2008 California Golden Bears Basketball Preview
Last season, the California Golden Bears (17-16 overall, 6-12 Pac-10) made it to the NIT where they lost to Ohio State 73-56 in the second round. In the prior year, they saw no post-season action. In fact, in the past five seasons, the Bears have gone to the NIT once, the NCAA Tournament once and stayed home three times. This year, they welcome former Stanford coach Mike Montgomery, who will try to turn the program around. Although Montgomery has the coaching skills and smarts to get the club to the Big Dance, chances are this season California be attending the NIT again.
Two big men—forward Ryan Anderson (21.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG) and center Devon Hardin (9.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.2 BPG)—are gone, leaving two big holes in the frontcourt. Two undersized men will play in the front—junior forward Jamal Boykin (19.4 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 50.6 FG%, 77.8 FT%) and sophomore forward Harper Kemp (12.9 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 49.1 FG%, 72.9 FT%). Both are fine players but offer little rebounding and blocking potential. Sophomore Taylor Harrison wore a medical redshirt for his knee last season and then underwent a procedure in June. If he’s healthy that would be a big help. Everyone else upfront is a work-in-progress.
For the backcourt to be effective, junior point guard Jerome Randle (32.3 MPG, 11.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 42.8 FG%, 87.0 FT%) must commit fewer turnovers and make better decisions. His skills and quickness are topnotch. Although junior shooting guard Patrick Christopher (35.2 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.0 APG, 45.6 FG%, 79.6 FT%) has a fine shot, he needs to become a better defender for the Bears to succeed.
Montgomery will focus on two key aspects—defense and ball
control through the guard spot. In order for this team to succeed
they’re going to have to rebound and play solid defense upfront.
That will be tough with the loss of California’s big men.
The new coach has his work cut out for him. This season looks to
be about shaping these guys into a team and rebuilding.