California Week: Q&A With California Golden Blogs

Posted by Connor Pelton on June 24th, 2012

It’s been a fun week of California basketball coverage here on the Pac-12 Microsite, so we’ve decided to close it out with opinions from a couple of Golden Bear insiders. ”Kodiak” and “LeonPowe” from California Golden Blogs agreed to kindly join us for a Q&A on the state of the Cal program. If you’re reading this, you no doubt already know the great work and comedic relief that they do over there covering the Golden Bears, but consider this a friendly reminder.

RTC: With the departure of Jorge Gutierrez, is Allen Crabbe firmly locked into the “main leader” role this season?

Whether By Example or Vocally, Junior Guard Allen Crabbe Will Be In Some Sort of Leader Role Come October. (credit: AZ Central)

Kodiak: From a personality standpoint, Crabbe seems more of a lead by example type. However, when he was a high school player, he took control as an upperclassman and led that team to a state championship. It may be that he’s deferred because we’ve had such strong leaders in MSF (Markuri Sanders-Frison), Jorge Gutierrez, and Harper Kamp. He’s very respectful and may simply have been waiting his turn. The guy who is most likely to assert himself vocally would be point guard Justin Cobbs. He’ll have the ball in his hands a lot, so how he responds to Coach [Mike] Montgomery will have a huge impact on team chemistry.  He has a lot of potential, but it’s things like leadership, decision-making, body language, and consistency that are on the wish list.  He improved throughout last year and did very well for a young point guard in his first year as a starter.

LeonPowe: In terms of most talented player – absolutely, but I think in terms of actual team leader, I think he’ll have strong competition from junior point guard Justin Cobbs. Crabbe is our best player and his performance will go a long way in how well or poorly we play this year, but Crabbe has also had a tendency to, well, not seize the game by its throat and play up to the level which we know he is capable of. On the other hand, Cobbs is the point guard and is a lot more aggressive than Crabbe has tended to be in the past two years, so I think a lot of the on-court leadership will come from Cobbs.

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California Week: Evaluating The Recent Past

Posted by Connor Pelton on June 18th, 2012

California is coming off back-to-back seasons in which it hasn’t qualified for the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament. For a team that is usually always in contention to win the Pac-12, this comes as somewhat of a disappointment to fans in Berkeley. In 2011-12, the Golden Bears looked like they were not only going to make the field of 64, but possibly make it out of the first weekend. Unfortunately, things went drastically wrong for the Bears down the stretch. Sophomore forward Richard Solomon contributed heavily on the glass in the first half of the season, but was lost as an academic casualty midway through January. This didn’t affect Cal immediately, but the strain put on Harper Kamp in the stretch run of the season would cost the Bears, who faced depth issues everywhere. “Over the past few years we’ve lost a lot of depth to transfers (or as an early pro in the case of Max Zhang) – so the players who would’ve been the sixth, seventh, and eighth men (Amandi Omoyke, DJ Seeley, and Zhang) are now playing for Cal State Fullerton or in China,” said “LeonPowe” of California Golden Blogs when RTC talked to him. California would finish its final five games with a record of 1-4, including an embarrassing, not as close as the final score indicated, 65-54 loss against South Florida in the First Four.

Mike Montgomery’s Team Seemed Headed In The Right Direction Going Into The Stretch Run In 2011-12, But A Poor Finish Resulted In A Less Than Favorable Draw In The NCAA Tournament. (credit: Mark J. Terrill)

As people around the program will tell you, however, the floundering finish was a long time in the making. Coach Mike Montgomery seemed to lose trust early in a couple of his players, most notably Brandon Smith. Due to the combination of a poor start by Smith and a hot one by transfer Justin Cobbs, Smith found himself buried on the bench. Even when the team’s top three shooter’s – Allen Crabbe, Jorge Gutierrez, and Cobbs — lost their touch late in the year, Monty decided to ride the sinking ship with them instead of going back into his bench. Smith only saw a combined 13 minutes of action in the final two games of the year, both 11-point losses. He is only one example, though. The already short bench was even shorter by year’s end, as Montgomery settled into a six-man rotation. Against athletic and quick defensive teams like Colorado and USF, the Bears never really had a chance to compete with those teams.

