After Oakland University gave the California Bears a scare last Friday night, Mike Montgomery‘s squad amped up their intensity and dismantled the Southern Utah Thunderbirds Monday evening with pure malevolence, easing to a 75-47 victory.
The first half, no, the opening five minutes of this game served as a strong indication that the Golden Bears were not going to mess around against inferior, undersized opposition tonight. With a starting five of Jabari Bird, Tyrone Wallace, David Kravish, Richard Solomon, and Justin Cobbs, the Bears clobbered the Thunderbirds early, going on a 12-0 run to start the game.
Some of the ills that Cal saw against Oakland three nights ago, mended on Monday night. Justin Cobb’s handles returned, as the senior point guard has six points and eight assists after 20 minutes of play. Tyrone Wallace also returned to his dominant self, leading the team in scoring with fifteen points. Wallace was effective getting to the basket, but Montgomery made is a point, banging his finger on the press desk that his individual stats are second to the team, “It’s about how many points we have, not how many points I have. What can I do to help the team win. Everybody has a role to play with a team and thats what we got to develop and figure out.”
Cal’s standout freshman, Jabari Bird did not repeat another otherworldly performance, turning the ball over four times and being held to only eight points.
The Bears, who struggled from the free throw line three nights ago, were efficient behind the line tonight shooting 9-12 in the first half. The Bears finished the game strongly, shooting 78.6% from the line.
With the ravishing dealt by the starting lineup, Montgomery was afforded the opportunity to field his entire bench at various points in the game. Tonight we saw the likes of Sam Singer, Kameron Rooks, Jeff Powers and Cal’s youthful bench take the floor for a considerable amount of minutes and Montgomery was pleased, “I’ve always have felt over the years that its good to get guys playing time, they practice every day. We had eleven guys in double figure minutes and played all thirteen (players),” Montgomery continued, “It probably broke down our continuity a little bit, guys probably wanted to play, but I wanted to get everyone on the floor.”
“We’ve got to figure out how to work all these guys into the fabric of what we’re trying to do to be successful.”
Now after winning all four games to open the season, all from the comfort for Haas Pavilion, the Bears travel to Hawaii to partake in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Now the competition will heat up.
This tournament has the caliber of Syracuse, Gonzaga, and Baylor, teams that can push Cal to the brink and capitalize on their mental lapses. Montgomery knows this and is eager to galvanize his squad to rise up to the occasion, “We’re in a major spotlight right now, we’re going to have to be as good as we can be. All the mistakes or little things that we don’t do that have not hurt us thus far, come back to bite you in a big way there.”
Cal will need to focus when leave the cold Berkeley autumn behind them and Kravish noted that they also need to leave their past achievements on campus as well if they want to grow as a team, “We got to forget these last four games, learn from them and move on. Last year we did the same thing, except for we won the tournament and then we came out and lost a bunch of games. We got to focus.”
The Golden Bears play Arkansas on Monday November 25 from the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii.
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