Cal climbing in the Pac-12 standings after home win over Stanford

January 30, 2017

Cal Bears, NCAA

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By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–So what did first-year Stanford head coach Jerod Haase most desire on the occasion of his return to Berkeley, two decades after he was a freshman starter on one of Cal’s most memorable teams?

Certainly not the opportunity to reminisce.   For Haase, a few more made baskets would have been more like it.

Haase’s Cardinal survived a cold-shooting first half, but when their accuracy numbers grew worse after halftime, Cal ran away from Stanford for a 66-55 win at sold out Haas Pavilion.

“I think we are improving on our process and implementing our gameplan. I really do,” Haase said after his Cardinal shot 39 percent against Cal, below their 42 percent shooting on the season, which ranks last in the Pac-12.

“I really do think we are making progress, I just wished we played a little more efficiently and knocked some more shots down and all that progress will lead to success and success on offense for sure.”

So long ago was Haase’s brief career at Cal, he didn’t play at Haas.  Back then, the building was far cozier and named Harmon Gym.  Haase was spurned by Mike Montgomery at Stanford, but revered by Lou Campanelli’s staff at Cal. The whirlwind recruiting process brought Haase from his home in South Lake Tahoe to Berkeley in the same class as local star/legend Jason Kidd.

Haase’s response to being teamed with Kidd?

“I just want to know: If I beat him out, will I get to start over him?” Haase recalled.

Haase settled for a starting role opposite Kidd, just one of the things that wasn’t as he expected in his season as a Bear. Campanelli was fired half way through that season, felled by the caustic language he used to address his players. Two weeks prior to the coaching change, Haase’s father Gary passed away after a sudden illness.

And after just one season at Cal, Haase transferred to Kansas.  The now 42-year old coach has yet to speak publicly about the circumstances of his departure, and that stance didn’t change on Sunday night.

When asked if this was his first return visit to Cal since his days in a Bears’ uniform, Haase’s questioner, KRON sportsreporter Vern Glenn in his signature, upbeat style, offered the coach a path to say a few, positive words. But Haase didn’t bite, pausing briefly before simply saying “yes” to Glenn, and moving on to the next question.

Both Cal and Stanford are moving on as well, now halfway through the conference season.  The Bears improved to 6-3 in Pac-12 play, moving into a three-way tie with UCLA and Utah for third place behind conference leaders Oregon and 9-0 Arizona.

Ivan Rabb led the Bears with 25 points and 13 rebounds, his sixth, consecutive double-double at home.  Jabari Bird added 17, including back-to-back threes late that allowed Cal to increase its lead to 15.

After shooting just 37 percent in the first half, Cal’s accuracy sharpened dramatically as the Bears missed only six times (11 for 17) the remainder of the game.

“It hit us in the mouth early on, but we just were missing good shots, Bird said. “We kept feeding down low, Ivan got going, I got going.  It wasn’t too difficult, we really just needed to start making shots.”

The Bears (15-6, 6-3) continue their three-game homestand on Thursday when the Utah Utes visit Haas. If any two remaining games possess a swing effect for Cal, it’s the home-and-home with the Utes, who have the same record as Cal, and like the Bears, lack marquee wins, and currently project to miss the NCAA tournament.

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