#67 California Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

California Golden Bears

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #67
Conference Rank: #7 Pac-12

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Coach Mike Montgomery is never going to allow his California squad to fall too far down the Pac-12 pecking order. Coming off of a 20 win season and a win in the NCAA Tournament, the expectations are, as they should be, to get back to the dance. However, the early departure of Allen Crabbe could pose some problems. Coach Montgomery has the pieces here to have another big year, but the Pac-12 is getting tougher and there will not be much room for error. It is Justin Cobbs who will feel the pressure. The senior guard was the consistent secondary scorer to Crabbe and will now have to run the show, play shutdown defense and be the team’s top scorer.

2012-13 Record: 21-12, 12-6
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Montgomery
Coach Record: 109-59 at California, 656-303 overall

Who’s Out:
Crabbe posted a team high 18.4 points and added 6.1 rebounds. Crabbe pretty much did it all when it came to scoring. Early in his career the 6-6 guard was mostly a shooter. That all changed last season when he started driving much, much more effectively. Without Crabbe the Golden Bears may need to spend some time looking for another perimeter scoring threat. Point guard Brandon Smith started a handful of games during his senior season and turned into an important player who allowed Cal’s top scoring threats to spend time off of the ball. The frontcourt lost some depth with the graduation of Robert Thurman and Bak Bak. At 6-10 and 270 pounds, Thurman could battle anybody in the paint. Bak saw far less playing time, yet he was tough and a smart defender even if he played just a few minutes here and there.

Who’s In:
Jabari Bird is expected to replace Crabbe even though he plays a much different game on the wing. The 6-6 freshman had his choice of Pac-12 schools and is a nice get for the program. He is a very versatile and athletic scorer who can get to the basket with ease. If Bird really can replace a large chunk of the scoring production left behind by Crabbe, California will be closer to the top of the conference. Jordan Mathews does not have the size of Bird, but he is a talented shooting guard in his own right. For now he will likely provide a nice scoring punch off of the bench. Sam Singer could earn some minutes running the point and small forward Roger Moute a Bidias has potential. Kameron Rooks, a 7-0, 270 pound center, will need to make a pretty big splash right away. He is not the most polished big man, as is often the case with seven-footers, yet he can eat up fouls, space and minutes and that is what Cal needs him to do for now.

Who to Watch:
A second and third consistent scoring threat to join Cobbs would go a long way for this team. There are plenty of options. The backcourt has Tyrone Wallace who is coming off of a very productive freshman campaign. He averaged 7.2 points and 2.6 assists. However, he will not be a consistent scoring threat until he develops a jumper. The frontcourt boasts Richard Solomon and David Kravish. Solomon bumped up his scoring to 8.9 points per contest as a junior. The 6-10, 235 pounder is a beast in the paint and could be in for a huge senior season. The biggest concern for Solomon is staying on the floor. Foul trouble and fatigue are usually issues. Kravish continued to surprise most people during his freshman and sophomore seasons. At some point he is going to explode onto the national scene. For now he is the team’s best rebounder and shot blocker. The scoring could come around in 2013-2014. Ricky Kreklow is another player to keep an eye on. The former Missouri transfer played in just nine games a year ago, yet has the potential to step into a starting spot.

Final Projection:
Cobbs and Solomon are steady seniors and the rest of the team is full of potential. Wallace, Bird, Mathews and Kreklow could help the Cal backcourt not miss a beat without Crabbe. Crabbe was an amazing all-around player though who did a lot more than score. He is not going to be easy to replace. If the youngsters even come close to living up to their hype, this could be an NCAA Tournament team. There are concerns in the frontcourt as well and it is easy to just think this team needs to replace Crabbe and nothing else. But losing Thurman and Bak is a big deal. Kravish and Solomon are not playing 40 minutes per game and Rooks must be ready to play some serious minutes. Coach Montgomery can play smaller at times and slide somebody like Kreklow up to the four spot against certain opponents, but that is not going to cut it all of the time.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Tyrone Wallace, Sophomore, Guard, 7.2 points per game
Justin Cobbs, Senior, Guard, 15.1 points per game
Jabari Bird, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
David Kravish, Junior, Forward, 7.9 points per game
Richard Solomon, Senior, Forward, 8.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.2 (176th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.3 (114, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (107, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.3 (31, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.1 (333, 12)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.2 (NA, NA)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.5 (104, 5)
Rebound Margin: 2.9 (93, 5)
Assists Per Game: 14.2 (81, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.6 (120, 4)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#87 Tyrone Wallace

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#22 Jabari Bird
#101 Jordan Mathews


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