Cal Bears


Cal freshmen Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb have positive first showing in overseas win

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LSU and freshman star Ben Simmons are getting a lot of publicity for their overseas exhibition trip to Australia this week, but Cal is also touring the land down under and playing in some exhibition games this week.

The tour for Cal is giving the team its first look at the freshman duo of Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, who helped the Golden Bears to a 100-63 win over Victoria Select during the team’s first game on the trip. Both players started the game for Cal as Brown paced the team with 17 points while adding six rebounds and two steals. Rabb finished the game with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds and was 5-for-6 from the field for a strong showing of his own.

It’s also worth noting that Tyrone Wallace started at point guard and finished with 10 points, but more importantly, he had six assists to only one turnover. Jordan Mathews added 15 points and Jabari Bird pitched in 13 points off the bench. Kingsley Okoroh started at center for Cal, which meant Rabb played power forward for his moments in the game.

While it’s hard to say how this exhibition tour will translate to the actual season, it was interesting to see the lineups that head coach Cuonzo Martin used and he made frequent substitutions to see everyone on his roster get minutes. If Brown and Rabb can remain consistently productive, it makes Cal a serious threat in the Pac-12 with the return of players like Wallace, Mathews and Bird. You can view full stats of Cal’s win here.

California lands a top 100 recruit in the Class of 2016

Via Oscar Frayer
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Cal has landed their first commitment in the Class of 2016, as Oscar Frayer pledged to be a Golden Bear on Monday night.

“I have officially verbally committed to the University of California, Berkeley,” Frayer wrote on twitter.

Frayer is a 6-foot-5 wing that is bouncy and energetic. He’s currently ranked No. 66 in the class by Rivals, but he’s a guy that can get a lot better as he continues to develop his game. Frayer’s jumper needs work, as does his ability to handle the ball. At this point, he’s more of an athlete that plays basketball as opposed to an athletic basketball player.

Frayer plays his high school ball for Moreau Catholic in Hayward, California, and spends his summers running with the Oakland Soldiers, which is why this pick-up is important. The Soldiers are one of the best AAU programs on the west coast — Stanley Johnson is a product of their club, while Stephen Zimmerman and Cal target Ivan Rabb highlight the Class of 2015 stars on the roster.

Being able to land the kids from that program with the academic pedigree to succeed at Berkeley is really important for the longterm success that Cuonzo Martin will have there.

Reports: Georgetown transfer Stephen Domingo headed to Cal

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Ex-Georgetown guard Stephen Domingo is headed back to the west coast where he will play out the remainder of his college basketball career for Cuonzo Martin at Cal, according to multiple media reports.

Domingo was a high-profile recruit coming out of high school, a four-star prospect that was ranked in the top 50 in the Class of 2013 before leaving high school early to enroll at Georgetown when he was 17 years old. Unfortunately for Domingo, he was never able to crack the rotation with the Hoyas, playing in just 39 games in two seasons in Washington, D.C.

Domingo is a talent, however. He’s a 6-foot-6 shooter that will be able to spend all next season developing his game and his body as he sits out the 2014-2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Domingo is the second player that Martin has added since he got the job at Cal. He’s also brought in ace recruiter Yanni Hufnagel from Vanderbilt.

Pac-12 contenders look very different now than six weeks ago

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source: Getty Images
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Cinco de Mayo was not kind to basketball programs in the state of Oregon.

It started with Craig Robinson, Oregon State’s now-former head coach and President Barack Obama’s brother-in-law. He was let go in mid-May — which almost never happens — after an offseason that saw the Beavers lose their entire starting lineup to graduation, transfer or the professional ranks. Oregon State will be in full-blown rebuilding mode next season, and that’s not a good sign for a program that just finished a 16-16 campaign and that went 39-69 in the Pac-12 during Robinson’s tenure.

How bad is it in Corvallis?

The situation may be too dire for Ben Howland to want to deal with, and he has made a push for just about every high-major job that has come open this offseason.

And that wasn’t as shocking as what Oregon announced a couple of hours later. Sophomore Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson and freshman Brandon Austin have all been suspended from the Oregon program. They’ll follow Ben Carter and A.J. Lapray out the door, meaning that of the 10 players on Oregon’s roster that were a part of their rotation a season ago, eight are now gone. Only Joseph Young and Elgin Cook are scheduled to return.

The Ducks do bring in a solid class of recruits — headlined by five-star prospect JaQuan Lyle and former top 50 recruit and JuCo center Michael Chandler — but Dana Altman cleaning house will turn what could have been a top 15 team into one that will likely be on the bubble until late in the 2014-2015 season.

