Senior night, undermanned Oregon State allow Cal to get back on track 76-46

California’s Ivan Rabb, center, and Kameron Rooks, left, guard Oregon State’s Gligorije Rakocevic (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–Ivan Rabb arrived in Berkeley two years ago amid great fanfare, the latest local phenom to sign with Cal, following Jason Kidd and Leon Powe before him.

After Cal’s much-needed Senior Night victory over Oregon State, Rabb lingered on the floor, acknowledged a few more people than normal, and shook a few more hands.

Could this have been Rabb’s swan song with the NBA beckoning? As always, the very mature Rabb chose his words carefully.

“No question, I think I have the opportunity to go or stay, and I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I did take time tonight to soak in the time on the court, slap fans hands, take pictures with people and really soak in the moment. Regardless, it was our last home game.  And I wanted to enjoy it,” Rabb said.

The 6’11” sophomore could have joined Jaylen Brown as an NBA draft entrant last year. And his decision to return to school may have been bigger than his decision to come in the first place.  By returning, Rabb allowed Coach Cuonzo Martin to avoid an immediate dip after the surge afforded his program with the signings of Rabb and Brown.  The Bears have continued to win, and the prospect of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances is within reach.

Rabb has seen his draft stock drop slightly under the weight of constant double teaming, but he couldn’t have been more consistent, with the clear majority of his 27 double-doubles coming this season.  The Oakland native will undoubtedly be choosen in the first round of the NBA draft if he chooses to leave.  And his contribution to the university and the athletic department can’t be questioned.

And the most gratifying part of Senior Night by far? That the speculation surrounding Rabb did not take away from the attention afforded seniors Sam Singer, Jabari Bird, Roger Moute A Bidias, Stephen Domingo and Grant Mullins.

Nor did the presence of OSU, a team with only one win since December, and with an unsightly RPI number of 293, giving them the ability to ruin Cal’s season if they could summon one unlikey, superior performance.

That slight possibility lasted only a few minutes, when OSU’s early seven-point lead was wiped out by Cal scoring 20 of the game’s next 23 points.  The Bears surged again at the beginning of the second half, and cruised to a 76-46 win.

At no point did the Bears let the emotionally-draining loss to Oregon on Wednesday affect them.  Their dismantling of injury-riddled Oregon State was clearly a focused effort, one Martin noticed.

“We didn’t let the atmosphere comsume us,” Martin said. “This time of the season it’s never too late and it’s a good sign for us.”

Rabb led Cal with 16 points, and just missed another double-double with nine rebounds. Singer added 14 points, making all seven of his shots in his Haas Pavilion finale.  And the Bears exploited their size and depth with significant edges in rebounds and points in the paint.

The Bears (19-9, 10-6) stopped a three-game losing streak with the win, and kept themselves on the good side of the NCAA tournament bubble with the win. They close the regular season at Utah, and at Colorado with the goal of finishing fourth in the Pac-12 standings and earning a first round bye in the conference tournament.

That and at least one win in Las Vegas should get the Bears into the NCAA field given their accomplishments to date.

 

 

 

Michael Duca on Cal basketball

by Michael Duca

BERKELEY–There were a couple of performances from last Monday night’s game at Haas Pavilion against the UC Irvine Anteaters that Cal put on that really didn’t even jump out at you from the stat sheet. That were critically important Tyrone Wallace had a career high 11 rebounds from the lane position last night and he had Justin Cobbs as Cal’s point guard. When they lost in the consolation round to Dayton in Maui David Kravish was just about worn out by them and Richard Solomon was missing his second straight game with a cornea operation.

The Bears had no real post presence they couldn’t go inside outside so all they could do is shoot outside the zone and Cobb put up 31 points and they lost by two or three handful of points about 18. Cal’s Sam Singer had three points but he had three rebounds and Cal assisted on all three quarters of their baskets and things just looked a whole lot better than they did in the game versus Dayton in Maui.

The offense looked pretty good and the defense looked even better in the first half, Irvine missed ten straight and then they hit two out of three and missed eight more and rode in the half so the end of the half shooting hitting two of their last 21 shots and your probably not going to win a lot of basketball games doing that. Solomon is now sporting goggles from getting his eye scratched in the Dayton game and has decided to wear goggles for the rest of the year.

Solomon was not instructed to by doctors he didn’t need to it’s his own choice he doesn’t want to go through that again he doesn’t want to get someone’s finger in his eye. That was a pretty nasty abrasion, Solomon’s eye was swollen shut for two days he could not see and he could not open it. Getting back out on the floor he was rusty and you could tell a week without game action and his timing was not fully there but he set the tone literally from the get go.

Solomon lacked ten inches on Irvine’s center from Senagal, Mamadou Ndiaye who is 7’7 and one of the three or four tallest players ever to play college basketball and Solomon won the opening tip and he did it with climbing athleticism and that is basically how he got Ndiaye to get into foul trouble early in the first half and he picked up his second foul just about 3:50 into the game and sat the rest of the first half. Ndiaye got five and half minutes play in the second half.

Solomon challenged Ndiaye going straight at him early in the game and scored the first five points of the game for Cal and in the second half David Kravish hit Cal’s first ten points and had 12 of the first 16 and he hit six shots in a row and five of them were Ndiaye who was in the game in the second half. So instead of lurking in the backs of too many peoples minds and he is huge and he does have a wing span.

Most big men can get up close to Ndiaye and use their athletic ability and quickness to create some space while he’s trying to back away and make shots and they did. They hit a lot of mid range jumpers.

Michael Duca does commentary on Cal basketball each week for Sportstalk radio