2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: California

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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California Golden Bears (Last Year: 21-12, 12-6 in Pac-12)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: David Kravish (Jr)/Kameron Rooks (Fr)

PF: Richard Solomon (Sr)/Christian Beherns (Soph)/Roger Moute a Bidias (Fr)

G/F: Jabari Bird (Fr)/Jeff Powers (Sr)/Khalil Johnson (Soph)

SG: Tyrone Wallace (Soph)/Ricky Kreklow (Soph)/Sam Singer (Fr)

PG: Justin Cobbs (Sr)/Jordan Matthews (Fr)

Gone: G/F-Allen Crabbe, PG-Brandon Smith, F/C-Robert Thurman, C-Bak Bak, PF-Kaileb Rodriguez (transfer-Sheridan College)

2013-14 Outlook:
Even though the California Golden Bears lose leading scorer Allen Crabbe, they return four of their five starters from last year and should be one of a number of Pac-12 teams competing for another trip to the NCAA Tournament.

With Crabbe gone, the attention turns to senior point guard Justin Cobbs. He fractured a bone in his foot this offseason, but is not expected to miss any time. That’s crucial since he will be the focal point of the offense and is the lone true point guard on the roster. Tyrone Wallace should see a larger role this season after being a valuable glue player during his freshman campaign. He is a versatile, athletic wing who can take a step forward with his game if he shows more consistency from downtown.

McDonald’s All-American Jabari Bird is very Crabbe-like due to his ideal size for an off guard and smooth stroke from the perimeter. While it would be unfair to expect Bird to step into Crabbe’s role right away, he has the potential to be a big-time scorer and should see heavy minutes from the get-go. Ricky Kreklow was sidelined for a good chunk of last season with a broken foot but adds a shooter off the bench, while freshmen Jordan Matthews should be an immediate contributor off the bench. Jeff Power, Khalil Johnson, and Sam Singer will compete for the leftover minutes at guard.

Mike Montgomery returns his starting frontcourt of David Kravish and Richard Solomon. Kravish lacks the ideal size and strength to be a true big man but has good mobility and a nice touch around the basket. Solomon has fought through adversity during his collegiate career and brings more versatility up front with his inside/outside game.

Depth in the middle is a concern for California. 7-0, 270-pound freshman Kameron Rooks adds needed size inside and a shot-blocking presence, but he is still a raw all-around talent. Christian Beherns played sparingly last season but will certainly see more minutes off the bench. Roger Moute a Bidias is a combo forward who might be pressed into the rotation right away depending on how ready Rooks is to contribute right away.

With the Pac-12 having more quality depth, there are a handful of conference teams that should compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The California Golden Bears are definitely in that group, and if they can collectively replace the scoring of Crabbe and find a solid rotation off the bench, will be right in the mix.

Player to Watch: Tyrone Wallace, SG
If you are looking for a Pac-12 player to make a major leap this season, watch out for Wallace. He can affect the game in a number of ways and might actually see some minutes at the one when Cobbs needs a rest. Again, improving his outside shooting will be the real key for Wallace’s development.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/25 vs. Arkansas (Maui Invitational)
  • 11/26 vs. Syracuse/Minnesota (Maui Invitational)
  • 11/27 vs. Gonzaga/Dayton/Baylor/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)
  • 12/10 vs. Nevada
  • 12/14 vs. Fresno State
  • 12/22 at Creighton

  • Predicted Pac-12 Finish: 7th

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