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Basketball: Bears balancing on the bubble

With four weeks left in the regular season, Cal finds itself in a precarious position. The Bears are tied for fifth place in the Pac-12 standings and sit at No. 51 in the official NCAA RPI computer rankings.

Neither is a comfortable place.

Will the sixth team in the Pac-12 qualify for the NCAA tournament? Maybe, but it’s by no means a sure thing.

How about No. 51 in the RPI? Bubble territory.

Cal hits the road this week to play a pair of second-division teams it’s already beaten: at Washington State on Wednesday night, at Washington on Saturday afternoon.

“I hope they understand it’s down to where it’s going to separate pretty soon,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said of the tight pack of teams in the middle of the conference standings.

“We’ve got to be a part of the positive separation. There’s nine teams and any one of those nine could step up and be in a better position. We’re certainly not out of the woods. This week’s important to us, but a lot of people I’m sure are saying the same thing.”

Tied for seventh, eighth and ninth behind Cal and Stanford are Utah, Oregon State and Washington, all at 5-6. Oregon, 13-0 before Pac-12 play began, sits in 10th place at 3-8.

NCAA RPI RATINGS
2. Arizona: Cats wobbled a bit but won twice without Brandon Ashley
19. UCLA: The computer likes the Bruins more than Top-25 voters do
25. Colorado: Still hanging in there without star Spencer Dinwiddie
40. Arizona State: Sun Devils have Valentine’s Day date with Arizona
42. Oregon: Ducks have lost four Pac-12 games by 2 points each
44. Stanford: Win at Cal improved Cardinal to 5-2 on road; UW awaits
51. Cal: Bears are 1-4 in past five and that win was over Arizona
81. Oregon State: Only road win since Nov. 18 — at Washington State
83. Washington: A different team at home, where Huskies are 11-2
105. Utah: Utes are 16-1 at home, 0-6 on the road.
131. USC: 1-9 in the Pac-12 and that one win came over Cal
161. Washington St: High-scoring DaVonte Lacy didn’t face Bears first time

Jeff Faraudo

  • Phil Green

    Hey, where’d everyone go???

  • Gobears49

    We better get in this year; next year, with Cobbs and Soloman gone and nobody close to replacing either of them, I doubt we will make it.

  • bigdruid

    We’ll definitely miss Cobbs next year. Nobody is ready to replace him. Solo will also be tough but Kravish is solid and with Behrens plus Rooks hopefully we can get some quality minutes in the paint.

    Our wings will all be another year better too. anyhow, this year isn’t over yet, so don’t give up hope.

  • Rollonubears

    Hibernating

  • 1brsfan

    Anyone notice all the Wednesday games we have this season compared to everyone else? It seems like we’re the only ones playing them on a weekly basis. We’re 1-3 in those games and we have looked flat. I wonder if having one less day of preparation is hurting us. We need to figure this out quickly!

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Yeah, kinda a downer mood surrounding the Cal fball and bball squads at the moment…

    But, that can all change with a week of thoroughly stomping of the wash schools starting tomorrow night!

    Here is my spiel (its a long one…):
    This team has gotta get something outta Bird/Mathews. Those guys should be getting at least 8-10 3-point attempts combined per game, imho, and they are getting only about 5-6. These guys can shoot when open, but they have to learn to SPREAD the floor and allow the team to play inside-out. I just don’t think either of them really had to rush to their spots on the court in order to get open for shots, they would just rise and shoot over the D regardless. But they can’t do that (as much) anymore and it is killing the offense when there is no spacing. They need to learn how to use screens better too. So often during this skid the offense has been BRUTAL to watch, which is perplexing because it was so fluid for most of the season up til very recently!? Did the other coaches figure something out? Did the offensive philosophy somehow change? if so, why?

    I’d like to see inside-out basketball, hi-lo post-ups, and the top-of-the-key “weave” play that seemed to flourish in the early season. I want to see under control and decisive drives by Cobbs and Wallace and good spacing and spot-up shooting by the wings. I want to see an alley-oop play or ten being run for Bird on a regular basis. But above all else: this team needs to give maximum EFFORT ON EVERY PLAY! This team has depth, they should be flying all over the court all the time. But, I hate to say it, this depth also seems to be causing the young pups to often look over their shoulder at coach. They seem to be trying to play mistake-free ball instead of playing with the killer instinct/chip-on-the-shoulder/dunk-in-your-face ball they grew up playing. When Mathews went off at ou, he had nobody to sub for him. He HAD to perform and he did. Where did that mentality go?

    Let’s hope Monty can get them playing confident again and let’s hope the team leaders can get them playing with energy and purpose. Coach can only get you so fired up, you gotta play for your teammates out there. Size, strength, speed, talent: sure they all matter. But playing with HEART and DESIRE will often win just as many games. Jorge anyone?

    Go Bears!

  • Eric

    What is hurting the team are the incredibly slow starts. Not sure why that is the case, but that is on Monty.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Absolutely correct about the slow starts, but not sure it is Monty’s fault. I’ve coached high school bball and I know that the coach can only get the kids to play so hard. It is up to them to rally around each other and play hard for each other, not just when coach yells at them. If they don’t care enough, there is not willing them to care…its on them. And I am NOT saying that the Cal players don’t care, they do…I’m just making a rhetorical point.

    Getting kids (of which I lump this group of Cal players) to play hard is one of the most challenging tasks facing coaches today. It used to be taken for granted that every time you stepped on the court you played for your life, that’s how my teammates and I played in HS in the early 90′s: balls to the wall every single time out. Coach didn’t ever have to fire us up, we were ready to die for EACH OTHER when the first whistle blew. We didn’t win any state titles or even section titles or anything, but man, we loved playing together and competing.

    Ah…nothing like high school basketball memories to get the blood flowing in the AM!!

    Go Bears!

  • Gobears49

    I’ve recently mentioned the lack of inside to outside play. When the ball comes into Soloman, the player guarding him gets lot of help, resulting in collapsing on Soloman. In that situation, I have yet to see Soloman even once kick the ball out. I can only blame this on insufficient coaching.

    To much the same extent, when I see a Cal player drive the lane or to the side of the lane, drawing attention, I rarely see that player kick the ball out. This is standard practice in the pro’s and also on other college teams, but apparently not for Cal.