all season, and should be able to work the ball against them now.

    OTOH, since when does Syracuse convert 23 of 24 free throws?!?!?

    I was very pleased with the performance today. I really like how Mathews stepped up against a very good defense.

    But I will lament on the lack of depth. This team, with just a few more quality players, would be able to compete with anyone. It looks better than previous years, should Solomon return, but it still is a player or two from championship level play.

    It will be huge to come back and win tomorrow against another quality team.

    I love that we play a a strong schedule.

  • Gobears49

    For the second game, Kreklow played a better game than Wallace. Kreklow is a much better shooter, a much better free throw shooter, and plays under much more control. Both are about the same on defense and rebounding. Between the two, Wallace probably has more upside, but until he fixes his shot (it certainly looks better than last year), bur he does not deserve to start over Kreklow. He certainly should not be shooting 3′s.

    Hope Soloman is back tomorrow. He is playing great and really is a leader on the team. I said earlier that he and Kravish could be the best big man tandem in the league (have to see the other teams’ big man before I can make a final judgement on that). Kravish is starting to show an outside shot, which I now believe, for the first time, could give him a chance in the NBA. The last skill he needs to learn is how to drive, but he has another year to learn that. Stanford’s senior Dwight Powell, 6’10,” can do that. Saw him last night against Houston and was impressed. But he may lack skills that Kravish has.

  • Crawford

    Wallace is a turnover waiting to happen, I’m wondering when he is going to realize that Bird is a better shooter than him and pass him the ball

  • 1brsfan

    I agree that Wallace is a TO machine. He’s the Smith of this team. Every time he has the ball I cringe expecting the worst. Kreklow should start in his place until Wallace learns to take care of the ball and takes better shots.

    A solid game today. I would have liked to see us at full strength but we played respectable against a good team. If we can get by Dayton tomorrow it will be a fruitful trip.

  • Wehofx

    Haven’t seen dvr or stat sheet yet but tw a turnover machine? sophmore slump? Hoping he had a bad game because he tried to overcompensate for solo’s absence.

    sounds like we might have a team with Heart and stones!

    RPI

  • Ondal

    For all the kreklow lovers,
    Nobody except cobbs can slash like Wallace can. Nobody can move as quickly
    in transition as Wallace can. He is a baller and brings raw athleticism and hustle that is different than kreklows type of game. He is opportunistic as heck but we have just not seen the opportunities as of yet. Why else would Monty start a guy who shoots 25% from 3 and 50% from the line?

  • Rollonubears

    So the officiating was finally fair? Seemed like cause got a ton of freebies, but if they called a fair game, id be happy. Didn’t get a chance to watch.

  • Rollonubears

    Btw, if his corneal abrasion is anything like the one I got when I was 10 playing butts up, it’ll be a couple weeks.

  • Gobears49

    Ordal,

    Agree that Wallace has some good attributes that are better than Kreklow’s. But overall, and especially in the last two games, he is killing us with his poor shooting, both the field and especially from the line. Also, he has taken the crown from Cobbs from last year in driving the lane when he is out of control. Most times when that happens he is bailed out by being fouled, as I doubt he would make the shot under those circumstances.

    I have consistently said that Wallace has more upside than Kreklow, because of his overall athleticism. I have even said Wallace could make the NBA (never had said that about Kreklow) if he learns how to shoot (and it seems he has corrected how he shoots, which I heard, indirectly, from a pro scout that he needed to correct). He just needs to get the ball in the hole, which he has not done recently. If he just could make a decent percentage of his free throws I’d suggest he start. But when he’s killing us from the line as well as the field, it’s time to make a change until he shows, when he comes in in relief, that he’s over that. Kreklow is a very solid player, probably should shoot more, and is a very good defender. He’s about the same size as Wallace. I think he should start now.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    TY Ondal.

    Rollon, I was thinking about “butts up” the other day, wondering if it was a local Bay Area game, or if other young idiots put themselves through it across the country, and if so, how the hell does such a masochistic game spread among pre-teens.

