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

Cal passes big test against 7’6″ Ndiaye and UC Irvine

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By Morris Phillips

The 7’6” sensation known as Mamadou Ndiaye came to Haas Pavilion on Monday night and the Cal Bears needed to quickly determine whether the Senegalese freshman would be an oddity or a menace like he was three weeks ago in UC Irvine’s wire-to-wire victory over Washington in which he had 18 points, eight rebounds and an eye-popping nine blocks.

And what was the answer to the Ndiaye conundrum?  Incomplete.

In Cal’s 73-56 victory, Ndiaye played just 10 minutes due to foul trouble and he and the Anteaters couldn’t shoot a lick early, trailing by double digits for the final 34 minutes of the game.   Consequently, Ndiaye managed to dominate only the post-game quote sheet.

“That guy, when he posts up he has got his hands right at your face,” Cal’s 6’9” David Kravish said.  “You are looking right into his chest.”

“I was staring at his chest the whole game,” 6’11” Richard Solomon said.

“He’s a big dude,” Coach Mike Montgomery said.  “He got into our heads a little bit… just because guys had to figure out what they could do.  We knew that he doesn’t like to come away from the basket very much.”

What could have been a long night and a close game wasn’t in great part due to Kravish, who stepped away from the basket and hit a number of shots on his way to 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Justin Cobbs, who’s never shy about taking his game into the paint, which he did frequently Monday in compiling a game-best nine assists.

Now that the affable Ndiaye–who just last year was tooling around Huntington Beach on his oversized bicycle—has played nine games in his collegiate career, there’s telling tape for opposing coaches to dissect.  Montgomery’s among the best of the practitioners and his Bears took heed, only twice getting too close to Ndiaye and his ridiculous wingspan to have their shots blocked.  Instead, Cal’s ball movement for the most part was crisp and leading to numerous, high-percentage shots.

Meanwhile, Ndiaye had trouble getting out of his own way.

“He didn’t make the adjustments he needed to make,” UC Irvine Coach Russell Turner said.  “He got an offensive foul early, got two rebound fouls.  He needs to avoid those mistakes.”

Cal got a major lift from Solomon’s return from missing the final two games in Maui due to a corneal abrasion.  Solomon wore protective glasses, something he says he will do for the remainder of the season, not wanting to revisit the painful and scary eye injury that took place when an opponent inadvertently caught his eye.  Again it was apparent that Cal’s much better at both ends, but especially defensively, when both Kravish and Solomon are in the game together.

In Solomon’s absence, Syracuse and Dayton both had big shooting nights in handing the Bears their first two losses of the season.

The Bears travel to Santa Barbara Friday night where they will meet the Gauchos before returning home next Tuesday to face Nevada.

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