Cal Basketball Preview

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Cal Basketball Preview

HISTORY From 1954-1960, Pete Newell was the head coach of the California Golden Bears. In his six years at the helm, Cal won four straight Pac-8 titles from 1957-1960. Even more impressive1959: NCAA National Champions The Bears defeated Oscar Robertson and Cincinnati in the Final Four, and outlasted Jerry West and West Virginia in the title game. 1960: NCAA National Runner-Up The Bears once again defeated Oscar Robertson and Cincinnati in the Final Four, but fell to Ohio State with the likes of John Havlicek, Jerry Lucas, and Bobby Knight in the title game (at the Cow Palace in Daly City). Cal didnt reach the NCAA Tournament again until 1990! Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray led the Bears to the Sweet 16 in 1993, and Tony Gonzalez of NFL fame was a member of the 1997 Sweet 16 squad. Ben Braun coached the Bears to four additional NCAA Tournament appearances in 01, 02, 03, and 06 but was replaced by Mike Montgomery following the 2007-2008 season. In 2010, the former Stanford coach guided the Bears to their first conference championship since 1960. LAST SEASONFour starters Pac-10 Player of the Year Jerome Randle, Team MVP Theo Robertson, Patrick Christopher, and Jamal Boykin were lost from the 2010 Pac-10 Championship squad. Consequently, the Bears were picked seventh in the 2010-2011 Pac-10 Preseason Media Poll. They didnt listen to the media, and instead finished tied for fourth. Jorge Gutierrez earned Firs-Team All-Conference honors after averaging 16 points and 5 assists per game. Harper Kamp received Second-Team honors with his 16 points and 6 rebounds per game. Allen Crabbe became the first Bear to be named Freshman of the Year since Leon Powe in 2004. However, he was mysteriously left off the All-Conference teams despite the fact he led the Bears in scoring (16.4 ppg), second in rebounding (5.8 rpg), and led the league in 3-point percentage (.481 percent) and minutes played (36.6 mpg). I mean, are you serious? The Bears NCAA Tournament hopes were dashed with a first-round loss in the Pac-10 Tournament to USC. However, they did advance to the second round of the NIT where they fell to future Pac-12 foe Colorado. 2011-2012 SEASON PREVIEWWith the returning trio of Jorge Gutierrez, Harper Kamp, and Allen Crabbe, expectations are high in Berkeley. However, you cant win a Pac-12 championship with just three players. Who else will be in the rotation? Projected StartersPG: Brandon Smith (junior) -- After a historic career at De La Salle High School, Smith played sparingly behind Jerome Randle as a freshman. Thirteen games into last season, after Gary Franklin announced he would transfer, Smith replaced him in the starting lineup and never looked back. Over the final 20 games of the season, Smith averaged just under 8 points and 5 assists in 36 minutes per game. He isnt flashy, quick, or explosive, but he runs the team and gets the ball where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. If hes knocking down the 3 (20-45 the final 20 games last season) he makes Cal extremely dangerous. SG: Jorge Gutierrez (senior) -- The first recruit Montgomery signed at Cal is the Bears heart, soul, brains, guts, ligaments, you name it. There isnt a coach in the country who wouldnt want Gutierrez on his team, because you know what youre going to get on a nightly basis toughness, leadership, hustle, defense, clutch play-making, etc. If you walked by him on the street you wouldnt believe he is one of the 50 players in the country on the John Wooden Award Preseason list. However, if Cal wins the league, Gutierrez will most likely be the inaugural Pac-12 Player of the Year. SF: Allen Crabbe (sophomore) -- Crabbe was robbed when he was left off the All-Conference teams last season. He wont be absent again this year. After setting the single-season school record for a freshman with 62 made 3s last year, that number could be closer to 80 or 90 treys this season. However, his offensive game is way more than just his 3-point ability, so look for him to get to the paint more as a sophomore. Although he still has room to grow (strength, explosiveness) hes one of the best pro prospects in the Pac-12 and if he stays in school for four years, should break the 2,000- point plateau for his career. PF: Harper Kamp (redshirt senior) -- After being slowed by nagging knee injuries his first two seasons, Kamp redshirted in 09-10 to fully recover following offseason knee