Basketball: Montgomery likes what he sees in Martin

The old Cal basketball coach has met the new Cal coach and he likes what he sees.

Both Mike Montgomery and Cuonzo Martin were at Pac-12 basketball media day on Thursday, and Cal senior forward Kravish was a bit amused by the new assignment his former coach has taken on as a TV analyst for the Pac-12 Networks.

“It’s interesting to see him with a little media tag on,” Kravish said. “He would always answer your guys’ questions a little sarcastically and now he’s on the questions end.”

Montgomery, who worked in TV before his six-year stint as coach at Cal, said he always knew he’d try to land back in that role.

“I was on the beach in Mexico last week. I’ve never been on the beach in October before,” he said. “It’s a nice change, but a little bit of that goes a long ways.”

Montgomery met Martin for the first time on campus during the offseason and is impressed.

”He seems like a first-class guy. He’s quiet, doesn’t say very much. He watches before he speaks, which is a good thing,” Montgomery said. “But he has the players’ respect. He’s no-nonsense. That’s good – that’s what that group needs.”

Martin’s first Cal team features veterans in Kravish and junior guard Tyrone Wallace, along with a promising sophomore class.

“He inherited a very good group. He’s got a very good locker room, great leadership,” Montgomery said. “They’ve been getting up at 6 to practice and I was, `Yup, they’ll do it.’ In years past we’d have had a little trouble getting everybody up at 6.”

The Bears have minimal frontline depth, but Montgomery believes that can be overcome. “If they stay healthy,” he said, “I think they can compete.”


Basketball: Arizona picked to win Pac-12; Cal tabbed 7th

Arizona was a near-unanimous pick to win the Pac-12 men’s basketball championship, according to a poll of 32 media members who cover the conference.

Cal was voted seventh.

The Wildcats, picked for the third straight year to win the league, collected 31 of 32 first-place votes to easily outdistance Utah and Colorado in the Pac-12 poll, announced Thursday at media day.

Arizona accumulated 383 total points, with Utah second at 317 and Colorado one point back in third. UCLA, which secured the only other first-place vote, was fourth with 290 points.

Stanford, coming off a Sweet 16 appearance, was picked fifth with 264 points and Cal, under first-year coach Cuonzo Martin, is tabbed to finish seventh. Washington was picked sixth with 189 points, one more than Cal totaled.

Finishing eighth through 12th are Oregon, Arizona State, USC, Washington State and Oregon State.

The media have correctly picked the conference winner 13 times over the past 22 seasons.


Basketball: Pac-12 media day set for Thursday

Pac-12 basketball media day is Thursday in San Francisco and I will be on hand to provide news and notes from the proceedings.

The event, featuring all 12 coaches and one player from each school, begins at 10 a.m. Cal will be represented by coach Cuonzo Martin and senior forward David Kravish.

If you want to watch live streaming from the event, click here for information on how to get onboard.


Basketball: Four-star guard to choose among 3 on Friday

Shooting guard Kerwin Roach, a top-100 prospect from Houston who visited Cal three weeks ago, says he will announce his college choice on Friday morning.

Roach has narrowed his field to Cal, Texas and Wichita State, and has made official visits to all three. A 6-foot-3 senior at North Shore High, was at Texas last weekend.

“Any decision dealing with your life is difficult,” said Roach, when asked if the decision will be easy.

Roach is rated as a four-star prospect by Scout, Rivals and ESPN. Rivals has him ranked as the No. 34 overall recruit in the nation, while Scout puts him at No. 82, ESPN at No. 99.

He said he enjoyed his visit to Berkeley on the first weekend of October.

“I was really impressed by the weather,” he said enthusiastically. “The program’s about to take off, about to rise with Coach Martin. I really liked his vision.”


Basketball: Rabb not ready to cut list to five

Five-star prospect Ivan Rabb, the No. 1 recruiting target of new Cal basketball Cuonzo Martin, isn’t quite ready to trim his list of schools to five, after all.

