Basketball: Stuff you might have missed

A few leftovers from Cal’s 88-81 win over Washington State on Thursday night . . .

— Allen Crabbe not only became the first Cal freshman since Shareef Abdur-Rahim to score 30 points in a game, he was just the third Bears’ rookie to do it. Abdur-Rahim did it four times in 1995-96 including a best of 33 points vs. Northern Arizona in his college debut. Brian Hendrick had 31 vs. UCLA during the 1990-91 1989-90 season.

— Crabbe is averaging 17.6 ppg over the past five games and — because we know you’re dying to know this — 21.3 ppg in three games since Gary Franklin took his talents to Waco, Texas.

— Center Markhuri Sanders-Frison (14 points, 10 rebounds) has five double-doubles this season, four in his past six games. He is shooting 25 for 39 in Pac-10 play.

— Best game yet for sophomore Brandon Smith, who had nine points and a career-high nine assists. He ran the team effectively, pushing the tempo when it was there and pulling back when that was the right thing to do. The Bears had 22 assists, and that’s a nice calling card for any point guard.

— Cal’s three starting guards combined for 16 rebounds.

— The Bears were 21 for 25 from the free throw line and made their last 12 in a row, including all eight in overtime.

— Freshman Richard Solomon was the Bears’ only reserve who had a point or a rebound. He had eight and seven, respectively, in 19 productive minutes.

— WSU junior Klay Thompson was magnificent — 36 points, including the 3-point shot that forced overtime. He has scored 111 points in five games against the Bears — an average of 22.2. But the Bears didn’t allow him a shot attempt in overtime, and he’s 0-5 lifetime against Cal.


Basketball: Exhibition postgame

For coach Mike Montgomery, the number that most dramatically jumped off the stat sheet: 44.

“To give them 44 points in a half was a little bit discouraging,” he said, reflecting on the first half of the Bears’ 106-76 exhibition win over Sonoma State. “I thought first half was pretty rugged. We didn’t really defend. We were passive. They shot the ball extremely well, I’ll give them credit for that.”

“Kind of awful,” junior Harper Kamp said of the first-half defensive effort. “Credit to them, they came in ready to shoot. They played hard and executed their offense pretty well, which gave us some trouble. We have to be able to lock in on guys who are hot, recognize shooters, fight through screens.”

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Basketball: Monty pleased with victory

This was a big win for the Bears. By toppling Utah 72-69 on Jerome Randle’s game-winning 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left Wednesday night, Cal returns home with a 7-2 record and feeling good about itself.

“It’s a road win against a pretty good basketball team. They beat Oregon, which means nothing other than they’re capable,” coach Mike Montgomery said. “The mental set was better tonight. We didn’t force a whole bunch of shots. Just little things that made a big difference.”

Utah is a good, not great team, but the Utes have lost just 36 home games the past 19 years, so winning at the Huntsman Center is an achievement. Added to Cal’s win at UNLV over Thanksgiving weekend, and the Bears have a couple road wins in their resume.

Is it too early to wonder how all this might — yes, might — impact the Bears’ long-term prospects?

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Basketball: Post-mortem on Mizzou defeat

Jerome Randle didn’t mince words.

“They outplayed us, they outhustled us, outrebounded us. They beat us in every aspect of the game,” the junior point guard said.

That was a blunt but fairly accurate representation of Missouri’s 93-66 demolition of the Golden Bears on Sunday at Mizzou Arena.

The Bears (6-2) coughed up 20 turnovers, allowed 20 offensive rebounds, and never led.

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Basketball: A novel experience for Monty

Cal’s most lopsided loss of the young season — by 27 points — was unlike a college game first-year coach Mike Montgomery has experienced in nearly 11 years.

The Bears (6-2) lost 93-66 to Missouri on Sunday afternoon in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.

Montgomery, who coached the Golden State Warriors in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and was out of coaching the past two seasons, hadn’t experienced such a one-sided defeat since his Stanford squad lost by 32 points —  90-58 — at Arizona on Feb. 28, 1998. That was 190 college basketball games ago for Monty.


Basketball: Cal-Missouri postgame

Here are some pertinent numbers from Cal’s 93-66 loss to Missouri:

   — The Bears (6-2) had 20 turnovers and allowed Missouri 20 offensive rebounds. Those led to a combined 42 points by the Tigers.

