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Basketball: A loss that could be costly

By Jeff Faraudo
Friday, December 6th, 2013 at 10:48 pm in Basketball, Gameday.

The Cal basketball team lost for the first time on the mainland Friday night, falling 72-65 at UC Santa Barbara.

It was the Bears’ first defeat in 11 games against the Gauchos and only their their fifth in 76 games against teams from the Big West Conference.

The outcome could prove troublesome for Cal (6-3), whose previous two defeats came at the hands of Syracuse and Dayton at the Maui Invitational.

The Gauchos, who gave UCLA trouble three days earlier, aren’t a bad team. But come March, the NCAA selection committee may look at this as a bad loss.

Cal led 28-27 at halftime before UCSB junior forward Alan Williams scored 15 of his team’s first 19 points after the break, helping the Gauchos forged a 60-49 lead. Cal got within 66-62, but no closer.

Williams finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

“He played like a man on a mission in the second half,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “Obviously this was huge for (UCSB) to beat a Pac-12 school at home. We didn’t step up, and they did.”

Freshman Jordan Mathews scored a career-high 22 points to lead the Bears. Justin Cobbs added 13 points and eight assists, Richard Solomon had nine points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 3 for 11, and David Kravish had 12 points.

Freshman Jabari Bird had perhaps his toughest game of the season, totaling four points.

The Gauchos shot 51 percent, including 59 in the second half. Cal made just 36 percent of its shots.

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  • Gobears49

    See the discussion thread started on the previous Cal basketball article just before the UCSB game concerning whether Cal’s first games should be toughened up to better prepare against later opponents who are tougher, especially teams Cal plays in its league schedule.

  • SteveNTexas

    The “entree” in previous thread talks about Montgomery being one of the best coaches of all time.

    Losing to UCSB is a poor desert.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    GB49, where have you been? The Cal Basketball schedule has been getting stronger and stronger the past several years, Maui Invitational, Pre-Season NIT, not mention the Big 12 Challenge. Cal does not have the luxury of UCLA’s or AZ’s reputation to get whatever match ups it wants on the schedule.

    Sure there is room for improvement, but not by much. Until other programs want to put Cal on their schedule, it is not like you can just call up every perenial top 25 team and demand a meeting.

    And the local games are musts for expenses purposes. This is where I believe things can improve with more regular games against the locals, some of which are fairly strong, possibly some type of local tourney. Teams like St. Marys should be on the schedule on a yearly basis.

    Anyways, this loss is a huge let down after “toughening up” in Maui.

  • Dan

    You know what happened last night? Cal got KABAM-ed!!

  • SteveNTexas

    Wisdom is correct Cal has had a tougher schedule as of late. I remember Braun was famous for cupcakes and when I first soured on him fans would state his great won-lost record.

    Speaking of former coaches Todd Bozeman is 1-7 this year at Morgan State. I must confess I thought Bozeman was the greatest thing since Newell. With Kidd, Grey. Abdur Raheem and what seemed to be an endless supply of upcoming recruits -it was my only time as a Cal Fan that I really felt we were on the verge of being an elite team. OH well it wasn’t the first time I was wrong.

  • Gobears49

    Wisdom Cow,

    Neither you or I know whether or not top 25 teams want to schedule Cal. I just think that a slightly tougher schedule would help us somewhat in the long run. I think a good team from the East would be willing to come out to Cal if they could schedule two good games out here, which low ranked teams, like Oakland, have done. Also, an additional road game in California, rather than at home, like the game at UCSB last night, wouldn’t cost much and would further toughen us up.

    One idea I have been kicking around, which probably wouldn’t toughen the schedule that much, is to replace two of the earliest game and have a four team tournament at the start of the year from the following local schools — Cal, Stanford, St. Mary’s, San Jose St., Santa Clara, and USF. Teams would rotate in and out of the four team tournament over the years, playing in it two-thirds of the years. Would be good for local basketball interest and would generate big crowds compared to the likely poor attendance at all of these schools at the start of the basketball season. Cal and Stanford would have the most to lose in a tournament like this by playing teams that don’t have as good a reputation as they do, but so what?

  • Uh Huh!

    That’s a good idea of having local teams in a locally repeating tourney.
    You couldn’t have similar conference teams in it, however.
    Pac12 = Cal/Stanford would have to alternate years.
    WCC = St. Mary’s, Pacific, USF, Santa Clara.
    Big Sky = Sac St., and other Far West but non-Calif teams.
    Big West = UC Davis, UCSB, UCI, UC Riverside, Long Beach St., Cal Poly, Northridge.
    Mtn West = SDSU, San Jose St., Fresno St., Nevada, UNLV, etc.
    WAC = CSU Bakersfield, and other Far West but non-Calif teams

    That’s 6 conferences. Get two other teams and you have an 8-team tournament. Host the thing in Oakland or SF annually with Cal and Stanford alternating years. Get at least one other BIG name school to be on the other side of the bracket so that Cal/Stanford are designed to meet in the championship game.