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Max Zhang Takes His Talents To Shanghai

Posted by nvr1983 on October 30th, 2010

Although October would usually be preposterously early for a player to leave school to turn pro we have our first case of the year with Max Zhang, a junior center at California, who has decided to turn pro after accepting an offer from the Shanghai Sharks (aka Yao Ming‘s team) of the Chinese Basketball Association. The 7’2″ center, the tallest player in Cal history, only produced modest numbers (3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game) last year, but was expected to play an increased role as his game matured after another summer training with the Chinese national team.

Zhang was expected to miss some of the Bears’ early-season action while he played for the Chinese national team in the Asian Games in November. With a more developed game Zhang could have provided Mike Montgomery with some quality minutes in the Pac-10 that has relatively few quality big men (even by today’s standards). Instead, those minutes will likely go to Bak Bak, Richard Solomon, or Robert Thurman, all of whom have even less experience at the college level than Zhang. Still despite all of his potential size, Zhang will be most remembered by Cal fans as somewhat of a novelty item (see below) who helped galvanize the crowd during his sparse minutes on the floor.

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Morning Five: 09.27.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 27th, 2010

  1. You may have missed this news during a busy football weekend, but the Birmingham (Alabama) School Board decided late Friday to not change former Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe’s official transcript despite an independent law firm’s finding that justifications for grade changes thereon were “not credible.”  We covered this on Friday night, and people are generally falling into two camps.  On one side is the “Really?  WTF?” camp, as articulated by Gary Parrish in his piece on the matter; while on the other side, we have giddy UK fans who seem to believe that they got over on the NCAA, New York Times, jealous Calipari-haters and the liberal media, depending on whom you ask.  This ordeal is probably dead with respect to the NCAA and Kentucky, but Tom Arenberg of the Birmingham News believes that Birmingham schools should seek more answers with respect to what happened here, while we’re left wondering why we didn’t buddy up to a couple of amenable teachers in high school right before our applications to Stanford and MIT went into the mail.
  2. California’s 7’3 center Max Zhang will not be enrolled at Berkeley for the fall semester, as he is staying in his native China to play in the Asia Games this November.  He could be back for the spring semester, though, just in time for Pac-10 play and definitely needed after a mass exodus of players from Mike Montgomery’s team this offseason.  He only averaged 3/2 in his sophomore season for the Bears, but with a nice shooting touch and scouts keeping a watchful eye on his development, there is a sense that he is ready to break out and could one day play professionally.
  3. Kansas center Jeff Withey is on the shelf after breaking his right foot during individual workouts last week.  Withey played sparingly as a freshman last season in Lawrence, but he was a four-star recruit out of San Diego and is expected to get considerably more run this season.  He’ll be out four to six weeks, which will unfortunately somewhat hinder his development, as practice officially begins in less than three weeks.
  4. Late last week John Calipari stated to reporters that he thought Enes Kanter was going to be eligible to play for him this coming season.  Gary Parrish seems to think that Calipari has convinced himself of such a fiction, although he’s quick to say that he doesn’t have any proof to the contrary either (sounds a lot like #1).  Turns out that very few coaches Parrish knows and has talked to about this ever thought that Kanter would be eligible to play college ball (even before Kanter signed with UK).  That seems reasonable enough to us.
  5. What do you guys think — will UNC bounce back strong this year after a disastrous (for them) 20-17 NIT season?  Some of the problems the Heels had last year, such as spotty point guard play and a lot of tall but soft players inside, are still there.  Adding a superstar like Harrison Barnes to the lineup won’t solve those specific issues.  Will Roy Williams have the magic touch to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament as he’s done in every season he’s coached but one?  The smart money is that he’ll find a way, but unless Larry Drew II and/or Dexter Strickland suddenly transform into  reasonable facsimiles of Ed Cota, Ray Felton or Ty Lawson, we’re not sure that this team is any better than a borderline top 25 team.  Are we wrong?
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Morning Five: 09.10.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 10th, 2010