  • Rollonubears

    Wisdom, check out the wiki page. Apparently started in the 40s. Probably from post war aggression. Dads probably mention it in passing and kids go right out and mimic. We used to play it all the time, until a ball went under my legs, ricocheted off the garage and scratched my eye. I feel for sol. He should wear goggles if he can.

  • rotfogel

    It’s so nice to see a good team play. I realize how negative I’ve been towards Cal athletics, I guess I just wanted our football team to not be the worst in the history of Cal football.

    I really like the basketball team, they’ll be winning quite a few big games this year. They’re exciting, somewhat athletic and it appears they do indeed have a fire in them.

  • Juancho

    Never in my life have I heard of this Butts up game.

  • Juancho

    Jeff shouldn’t Sandy be fired for not fielding a competitive Butts up team at Cal, when we are so clearly a hot bed for this ever growing sport?

    I’m tired of losing top Butts up recruits to other teams.

  • Eric

    Butts up was a game we played in SoCal back in the early 1980s.

  • rollonubears

    the way we played it was basically just playing handball against the garage. if you got knocked out 3x, you had to hunch over and let everyone take one throw at your rear, as hard as they could, from 60′ away. we used a tennis ball. after the winners got their throw, the score reset and you play hand ball again. it was pretty awesome, except for getting hit on the ass.

  • wehofx

    Count me as someone whose never heard of Butts Up. wtf? I assume it’s a contact game and thus the compairison to solo’s injury?

    Matthews minutes went from 8 to 22. Rooks went from 0 to 15 ish(?). Glass half full: Losing Solomon for a coupla games might be a blessing in disguise. Rooks will soon be good for 10 to 15 Thurminator-like minutes.

    Still haven’t seen dvr but sounds like Wallace is going through the same growing pains that J Randle and J Cobbs went through in their 2 and 3 years. Even B Smith finally got his game back second half of last year. We don’t make last year’s late season run without B Smith’s 12 to 15 minutes.

    Athletes like Wallace trying to do too much is the good news/bad news of being a fan of college hoops.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    The version of Butts Up we played in middle school was vicious. However many played, if you ended up against the wall, everyone got a free throw from about 10-15 feet away. Of course, it did mutate into Nuts Up at some point, where you had to face forward. Only the bravest played Nuts Up. I can gladly say I was not brave enough to play that version.

    Anyways, back to basketball. Huge game today against another likely Touney team.

  • Raf

    There are no moral victories. Coaches/Players always commend their opponent when they beat their tail, partly because they are really patting themselves on the back. Quality teams stay strong even when a player or two go out. There’s going to be many times when Soloman/Kravish get in foul trouble, when they either leave our team’s chances falls off a cliff. The Pac-12 and the rest of college basketball is better this year than it has been in a long time.

  • Jeff Faraudo

    I have decided with withhold all comments (and jokes) about “butts up.” Everyone have a great Thanksgiving!

  • mitchie v

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Jeff and the rest of these comedians!

  • wehofx

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jeff! Your work is much appreciated.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all the brothers and sisters here on BTB!

    FF’d through cuse game.

    This team can BALL! Versatile O going from Ark’s 40 minutes of hell – man to cuse’s 2-3. The ball is really moving.

    Everyone rebounds. Excellent D. Man and zone.

    Looking to be a real 8 man rotation – 9 if Rooks starts getting consistent minutes.

    (For what it’s worth) Twitter: Solo is “Questionable” for today’s game.

  • Ray Finkle

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and Jeffrey. I’m watching Cal/Dayton, first time I have seen Cal this year, and they just look like a solid team with good chemistry. Let’s hope for a great year.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    This is horrible. The players have clearly not recovered from yesterday, and are not showing any composure. Monty is going to need to lay into them at halftime.

  • Ray Finkle

    Ya it sorta fell apart

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Lazy turnovers and bad transition D is all about a lack of will. Poor showing. Even Cobbs is turning it on but then going to sleep.