    That could be cool!

  • Uh Huh!

    Gobears49:
    Rather than a slightly tougher schedule being the missing ingredient, I suggest slightly improved RECRUITING. Ehh, hem!

  • Gobears49

    Uh Huh!,

    I think the recruiting is sufficient except for Cal not getting enough good big men. I have been saying that for weeks and have recently suggested that we look again to the JC ranks, like we did to get Sanders-Frison a few years, to get someone who can make a good impact immediately. Developing most big men as freshmen takes two years whereas guards and small forwards seem to adopt to the college game quicker.

    Regarding your tournament idea, I don’t think bringing in schools from out of the area makes sense and dilutes the excitement of just having Bay Area teams in it.

    Note that the Philadelphia area runs a yearly tournament for just local teams similar to what I have suggested. It’s called the Big 5 championship, where all five teams (Penn, La Salle, St. Joseph’s, Temple, and Villanova) play the other in round robin matches – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_Big_5 There are too many teams (six) to do a round robin tournament, but a possible alteration of my idea to involve all six is to have four teams play in play-in matches to get the filed down to four team, but I’m sure there would be a lot of acrimony in deciding who would play in the play in game – I’m sure there would be a lot of howling if Cal and Stanford were given automatic exemptions to make the final four every year. Also, while the location of play-in games could be at one of the schools playing in those games, all of the semifinal, final, and third place games would have to be at the same venue, which might not even be the home floor of any of the final four teams. Thus, getting Oakland to host all of the games makes sense, which will be made easier once the Warriors move (if they move0. Games could easily be played on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday even if they are not all played in Oakland, since all teams would be geographically close to one another.

  • SteveNTexas

    Gobears you must have low standards. Rivals, ESPN Scout all rank the 2014 classes – at least the Top 30 or 40. Stanford and Arizona are in the Top 10 in some of those surveys. San Diego State is up there as well.

    Cal didn’t make the cut on any of them.

  • SteveNTexas

    To be fair Cal did have a small class just 2 recruits – one is ranked 3star and the other 4 star. Stanford had 4 recruits all 4 stars. 24/7 Sports ranked us 48– nothing to brag about but better than football.

  • Gobears49

    SteveNTexas,

    I said our recruiting has been sufficient except we have not getting enough good big men. You are correct in your second comment that we are ranked low because so far we only have two verbals (I think) for next year’s class.

    Maybe other schools have the same problem, but we almost always seem to be short-handed on having enough big men. Big men seem to take longer to develop (compare the progress this year of Mathews vs. Rooks), so I think Cal should make a concerted effort to include in each year’s recruiting class at least one JC transfer who is ready to play right away, like Sanders-Frison was a few years ago. It desperately needs to be done for next year, as we will only have one proven player who is big, Kravish. I’m sure others on this blog agree that is not enough.

    Cal needs at least three skilled big men on its roster to compete at the highest level. I don’t think we can count on the big freshman coming in next year to fulfill that role and I have my doubts that Rooks will fulfill it next year either, though he will have a lot of time to work on his game before then. Both Soloman and Kravish have really improved at Cal but, as I said before, I think they came into Cal with more athleticism and skills than Rooks has shown so far.

  • Gobears49

    Hoping for comments about my comment #9 about establishing a yearly Bay Area tournament for the biggest six schools in the Bay Area (unfortunately, had to exclude Stockton, which I think is just too far away). I think there should be some consideration to try it for one year and exclude the two or three of the first games that are on everyone’s schedule.

    For Cal, I think playing these games would be a slight step up from the first two or three games they typically schedule, especially if they get to play St. Mary’s, which is typically close to being ranked, like they are this year.

  • SteveNTexas

    Gobears your assessment is fair enough.
    I am not impressed with Sean Rooks mainly because before he made his commit -The Arizona Boards were full of “We hope he goes somewhere else– etc”

  • Gobears49

    Playing Stanford early in the year, like playing St. Mary’s, would also be a step up from our very early season schedule. Playing either of those schools would probably result in big crowds, so this idea could be a money maker even if it results in less home games. Attendance at the first games at Cal have been low, anyway, though you don’t have to pay arena fees to somebody to have games played at home.

