California Golden Bears
Pacific-10 Conference (23-10, 13-5)
Big Wins: 11/9 Murray State (75-70), 1/28 at Arizona State (78-70), 2/11 Washington (93-81)
Bad Losses: 1/6 UCLA (75-76), 2/4 at USC (63-66), 2/18 at Oregon State (64-80)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, First Round loss to Maryland
Coach: Mike Montgomery (16-13 in 13 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
California has not exactly blown away the weak Pac-10 this year, but they are a team that has plenty of scorers and can beat some good teams when their outside shot is falling. Senior Jerome Randle makes this team go. He dishes out 4.5 assists per game, but he is also the team’s best scorer. Randle hits over 40 percent of his attempts from long range, but he is much more effective attacking the basket, especially since he hits 93.5 percent of his free-throws.
Randle has some good company on the wings in Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson. As an underclassman Christopher was pretty much just a shooter. While he still does that quite well, it is his mid-range game that has made him such a quality scorer. Robertson is a bigger body, but he is a very effective outside shooter. At 6-6 and 230 pounds, Robertson can shoot over some opposing defenders or simply beat them off the dribble if they guard him too close on the arc. Those three account for nearly 50 of Cal’s 77.4 points per game and it is important that all three are threats. Even sophomore Jorge Gutierrez is an effective shooter off the bench when given the opportunity.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Jamal Boykin has turned into a solid interior scorer and a decent rebounder. His presence on the offensive end allows space for the shooters and that is one reason why the Golden Bears are so effective from beyond the arc. However, at 6-8 and 240 pounds, Boykin can be knocked around by some stronger centers that California will almost certainly run into sooner or later if they want to make a nice little tournament run. Omondi Amoke has started a handful of games this year and he has the same issues, but is less effective of a scorer and rebounder. The intimidating threat under the basket is 7-3 Max Zhang. He is not the most polished or strongest player by any means, but Zhang can at least make the opposition think twice about heading into the paint.
Who To Watch:
The answer could be Markhuri Sanders-Frison. The 6-7, 275 pound junior college transfer has had an up and down season while running into some back injury issues and adjusting to life in the Pac-10, but he has the girth to do the dirty work on both ends of the floor. He is not going to score much, but as long as Boykin is scoring, Coach Mike Montgomery just needs to find a tough player who can eat up space in the paint and grab some rebounds.
Jerome Randle, Senior, Guard, 18.7 ppg, 4.5 apg
Patrick Christopher, Senior, Guard, 16.0 ppg, 2.1 apg, 1.6 spg
Theo Robertson, Senior, Forward, 14.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.3 apg
Omondi Amoke, Sophomore, Forward, 4.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Jamal Boykin, Senior, Forward, 12.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg
Jorge Gutierrez, Sophomore, Guard, 5.4 ppg, 2.7 apg
Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Junior, Center, 3.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Max Zhang, Sophomore, Center, 3.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.4 (29th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.7 (171, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.4 (31, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.2 (174, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (139, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.0 (57, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.8 (16, 1)
Rebound Margin: 4.1 (51, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.7 (59, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.2 (53, 3)
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