Basketball: Bears face Utah Valley in NIT

It was no surprise that the Bears (19-13) were bypassed by the NCAA tournament selection committee Sunday.

Instead, they are a No. 2 seed in the NIT and will host a first-round game Wednesday against Utah Valley (20-11). Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN3.

“You always keep your fingers crossed,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said, when asked if he held out hope for an NCAA bid. “I think we were one win away from getting in, whether it be the Utah game at home or Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament.

“I think it was that close. At the end of the day, when you look at it in retrospect, you feel like you really put yourself in a tough spot. We’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves. We had so many opportunities to make it a no-brainer, but we just weren’t able to do that.”

Montgomery said he’s known Utah Valley coach Dick Hunsaker since Hunsaker was a player at Weber State during the time Montgomery coached at Montana.

“He’s a feisty guy,” Montgomery said. “His team will be well-prepared and organized. One of their better players is his son, Holton. I would expect that team will be well-prepared and well-organized.”

The Wolverines won the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title at 13-3, then lost to Idaho in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

Senior point guard Holton Hunsaker, the coach’s son, is the club’s top scorer at 14.4 points per game. Ben Aird, a 6-9 senior center, averages 11.6 points and 8.3 rebounds.

With a victory, Cal is expected to remain at Haas Pavilion for a second-round matchup against the winner of No. 3 seed Arkansas and No. 6 Indiana State. No date for that game has been determined.

Cal beat Utah Valley 85-51 on Dec. 28, 2009 at the Golden Bear Classic in Berkeley in the only other meeting between the two teams.

This is Cal’s eighth trip to the NIT. The Bears have an all-time tournament record of 12-6, including a 5-0 mark in 1999 when they won the NIT title.

The NIT includes 32 teams, seeded 1 through 8 in four regions. The first three rounds of games are held at campus sites, with the semifinals and finals set for April 1 and 3 at Madison Square Garden.

Jeff Faraudo

  • 707 Bear


  • Rollonubears

    Are we going to be better next year? Is there any possible way for that to happen? Who are we recruiting? Hopefully we’ll have a chance for some of our big men to get more PT in the NIT. We also need to shoot free throws all summer. That alone probably cost us 2 games. This season was a colossal disappointment.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Of course its our Bears who are the lone “miss”. And nobody thinks nc state deserves to be in either.

  • Phil Green

    It will be similar to this year – bubble team. Incoming point guard and big man won’t fill the void of Cobbs and Solomon, but some of the other kids will develop. Question is who leaves early from UofA and UCLA.

  • rotfogel

    Cal Football, Cal Basketball and one Sandy Barbour…to quote Gary Radnich, “your thoughts”…

  • Steve Fischer

    Football – Basketball -even softball seems to be going down the drain. Monty and Barbour have made plenty of money off of Cal-Berkeley – they should find some other sucker school.

    We weren’t even one of the 6 best teams in conference. Most of you predicted great things with Monty. Those of you who thought Cal would get into the NCAA’s really ought to evaluate your own objectivity – so you don’t repeat it again next year.

    We probably won’t be better next year but other Pac 12 teams will be. Were we the worst Pac 12 Team over the last 10 or 15 games? I haven’t checked my guess is after USC there were few if any teams worse then us. A few years ago when the Pac 12 was at its worst we looked pretty good. As the other teams are gaining strength we continue to sink.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Monty is an improvement over Braun, no doubt, but since Jorge Gutierrez left, his first recruit and glue guy, the squad seems soft and is lacking in resiliency. The repeated slows starts, WTF!? Maybe much of the credit given to Monty over the last six seasons should really have been directed at Jorge!? Teams take on the identity of their star players, look at MJ, Duncan, Lebron; those guys’ winning attitudes infect their team. I’d argue Buster Posey is similar. These guys just want to win, nothing else matters, at all. Jorge/Kidd were once in a generation type players…made the coaches job easy…
    Go Bears!

  • Juancho

    The biggest indictment in my book is poor attendance. Cal basketball and football has become irrelevant to the average bay area fan.

  • Rollonubears

    Takes a minute to load this site now on my iphone4s. Bummer. Excited to finally be able to watch the bears on espn3 though. Monty gets one more year, for sure. I would rather we get someone else though. He’s not going to be hurting and should probably take care of his health, anyway. Nobody goes to the games because we haven’t been top 25 in ages. And when we have, it’s been a cameo. Tickets are pricey and the team plays with little heart. Hopefully there will just be one more year of this and we can get someone with fire.

  • bearrage

    I love Jorge but folks overestimate his impact. His senior season was the least successful in recent years (crushed by USF in play-in) and that team had more issues than even this team. Give Randle, Anderson, Crabbe etc their due.