Cal coach Mike Montgomery said freshman guard Jabari Bird, who sprained his ankle Dec. 22 at Creighton, still hasn’t resumed practicing and won’t play this week when the Bears (10-4) visit Oregon and Oregon State.
Likewise, junior guard Ricky Kreklow remains out with a broken hand.
As a result, it was all the more important that the Bears’ bench contributed seven points and 10 rebounds to a 69-62 win at Stanford in the Pac-12 opener last week.
Said senior forward Richard Solomon, “We all need each other to be our best.”
The surprise contributors were senior wing Jeff Powers, sophomore forward Christian Behrens and freshman point guard Sam Singer.
Powers, who scored just two points over the first 12 games, had a break through with 18 points in a Dec. 28 win over Furman. He scored five more points against Stanford and has made seven of his past nine 3-point attempts.
Behrens, who underwent a second ACL reconstructive surgery on his left knee last season, went to Montgomery a couple weeks ago to say he was ready to quit using his knee as an excuse.
“I just wanted to reach out to him, let him know that I was ready to work hard and I was ready to be pushed more,” Behrens said. At Stanford, he grabbed four rebounds in 12 productive minutes and earned more opportunity.
“When those guys come in with confidence, ready to contribute,” senior point guard Justin Cobbs said, “that’s what you call a team.”
Asked what those contributions can mean going forward, Montgomery said, “It’s immeasureable. You don’t need everybody being the guy. If the other people can complement that, then you’re fine.”