  1. We’d already heard rumors about the NCAA sniffing into Tennessee’s recruitment of Kansas point guard Josh Selby, and it now appears that there is some fire behind the smoke.  According to several reports, the NCAA is investigating allegations of excessive phone calls and the use of unauthorized phones by UT staff, which could potentially land the Vol program in just as much hot water as its current football team faces.  Is it just us, or could it be that the long-awaited cleansing of college basketball’s seamy side appears to be taking hold?  We know that the NCAA has hired a considerable amount of new personnel for basketball investigations in recent years…could those investments actually begin paying off soon?
  2. Speaking of NCAA brass, ever wonder what top NCAA execs make for running the governing body of the sportThe Chronicle of Higher Education revealed the top fourteen NCAA earners in 2009, a group who collectively made over $6M during that time period.  Given the huge dollars that the NCAA brings in (through television rights for the NCAA Tournament and ticket sales for its championships, mostly), we don’t have a problem with these salaries, but we have two additional thoughts on this matter: 1) let’s keep investing that money to catch and punish the wrongdoers in the sport; and 2) where and to whom do we send our application?
  3. John R. Wooden Drive will be dedicated on Saturday afternoon to commemorate the legend’s nearly-100 years of teaching basketball and touching lives.  But it won’t be located in Westwood, and in fact, not even in the city of Los Angeles at all.  Rather, Purdue University — Wooden’s alma mater, where he was a three-time all-American and NPOY in 1932 — will be doing the honors.  This is great to see.  In fact, we’d be the top blogging evangelist if the NCAA decided to dedicate the entire 2011 regular season and/or NCAA Tournament to the Wizard of Westwood (hint, hint).  His legacy deserves it.
  4. Tough news from WVU yesterday, as incoming freshman Darrious Curry was determined too medically risky to play basketball anymore.  The 6’7 forward’s issue was not disclosed, but all indications point toward a heart condition.  You hate to see this, but you hate even more to see the scary alternative.
  5. The FIBA world championships are moving into the semifinal round, and Team USA is set to play Lithuania on Saturday with a medal (at least a bronze) on the line.  Luke Winn takes a look at the NCAA players who have been involved in the WCs and determines that only Rice’s Arsalan Kazemi (Iran) has had a summer to remember, averaging 12/7/3 SPG for his team.  A few of the other notables involved in this year’s tournament are Gonzaga’s Elias Harris (Germany), Robert Sacre (Canada) and Cal’s Max Zhang (China).
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RTC Live: Detroit @ #13 California

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2009

RTCLive

Tonight at 11pm ET we’ll be visiting California for our second RTC Live of the young season.  On Monday, we had a nice turnout  for Cal-Murray State considering it was a late-night game for people in the East and there didn’t seem to be a lot of excitement for that particular game.  But it ended up being the best game of the evening, and maybe we’ll get lucky again.

Detroit is projected as a middle-of-the-pack team in the Horizon League, but they have one thing that could give Cal trouble: a strong frontcourt.  Eli Holman and Xavier Keeling are two former Indiana players who transferred after the Kelvin Sampson fiasco blew up.  You might even recall that Holman was escorted out of the IU basketball offices two years ago because he threw a potted plant at someone or something during a meeting about a transfer with Tom Crean.  We’ve already discussed that Cal’s kryptonite is a strong frontcourt, and this could be a good barometer for Jamal Boykin, Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Harper Kamp and Max Zhang.  Cal has a major advantage in the backcourt, however, and it was clear that Jerome Randle wasn’t happy with his performance on Monday night, so it’ll also be interesting to see how he and Patrick Christopher responds.

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