Michael Duca on the NCAA

by Michael Duca

LAHAINA, Hawaii–The Golden Bears came out a little edgey in their win over Arkansas 85-77 on Monday night at the Maui Invitational, maybe they were just nervous. The combined records of these two teams in that tournament on before Monday night 30-0. So it’s hard to decide who your favoring. They had a scuffle early on in the game in the sense the Bears were not hitting shots and not making the plays that they wanted to make and it had been rehearsed all week in practice.

It was rehearsed in practice which was a long week of practice and Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said that the team pretty much forget everything they practiced for all week in the first five minutes of the game. A couple of things happened first of all they did start playing the way they were coached to play and the other one that made a huge difference in the past forward Richard Solomon had managed to collect two fouls early in the game and then sit down here Solomon collected a third foul early in the second half.

Montgomery sat Solomon down and in came Roger Moute a Bidias at forward and said to the freshman “you know how to do this I have to trust you and get out there and play” and play he did he played with three fouls for much of the rest of the game and Moute a Bidas fouled out in the final 1:10 of the game collected 11 points and had more than a dozen and half rebounds after that point and began and basically to took over the floor.

The Bears faced Syracuse on Tuesday and their best known for their two-three zone defense and they play that two-three defense better than anyone else in the country. Cal faced them in the NCAA Tournament and did not do well at all and Monty is hoping that those players can carry over because one of the reasons they did not do well is they didn’t really attack the weaknesses of that two three zone.

There aren’t that many of them because the Orange have guys that are 6’8 and 6’9 out on the wings and they make it difficult but their are seams in a two three zone. There are places where you can take the outside it’s going to be up to Cal’s front court to really take advantage penetrating that zone and hit some higher percentage shots.

This was a closer game than the tournament was last year even though they don’t have Alan Crabbe and Crabbe was probably their best outside shooter threat they’re a more veteran club despite Crabbe’s departure and with the inside presence of both Crabbe had a tremendous game and Solomon had a terrific first half on Monday night that indicates that they could play competitive against this Syracuse team.

Michael Duca covers Cal basketball for Sportstalk each week

Cal tops Southern Utah, improves to 4-0

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By Morris Phillips

Soon after the opening tip on Monday at Haas Pavilion, things went south for the Southern Utah Thunderbirds.

The Cal Bears scored the first six baskets of the game and established an early 14-0 lead.  From there, the Bears cruised to a 75-47 victory to improve to 4-0 on the young season.

“It was 12-0 before we knew it, and we had a hard time coming back from that,” SUU Coach Nick Robinson said.  “We got some good shots, but they weren’t falling for us.”

Robinson was a role player on Cal coach Mike Montgomery’s best and final teams at Stanford, graduating there in 2005.  In a short time since, Robinson has elevated himself to a Division I head coach after several stints as an assistant at various programs.

While Robinson’s rapid ascent is quite impressive, his team’s performance on Monday wasn’t.  The Thunderbirds struggled with the bigger, quicker Bears from the jump.

“We substituted a lot early,” Montgomery said.  “It seemed pretty obvious that they were outmatched.”

“They were flat-out better than we were,” Robinson said.  “(Cal) was more disciplined defensively, they did a great job on the boards, and hit open shots that we weren’t capable of hitting.”

All 13 Bears that suited up got action in the first half on Monday.  And although the frequent substitutions didn’t do much for continuity, it didn’t affect progress on the scoreboard.  The Bears led 33-10 after 15 minutes with the Thunderbirds shooting 22 percent in the first half.

Richard Solomon contributed 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the win.  Tyrone Wallace had 15, and the trio of Ricky Kreklow, Jordan Mathews and David Kravish had nine each.

A.J. Hess led Southern Utah with 15 points.  The Thunderbirds shot 29 percent for the game and committed 15 turnovers.

Cal sees a jump in competition on Monday when they travel to Maui and open the Invitational against Arkansas.