With Allen Crabbe making the decision this past spring to enter the 2013 NBA Draft, the Cal Golden Bears needed to figure out how they’d account for the 18.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game the Pac-12 Player of the Year provided. However despite this key personnel loss the Golden Bears are one of the teams expected to factor into the Pac-12 race this season, with the combination of senior point guard Justin Cobbs and McDonald’s All-American shooting guard Jabari Bird being two of the most prominent reasons.
In his second season at Cal since transferring in from Minnesota, Cobbs posted averages of 15.1 points and 4.8 assists per game in 2012-13, and amongst players who factored into at least 24% of their team’s possessions the Los Angeles native ranked seventh in the conference in offensive efficiency. As for Bird, the Salesian High School (Richmond, Calif.) native averaged 17.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for a school that went 100-8 in his three seasons at the varsity level.
Accounting for Crabbe’s production will be difficult despite the fact that Mike Montgomery’s team has plenty of talent, with sophomore Tyrone Wallace and big men David Kravish and Richard Solomon also factoring into the rotation. And with Cobbs and Bird at the two guard spots, Cal should be in good shape.
Earlier this week Yay Area’s Finest put together some highlights of the two playing in the San Francisco Pro-Am this summer, and the video certainly doesn’t lack entertainment-wise.
Does Cal have the Pac-12’s most exciting backcourt? An argument can be made but the same can be said for a number of schools in the league, including Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. If anything, the fact that Pac-12 fans can have such arguments should be seen as a positive, especially when considering where the conference’s basketball product was two years ago.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.