injury. Mission accomplished. The 68 southpaw averaged 14 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season, after averaging 8 points and 6 rebounds combined his first two seasons. Cal needed someone to step up and score last season, and a healthy Kamp was clearly more than capable. You cant foul him either he shot just below 82 percent from the free-throw line a season ago. C: Richard Solomon (sophomore) -- The 611 high-school teammate of Crabbe could be the difference between a Pac-12 championshipdeep NCAA Tournament run, and a third-place finishearly tournament exit (its pretty safe to say the Bears will hear their name called on Selection Sunday). At times last season he showed flashes of being the dominant big man the Cal coaching staff recruited him to be (14 points against Washington, 11 points6 rebounds vs. USC, 10 rebounds vs. Colorado in the NIT). However, like most freshman, he was inconsistent. Cals one question mark is its frontcourt depth, which places a premium on Solomon staying out of foul trouble. He should be the Bears leading rebounder and shot-blocker as he continues to develop his low-post game. Other key returneesPF: Bak Bak (junior) -- The 69 rebounding machine was the first big off the bench in Cals 88-53 win over UC San Diego on Nov. 1. In nine minutes, he produced four rebounds, but also committed three fouls. In Cals NIT loss last season, the Sudan native chipped in nine points and 11 rebounds. The Bears dont need him to score a single point this year just rebound and defend. C: Robert Thurman (redshirt junior) -- At 610 and 250 pounds, he is the biggest body Cal can put on the court. If Solomon struggles early, Thurman will be needed to play more minutes than expected. Like Bak, he just needs to rebound and defend. SG: Emerson Murray (sophomore) He played sparingly as a freshman and it will once again be difficult to see extended playing time. However, should any of the guards go down with an injury, Murray is more than capable to fill in. He isnt a difference-maker, but could be a solid backup. SG: Jeff Powers (redshirt sophomore) The high school teammate of Smith at De La Salle transferred to Cal midway through the 2009-2010 season, and became eligible following the 2011 fall semester. In 11 minutes off the bench at Washington, he chipped in 13 points. When Crabbe missed the next game at Washington State, Powers started and delivered 14 points in 31 minutes. He started one more game, and then played a combined 24 minutes over the teams final seven games. He wont be able to sneak up on anybody this season. NewcomersPGSG: Justin Cobbs (redshirt sophomore) Cobbs becomes eligible after spending his freshman season at Minnesota and sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. The combo guard led the Bears with 17 points and 4 assists in the teams exhibition win over UC San Diego. He can knock down the 3, but hes at his best when hes attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line (6-for-8 in exhibition win). Whether he starts or comes off the bench doesnt matter. He will play 20-25 minutes a game and lead Cal in scoring on occasion. PF: David Kravish (freshman) -- The long and lanky freshman led the Bears with eight rebounds (four offensive) in just 16 minutes against UC San Diego. He is the Bears most skilled big man off the bench and gives Cal a shot-blocking presence inside. He should have a fantastic career. ScheduleAlthough Cals non-conference schedule isnt as brutal as it was last season (New Mexico, Temple, Notre Dame, Boston College, Iowa State, San Diego State, Kansas) the Bears will meet Georgia in Kansas City at the CBE Classic, followed by either Notre Dame or Missouri. Other games include road tests at Mountain West foes San Diego State and UNLV, and home meetings with San Jose State and UC Santa Barbara. PredictionThe 2011-2012 Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll projected Cal with a second-place finish (one first-place vote behind UCLA). The Bruins may have one of the best frontcourts in the country, but Cal has a better backcourt and boasts the most cohesive starting five in the league. The one thing that could prevent Cal from winning the conference is their lack of depth in the frontcourt, or a significant injury. That being said, the Bears will enter the Pac-12 Tournament at24-7 overall, 13-5 conference (Co-CHAMPIONS), NCAA Tournament BirthLet the game begin...
Drew Shiller is a Web Producer for CSNBayArea.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