We reported early this week that Rabb, a 6-foot-10 forward from Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland, told his coach that he would shorten his list of possible colleges from seven to five by this weekend.

O’Dowd coach Lou Richie told me tonight that North Carolina has scheduled a home visit this week, and Rabb wants to wait until after that to pick the five schools he will visit.

His list of seven, besides Cal, includes Arizona, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA.

Stay tuned.


Basketball: Ivan Rabb close to naming Final 5

Five-star recruit Ivan Rabb will announce his five college finalists by the end of this weekend, his coach at Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland said.

Rabb, a 6-foot-10 forward rated among the nation’s top-10 prospects, told O’Dowd coach Lou Richie on Tuesday morning that by Sunday he expects to inform coaches at the five schools to which he will make official campus visits.

Currently, Rabb has seven schools on his list, including Cal.

The others are Arizona, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA.

Richie said Rabb will call the two schools he is eliminating, then talk with the remaining five to schedule his visits.

“Ivan wants to control the process and wants to do it the right way,” said Richie, who declined to guess whether Cal will be one of the finalists.

He said Rabb could make his final decision on a college destination this fall, but may also spread out his visits and wait until the spring to pick one.


Football: Rodgers throws game-winner with 3 secs left

Former Cal star Aaron Rodgers, in his 100th NFL start, engineered his 11th fourth-quarter comeback win, throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless with a 3 seconds left as the Green Bay Packers beat the host Miami Dolphins 27-24.

Rodgers threw for 264 yards and three TDs and has thrown 10 touchdown passes during the Packers’ three-game win streak.



Basketball: Martin says Bird `has chance to be great’

New Cal coach Cuonzo Martin has no-nonsense expectations for sophomore guard Jabari Bird.

“I think he has a chance to be a great player,” Martin said.

Bird arrived at his father’s alma mater last season with glittering credentials. The 6-foot-6 guard was a McDonald’s All-American at Salesian High and coach Mike Montgomery’s most decorated recruit.

Over his first six games, Bird averaged 14.3 points and looked the part of future star.

Then he sprained an ankle in late December. He missed four games, and struggled to regain his rhythm and confidence. Over his first 16 games after returning, Bird scored four points or fewer in 11 of them.

The postseason arrived in the nick of time for Bird.

He scored 50 points in three NIT games, including games of 20 against Arkansas and 19 against SMU. Bird shot 15 for 21 in those last two games, and was 5 for 9 from 3-point range.

Bird said his strong finish sent him into the offseason feeling good about himself.

“It was a huge help for me, boosting my confidence a lot,” Bird said. “It reminded me that I can still play at this level. It did a lot for my confidence coming into my second year. I just need to build on it.”

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Basketball: Watching my first practice . . . in a while

Saw my first Cal basketball practice with Cuonzo Martin as coach on Thursday afternoon.

It was fast-paced, organized, intense and upbeat.

In fairness, I’m not sure how this compares to the way things were under Mike Montgomery because, frankly, we were never allowed to observe his practices.

“It’s more business-like,” sophomore guard Jabari Bird said. “Guys aren’t playing around as much. It’s more focused in there. It’s a really good approach because we approach our practice like it’s a game.”

Asked what Martin is like as a practice coach, Bird said, “Really focused. He pays attention to all the details. You can’t hide from anything. He’s going to see everything you do on the court, whether it’s good or bad. It’s good for us.”

Martin, who came to Cal last spring from Tennessee, said he’s pleased with the way his new team has adjusted.

“It’s been smooth,” he said. “The guys have done a great working and competing and picking up what we’re trying to do. They have been very receptive. The guys want to be great.”

Martin is particularly happy with senior forward David Kravish, who appears to have added 10 or 15 pounds of upper-body muscle to his frame, now listed as 6-foot-10.

“David Kravish has been such a tremendous leader. He’s made our job a lot easier,” Martin said.

The Bears open their exhibition schedule on Friday, Oct. 31 – three weeks from today – against Cal State East Bay. They make their regular-season debut on Nov. 14 against Alcorn State at Haas Pavilion as part of the 2K Classic.