Things only get worse when you look at the Pac-12 as a whole:

  • UCLA had a shot to be Arizona’s biggest challenger in the league, but they went 0-for-3 when it came to stars leaving for the NBA Draft. Kyle Anderson was a given — he made no secret about the fact that he was leaving school this year — but losing a Zach LaVine and Jordan Adams is going to hurt. Adams would have been an all-american while LaVine had the potential to be a star at this level.
  • Early entry wasn’t kind to Colorado, either, as Spencer Dinwiddie announced that his career in Boulder is over. The Buffaloes still have a chance to make the tournament in 2015, but they went from being a potential top 15 team to one that is probably closer to the top 40 when they lost their best player.
  • Arizona State was ready for Jahii Carson to go pro, but his departure combined with the graduation of Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall puts the Sun Devils in a hole.
  • Cal saw Mike Montgomery retire, and while new head coach Cuonzo Martin might end up being a perfect fit in Berkeley — especially with his hire of ace recruiter Yanni Hufnagel — a coaching change is never easy when it coincides with the loss of a team’s two best players (Richard Solomon and Justin Cobbs).
  • USC and Washington State both lost their leading scorers, and Wazzu will be replacing head coach Ken Bone.

Arizona is our No. 2 team in the country and the clear favorite in the Pac-12, but after that, things get really murky. Utah looks like they will be good next season as they essentially return their entire team, but this is also a group that couldn’t close out a big win in last season and is just two years removed from winning all of six games in a season.

Stanford returns Chasson Randle, Stefan Nastic and Anthony Brown and has the size to handle the loss of Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis, but we’ve been waiting for the Cardinal to live up to the amount of talent that the program has for a couple of years now.

I say all that to say this: the Pac-12, at the end of the 2014 NCAA tournament, looked like it would end up being one of the stronger conferences in the country.

And while it still could every well produce the 2015 national champion, the last six weeks have yielded quite a talent drain at the top of the conference.

Justin Cobbs hands No. 1 Arizona their first loss (VIDEO)

Justin Cobbs

Justin Cobbs drove left off of a ball-screen, getting Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski to switch onto him before hitting a step-back 15-footer with 0.9 seconds left on the clock to give the Bears a win they so-desperately needed over the previously-undefeated, No. 1 Wildcats, 60-58.

Cobbs finished with 19 points and seven assists for the Bears, who entered the game having lost three in a row following a 5-0 start to Pac-12 play. That included an embarrassing loss at USC and an overtime loss to Arizona State at home on Thursday night.

source:  The importance of this win goes well beyond Cal simply moving up the Pac-12 standings, however. This is a team that was sitting on the wrong side of the bubble. Entering the day, Cal’s resume included zero wins over probably tournament teams unless you think Oregon, who is sitting at 3-6 in the Pac-12 as of today, will be able to turn things around.

If you’re looking to improve an NCAA tournament resume, there isn’t a much better way to do it than beating the No. 1 team in the country.

Here’s the other part of it: Cal is a dangerous basketball team.

The Bears are trending towards sneaking into the tournament as a 12 seed, assuming they can find a way to consistently beat the teams they are supposed to beat, but this is a team with the talent to make the Sweet 16. Cobbs headlines a really talented perimeter attack that includes a trio of big, athletic scorers — Jabari Bird, Jordan Mathews and Ty Wallace. Throw in Richard Solomon and David Kravish, and you’re looking at a team that can matchup with anyone from a talent perspective.

But the Bears have no depth, especially in their front court. And Bird, Mathews and Wallace all have proven that the only thing they can do on a consistent basis is to play inconsistently.

Cal may only play three more tournament teams the rest of the season: UCLA and Colorado at home and Arizona on the road. This was the best chance that the Bears were going to get at earning a marquee win, and they capitalized.

Can they now avoid another costly loss?

Is Cal the second-best team in the Pac-12?

Grant Gibbs, Jabari Bird
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We know Arizona sits at the top of the Pac-12 Power Rankings right now.

That much is obvious. They’re the No. 1 team in the country, and the Pac-12 doesn’t currently have anyone else sitting in the top 20. That’s not a tough one to figure out.

What is tough, however, is trying to determine just who is the second-best team in the league.

In the preseason, the consensus seemed to be Colorado. They have been trending upwards for a couple of years and brought back the core of a team that, on paper, looked like a top 15 team. Wins over Kansas and Oregon helped solidify that logic. But they lost star point guard Spencer Dinwiddie for the season with a torn ACL over the weekend and collapsed in the second half against Washington after Dinwiddie went down.

Oregon is talented and fun to watch. They can score with the best of them. They also haven’t played a lick of defense in the new year. The same can be said for UCLA. Can you trust a team to win games if you can’t trust them to get big stops?

That brings me to Cal, who is the only team other than Arizona currently sitting at 4-0 in league play. The Bears beatdown Washington in Haas Pavilion on Wednesday night after winning their first three Pac-12 games on the road.

Most importantly, the Bears are finally getting healthy after dealing with injuries to a number of key players early in the season. Their perimeter attack is loaded. Justin Cobbs is a first-team all-Pac 12 point guard. Ty Wallace, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews are all explosive scorers that can go for 20 on a given night. Richard Solomon is averaging a double-double while David Kravish isn’t that far behind.

A couple of ugly, early losses hurt the Bears, but this team seems to be peaking at the right time. Front court depth is a major issue, but given the fact that every other team in the league (save for Arizona) has a major issue of their own, I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Mike Montgomery has himself the biggest challenger to Arizona’s throne.