No. 20 Saint Mary's holds off Santa Clara in WCC finale

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No. 20 Saint Mary's holds off Santa Clara in WCC finale

BOX SCORE

MORAGA — Jock Landale scored 17 points and No. 20 Saint Mary's beat Santa Clara 70-56 on Saturday night in the West Coast Conference regular season finale for both teams.

Emmett Naar and Calvin Hermanson scored 13 points apiece and Dane Pineau added 10 points to help the Gaels (26-3, 15-3) complete a season sweep of the Broncos.

Saint Mary's will get a week off before playing in the WCC tournament as the No. 2 seed in Las Vegas next week.

The Gaels will go in at full strength after suffering a brief scare midway through the second half. Joe Rahon, the team's emotional leader and workhorse in the backcourt, limped off the court with an apparent knee injury and was taken into a tunnel to be examined. He returned to the court a few minutes later wearing tape around his right leg below the knee. He then later got his entire knee wrapped.

Saint Mary's led by as many as 20 in the second half despite coming out of halftime missing six of seven shots with two turnovers.

Landale, as he has much of the season, got the Gaels back on track with a short hook over Henrik Jadersten to start a 10-0 run. Landale later scored on consecutive trips down the floor to push Saint Mary's lead to 66-47.

Jared Brownridge and Matt Hauser scored 15 points apiece for Santa Clara. The Broncos (16-15, 10-8 WCC) lost for only the second time in the last five games.

The Gaels led nearly the entire way.

Saint Mary's came out strong from the perimeter, making five of seven shots beyond the arc in the first half. Naar had two of the 3s and was one of six Gaels players to score as part of an 11-2 run that pushed their lead to 41-29 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Santa Clara: Another tough night for the Broncos, who couldn't get much going despite Saint Mary's going through a pair of lulls on offense. Brownridge scored nine of his team's first 11 points, a pattern that played out much of the game. Jadersten gave Santa Clara an early lift with two 3s but picked up three fouls over a span of 1:41 minutes during the first half.

Saint Mary's: With four straight wins the Gaels have regained some of the momentum they lost after falling to No. 1 Gonzaga on Feb. 11 for the second time this season. A third showdown between the conference's two best teams appears likely.

UP NEXT

Santa Clara: The Broncos are the fourth seed for the WCC tournament and will have a bye in the first round.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels also receive a first-round bye and won't play until March 4.

Stanford falls short, can't complete upset against Oregon

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Stanford falls short, can't complete upset against Oregon

BOX SCORE

STANFORD -- Oregon survived its Bay Area trip by the slimmest of margins.

Jordan Bell scored on a putback with 14 seconds left to give the sixth-ranked Ducks their second straight nail-biting victory in a rare Bay Area sweep as Oregon beat Stanford 75-73 on Saturday.

"It stresses Coach out," guard Dylan Ennis said. "It shows us that we can just get gritty, get down and get the win. ... Hopefully if we're down like that again we can fight back and do the same thing."

Bell's game-winner followed Dillon Brooks' last-second, tiebreaking 3-pointer three nights earlier at California to give Oregon (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12) its second sweep of its conference Bay Area rivals since 1976. The other came two years ago.

Tyler Dorsey scored 15 points to lead Oregon, while Brooks added 14.

"It's been a tough road trip for us, two close games," coach Dana Altman said. "That's life on the road. We found a way."

Reid Travis had 27 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way for the Cardinal (14-14, 6-10), but committed a turnover on the final possession to end any comeback hopes on senior day that honored Christian Sanders, Marcus Allen and Grant Verhoeven.

"There's a little extra when you see guys like Christian, Marcus and Grant shedding tears when they're getting called up," Travis said. "It's the last time they get to compete on this court. ... Just looking at that, there's no choice but to be motivated."

Stanford trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half but battled back to tie the game five times in the second half. But it took until that fifth equalizer for the Cardinal to take their first lead since being up 9-8 early in the first half.

Travis' jumper in the lane made it 71-69 with less than 3 minutes left but the lead was short-lived as Brooks hit a jumper at the other end to tie it.

The game was tied at 73 when the Ducks managed four offensive rebounds on one possession before finally converting on Bell's shot with 14 seconds left. It capped a wild sequence that started when Ennis shot an airball on a 3-pointer. Payton Pritchard caught the ball in the air and shot it to the rim before the shot clock expired. Bell was there to put back the second miss for the game-winner.

"It was going so fast I don't even know what happened," Altman said.

Travis lost the ball in the paint at the other end to seal the victory for Oregon.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The Ducks capped a 7-1 February with just their second road sweep of the conference season as they peaking at the right time of year. Their only loss in that span came on a late 3-pointer by Lonzo Ball in an 82-79 loss at UCLA. Oregon has one more road game left to finish the regular season at last-place Oregon State, and remains in contention for a Pac-12 title and a top two seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

Stanford: The Cardinal were unable to follow up home wins against California and Oregon State when faced by tougher competition from the Ducks. That has been an issue all season for Stanford, which fell to 0-8 against ranked opponents.

THEY SAID IT

"Something hit my elbow. It might have been the wind, but I don't shoot airballs on game-winners." - Ennis.

POUND THE BOARDS

Oregon had just eight rebounds for the entire first half before getting the four offensive boards on the final possession of the game. The Ducks were outrebounded 37-25 for the game but were outscored by only four points on second-chance opportunities.

CEREMONIAL DAY

Stanford also held a halftime ceremony for former coach Mike Montgomery, who was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this past November. Montgomery is the winningest coach in school history with 393 of his 677 wins coming for the Cardinal.

UP NEXT

Oregon: Visits Oregon State on Saturday.

Stanford: Visits Colorado on Thursday.