  • Gobears49

    Actually, I think Cal and Stanford have leverage for both to get a yearly bye in the six-team tournament I have suggested above. The other four teams in the area want a shot at Cal and/or Stanford, who they normally don’t get to play. Cal and Stanford normally don’t schedule the other schools because there is little upside in them winning those games and perhaps significant downside, in local prestige, if they lose.

    So, to balance the desire of the other schools to play Stanford and Cal and the normal desire of those two schools not to schedule any of the other four, a compromise to get Cal and Stanford to participate is to give those two schools an exemption from having to play in the play-in gam, thus allowing them to win only two games, rather than three, to win the Bay Area tournament (maybe, to copy the Philadelphia Big 5 tournament, we can call it the Big 6 tournament.

  • Juancho

    I like the local tournament idea.

    I’ve always wanted those local games in football as well. I wish there was some kind of California Cup where we rotated football games against San Jose State and Fresno State.

    The bigger issue for our teams is recruiting. We’re average. Even with Jabari and Matthews, the class isn’t in the upper echelon, which means we’ll lose these types of games.

    We’re just not a better program than that. We’re average and not relevant nationally.

    We haven’t been ranked in 2 years in basketball. 4 years in football.

    I had coworkers visiting from other parts of the country this week. They couldn’t name one basketball or football player on our team.

    One of them is an Auburn alumn.

  • Juancho

    It’s always a reminder how little mindshare Cal has, when I talk to people from outside of California. I would say 9 out of 10 sports fans outside of CA that I talk to have no idea Rodgers or Lynch or Desean, etc. wen’t to Cal.

    Especially Rodgers.

  • Gobears49

    Juancho,

    I agree about Cal not getting any respect for the NFL players it has developed from its football program. We’re probably in the top 10 or so for most active roster players (may have to check that to see how well the teams above us has performed on the field — we probably are low on the list of recent performers on the field versus number of players in the NFL).

    When I was recently back in Georgia watching the Georgia – Missouri game, I had to laugh at the scoreboard showing Georgia players in the NFL. A bunch of no name defensive players — not one skill position player. Cal used to get skill position players in the NFL but hasn’t done well in awhile. Just checked and, on ESPN, Vereen is listed on the New England depth chart as being the #4 running back (last).

  • Rob Bear

    UCSB is a good basketball team. Win the PAC 12 Conference and / or tournament and we will be fine.

  • Gobears49

    Rob Bear,

    That’s a very tall order. I think we have only tied for the conference title once in the last 50 or so years and have never won the league tournament.

  • Rob Bear

    Not true. We won the PAC 10 Conference three short years ago with Randall, Roberson, Boykin, etc. Moreover, that is the past. They could care less what the Cal teams of the past have done. If they stay healthy, they have a shot. Tough, tough to beat Colorado, UCLA, Oregon & Arizona but unlike our football team, not impossible. Looking forward to the effort. With EXTREME PREJUDICE Bears! EXTREME PREJUDICE!

  • Gobears49

    Rob Bear,

    I think what I said In my comment #21 above is correcst. I said that we tied for a regular season conference title. I am almost sure that that was one three years ago that you refer to. Please let me know what other regular season conference titles we have won or any conference tournaments.

  • Rob Bear

    Not correct. We were outright league champions during conference play 3 years ago. See history on basketball’s website (CAL). I was there when we beat ASU for the conference title. No ties.

  • Gobears49

    Rob Bear,

    You are right about three years ago (actually, it was four years). I thought we tied for the regular season championship that year rather than winning it outright.

    However, my main point is that Cal has a history of not being successful in winning the regular season championship or the tournament, so thinking we have a good chance of doing so this season, based upon history is, I think, much too optimistic.

    I indicated that we haven’t won more than one regular season championship in 50 years and has never won the league tournament. I really guessed about the regular season championship. Decided to look this up so we can end this discussion. I am correct about what I said. Take a look at the link below.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Golden_Bears_men's_basketball#Season-by-season_results

    Go Bears!

  • SteveNTexas

    RE #18. Juancho if you’re upset that people outside of Cal don’t know where Rodgers and Lynch went to school ( Despite me telling them-all) try this question with out of staters

    “Where is the University of California located?”

  • Gobears49

    Might want to try out this question — where does Cal rank in terms of having the most college football players now playing in the NFL? For the answer, go to the next blog article, entitled “Big NFL Day for ex-Bears,” where I post a list of the top 20 schools and provide a link to see all of them.

    I bet people will be astounded when they guess and then you tell them the answer.

  • rollonubears

    We won the Pac10 title in it’s weakest ever year. It was a great ride, but we then got clown stomped in the tournament that matters, just as we always do, because we’re small. I guess tall people just don’t like Berkeley. It’s a shame. It’s a pretty nice place.