   — Cal still has not beaten a Big 12 team on the road in 35 years, dating back to an 85-76 win at Colorado on Dec. 16, 1974. The losing streak in those circumstances is now 12 games.

   — Jerome Randle led the Bears in scoring for the seventh time in eight games, although his 15 points were his second-lowest total of the season. Theo Robertson was the only other Cal player in double figures, with 12. Patrick Christopher, who entered the game averaging 14.6 points, shot 3-for-15 and scored nine points.

   — DeMarre Carroll led Missouri with 19 points in 22 minutes, and frontcourt mate Leo Lyons had 18.


Basketball: Reflections on the exhibition

A few observations, impressions and notes the day after Cal’s 91-70 exhibition victory over Division II Seattle Pacific.

— Junior Theo Robertson, who scored 29 points, appears to have made a huge leap from 2006-07, when he last played. Robertson, who missed all of last season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his hip, was more assertive with the ball than we’ve seen before.

Coach Mike Montgomery was pleased, but said he needs more rebounding and a greater defensive presence from the 6-5 junior wing. Robertson didn’t disagree.  “Like he said, there’s always something you can do better,” Robertson said.

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Immediate aftermath

Reflecting on the season is much different than I thought it would be after what transpired in the Armed Forces Bowl. Obviously, there are still a bunch of issues to be resolved following a disappointing season, but the incredible play of Kevin Riley as well as the adjustments made by defensive coordinator Bob Gregory suddenly put a new perspective on where the program stands.

There’s no question much went wrong during the year and Jeff Tedford has some major evaluating to do. But he also now knows, if nothing else, he will have some major competition at quarterback in the spring. To do what Riley did against Air Force _ to pick apart an opponent after not taking a snap in a game for almost three months _ was downright surreal. I was hesitant most of the season to jump on the Riley bandwagon because he was an unproven commodity, but it’s hard to imagine anyone could doubt he is at least ready to compete for the starting job in 2008.

Riley entered a game that was the climax of Cal’s season, on national television, and pivotal for setting the tone for the offseason. His team also was down 21-0 when he took the field. He proceeded to throw just three incomplete passes, one of which was a Hail Mary at the end of the first half. Not counting the possession that ended with the Hail Mary, the Bears scored on each of the first six drives Riley led.

You can tell Cal’s players really like Riley, also. They were hooting and hollering while he accepted the MVP trophy on the field after the game, and while he did a live ESPN interview.

For the record, Nate Longshore didn’t do anything wrong yesterday. He only was on the field for two possessions and completed 5 of his 8 passes, and one incompletion on 4th-and-16 should have been caught by Sam DeSa. Speaking of DeSa, don’t forget that Longshore didn’t have the services of DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan. They were replaced by DeSa and LaReylle Cunningham for the first quarter.

Tedford was going to get Riley into the game no matter what, to get him some experience. When Riley immediately sparked the offense, it was apparent he was going to stay in the game.

Turning to the defense, Gregory deserves some kudos for solving Air Force’s option by switching to a 3-4 defense after falling behind. The Falcons were picking the Bears apart against their base defense, but the minute Gregory switched to three fast defensive linemen along four linebackers, the option slowed to a crawl. Not only did the alignment of Rulon Davis and Cameron Jordan on the ends with Derrick Hill in the middle give Cal some speed up front, the scheme also allowed Gregory to utilize the speed of his linebackers. The 3-4 basically gave the Bears their fastest defense possible, and Air Force couldn’t get away from them.

Even though Gregory wanted to go to the 3-4 to specifically defend the option, it may serve as a model for more. Looking at what Cal has coming back, the strength of the defense definitely is in the linebacking corps. Why not get as many of them on the field as you can? Gregory said he’s going to consider using the 3-4 more next season. It would give the Bears a chance to maximze the talents of Zack Follett, Anthony Felder, Worrell Williams, Michael Mohamed, Eddie Young and D.J. Holt.

Those are just some initial thoughts after a day of traveling back to the Bay Area. I will provide much more season-ending material in the days to come.

Just a quick thank you for all of your interest and feedback this season. It was a learning experience for me in my first year covering the team, and I’ve enjoyed it.